Finally! On 2 September, we were able to welcome Fuckup Nights OWL once more as our guests in the Founders Foundation. Tristan Niewöhner and Eyüp Aramaz took us on a journey full of inspiring and funny fuckup stories and showed us that mistakes can be a helpful experience for a founder’s journey.
Why Fuckups Are Part Of Success
When we talk about our jobs, our hobbies, and our every-day, we like to put successes front and center – no one likes to brag about mistakes. Is this kind of judgment necessary though? Actually, no. it isn’t, because it doesn’t lead anywhere. Making mistakes is best way to learn.
If we talk openly about our mistakes we can profit from these learnings instead of trying to master every obstacle on our own. Sometimes, we have to fail, to find new, better-working ways and to surpass ourselves. That’s why it’s high time to remove failure from the list of taboos and talk openly about them.
We have summarized a few key learnings from the Fuckup Night with speakers Rebecca Soetebier and Stephan Jacquemot.
#1 Good Leadership Embodies Work-Life-Balance
What most founders don’t realize in the beginning: Being a co-founder at C-Level is a leadership role that carries a lot of responsibility.
The tasks that a leader has to tackle are already implied in the term itself. Their job is to lead their own team and lead it well. This, of course, is easier said than done but even people who have all their skills in this department fail at their task. What could be the reason for that?
Most often, you can trace back the root of failure to an overemphasis on everything job-related. If the workload is so high that there is no balance outside of work, you quickly get sucked into the “stress tunnel“. This creates a vicious circle that warps your perception in a way that only lets you see the things that go wrong, that leads the team into a position where its work is getting worse and they effectively become the authors of their own problems.
Important: Find a way to compensate privately! Excellent self-leadership leads you to recognize your own boundaries and how to deal ideally with stressful situations.
#2 A Good Team Is Not Only Built On Mutual Sympathy
Many founders make a big mistake right from the start: They go freelance with co-founders they feel sympathetic towards and rely mainly on their likability. In the process, domain knowledge gets neglected althought it’s crucial for success. Before looking for co-founders, you should focus on getting to know your own individual strengths. Only then it’s possible to find the ideal co-founder who complements your strength and brings complementary domain-knowledge into the company.
Unavoidibly, this leads to the necessity of role definitions because startups are always fighting with a lack of resources. It’s necessary that everyone occupies a disjunctive role so that as many problem fields as possible can be covered.
#3 Don’t Promote Your First Hires Immediately To a C-Level Position
Another common fuckup: In many startups, the first people that are hired are immediately rushed into a C-Level position or a “Head of […]”-position. It’s natural that such a role description immediately catches the attention of new team members but the role also has a lot instrinsic potential for frustration and overburdening.
There is another, more clever way: Position your first hires into a IC-Role at first. That way, you can first identify the strengths and stress tolerance of your new employees. Routes to promotion can still be instituted later and serve as an additional motivation for team members. Because a promotion into a higher position is always a reward for good results.