For startup founders, both the promoter and realist are critical roles when it comes to launching and growing a successful startup. Learn how you can create a balance between them.

Ryan Hatch
Head of Product Strategy & Innovation
Andrew Verboncouer
Partner & CEO

Welcome to The Founder's Mindset series. One of the things we feel is important for founders and entrepreneurs is to realize that you have multiple roles to fulfill. One is a promoter, and the other is a realist. Being a promoter is an important, critical role. And it's natural - human nature is let's talk about my ideas. Let's tell people about what I'm thinking - and that is so critical. Fully encourage that. That includes talking to potential customers, potential partners, potential investors, potential co-founders. And it's a sales role. The promoter role is you're always selling, right? You should be doing this. And it's great because, without that, you'll never land a deal. You'll never raise money. You'll never do all the things you need to do. So you need to fulfill that sales role.

At the same time, we see founders getting trapped in that role alone, where they will become professional pitch competition winners. And they will think that raising money in itself is validation or that pitching is validation. It's all about the show and just getting on TV shows and PR and news articles, and it becomes this obsession to promote. And so, while that's valuable, it's important to be able to sell and to do that in the right way. Don't get tempted to do that and make that your only role.

So the promoter role is really important because you need that vision. You need to lead with that passion for what you're doing, and you need to sell, right? The other important role is the realist. The realist role is the ability to question yourself.

You can't believe your own bull, right? You have to be able to question yourself and say, is what I'm saying really true? And there are all sorts of assumptions baked into your business model, baked into what you think you're trying to do. There are lots of assumptions you're making that you might not be aware of yet. Is that true?

Stepping back and being able to reflect - [being a] realist is being able to... There's often a gap between your theory  right, and what you think to be true, and what your vision is - and the reality. And there's always a gap there. So it's being conscious of how big is that gap and being able to check yourself and slow yourself down.

So the realist is also a really important role - an equally important role to the promoter. But we see people also get stuck there, where they'll go into execution mode, and they'll go heads down, and they won't talk about what they're doing. And then later, they don't have customers lined up. They don't have partnerships lined up. They're not able to raise money. And so you need both, you need both the promoter to lead with vision, to be able to sell, and you need the realist, the humility to check yourself and to see where you might be wrong.

And that leads with humility. So there's promoter and realist, and you need both.