Don’t take no for an answer. But when their product is in the marketplace to no acclaim, to little adoption, they pivot.

He who is invested in the present will get lost in the future.

Founders remember when they were broke, what it took to gain traction, managers can do only thus. Which is why Apple is failing under Tim Cook yet burgeoned under Steve Jobs. Jobs remembered working in the garage, hustling… When Steve came back to Apple he was willing to make the big decisions, the big leaps forward, he slimmed the product line, narrowed the focus and went all in on an advertising campaign that satisfied himself, not focus groups. If you’re not willing to leave some people out, you will never succeed. Play to somebody, not everybody. Remember when Jobs famously said he was ceding the enterprise to focus on education? Today education is owned by the Chromebook. You must own something or you own nothing. Right now Apple has a huge footprint in mobile phones, but worldwide iOS is dwarfed by Android. Will the next great leap forward come from Apple? Probably not, probably from another outsider with nothing to lose who has pivoted from failure to success. There is no founder left at Apple, it’s to their detriment. There are no founders left at the major record labels, to their detriment. With the roll-up of live entertainment scrappy founders have been eviscerated, centralized buying might do well for the bottom line today, but hampers you in the future, there’s no one with their ear to the ground taking chances locally, and concert promotion will always be a local business.

Founders are not hampered by their education. The reason so many successful entrepreneurs never finished college is because college too often puts you in a box, tells you how to think, emphasizes no instead of yes.

Founders have vision, and although they should never stop listening to the input of others, they must make decisions based on their own inner tuning fork. The difference between failure and success is often 1%. Something resonates with the public or not. The founder is the barometer of that 1%, he knows what works and what doesn’t. For every story of a label forcing an act to make a hit single, there are tons more of acts defying labels and refusing to cave and ultimately having success. The record company didn’t want to put out John Cougar Mellencamp’s “American Fool,” but he stood his ground and “Hurts So Good” became a huge hit and he can still do good business today. Whereas he who is molded by the man is forgotten tomorrow.

Society tries to make the renegades conform, yet ultimately flocks to the renegades. It’s a conundrum, I know. Rubio said what the Republican brass wanted to hear, Trump said what the Republican rank and file wanted to hear. You either work for the man or are the man, make your decision.

Timing is everything. He who goes out on a limb may find his ass on the ground if it’s too early, his rewards may be reaped by someone following in his path.

Rule-breakers are excoriated until they are embraced. If you can’t handle the hatred, work for the man.

Backward compatibility is a recipe for death. If you’re not willing to toss over the past, you will not win in the future. Best example, Microsoft. And if you think owners are bitching because the MacBook only has a USB-C connector, you don’t own one.

You’re broke, then money comes in hand over fist, then you triumph by working the edges. When someone is working the edges, employing subterfuge and leverage, you know it’s time for them to be disrupted, they’re too inured to the past, the way things have been done, their profit, to take a risk.

Failure is not a badge of honor because of the loss, but because of the experience. The reason VCs invest in those who have failed is because they’ve been in the trenches, they’ve learned lessons. No one likes failure, no one wants to invest in failure, it’s not a badge of honor, but it does build character.

Founders are willing to bet the farm, they’re all in. They’re the crazy people who will bankrupt you, but they’re also the people who will make you rich. The most successful artists are the most impossible people.

Founders have incredible insight, incredible powers of analysis. That’s what separates the winners from the losers, the ability to see that which no one else can. You’re born with some of it, but most you learn through experience and education. It’s about putting the pieces of the puzzle together, not knowing just one specific piece, otherwise you’re just a cog in their game.

Founders don’t fight unwinnable battles. If there’s no point of entry, if the odds of success are low, they don’t start.

Founders often twist their past experience into a new venture. Simon Cowell didn’t burgeon until he took his A&R act to TV. And he triumphed because he didn’t change who he was, he didn’t sand off his rough edges once he was in the public eye. America hates a phony.

Founders don’t tell people what they want to hear, they give them what they need.

A founder knows when to jump to the big time, when to compromise, when to do that deal. He understands that success breeds new opportunities and you must make deals to grow. He who is unwilling to change, unwilling to be expedient, should be avoided at all costs. This sounds like a contradiction, but really it’s all just nuance. You’ve got to stick to your guns on the song, but if it’s twenty minutes long you’ve got to let the label do a radio edit. If you’re making money by manufacturing in your basement, you must be willing to source overseas to produce 100 or 1000x cheaper, even if it means ceding some management and ownership functions. We live in a society, and he who needs to function alone forever never wins.

Founders can be assholes, but if they’re successful we’ll tolerate nearly every personality. But it’s very hard to be that successful right out of the gate. People skills are key, but never sacrifice your backbone.

Experienced professionals will tell you you’re on the wrong path. But founders can see something they can’t. If you’re moving forward on sheer passion and desire and everybody else is saying no you’re probably not on a path to victory. But if you’re playing three-dimensional chess when they can only see two, you’ve got a chance.

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