Recently I told my co-founder I knew he was ‘the one’, but it wasn’t because he fit the profile of someone I would consider marrying, but because I had come to the realization that I would be willing to do something illegal for him – not that he asked me, but the thought randomly crossed my mind of just how far would I go for him?!
Then I started thinking about the irony of people who always advise that you choose a business partner based on someone you would want to marry. The crazy thing is that between the ages of 25-39 is when 60% of all divorces happen (in the U.S) – which is also around the same time that people are active in launching a business or getting connected to the startup life!
So I would highly advise you NOT choose a co-founder or team based on a person that you would want to marry!!!
Besides, do you really want to wake up everyday wondering if this shotgun relationship had to do with your ‘emo’ offspring projects and loss of more than half your assets??
He ain’t no genius…but he sure is fun! ;-)
When I think of my daily adventures with my (business) partner in crime, I think of a classic scene and dialogue from the movie Body Heat with Mickey Rourke as he and his partner are planning their first ‘major crime’ –
I got a serious question for you: What the f’ are you doing? This is not sh** for you to be messin’ with. Are you ready to hear something? I want you to see if this sounds familiar: any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you’re gonna f’ up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you’re a genius… and you ain’t no genius. You remember who told me that? ….
That message is so ‘spot on’ in terms of the entrepreneur and startup life. It seems like we are always getting into insanely crazy adventures and trying to think of every possible solution to build a flawless product/service and avoid any type of disasters. And no matter how many bright ideas and solutions we bring to the table, when it’s time to execute the idea, something still goes Wacky Wednesday.
So it is that guy or that girl who is going to live without question through those seemingly dangerous and (looking back) borderline stupid and poorly thought out adventure(s) with you (and then argue that it was still a genius idea) is the one you should be looking to partner with.
A co-founder boy/girl with ‘issues’ is a must
Without question, the world, your mother included (although she will be the first to come around), will think that your partner has some kind of issues or hidden agenda and is definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Indeed this is a good sign that your partner already has the visible markings of a past life that was a little ‘sketchy’.
But what you will see if you look a little more closely is that they have:
The continuously fighting and unwavering spirit and faith of the underdog who knows that on any given day any man can win;
The unfinished and jagged edges of a semi-precious gem somehow missed in the sifting process;
Deep scars that tell remarkable stories of heroic and fearless (aka stupid) acts that will appear every now and again for a brief moment when you least expect it but most need it.
As my company and my life are now 5,000 miles/8,000 km away from my hometown and home country and I am here ‘alone’ and have had to re-group several times, I think I notice these things more because I live, for the most part, completely immersed in my work here without the support system that I have long known.
Like many of the people I have met on my journey here before him, my co-founder has an added responsibility as he is also my family, my therapist and my best girlfriend all in one. I am sure he just loves to hear about my drama ‘with boys’ in my raving fan club…although he only makes really funny one line responses to those conversations….hahah.
If you can’t see it, you can’t build it.
– Greg Balanko Dickson
But one thing that he was able to do that many others before him were not is he was able to help me better see where my respective skills, communications style and (strong) personality provided the most value in achieving the goals and greater vision of the company.
And he was also able to help me [fill in the blank] while utilizing life hacking tools and putting systems in place to provide support while I continued building and refining my skill set.
With more confidence, organization, clarity and being able to measure progress of our greater vision when money or clients were not a key performance indicator, ultimately has resulted in real impact, real clients and huge personal and professional growth for the both.
And above all, ever since the early days of meeting him, everyday in every way, life and all its adventures has been a lot more fun (and funny) for me!
Living dangerously with your partner in crime:
At any rate, certainly anybody who needs to be led into temptation doesn’t deserve to enjoy it and these are just a few things that I have learned during my many thrilling adventures with my ultimate partner in crime:
- Got to be willing to take a bullet for the team: Getting shot and shot at comes with the territory. The entrepreneurship and startup life can be much like a war zone, so expect to be shot, and more than once. If your partner is nearby (which he should be since he is supposed to ‘cover your back’), he will come for you immediately.
- Making the master plan is half the fun: The magic comes from what happens in the long days and nights you put in leading up to the “big show” moreso than the ‘big show’ itself. While you wish you had a stage manager and a director and a person doing the music and the lights and a costume designer, the reality is this is your first production. And you have not even picked the venue or the getaway car!!! You have what you have and will still be expected to make a killer production that goes off without a hitch. Until you can hire people with neatly defined titles and roles, everybody has to be willing to do everything.
- Must be able to withstand the interrogation process: Day in and day out you will receive questions about all types of things to the ‘enth degree. And every now and again you will have to go in and answer to ‘the authorities’. They will try to break you down and make you feel the smallest of small and some of the things they are going to ask will make you want to cry. When you are all sitting at the table getting pimp slapped left and right, individually and collectively, because your story has so many holes and gaps, at the end of the day who will have your loyalty?
Without a doubt, my partner in crime has my full and unconditional loyalty and commitment and my ‘co-founder love’ for him is so dysfunctional that yes, I would even go to jail for him. But as part of our saving the world mission, we all know in reality that 1 step forward illegally means 2 steps (or more) back eventually.
So let’s all just agree to live dangerously….good!