2 min read

What Would the Founder Do

I came across this phrase listening to a podcast with Naval Ravikant.

If you want something done, go. If not, then send.” - Benjamin Franklin

The phrase refers to a phenomenon known as the principal-agent problem, which is a priority conflict between a principal, ie the owner, and the agent, ie the worker.

There are a multitude of situations this can be applied to.

In this case, I will relate it to work.

The Priorities of the Principal differ from the Agent’s

From the accountability perspective, the principal has skin in the game and the agent is there for a salary (and other incentives). When things go well, the principal stands to gain significantly more than the agent; when things go wrong, the principal stands to lose significantly more.

The conflict in priorities arises around the willingness of the agent to go the extra mile for the sake of the principal (or company). Their level of willingness depends on the agent’s personal and employment situations, the incentives offered by the principal, and the agent’s level of engagement.

If you are an agent, and one day hope to be a principal, thinking like one is a sure way to get you to where you want to be.

What Would the Founder Do?

Asking, “What would the founder do?” is a great way to prime your mind to start thinking and acting like a Principal. Do this for long enough, and you will inevitably become one.

If you are someone who understands the power of long-term goals and delayed gratification, this concept will come naturally to you.

The challenge with this is knowing how much of yourself to commit to the building of someone else’s dream, and when to start building your own.

If you are seen to be working very hard at your job and “caring too much”, friends and family will no doubt challenge you as to why you care so much, or why you work so hard because “it’s just a job”.

There’s truth and falsity in the “it’s just a job” statement. The importance lies in your perspective.

What is it to you? Is it just a job you go to, take your salary and live your life outside of work?

Or, do you see it as a necessary stepping stone for you to learn and absorb as much as you can to get to where you want to be?

Both are fine; the importance lies in being clear on what it means to you.

If you're interested, here's the link to the podcast on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/episode/1DW2fkyEkgZaEP40Mj6H9m?si=YsGhsk7ySxyyldXkEMRv3g or YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-TZqOsVCNM&t=11137s