Week 2: CEOs: Will you crack? Or will you conquer?

This post is the second in a series titled “The Chronicles of 500: Weekly Essays on What I Learned from 500 Startups.”  Andy is currently the CEO at LaunchGram.

This week at 500 Startups got me thinking a lot about what it means to be a CEO. I’ve spent the last day writing something like six or seven pages worth of thoughts. Almost all of them were pure crap, so I’m keeping this short.

Yishan Wong, the CEO at Reddit, did a fireside chat at the 500 Startups office this week. A general consensus came about amongst all of us in the CEO role during the conversation that: “as CEO, you basically always feel bad.” This is because there is always something going wrong in the CEO’s mind. We know what could be done better, and we know what our weaknesses are. It is scary. It is obnoxious.

But you have to make a choice. Are you going to let the pain and stress get to you? Are you going to be a loose cannon and take things out on your co-founders and employees? Or are you going to learn how to manage your psychology and be the leader your team needs you to be?

As CEO, you are going to be terrified a lot and you are going to be pissed off a lot. Good. That means you care. The fundamental choice though, is how you channel your fear and frustration. Will you be paralyzed by fear, or will you learn to find the crown of self-control called calmness? Will you be pissed off for pity, looking for someone or something to blame? Or will you you be pissed off for greatness? Will you crack? Or will you conquer?

I hope you choose the latter.

Thanks to Jarrett Klingbeil for editing drafts of this post.