Traits of Successful Founders

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Ep. #519 - Traits of Successful Founders

In this Startup Hustle episode, Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson discuss the common traits of successful founders. Join the dynamic duo as we continue with the first few episodes of this “How to Start a Tech Company” podcast series.

Covered In This Episode

What are the most common traits of successful founders? Who better to answer this question than the Matts? Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson, two successful entrepreneurs, continue their Startup Hustle series “How to Start a Tech Company.” In the 3rd part of the series, the Matts explain the common characteristics of founders who succeeded in scaling up their startups.

Matt and Matt also tackle the traits that hinder founders from finding success. They point out which characteristics founders should cultivate and which ones they should try to change. From being agile to being patient and resilient, these traits will help entrepreneurs overcome challenges and succeed.

Get Started with Full Scale

Learn more by tuning into their conversation in this Startup Hustle episode.

Missed the previous episode? Click here to listen to the second episode of the “How to Start a Tech Company” series. Or join the Matts in the fourth episode here.

A Must-Listen Podcast for Entrepreneurs


  • Episode Intro (0:20)
  • The fine line that you walk as an entrepreneur (4:06)
  • Resiliency is a binary choice (9:39)
  • You have to know when to quit, and pivot (13:05)
  • The importance of being able to make changes quickly (16:22)
  • Tenacity and Emotional Intelligence (21:36)
  • Why you need to be humble as an entrepreneur (27:11)
  • Successful founders have a vision for the future (32:01)
  • What are some of the bad traits? (37:01)
  • Make decisions based on what you have at the time (42:16)
  • What are some of the traits that make a good entrepreneur? (47:49)
  • Wrapping Up (49:15)

Key Quotes

I think as a founder, I think the first thing you got to have is just guts. You got to be ready to bet the farm. You got to be willing to bet and gamble to some degree. And you got to think big, right? You got to have a big vision. And, you know, if you’ve got small ideas, and you don’t want to take any risk, probably not an entrepreneur, you got to have big ideas and a big vision.

Matt Watson

People want to know if they’re winning or losing. And that level of transparency builds trust. And it says like, hey, you know, like, I’m not going to just tell you what you want to hear, like, I can have my game face on and say, hey, look, I’m stressed about this too, so, we can sink, or we can swim. And I think that when we talk about resiliency, dedication, commitment, and hustle, like sink or swim is a binary choice. So like, you’re either up above the water, breathing air and kicking and paddling, or you’re underwater.

Matt DeCoursey

Listen to your customers and be agile and make those changes. Instead of being so hard-headed that you never, you know, you’re never successful because you’re not listening to what your customers are telling you. You have to listen to the market.

Matt Watson

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt DeCoursey 0:14
And we’re back! Another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey here with Matt Watson, hoping to have another conversation that helps your business grow. Hi, Matt!

Matt Watson 0:25
What’s going on, man?

Matt DeCoursey 0:28
Oh, man, I’m just doing a lot of soul-searching. And I’m really trying to define my own characteristics and my properties. And I want to see if I have what it takes to be a successful startup founder.

Matt Watson 0:42
Yeah, so the first couple of weeks, we’ve talked about why you should start a startup and what to expect and the traits of, of yourself and if you have the right traits, and I think the right founding team, you know, I think we’ve talked about maybe about the founding team a little bit too. And the traits of the team is a great topic today.

Matt DeCoursey 0:59
Yeah, and this is episode three of 52. Dude, we got a lot of work to do. A lot of work to do. But you did, Matt, you know, before we delve into the traits of a successful startup founder, I wanted to let you know that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by helping you build a software development team quickly and affordably. So you can have you can be missing the trait of being able to spot and identify software engineering talent, and we’ll help you cure that.

Matt Watson 1:34
Perfect. I need some help with that.

Matt DeCoursey 1:36
Okay, so on Sundays, yeah. And you know, we are our own clients. So, you know, we I’d say model tested as fair. Okay, so traits of successful founders, I think you said having a rich uncle was the top one.

Matt Watson 1:50
Yeah, that’s gotta be on the list.

Matt DeCoursey 1:52
Yeah, that’s so. So for the rest of this episode. You’ll be Uncle Matt.

Matt Watson 1:59
All right. Sure.

Matt DeCoursey 2:02
So you’re no longer the other Matt. Congratulations, you have graduated to Uncle Matt. So well, let’s, you know, before we dive in here, you know, we’ve spent, you know, here we are 500 Plus episodes into this whole thing. And the reality is, is I think we’ve spotted not only among the back and forth amongst each other. But with so many of the guests we’ve had that there is a repetition, a cadence and a pattern to who can not only be a successful founder, but like what personality types they are. And every you know, all of that before we get into the lists. I mean, do you would you like to address the court?

Matt Watson 2:39
Well, I think as a founder, I think the first thing you got to have is just guts, you got to be ready to bet the farm. You got to be willing to bet and gamble to some degree. And you got to think big, right? You got to have a big vision. And, you know, if you’ve got small ideas, and you don’t want to take any risk, probably not an entrepreneur, you got to have big ideas and a big vision. I mean, you can be an entrepreneur, if it’s a real small business, you’re like, Yeah, I sold bananas on the corner. Okay, well, that’s fine. You can entrepreneur, you can sell bananas, that’s cool. But in a world of startups usually trying to grow to every corner. And you got to think a lot bigger. So

Matt DeCoursey 3:26
Yeah, and you know that I think that risk aversion is a good place to start. Because like you said, there’s a there’s a, like a riverboat gambler mentality that does exist with most successful entrepreneurs. Because, I mean, if you’re afraid to put chips on the table, if you’re afraid to make the bet, it’s hard to win the bet. Yeah. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s the that’s not it’s easy. It’s easy to say that. It’s not as easy to make the bet. And I, you know, someone out there just like I do that has been talking about that new business, they’re going to start for a decade. And they haven’t done it. And the reason they haven’t done it is they’re scared. And I’ll just tell everyone listening, we were all scared. I mean, I’m still scared on Sundays. Yeah, there’s, there’s a fine line that you walk as an entrepreneur where on one side of it, it’s like, broke and destitute. And on the other side of it is like Lambos and jets. And it’s weird, because, like that, it really does feel like a tight rope. I mean, do you agree?

Matt Watson 4:35
Well, yeah, and some mornings you wake up in one phase, and by the afternoon, you’re in the other and then the final phase by the end of the night, you’re in your tears and beer. So

Matt DeCoursey 4:45
Yeah, tears and bears is a real thing. So all right, well, let’s talk about some of the things so you want to go good or bad first.

Matt Watson 4:52
Let’s start with the good.

Matt DeCoursey 4:55
Okay, I like it. I like it. So, alright, so for those of you listening, we have been asking the Startup Hustle, Facebook chat for input on things and whether the members of the group are aware or not. You have been providing us with input and guidance on some of these because, you know, we try our best to prepare for the shows, but we want to hear what other people have. Your way. Sorry. I said, prepare and yeah, to sterically. Yeah. Is this a good time to mention that I had to call you and ask you if you were going to show up for today’s show? And you’re like, oh, yeah, at the time that you chose nonetheless, so yeah. Oh, man. All right. So good traits. Let’s go with let’s start with you gotta know how to hustle. I mean, if you don’t have hustle, and you don’t have drive and determination, it’s probably over.

Matt Watson 5:49
Yeah. And to me, that’s the like, part of it’s the you got to get shit done. And whatever it takes, you got to do it, right? You’re like, you know, you got to jump through a lot of hoops. There’s a lot of difficulty. You know, we’ve got some other qualities on our list here that go into this, but you just got to figure out whatever you got to do, you got to do it. You got to get the shit done. Now, you know, you gotta hustle.

Matt DeCoursey 6:12
Yeah. And I think I think the hustle and the drive, you know, now that’s easy for me because I got ADHD, which I actually think when it comes to being an entrepreneur and a founder and all that, I think it’s a plus, because I it’s harder to slow me down, you have a harder time slowing me down than you would rubbing me up. Now sometimes that might be annoying, or a whole lot of other things. But getting up and doing it has never been the the tough part for me. Now for some people it is, and we’ve talked in the past about founders depression and the roller coaster that you go through. That sucks drive energy and determination out of any person. So if you’re not if you’re not naturally driven, and you don’t have that, Hey, get up and do it. Like you’re not a cat. If you’re not a can-do person, you got to figure some stuff out.

Matt Watson 7:04
Yeah, I think you hit on a big one, there is energy, right? We all only we, we all have just a certain amount of energy to do different things, right? Like, I only have so much energy to play with my kids. And then once that energy is done, I’m just done with my kids like, right. And work is the same way you only have so much energy to put into things. And a startup demands a lot of energy and a lot of commitment on a daily basis.

Matt DeCoursey 7:28
I mean, it’s like raising children. I mean, like literally, like, sometimes it’s gonna shed its pants. I mean, there’s no and you got to stop and clean it up. Like, it’s true. I mean, it’s true. Sometimes it’s gonna wake up at three in the morning screaming and crying. Sometimes, and sometimes it’s going to look at you lovingly and say, You know what, I love you too. And those are the moments that you have to grab, put your arms around, and really get into because, you know, like, it’s, I mean, it’s it’s tough. All right. So, I mean, what’s next on our list. You know, a successful startup founder is committed.

Matt Watson 8:11
Yep, absolutely. They’re all in.

Matt DeCoursey 8:14
I mean, and that’s, that’s just like, another me. But that’s different than drive. You can be driven, you can be a task count, you can be someone that wants to really get out there and do a ton of stuff. But you might not be committed. So your difference.

Matt Watson 8:29
So you’re saying if, like, every other weekend, when I have free time, maybe I work on my startup, there’s not enough commitment. No. Shit,

Matt DeCoursey 8:39
go all in. You gotta go all in man. Like all in any order. You have to have your eyes on all and you know, and I think that, you know, we talked about that in the last couple episodes where you know it, okay, it’s the safe play, maybe in the very beginning to it’s a side hustle, you’re testing. You’re seeing if things are going to work, you know, if it’s the right thing, but at some point, you’ve got to jump and build wings. You can’t be pregnant. Now, and you know, like when I say jump and build wings, there’s nothing that’s going to help you build those wings faster than the impending doom of hearing splat on the canyon floor. And for me, that’s motivated, you know, like, yeah, there’s, and I think you’ll agree for yourself as well. Sometimes the moments that I’ve done my best work and moved my businesses forward the most is when I felt cornered. Don’t put Matt in the corner. Is the rule, right?

Matt Watson 9:39
Yep, yep.

Matt DeCoursey 9:41
Okay. How about resiliency?

Matt Watson 9:47
Well, being a startup founder is definitely going to trust you know, test your resiliency on a weekly basis. Back to the energy level, you run out of energy and you’re just tired and things aren’t going well and You just got to get back up and take another punch.

Matt DeCoursey 10:04
Now we go ahead and lie our favorite quote out there.

Matt Watson 10:10
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

Matt DeCoursey 10:13
I mean, it’s true. So but that but that defines resiliency, I mean resiliency is, it is, you know, hey, I just failed, and I’m gonna pop back up. I’m gonna figure out how to do this. And you know, like you you’ve okay. What, how about being a cheerleader?

Matt Watson 10:34
Yes. Yep.

Matt DeCoursey 10:35
You want to remember that?

Matt Watson 10:38
Yeah. I mean, we had our company meeting yesterday, right? And it’s my job to get up in front of the company on Zoom and say, Hey, we had a great year last year, this is why we’re gonna have a great 2021 This is why this is our plan. This is how we’re gonna get there. Life is good. And then, you know, before and after the meeting, I might have been beer and beers and tears. But you know, during the meeting, you got to get up on stage and tell everybody that everything is good, right?

Matt DeCoursey 11:04
Game face. I think they call that game face sport. Yeah,

Matt Watson 11:11
things are going well. So I’m not, you know, I’m not I’m not lying to the team. So hello, for those you’re watching. But sometimes, that’s what you got to do, though. And when times are bad, though, you still got to get up and put your game face on and rally the team.

Matt DeCoursey 11:26
I think that transparency, though, at the same time, it a good trait for a founder, like you, like you’ve said, you know, and I quote you on this a lot now. And I was actually talking about this to our own staff at the company, you and I on together, which is Helping you build a software team quickly and affordably is people want to know if they’re winning or losing. And that level of transparency builds trust. And it says like, hey, you know, like, I’m not going to just tell you what you want to hear, like, I can have my game face on and say, hey, look, I’m stressed about this too, so we can sink or we can swim. And I think that when we talk about resiliency, dedication, commitment, hustle, like sink or swim is a binary choice, like halfway between the surface and the floor of the ocean is not swimming. So like you’re either up above water, breathing air and kicking and paddling, or you’re underwater.

Matt Watson 12:26
Yeah. And I mean, if you’re at war, you’re either attacking or retreating, you’re not going to stand there and take shots.

Matt DeCoursey 12:33
Sure, sure. I mean, well, there was a very well, there is the Fabian defense, which is actually almost like Retreat, retreat, retreat, retreat until you have worn out the other like, you’ve made the the attacking forces so tired from chasing you that you can now attack and win, but I’m not sure that that’s the greatest approach. All right, this next one is one that I truly specialize in. And I’m gonna say that it might define me on Sundays. How about being stubborn?

Matt Watson 13:04
Yeah. And that relates back to being committed, right? Yeah, the problem is, as a startup founder, you’ve also got to know when to quit, right? You got to know when to fail. And, and that’s one of the hardest things is, you know, you pour your soul into this thing, you think it’s the next big, the next big thing, you keep working on it. But at the end of so many dead ends, at some point in time, you got to figure out like, you know, we’ve tried this, we tried that we run out of funding where customers don’t like it, nobody’s buying it, like at some point in time, you’ve got to gotta know when to quit. And pivot.

Matt DeCoursey 13:39
Well, I think that I think that goes into the next item we have on our list, which is nimble, which All right, so what you know what I’m gonna back up, because I actually, you know, we talked about preparation now, like there is there are people that that do prepare for this, unlike someone I know, named Matt. I didn’t pin that on you, bro. I didn’t pin that on you. But, you know, we go back to, you know, we talked about resilience. And the actual definition of resilience is capable of withstanding shock, without permanent deformation or rupture, tending to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change. And I think that that goes in that that’s a good leader into the next trait, which is being nimble when the definition of nimble is quick and light and movement or action. Agile.

Matt Watson 14:33
Yeah, and I think this is part of what defines a startup, right? You’re starting a new business, you you think you’ve got the product figured out, you think you know who you’re gonna sell it to. And a lot of startups are just trying to balance those things and figure those things out. Right. And part of what you have to do is be agile and be nimble to figure out, oh, no, it’s a slightly different target audience that really needs my product. And the product needs these two different features that I never planned. And listen to your call. Customers and be agile and make those changes. Instead of being so hard headed that you never, you know, you’re never successful because you’re not listening to what your customers are telling you. You have to listen to the market.

Matt DeCoursey 15:11
And I want to talk about this for a minute because I think that it’s the too often just stuff whether it’s an article or a podcast or anything, a meeting, they’re like, Yeah, we need to be agile, or what the fuck does that mean? Yeah. Oh, like, like really? Like, what does it mean to be agile, like, are nimble it like Nath said, it’s, you know, it’s being on your toes. And being in a position, you know, we use the term Gameface earlier, like, if you ever played sports, like, you know, you don’t just see the guys in left field at major league baseball with their back turn to home plate while the pitch is coming in, you know, they’re down there, they’re in a ready position, they’re ready to move and go left, go right, go forward, go back. And you know, with that, they’re, you know, the ball is curving, or it’s dropping, or the winds blowing, or it hits a bird or something like that, like anything can happen. And the ability to be nimble and agile is is kind of like Matt alluded to saying it’s adjusting to market trends conditions, needs a product’s responses from your client base like anything, or and also like, Okay, this isn’t working next.

Matt Watson 16:22
Yeah. And you got to be able to make those moves quickly.

Matt DeCoursey 16:26
And, you know, well, and sitting on him for too long becomes expensive, it leads to missed opportunities, frustrated staff depletion of resources. I mean, there’s a zillion different things now, at the same time, you know, because the last term was was stubborn. It’s hard, you know, because it’s, it’s sometimes we’re ego-driven. And we Oh, no, I, I want to be right, so bad, then I’m gonna ride this until I am right. And then by the time you figure out that you’re not too late. Yep. It’s too late. So well, what’s ability to pivot? Same thing, right.

Matt Watson 17:07
Yeah, I mean, it’s listening to your customers and figuring out there’s something else you need to do or different market you should be targeting.

Matt DeCoursey 17:14
You know, we were talking about taglines and favorite quotes. For the pot. And in the history of the podcast. You have one of my favorites. I’m one pivot away from greatness. Yes, that’s a good one. Is pivoting failing. No. I agree. I don’t think it is either. I think it’s just adjustments, you know, and as much as I hate the New England Patriots, and sorry, if you’re from New England, but I do. But Bill Bella check, it has a quote that I love, which is if you’re waiting till halftime to make adjustments, you’re waiting too long. And that’s an example of nimble and being able to make changes and and, you know, like, You got to be able to do that. And that I mean, those are pivots, those are changing, like, hey, these plays are not working, running the ball up the middle. It didn’t happen. So let’s throw one deep. Let’s do something. Let’s change it up. Let’s mix it up. Like our own hometown chiefs won the playoff game against the Browns recently, by throwing a pass on fourth and inches. Like what? Yep. But it was trying something different. It was a riverboat gambler mentality. And here’s the thing. Browns weren’t expecting it. Sorry, Cleveland. And by the way, my friend Jason Morris, who’s probably not listening, but I’ll call him out. He is from Cleveland. And it was so cute. He thought the Browns were going to win. So he bet me $100 He’s got to send me apparently Cleveland has world-famous stadium mustard or something. So he’s got to send us a bunch of that. And he asked to wear a chiefs jersey and route for the chiefs in the AFC Championship and do it on social media this weekend. So yeah, sometimes you gotta be able to take advantage of opportunities, right? Yeah. All right. So back to these traits about discipline.

Matt Watson 19:08
Yeah, I mean, you got to stick to a plan, you got to make a plan and stick to it. And I think that’s one of the biggest problem startups make is they they meander around, right, they don’t, they don’t pick a strategy and make the strategy work to your point they had earlier, like, if you have ADHD, and you’re constantly changing your plans around, it’s hard to be successful if you if you don’t have discipline to stay, you know, in one lane and make it work.

Matt DeCoursey 19:33
So, you know, discipline, self discipline. You know, I’ve always defined that as the ability to do things at the time that you want to do them the least.

Matt Watson 19:42
Yes, yes. Yeah. I

Matt DeCoursey 19:44
mean, because they’re a great way to. I mean, it really is because people like well, what is discipline and it really is, once again, discipline, more specifically self discipline is doing the things that you need to do at the times that you want to do them the least that’s it I mean, dude, it’s really easy to get up and do things when you want to do them. It’s about doing the stuff and, and look, this is hard. It’s hard. You know, you talked about you have a video on the Startup Hustle YouTube channel and go check it out that why you call up the Startup Hustle. And you know, you in 60 seconds, you very clearly defined like the kind of crap you’re gonna have to go through. It’s usually about doing things that you don’t know how to do that you don’t want to do doing them at the times. You don’t want to do them. But they’re key and they’re crucial. And like some of the some of the measures of discipline like okay, so even though I don’t admire him as a person, Floyd Mayweather, the boxer is an amazing example of discipline. Do you know that dude, when he’s training for a fight, he gets up and we’ll run like 20 miles at like three in the morning? Because he knows he’s training when has competition isn’t?

Matt Watson 20:51
That’s nuts. That’s discipline now.

Matt DeCoursey 20:54
Yep. That’s discipline. Let’s like, I mean, that’s, and it’s now discipline is something you can train yourself to do. But you don’t you I don’t think you’re just born disciplined.

Matt Watson 21:09
And some of it is as simple as, you know, scheduling on your calendar, like, hey, every week at this time, I got to do this shit. I know. I don’t like doing it. But it’s on my calendar, and I got to do it.

Matt DeCoursey 21:17
Is that kind of like the podcasts today? Yes. Yeah. So. So wait a minute. So that means having your business partner call you and be like, Dude, are we still doing the podcast at the time that you picked? And you’re like, Yes, I’m, I’m on it. Discipline as I’m on it. Perfect. Do well, then, is that next on our list?

Matt Watson 21:43
Yeah, tenacity.

Matt DeCoursey 21:46
So, you know, one of our recent guests, a guy named Eric Kleist, and maybe our first guest from an might have been from Oregon, or Idaho is Idaho, like, that might be 48 out of 50 on our list, on our listeners list, by the way. So when it comes to tenacity, you said, you gotta have the ability to be devastated by failure for one second, then bounce right back up. It’s very, like there’s a recurring theme in the traits now that we’ve gone down this list. Like, you’ve got to be able to get up from getting knocked down.

Matt Watson 22:21
Yep, absolutely. And I think the next one on our list here kind of summarizes some of it. But on us being able to have strong emotional intelligence, and I think it’s, you know, the control of your own emotions, and understanding them. But almost even more importantly, is the emotion of others, you know so much about business is it’s about people and understanding your employees understand how were they were doing back to your point earlier about being a cheerleader, right. It’s keeping them motivated, making sure they’re happy, make sure they’re on the team, all that stuff, like a lot of it is understanding everybody’s emotions.

Matt DeCoursey 23:02
Yeah, and I think that that starts you know, I wrote about this, I have a whole section in my book balanced me about personality styles, because there’s four that exists and you’re driven, you’re influential, you’re steadfast, or you’re conscientious now the thing is, is, whatever personality style you are, it mixes differently with the other personality styles. And, you know, so to be even like planar about it, like Dr. and influential, those are type A and steadfast and conscientious or type B, now I’m a high type A, so I have to treat people that are Type B personalities are introverts a little different, because they not only react to my personality style, in a different way, they respond to external stimulus in another way. And you know, I I’ve often said, as a leader, I think that you have to with your people, you have to figure out who needs to be pushed and who needs to be pulled. Because pushing someone that needs to be pulled usually doesn’t work and the other way around, so and that’s an emotional intelligence and some of you know, so the definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others, which is kind of what I just defined and described. Absolutely. So, okay, more, we got more dude, this such, this is a great last, I want to thank our team that put this together and I really want to thank all the people in the Startup Hustle Facebook chat that made our job easier by talking about the things that that they had in there. So you know, okay, you got to have a belief in yourself if you don’t believe in yourself, Dude, get out of here.

Matt Watson 24:45
Yep, confidence is key. For sure.

Matt DeCoursey 24:48
And now that’s something that you’re I think you can learn to be confident. It’s not like I think that some some traits you’re you’re born with or locked in for pretty early in life, that’s one that you can figure out. All right, this next one is passion. Yep. Passion. Yep. We’ve, how much time have we spent talking about that? Dude? If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you’re gonna quit.

Matt Watson 25:17
Yeah, a lot of these things are all related. Empathy. Yeah, and for me, this is always been a hard one, especially earlier in my career, new titles, understanding like, Okay, I’m really good at this, but and other people aren’t, and how they do work versus how I do work and understanding their perspective and gets back to the emotions, just understanding who you’re dealing with and showing empathy is, and some people are super sensitive, right? And so it’s, it can be tricky, tricky to work with those people, you got to get Understand, understand them.

Matt DeCoursey 25:54
You know, my wife, Jill worked with us, and our first business that led to everything that we still do now. And we’re very different personality types. And I had to learn a lot about how to communicate with the opposite personality styles and the other way around. And, you know, that’s an empathy is tough. I think it’s really especially tough for people that are high Taipei’s like, because we start moving really quickly. And we’re really driven. And like, if you’re a highly driven person, you’re, you’re kind of just in that mode of like, crushing everything in your path, or literally shoving it out of the way. And it’s, I think it’s really easy to have a total lack of empathy because of that, I too, this is something that, well, this and compassion, which is next on our list is sometimes lacking. Now, I want to challenge compassion, because I don’t have compassion for my competitors.

Matt Watson 26:55
Yeah, for sure.

Matt DeCoursey 26:57
Do you?

Matt Watson 27:00
Not really. No.

Matt DeCoursey 27:01
it doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean I’m working and operating with no class. But in the end, I mean, I want it all.

Matt Watson 27:11
Man, I have a little compassion for the people that work there, but not necessarily the company.

Matt DeCoursey 27:15
Yeah. And that’s fair. That’s fair. Okay, how about humility?

Matt Watson 27:20
Yeah, I think I think everybody needs to be a little humble. I mean, I think that’s just a good trait in general,

Matt DeCoursey 27:25
to I think entrepreneurship is going to force you to be humble on many days. Now, I think a lot of people that I know a lot of entrepreneurs that aren’t, but I think that okay, so I think you just get handed, I think you have to take a tall you have to drink a tall glass to shut the fuck up conditionally as an entrepreneur, you know, like, hey, here you go. Here’s your extra large here’s your big gulp of shut the fuck up. Because, you know, did, the longer you’re an entrepreneur, the longer you do this, the better the chances that you’re going to that you are going to get some humility shoved down your throat and 2020 did that to a lot of people. Yep, it’s me. Now I’ve had I have and we I think the sooner you fail and learn that that’s part of the process, the easier it is to accept the fact that humility is coming your way like hubris is not a great quality as an entrepreneur. That’s not like me, first off, no one wants to be around and no one wants to deal with it. Okay, man, this next one is just you to a tee charming?

Matt Watson 28:35
Yeah, I think whoever is the leader of a company, they’ve got to be inspiring, little, little charming, right? I think those are leadership qualities that you got to have. Everybody’s got to love their boss. Gotta love the founder a little bit. If they just rubbed you the wrong way. No, I just don’t like that guy. You know, it makes it a lot harder to hire people and lead.

Matt DeCoursey 28:57
So this is this is an interesting one, because I don’t necessarily need you to like me, but I do need you to respect me. Yeah, you gotta respect the hustle. And I and there’s a little bit of a difference there. Yeah. It’s like, I’ll tell you what, if you’re going to work with me, like I have high expectations. I tell people that like before I hire someone, I sit them down. I’m like, hey, look, I’m just gonna be honest. I, I got high expectations. We try to do things on a world-class level. If you don’t think you’re up for that, you won’t last year long and you won’t like me, you in fact, you will fucking hate me. Because that’s, I want to make people that I don’t want to make you have to choose whether or not you’re going to be great. Right? I can’t make you great. I can’t motivate you. One of the most popular questions that I’ve gotten from other people over the years is how do I motivate my staff? And I say you can’t and like what do you mean, when you can’t people eventually have to motivate themselves? You can you can get people fired up like I have people ask me I think people asked me that because I have a lot of energy like That’s probably the most common thing that people have said to me over the last 10 years like, love the energy. Now energy is contagious, but it wears off. Yep. You know, and that’s and that’s the thing. So eventually people are going to have to figure out how to do it themselves. Okay, I’m going to bundle these next two together. integrity and honesty.

Matt Watson 30:22
Absolutely. Nobody likes to work for a crook.

Matt DeCoursey 30:27
Yeah. And in business. We don’t have to name names, but we’ve had has, we’ve had history with those that whether it’s on any form of business or knowledge, everyone knows someone that you’re like, ah, that’s I would not leave you alone with $1 of mine. Yep. And the problem? Well, the thing is, is that becomes limiting not only will you lose the Okay, look, all you can do is all you can do. So if you want to build something bigger than yourself, and have to go past yourself, you have to, like get people have to have a belief and maybe even a blind faith in you on Sundays. But if you lose the integrity and the trust, and dude, I see people pissed this away, like so a few years ago, I was the keynote speaker at the the for the National fraternity Leaders of America, which I didn’t even realize was a thing until I spoke to 500 of them. And they asked me to give their leaders something that they could pass on to a young generation, and I sit and one of the things in there was don’t blow everything you’re doing for little. Okay, I’ll give you an example. Like someone blows their career because they lied on an expense report and got caught. And it was like 23 bucks.

Matt Watson 31:45
I had to fire one of my employees because he lied about my hours of work.

Matt DeCoursey 31:49
Yeah. And I’m like, dude, like, congratulations, you. You sacrifice big bank for a little bank? Not not a good approach. Okay. Ambition, I think that goes without being set.

Matt Watson 32:04
Yep, absolutely.

Matt DeCoursey 32:07
So we have Johnny striker Wolf from Startup Hustle chat. So they’re great strategists and have good judgment. And by that, all right, how about curiosity?

Matt Watson 32:21
Yeah, I think that goes into being a good problem solver as well. Right? I think that’s part of being an entrepreneur is you’ve got to solve problems. And you’ve got to be curious about the problems and curious about how things work to figure out how to improve them.

Matt DeCoursey 32:36
If we weren’t curious Full Scale wouldn’t exist.

Matt Watson 32:40
Yeah, for sure.

Matt DeCoursey 32:42
I mean, we had started and had a different approach. And you know, we had enough people asking about getting in on what we were doing. So we were curious. And we explored it and quickly found that that was a bigger, broader, better path to revenue. It was a revenue superhighway, as opposed to a trail that we needed to blaze with Giga buck and the other things that we looked at. So I mean, without it, you know, that’s, that’s that same. And we had to embrace the next quality of creativity, because with Full Scale, and once again, today’s episode is brought to you by Full Scale, we help people build software teams, but we were our own clients. And we didn’t want to just create the same broken offering that our competitors had. So we went and talked to people, we wrapped our arms around curiosity, and talk to those that were interested in what we’re doing. They said, Well, I had a really bad experience with this company. Okay, tell us why. And then we hurt we found a recurring theme, which hovered around three to five different points. And we just did the opposite thing with our employees. Same thing was we asked them what they hated about their former employers. And they all basically said the same thing. So we do the opposite.

Matt Watson 33:59
Well, I think, in general, to be a startup, you’ve got to be creative and you got to be innovative, you got to be different than everybody else, or otherwise, it’s going to be hard to succeed. So I think in general, that’s pretty fundamental to being a successful entrepreneurship. You got to be creative and innovative.

Matt DeCoursey 34:19
Okay, which brings us to the next one on the list. Now, one of my one of my favorite Startup Hustle chat contributors and local Kansas City founders and startup hump, hustle alumnus Eric foster from Sideris. successful founders have a vision in the future. And you got to like, I mean, I’ve equated this to, some of it is strategy like when you talk about chess masters, they’re thinking three, four or five moves ahead. These they’re they’re like, you have to attempt to see around a corner somehow. And that’s what innovation is innovation isn’t just, you know, hoping that it all comes to you if you wait patiently.

Matt Watson 35:02
Yep, absolutely.

Matt DeCoursey 35:06
This next the next and we’ve only got a couple more and then we’re going to talk about some of the bad traits. Okay, overachievers

Matt Watson 35:15
they gotta go above and beyond, they can’t do the bare minimum to get by, was for sure.

Matt DeCoursey 35:20
I wasn’t. I’m an overachiever now, but I wouldn’t always were you?

Matt Watson 35:27
Um, I think in some ways, yeah. I’ve always been an overachiever and some things.

Matt DeCoursey 35:34
I think it was misunderstood. I think it’s fair. Like, I was a terrible student. I’ve dropped out of five colleges. I’ve done all right. You know, it’s, I mean, that. And I think that achievement, and whatever it is that you’re doing, like, really, in the end, it’s you that decides if you’re successful or not, not everyone else.

Matt Watson 35:55
Yeah, I think that goes into the next. The next one on our list here is being exceptional. Like you got to be exceptional at something, right? You got to be an overachiever, exceptional, like brilliant. at something, usually. Not everything, but it’s something

Matt DeCoursey 36:08
Well, good enough, stopped being good enough a long time ago. Good enough is average.

Matt Watson 36:16
I mean, being good enough to be a quarterback in the NFL is not enough to win the Super Bowl.

Matt DeCoursey 36:21
True. True.

Matt Watson 36:24
You got to be accepted. Okay.

Matt DeCoursey 36:26
So we talked about a whole lot of stuff that are traits. And I think we would be remiss if we did not talk about some bad stuff, too. And ever, and we know that the listeners love the train wrecks on Sunday. So bad traits. Would you like to address the court before we talk about bad trades? Matt, do you have any? Do you have any million dollar statements or wisdom that you would like to?

Matt Watson 36:50
Well, I’ve worked with multiple bad business partners in the past and the recurring theme the most?

Matt DeCoursey 36:58
Wait, wait, I’m your business partner?

Matt Watson 37:01
I said in the past?

Matt DeCoursey 37:03

Matt Watson 37:05
I think I think the most common thing of all of them is they were very ego-driven, and everything was about them. It was it’s always, they always said it was always about them, and I and what they did and what they want to accomplish and whatever. And we’re very ego driven. And when you’re starting a company, it’s it’s a team sport, and you got to check your ego, that I think that’s one of the most disastrous things is people that are very egotistical struggle.

Matt DeCoursey 37:36
Yeah, you know, I had a bad business partner wants and what made it bad was his primary concern and focus was what? How much value? Can I suck out now? Yeah, and that’s, you know, and that’s not, that’s not a good trait of anyone. And I think as a founder, you have to it’s like, it’s, you have to aggressively Be patient. And I think that’s a good way like it. Patience is hard. It’s like, in some cases, you have want to have zero patience. In some cases, you have to have like, 110%. But, you know, on some of the bad traits that we’ve gotten here is, first on the list is being closed-minded. I think that a close-minded attitude and approach goes against pretty half of the list of the great traits that we talked about. Absolutely. So when you think of what’s an example of close-minded that you can, you can spit spit for us.

Matt Watson 38:34
I mean, just thinking that you built the product for a certain market, and you’re like, hey, we’re gonna go sell it to these people. And if that’s if you think that’s the only way it’s ever gonna work, and everybody’s telling you differently, then eventually you just fail, because you’re so close-minded in your thought.

Matt DeCoursey 38:52
Yeah, and by the way, so we have a comment from the live chat, which came in after my dropping out of college. And you know, it’s like, Here you go. Someone said, I dropped out of college and had a 1.7 GPA out of high school. I was lazy when I was young. But once I found a passion, I became an overcomer. Or overachiever. And yeah, so, I mean, I get there, I think I had about 1.9 GPA in high school, right? You’re,

Matt Watson 39:19
I think, for all people in life, you know, you see the teenagers that are struggling or whatever, it’s, they just need something to be passionate about, right? Yeah. successful and have something they’re passionate about.

Matt DeCoursey 39:31
The reason I have a 2.0 GPA is because I either got an A or an F. I mean, if I liked the class, like the course or like the teacher, I was cool with it, killed it. If I and if I didn’t, I just didn’t pay attention. I didn’t care. Now you were so we’re talking about being closed-minded. I think that goes well with the next item on our list, which is they have not defined a clear direction for their company.

Matt Watson 39:52
You gotta be the leader, right? If you’re an entrepreneur, somebody on the team, if it’s not you anyways, it’s gotta be a visionary and and be a leader and set the direction and tell the troops like here, we’re going to climb that mountain. And this is how we’re going to do it. And let’s go like you need a direction you need a leader.

Matt DeCoursey 40:13
So next on the last victim itis, they blame others or outside forces all the time. It’s always someone else’s fault that you know, it’s like no matter what and and look, if you’re okay, this is this goes well with, like not willing to take responsibility. So these are the this is that let me describe who that person is. Donald Yeah, I got I got I got a ticket. I got a speeding ticket on the way to your house. I can’t believe that car. How dare him? Give me a ticket for going 40 miles an hour and a 25? Yep, not not like Well, shit, I was speeding. Got the ticket? gotta suck it up. It’s not not. And you hear that a lot. You know? Now, sometimes forces you can’t control do become overwhelming. But sink or swim? Well, do you want to exist on the bottom? Or do you want to float or you want to try to get to the top

Matt Watson 41:16
and making excuses and blaming other people is also very dangerous. If in combination of some of the other traits of right, you’re like, I bet the farm and I’m really stubborn. And I’m going to try really hard. And you just keep making excuses for your failure. Instead of accepting them and overcoming them. Or just figuring out like, Hey, this is never gonna work. But I keep making excuses for it. And you know, and I’m stubborn and not accepting the excuses. I just keep making them. You’re being dishonest with yourself.

Matt DeCoursey 41:47
I agree. And also in without another bad trade is know it alls?

Matt Watson 41:52
Absolutely. Yes. Those are the worst.

Matt DeCoursey 41:56
It’s hard knowing everything, man. It’s a lot of responsibility. The burden, the burden. Okay, so, if my life was an old western movie, I’d be the dude that kicked the door open at the saloon, and I shoot everyone and then ask for names. I don’t have a hard time making decisions, right? But so many people hesitate. You talk about paralysis, analysis, analysis, paralysis, and all these different things. You ever work around someone that just can’t make a decision? And you’re like, I like you almost get to the point where you’re like, fuck, just pick, I’d rather you pick the wrong thing. And we fail just so you actually make a decision.

Matt Watson 42:40
Yeah, absolutely. Yep.

Matt DeCoursey 42:43
When it comes to making decisions, like, I mean, do you just accept that you know that you’re not always going to be right, but we should at least write something?

Matt Watson 42:52
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key to startups in general, right is you make the decisions based on the information you have at the time, it’s always easy to look back and say, Well, that was a dumb decision. But you just have to make the best decisions with the information in the choices that you have at that moment. And make a decision. Hindsight is always 2020. But a lot of times as a startup, you’ve got to make a decision, you got to move forward.

Matt DeCoursey 43:18
Yeah, I’m gonna add one to the list. And based on your comments right there, you can’t, okay, what Matt’s talking about is if you live your whole existence in life, or as an entrepreneur, or really, in general, looking in the rearview mirror, you have absolutely like the whole time you have absolutely no idea where you’re going, you’re going to miss opportunities to just you’re not going to you’re not going to see the exit you’re not going to see the options you’re going to get in racks like what’s behind you is behind you. And it’s not often that you know, we don’t talk about religion, sex or politics on the show. But you know, the Buddhists say all you have is the now and there’s there’s a there’s a structural reality that I think is very useful for entrepreneurs because it means like have a real short memory the most elite athletes on the planet are often described as having like, like no memory in the regards like okay, you just let a ground ball go between your legs like you okay it happened you can’t go back and undo that. So you got to it’s capitalizing on what you what you can deal with now the information you have now the situation that you have now and also what’s coming up next what’s in the past is in the past you need to either decide that it killed you or that you what was that Nintendo game where you it was at Contra where you could have ultimate lives a BBA Up Up Down, I think was like cheat code. You can always like regenerate or respond like, but that’s the thing and and here’s the thing. You either decided to get back in the game or game over. So make a decision and don’t spend a bunch of time looking have passed? Absolutely, yeah, I just love the way now I’m, I’m a real, I’m a big fan of what you did at your first startup. So I’m a huge fan of your early stuff.

Matt Watson 45:13
So one of the last last bad traits we have here. And I think this is one of the ones that I struggle with sometimes is refusing to delegate. I think delegate delegation is important as a business scales, and, you know, not having one person that everybody asked to go to, to get things done, and, and not and not spending your time on things that are more important, right? You spend all your time and details of things that other people could be doing. And you’re not spending enough time doing higher level things. So learn to delegate is something that’s important.

Matt DeCoursey 45:46
Yeah, and, you know, I made the comment earlier that all you can do is all you can do. And I mean, it’s true. And, you know, I even recently, just spent some data, you know, I dedicated some time to refocusing my ability to delegate, you know, I had to reorganize some stuff I had to really and you know, I’ve been talking to you about some of this. And it’s like, you know, wanting to be a good communicator, wanting to be a good delegator, knowing that you have the right people and team around you to, to get it done. And the thing is, is like most of the time, the stuff that you’re delegating isn’t the stuff you wanted to do anyway. Yep. So and if you have the right people around you, they’re sitting there with open arms waiting for the list. Yep. What can I do to help you? And you got to, you know, like, do it. And some of the I think one of the hard things for a lot of people with delegation is, you know, oftentimes we tell ourselves that it’s easier and faster to just do it ourselves. But when you when you take that approach, that means you always have to do it. Yeah. But sometimes you have to, you got to, you know, you got to have the ability to stop show something, say I need help. Ask for help.

Matt Watson 47:04
Well, and that’s the hardest part is if you don’t have held true, and that’s the struggle of being a startup.

Matt DeCoursey 47:14
Well, now, that was a beefy, lest, you know, when we look back at this episode, and once again, this is episode three of 52, about how to start a tech company. And we haven’t even started talking about the tech part of that yet. But the thing is, is like don’t start a tech company, really don’t start a company A unless you know what you’re getting into. And I think be if you don’t emulate any of the positive traits, or characteristics that we mentioned, do a little soul searching, cuz you’re gonna need to,

Matt Watson 47:45
I mean, I’ve got an 11-year-old son that has half of these bad traits. He would not be a good entrepreneur.

Matt DeCoursey 47:54
I mean, it’s not for everyone.

Matt Watson 47:55
Yeah, having kids is fun.

Matt DeCoursey 47:59
It’s not, it’s not for everyone. Now, my six year old emulates a lot of these traits and a lot of the bad ones too, you know, but she, she took my DNA when it came to energy and drive and knows how to be charming and ask for the sale, which tends to work out. So yeah, I don’t know if you saw on Facebook, she made me a name tag for work, if you want to call me dad. DeCoursey. From now on. You’re more than welcome to and speaking of which,

Matt Watson 48:28
perfect because Uncle Matt, and you can all be Dad

Matt DeCoursey 48:31
DeCoursey You’re always the other map to me. That’s fine. Is that fair? Is that fair? I mean, the thing that I love about this show the most is Matt. So I mean, I think the end the thing I hate about it the most is Matt. That’s fair. Is that Is that fair? So we normally and episodes when we have guests with the founders freestyle. I mean, overall, like what are your closing remarks and statements here? I think we went through a lot of good stuff. Okay. I think, by the way, I’m not afraid to say I think we’re crushing it on the series dude. I think this was well there. I think there’s a lot of good insight in here, and you know, which of it like what’s the most what’s your what’s your favorites?

Matt Watson 49:15
Well, in summary, a lot of the good trades are very similar, right? They’re about hard work and perseverance and positive attitude and and you know, all those sorts of things, right? You got to be able to take a punch and keep going and do whatever it takes to be successful. You know, listen to your employees, listen to the market, make changes be adaptable, all those things and the bad traits are, you know, a lot of times it’s it’s ego, it’s making excuses. It’s being lazy. It’s being dishonest to yourself or your employees. It’s, you know, it’s it’s the common shit that just makes you an asshole, and nobody wants to deal with you. So true. And like,

Matt DeCoursey 49:57
you know, I for me, I and once again Today’s episode Startup Hustle is brought to you by Let us help you build a winning team, software engineers and developers, we do it for a lot of other successful tech companies. So why not give it a shot? You know, that we started a TV show. And you can check it out on YouTube. And, you know, I’ve I’ve, in the first episodes, we spend a lot of time defining some of this stuff. Like, why did you start a business? What’s hard about it? What are some of the traits like what’s an entrepreneur? You know, and by the way, can anyone spell entrepreneur? Nope, I didn’t think so. And I have the tenacity to keep trying, despite getting it wrong about 15 times a day. But you know, so many of these traits are synonyms, like they’re the kind of the same thing over and over again, like you got to be ready to work hard. I think that overwhelmingly, Everybody I talked to you that, that made it to the side of the fine line where there are Lambos, and jets and financial success and all that they will tell you, it was a lot of hard work. I think that if you’re not a hard worker, I think the resiliency thing is a big one. Passion. I mean, God, I’ve said that so many times in the history of the show, like if you’re not passionate, I mean, just like you know it, like that’s a yes or no question. That’s kind of like you can’t be kind of pregnant, you’re passionate, or you’re not. And because if you’re kind of passionate, you’re not passionate. And if you’re not passionate about the business that you’re about to start, or the one that you’re involved in. It’s time to take a look. Yep. I mean, it really is. And and, you know, man, I think you said it best when it comes to the bad traits, like, I mean, be someone that other people want to be, and be around and be around. Yeah, and that’s someone that people should want to be and and it’s a pretty simple diagram. And and, and don’t be afraid to humble yourself. And you know, like, admit that you’re not always right, that, you know, your solution isn’t always perfect. And to delegate, I think the delegation thing is a big thing, especially if you get if you find that you’re on a rocket ship, because you’re moving fast, you’re headed into the stratosphere. And if you’re not dishing it out, like you got to be like that, that quarterback calling audibles at the line, or the manager that runs out in the middle of the inning and revises the plan or do something different, you know, you have to be there. And your luck, you’re gonna head into a lot of situations and stuff that you’re not prepared for. It’s okay. Nobody had experience until they did. Love it. I’ll just end on that. I’ll see you next time, Matt. All right.

Matt Watson 52:50
See you. Thank you.