WeWork, Uber, and Theranos
Wisdom is about pattern recognition. It’s time for investors to recognize a pattern that is destroying value and making a mess of companies. The start-up game isn’t the same as the keep-it-up game. Start-ups are full of idealism and chutzpah, charisma and hubris. But, these blitzkrieg tactics wear thin when the keep-it-up game requires diplomacy with regulators, humility with competitors and clients, empathy with employees, and stamina to run further than a start-up sprint.
Many brilliant young founders could use a Modern Elder or two to help mentor their young leaders and guide their rocket ships. Somehow we expect these unseasoned entrepreneurs to miraculously embody the relationship and leadership wisdom we gray hairs have learned over the decades.
Most importantly, someone with discernment and candor needs to guide the young founder and, occasionally, tell them the painful truth. All it would have taken was for one leader to have been strong and wise enough to ask for help, or one mentor who was generous and brave enough to offer (preferably both).
So much value was lost due to a lack of oversight of CEO ego (WeWork), EQ (Uber), and integrity (Theranos). Not sure if Adam, Travis, or Elizabeth would still have their CEO jobs at those disruptors, but I know the companies would have been better off with the cognitive diversity that a few older leaders could have brought to the company.