Over the last 5 years, I built a $4B company. Sounds awesome right? Not until recently. I made every mistake imaginable. The toughest part was getting my head right. Here are the 12 mindset rules that I’ve developed.
Rule 1: Get Started If you tell 10 people about your idea, it’ll go something like this: – 5 will say it won’t work – 3 will say you’re crazy – 2 will be indifferent The best part? None of these people’s opinions matter. Just get started. It’ll be the hardest thing you do.
Rule 2: Never Stop The leading cause of startup failure is founders giving up. If you don’t give up, you can’t fail. Easier said than done, I know. Some days you’ll feel on top of the world, some days you’ll feel like everything is breaking. Whatever it is, never give up.
Rule 3: Hire Uncomfortably Good People I started Bolt as a 19 year old college dropout. On paper, I was nothing. Most people think they should hire people they can one up. I did the opposite: I hired people WAY out of my league. It was a forcing function to mature fast.
Rule 4: Get Your Sh*t Together It took me A LOT of inner work to get this one. Early on, I was operating from a place of insecurity and fear. Productive in the short term, destructive in the long term. Preparation builds confidence. Do the work and trust your instincts.
Rule 5: Be OK with Failure I’ve studied 100s of successful startups. Lots of differences between the lot, but one commonality: they all have risk-seeking cultures. To get 10x outcomes, you have to take 10x risks. If you fail, do it fast, and move on.
Rule 6: Don’t Be OK with Too Much Failure Embracing failure is important but don’t fall in love with it. This is one of Bezos’ iconic leadership lessons from Amazon: “Be right, a lot.” People who are right = people who listen + people who change their mind.
Rule 7: Eat Healthy, Stay Balanced This is so underrated. Your company is a reflection of you. If you are unhealthy and imbalanced, your company will be too. I used to think I was invincible. As I (and everyone) eventually learned, nobody is. Take care of yourself.
Rule 8: Sometimes Get Unhealthy and Unbalanced Wait what? You just told me to do the opposite! We have a concept at Bolt called a “Lightning Week”. You should go into the red for short stints – this gets maximum intensity. Don’t be afraid to step on the gas.
Rule 9: Creativity is a Pillar of Execution Early on, I put a premium on logical thinking. While important, too much logic = too much rational thinking. To build something great you need to think outside the box. You need creativity.
Rule 10: Don’t Let People Get Too Creative Creativity pushes you to think outside the box. But here’s the thing – a lot of building a company is blocking and tackling. Boring is good – it creates predictability and durability. Be creative in planning; boring in execution.
Rule 11: Take It Seriously Conviction is cascading. Nobody is going to care more than you as the Founder. And honestly, you can’t expect them to. But everyone can have the same level of conviction. Aspire for that. Show your team you’re serious by making every day count.
Rule 12: But Don’t Take It Too Seriously If you’re not having fun along the way, you’re going to break. Not a question of if, more like when. I’ve made some of my best friends by working on Bolt over the last 5 years. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
And that’s it! Startups are tough – wherever you are in your journey, I salute you. I hope these 12 mindset rules help as you as much as they’ve helped me. I still reflect on all 12 of these every day.
If you enjoyed this thread give me a follow @ryantakesoff. I’m starting to tweet more and will be tweeting about lessons learned fundraising, building and operating a $4B+ business. Let’s take off together!