Northern California, the startup cradle of the world, is replete with superhumans. If you doubt me, just ask them. To live here is to live in an alternative universe where luxury white buses line the highway each and every day shuttling lesser gods to and from their open-concept work spaces at the Who’s Who of businesses like SalesForce, Google, Tesla, Facebook… well, you get the picture.
We certainly need these companies. And we need those workers who make the products and services that are valuable in our everyday lives. But if you live and work here, you also know there’s a rather unique quality about the tech culture that you probably won’t find anywhere else in the world—except maybe Hollywood a couple decades ago. There’s an unmistakable ego that has come with success. Certainly, an outsized ego has a purpose and a place in building and growing a business. Finding the line of demarcation between confidence and arrogance is the eternal challenge. Not getting sucked into the ego trap along the way to success is an excellent exercise and a subject of novels throughout history
The best reminder: do not read your own press. The intoxication of power has poisoned many a man through the annals of history and this is doubly so in the age of selfies and online everything. Companies are not built by lone founders, but by teams.
Success cuts both ways. CEOs, C-suites, managers, anyone with power over another, can ride the tide of success, but without the truth of self-awareness, the cold splash of reality will eventually prevail. We’re educated in a school system where students are judged on individual performance. Then suddenly we are in the workforce where teams are necessary for existence and customers are the determiners of success and reality.
Sustainable growth starts with a commitment to rise above the ego.