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Managing Fear: The skill founders need to learn [Michael Seibel, YC Partner]

“The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function” – Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Charles Speirs – 101st Airborne Division, World War II

Michael Seibel, YC Partner

I’ve been trying to figure out how to help founders avoid making decisions based on fear. Strangely a quote from Band of Brothers keeps coming to mind…
“The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function” – Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Charles Speirs – 101st Airborne Division, World War II
I don’t know if this is a real quote or hollywood but I hope it’s real.
I don’t believe feeling fear is bad. But most bad decisions I see pre-product market fit YC companies make are motivated by fear above all else.
I need to raise more money (and dilute more) because I fear running out of money.
I need to hire more people because I fear we have too much work to do or I don’t have the experience needed to do the work.
I need a mentor / investor to tell me what to do because I fear I can’t talk to my customers and figure it out myself.
Also I see founders running away from the facts they fear in their business…
You fear your unit economics so you don’t calculate / track it.
You fear your churn rate so you don’t measure churn.
You fear your payback period on advertising so you make up a mostly fake LTV estimate.
You fear your lack of demand so instead of talking to customers you hunker down and build the “perfect product”.
The best founders I know can execute well even when they are afraid (and trust me – the good ones feel fear a lot).
Most of the advice on how to get to product market fit is available publically for free. Can you manage your fear well enough to follow the advice?

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