This Founder’s Ego Got in His Way of Making Decisions

I know this guy who stopped working with immature business owners.

He told me that it’s just too time consuming and painful, especially when their ego is some brazen beast that they let roam free.

However, at one point in his life, he did experience this type of “leader” who was assigned to lead a company.

Back in 2008, he was running a lead generation firm with a few other people. He was the VP or President of marketing. He doesn’t really remember, it was such a long time ago.

However, he started the business with six founders, then dropped down to three. At first, he tried to close the leads the company was generating in house. They were doing absolutely horrible at pitching their product.

So, instead, they changed directions and moved into lead generation. Immediately, their gross income jumped from like $5,000 a month to $50,000 a month, which is a significant change. They were able to afford payroll! While they were building traction and creating a name for themselves, the founder who was financially backing the project got greedy. He wanted to close the leads in house again.

They tried this before.

They failed.


So, their sales staff, followed by my friend, along with the other partner all advised against the move.

My friend suggested that if they were even to consider doing something like this, they should make a smooth transition. The partner who was financing the deal dropped the topic.

They had about two more meetings like this.

Then, all of the sudden, two months later, the financier made some executive vote to change everything overnight. They didn’t even make a smooth transition into the change. Their revenue streams dropped immediately.

My friend stressed out for months on end, stating that it takes three months for a sales person to learn how to sell a product, but the financier didn’t listen.

The financier just made the move, and everyone eventually lost their jobs.

On another occasion, in 2010, my friend worked at a discount membership company, much like Passport Unlimited. He started off as just an outside sales person, because he needed a job and didn’t care what he was doing nor how much he was getting paid. He says they’re the easiest sales quotas he’s ever had in my life, by the way.

However, the founder didn’t manage the sales team well. He recruited twenty sales people and only one person met his quota.

My friend.

Everyone else quit.

My friend didn’t even try. He just emailed a handful of his friends and asked them for favors. He hit his quota his first week.

The sales contract stated out, if you get 30 accounts in month one, you would receive an iPad. 40 accounts month two, $2,000. 50 accounts month three, $3,000. From there, you would have a $5,000 a month salary.

So, a week went by and my friend had his thirty accounts, so he told his boss. For some reason, he never got his iPad.

The C.E.O. said he had $200,000 in the bank from his investors. That was a lie, because he couldn’t even pay for my friend’s iPad. Its three years later and my friend still doesn’t have an iPad. I’m kind of sad about that for him.

However, anyways, the C.E.O had him come into the office daily. The C.E.O. insisted that he become the VP of Marketing. Then the C.E.O. gave him a vesting schedule for 5% ownership of the company.

My friend didn’t ask for any of it. All he wanted was his iPad.

Well, anyways… From there, my friend took the company from around 150 existing vendors to well over 1,000, from December 2010 to June 2011. He said it was the easiest thing ever, signing on vendors…

My friend created all the collateral material. He wrote all the copy. He basically did everything, except negotiate prices out with vendors.

Keep in mind, they did most of this with like no money. Just enough to pay for the rent and gas.

They had set out a marketing strategy to target the market to start selling our product, and they had acquired a little bit of seed money to make the program work.

Some people change once they get five figures of cash in a Maggiano’s bag stuffed into their lap. Or, they become more of who they truly are. Who knows.

But it seemed that this C.E.O. became unsure of their plan that my friend helped design, which was certain to work. Or even falling back onto promoting the product the same way he used to, which attained 20,000 units in sales.

The C.E.O. went to some tech start up thing. His intention was to meet with the C.E.O. of Myspace at that time. He saw Paige Craig’s pitch about BetterWorks, got scared, and wanted to redesign the structure of how to attain sales in the market, by duplicating his business model.

My friend told him it was a stupid idea. My friend told him their branding didn’t match. My friend told him that no one would want to buy the product in that fashion.

The C.E.O. didn’t listen.

I guess they tried it anyway.

My friend knew the C.E.O. was going to fail, so he bailed, giving up all his equity, and then applied to work with Mr. Craig.

In that time frame, the C.E.O. only paid my friend $2,300 to lock down over 1,000 vendors. Only $2,300 to make all the collateral material. Only $2,300 for 7 months of his time.

Reviewing his old contracts, they state my friend was supposed to make $20,000 and have an iPad in that duration of time.

He made around 10% of that.

Well, anyways, all my friend wanted was a salary and a stable job. He had no financial resources. He had nothing.

So what does his employer do after he steals a sales model that doesn’t work for the branding of his company?

When the C.E.O. gets a phone call from who could potentially be my friend’s new employer, the biggest Angel investor in Southern California, he defames my friend.

The C.E.O. lies and says there’s a police report out on my friend for sabotaging his company. He says my friend stole confidential information. He says my friend took all his data.

Imagine, getting a phone call from the #1 top Angel Investor in Southern California, and having him say “(Redacted name), I’m sorry, but I can’t meet with you.  I hear there’s a police report out on you.”

However, my friend didn’t do anything.

My friend just wanted a way out.

It’s not like the C.E.O. made anything anyways.

My friend wrote everything and compiled all the lists.

Afterwards, my friend even called the police station to see if there was a police report filed on him.

There wasn’t.


So my friend got out of tech and got a normal desk job at a Global Fortune 100 company.

My friend salvaged his reputation.

My friend stuck with what he did. He took a huge break from running businesses.

In the interim, the C.E.O.’s company went bankrupt.

Now my friend is onto bigger and better things. However, what he taught me was the following:

There should be no expectations of success. Just a focus to work hard and see if you could potentially reap some rewards. But sometimes, things just go wrong. You just have to live and learn. Here’s to a better tomorrow for my friend!

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.

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