You don't think, when you start a company as the founding CEO, that if your venture actually works, you end up with three jobs: founder, CEO, and chair of the board. The first eight years at Bonobos, I have learned a lot about the tension between the first two. It didn't even occur to me that I had the third job until much later.
A protective self-narrative during conflict and duress sometimes obscures us from seeing the worst in ourselves. When the self-sustaining haze lifts after that conflict has subsided, we may recognize in ourselves the flaws the other saw in us at the time that we didn't have the emotional bandwidth to examine in the moment.
It's now arguably over-written about and over-discussed how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. Of course it's hard. So is being a parent. Let's stop over-congratulating ourselves and let's just do our work.
Culture is an output of a bunch of inputs that have to come together the right way. Specifically, it is the collision of people and their context, how they interact with each other in that context, and then how that context evolves based on those interactions as they multiply.
A good idea is not enough. It must be the fit of a particular idea for a particular entrepreneur and, ideally, unfair advantages in why said particular entrepreneur is going to address said particular idea.
The American lionization of the entrepreneur is to ignore its foibles - the narcissism, the workaholism, the neglect of family, the imbalance, the obsession. These are not universally good things, though they are frequently universal to building great companies.