Carrie (my wife) and I just finished binging season two of The Bear. The show is spectacular. It provides a unique and intense glimpse into the world of high-end hospitality. One of the really beautiful things it highlighted through the season was how much fellow chefs help each other. Different members of The Bear would shadow their counterparts at other restaurants and were greeted with open arms.
After we watched it Carrie asked me if I thought that chefs were actually that kind and supportive of one another in real life. I don’t know the answer, but I’m inclined to believe yes because I’ve seen similar dynamics amongst founders in the world of company building. Building things as an entrepreneur, regardless of your industry, is hard and lonely. What has continuously surprised me is how willing other founders and operators are to share their learnings and insights.
When we started Fundera I had this obsession with wanting to be able to visualize the mechanics of our business in a spreadsheet. I needed to know all of our levers and how every aspect of the funnel was performing across every relevant dimension. I didn’t know how to do this so I asked First Round if they had any suggestions. They connected me with Matt Salzberg who they said had this practice down to a science at Blue Apron. Similar to the chefs in The Bear, Matt welcomed me kindly. He hid nothing about how he managed and measured the progress of Blue Apron, and walked me through his daily/weekly dashboards line by line. He had a company to run but paid it forward and helped me learn – something that provided no immediate benefit to him or his business.
This type of support is commonplace. You just need to ask for it and occasionally know where to look for it. Another place it can be found is in CEO support groups. There are many different iterations of this, YPO being a common one. I did Venwise and met monthly with a group of fellow CEOs navigating similar problems to me. Everyone was open and honest. Nobody was peacocking. I’ve also participated in CEO Summits where the “I’m crushing it” veneers come down and everyone is vulnerable – both seeking and imparting wisdom.
Ecosystem support is a great enabler and accelerant for progress. Older generations help newer ones with wisdom and capital, and new generations inspire the older ones, pushing the boundaries of what’s imaginable with charmingly naive gusto. The Bear does an exceptional job capturing this phenomenon in hospitality and I loved it because it distinctly reminded me of what we have in the best of tech. It’s one of the things that motivates me to do and be better.