February 15, 2021

Newsletter #48 : Smoke, Mirrors and Start Ups

Happy Friday

Hope you’ve all had a fantastic week.

Read today that Hollywood is fast tracking a script by ‘Big Short’ screenwriter Charles Randolph, that looks into the rise and fall of ‘We Work’.

The ink is barely dry on those We Work redundancy notices so it seems even the Hollywood studios have bought into the Silicon Valley philosophy to build fast and break things.

Led me to focus some of this weeks newsletter around the smoke, mirrors and purpose of the start up world. 
Enjoy the read.
Cherish the weekend.

Andrew Weaver
CTO Academy
[email protected]

“Smoke and Mirrors” – How a $2bn Start-Up Crashed and Burned

The Hollywood article above is from the pages of Vanity Fair, celebrating a film about the spectacular fall of a high profile start up.

Ironic then that this 2016 article from the same publication looks at another classic ‘Smoke and Mirrors‘ burnout and starts with the sentence …“a new era of seriousness has descended on Silicon Valley. Investors are becoming more cautious about their bets, and where burn rates used to go unfettered, founders are now focused on metrics like profitability”

Not it seemed, in the corridors of Soft Bank or the We Work Business Plan

Paving the way to better mental health

An often unseen side effect of a culture that encourages and fuels unsustainable fast growth is the impact it has on the mental health of the people involved.

We’re not talking about the likes of Adam Neumann who obscenely walks away with $1.7bn, whilst staff are made redundant (good to see someone is trying to stop this grotesque agreement) but the normal founders and business owners who in trying to maintain a public front of success, can find themselves suffering in other areas of their lives.

In the UK a swathe of start ups have emerged aiming to help with Psychological Wellbeing.

We cannot emphasise enough, the importance for everyone to manage their mental health.
Work is never that important.

The Why Of Work?

One way to ease those stresses and strains is to find work with a purpose – whether driving your own company or working for others.

I started my career as an employed “gun for hire”.
I could make money for me (and others) but rarely with work that gave me a sense of purpose or personal wellbeing.

Took me a while to understand my core values and the type of work that really mattered to me.

When I did the work was fun and whilst leading a business (particularly a start up) means you can’t escape some pressures and the occasional sense of isolation, it’s been easier for me to negotiate my ‘troughs of disillusionment‘ when it’s work that matters and gives me a purpose and belief in what I’m doing.

Can we stop the “Start Up Bullshit”?

An article for those who view the start up world/bubble/valuations with more than a cynical raised eyebrow.

Our author drills into familiar territory for those of us attached and aware of the excesses of start up culture.

He takes a dig at ‘college dropouts’ the ‘Uber for X phenomenon’ and those gurus and survivor bias authors who engineer 15 mins of amazon fame to cement their keynote speaker status.

You get the drift …. read more here

Book of the week : Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

You might be familiar with leadership ‘guru’ Simon Sinek – who is all over my You Tube algorithms.
That said, I’ve enjoyed his book/presentation based around his golden circle of why, how, what.  

Always start with the why.

Quote of the week
Sell the results, Not the nuts and bolts” – Richie Norton

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