Google famously brought Eric Schmidt on board to provide “adult supervision” for Larry & Sergey. A decade before that, eBay hired Meg Whitman to provide experienced leadership for the company founded by Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll. And long before that Apple brought on Pepsi Co.’s former president John Sculley to lead the organization which the two Steves built (didn’t work out quite as well). It’s a fairly common pattern.

The anti-pattern are the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world—founders who manage to grow with their companies, typically shifting from a building to managing mind and skillset Tweet This Quote

The anti-patterns are the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world—founders who manage to grow with their companies, typically shifting from a building to managing mind and skillset. Truth be told—it’s a rare sight.

This is a sweeping generalization: People seem to be either good at creating and building or managing and growing. Rarely do you find founders who can straddle both sides.

What this means for you is to first figure out where your strength lies: If you get your satisfaction out of creating something from nothing—welcome, you are entrepreneur-material. If you really enjoy managing and growing something, I suggest you find either a creator or builder with whom you can team up or a startup which you can join in their growth phase. You will just be more effective (and happier) that way.

Do the thing which you’re best at. And find people who augment your particular strengths Tweet This Quote

Secondly: If you are a creator or builder, keep asking yourself if your particular skillset is what the company needs at the point of development you’re at. If it is not, can you learn and (truly) master it? Or are you better off getting someone with that skillset in and make her or him your Eric Schmidt?

What’s important to understand is, there is no shame in this. Most of us are good at one thing, not at both (I for example am clear that I’m a creator/builder and utter rubbish at managing and growing the status quo).

Do the thing which you’re best at. And find people who augment your particular strengths.


This originally appeared on Pascal’s blog.

About the author

Pascal Finette

Pascal Finette

Pascal is the Managing Director of Singularity University's Startup Lab. He is also an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker who has worked in Internet powerhouses, such as eBay, Mozilla, and Google, and Venture Capital—starting both a VC firm and accelerator program.