writing / #2 founder training needs a proof of practice

#2 founder training needs a proof of practice


we should treat founders more like athletes training to win

elite athletes compete to win at the highest levels. competition is measured by the final score board. tallying points or ranked timing makes it simple to separate winning from losing in any given game.

to increase the probability of winning, personal performance is cultivated in direct practice—ie. playing the game as a scrimmage—or indirect practice—ie. training the fundamentals in sprinting, power, strength, or individual skillsets.

this path for practice is missing for founders.

elite founders compete to win at the highest levels. competition is harder to measure as there is no ‘final score board,’ only moments in time to measure performance in the market.

revenue is the main proxy for success but hard to measure with so many contributing variables. exit, either from acquisition or going public, is the main north star for any vc backed startup. outside of financial mechanics of a business, it's hard to evaluate success in environments of high uncertainty.

digging deeper, there is no clear way to train personal performance as a founder. it’s a solo journey where the expectation is to figure it out and filter insights from conversations with those who have done it before.

if the world’s best chess players train like soccer players with physical endurance training and refueling regiments to play 2 hour games over 10 days, why not support founders in building the same physical and mental toughness as they work 9-12 hour days over 10 years?

new forms of practice are being tested in season 1 of the founder dojo with

direct practice

  • show n tell, neuralink style for recruitment
  • live series a case studies as scrimmages in decisions
  • 1-1 curated conversations with investors, mentors, and coaches

indirect practice

  • memo based feedback
  • mindset and skillset training
  • active recovery sessions and founder debriefs

how you practice is how you perform

“there’s this notion of ‘you gotta keep on training. you can have a bad race, but you still have to put in your 70 miles every week.” tom ceo of tegus ($3B+ valuation)

with 2,500 customers and 700 employees and a background in distance running, tom explains the analogy for sales in continuing to put in the work to reach an output. as a founder and ceo, he still talks with a dozen or more customers each week.

how you practice is how you perform. practice is so important because it's the smallest unit of action to cultivate skills needed to win goals.

h/t to coach john berardi for this concept in his book change makers

it's more obvious when practice is based in physical sport, but in the realm of building, it's less clear because founders have to iterate until they find what works, constantly learning and growing.

measure progress with proof of practice

what makes this even more challenging, is how much ofa a founder's game is intangible, such as their mindset when losing core customer or team member or their ability to recover to keep up energy levels across long days. it's also not always obviously causal as there are so many variables.

when at the gym, athletes can keep a log of progress including number of repetitions, weights, or timing. in a game, there is a log of points.

for founders, this log can be used in training to create a proof of practice to measure what is often intangible or hard to track.

other founders are using this to make platforms enabling more ambitious builds

  • balaji uses proof of practice in his 1729 newsletter to get people to do things. example: submit first written newsletter, and earn $$$. (h/t for initial idea)
  • alexis ohanian built a cerebro dashboard for his 776 vc fund as proof of practice for the 1000+ data points they have in a year helping their founders.
  • navid based tks's learning platform on proof of practice as each student has a portfolio with technical blogs, consulting decks, and overview videos of projects.

for founders, depending on what the goal and practice is, there are ways to log a proof of practice:

  • physical workout
    • max - whoop strain score or workout log
    • min - sweaty selfie to a friend for accountability
  • physical recovery
    • max - recovery score from whoop or oura ring
    • min - log wind down and number of hours slept
  • mental workout
    • max - set intentions, capture actions, and reflect on new mindsets trained
    • min - 10min of thinking time end of the day written or recorded in stream of consciousness style
  • mental recovery
    • max - retreat away, unplugged and disconnected to rest and reset
    • min - 1 day unplugged completely
  • skillset training
    • max - track input kpis and progress weekly with what was done and learned
    • min - write reflection on progress made

elite performance can be trained with practice

high standards are trainable, and yet, there’s a critical mass of smaller things that lead to elite performance as a founder (to be explored more).

i want to help activate more founders to cross the threshold into elite performance to have the endurance and resources needed to solve the important problems they set out to.

winning in this case is in solving the problems at hand, and to increase the probability more people do that, we need a new paradigm of practice.

if you liked this, have feedback, or more resources to share, send me a note on twitter.

made with 🖤 in sf.