Dangerous stories

I was watching The Dropout and it got me to read a tonne of stuff about Elizabeth Holmes. The storytelling was pretty interesting but my main takeaway was that Elizabeth Holmes seem to be so extremely caught up with the story about young founders, raising startup capital, changing the world, getting the serious guys, putting together pitches, that she forgot what matters was for the startup to have something that actually works.

The thing about business is that we have been so caught up with the story of having to sell. We usually have something that works but people don’t buy it. The challenge becomes selling, making things convincing, faking it till you make it. There’s the endless chicken-and-egg issues that you have to get over. Yet once you enlist the network effect, there’s no return, and the ground game have to catch up with the air game.

What if you keep pushing the story in the air game, in order to get more funding, to get higher valuations, to be able to get your ground game in order? At some point the leverage becomes so high, the margin becomes too thin for you because the gap between promise and reality is so wide. It will just unravel. One of the things about stories is that they can really drive us – so it’s also important that our stories have some firm footing in reality; knowing not just which story to pick and write but which are the ones you actually can write.

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