Are You Really a CEO?


Regardless of what maxim you subscribe to that governs your working style, one that applies to all of us is that life is short. Some folks conflate this with it somehow being a race. It isn’t. But I see people bungle their own paths all the time by being eager for glory and credit (which is fine), but shortchanging themselves by not letting others help (which is bad).

This can be humbling or humiliating, depending on how readily you’ll admit this to yourself, but not everyone is good at everything. Nor should they be. We need teams, we need networks and we need support systems to keep things flowing — ideas, the oft-flung concept innovation and just progress in general. And some people think that just because they started the company they should be the CEO, because if they aren’t then what was the point of starting the company?

Well, how about the fact that you started the company? You started a movement, and regardless of your title, that will remain unchanged. In fact, a bunch of my friends don’t even bother having titles. They run their companies like meritocracies: One guy’s great at programming, so he tends to program, but he can also bring in business or partnership opportunities and either forge ahead or ask for help. People vote and still get a say, but it’s all for the greater good, not for the specific greatness of any individual member.

There may be a lot of guts and glory in entrepreneurship, certainly, but if you’re in it for lording over everyone around you and commissioning statues of you to be built after you’re long gone, you may want to reconsider your life choices. Help is good. Accept it. Understand that the cracks can be filled by anyone, and then everyone is better for it (which is great).

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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