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I've talked with 800+ founders since 2016. Here's the biggest thing I've learned about them...

There are two types of founders.

Type 1 is a VISIONARY. He's consumed with his idea, and passionate about his work. He's eternally optimistic, and sees a clear path forward. Day after day (and often late into the night), he works toward the same goal, convinced that he'll be successful if only he stays focused.

Type 2 is a LISTENER. She's less concerned with her own thoughts than she is with what others are thinking. She's calculating. An expert navigator. Every day, she asks questions of her customers, always considering what they want and how she can pivot to meet those needs.

I've personally spoken with 800+ startup founders and indie hackers since 2016, and I've seen both of these types be WILDLY successful.

But which is type better?


Every founder is different. But I'm 100% convinced there's a HUGE DEFICIT these days of Type 2 founders -- of creatives and builders who can put aside their own ideas long enough to actually listen to the world around them.

In fact, this deficit is so big that just a little more LISTENING can make all the difference in the world.

One meeting with a key client to totally revamp your customers' experience. Two or three consumer surveys to quadruple your product's marketability. One -- yes, just one -- book on negotiating to close 100% more deals.

Lots of founders do almost none of this. Even founders of big, growing products and organizations. I can't say how many founders I've worked with who haven't once conducted a survey or interviewed their customers. Who've dumped thousands of dollars into a product launch without ever asking consumers whether they'd buy it.

So ask yourself: How much time do you spend listening? Do you solicit continuous customer feedback? And do you take that feedback seriously? Do you ask key clients and mentors about how you might improve? Do you survey your target market before launching a new brand?

If my experience means anything, then you're probably a deficient listener. I sure am.

So set aside one hour per week -- just one hour -- to listen to your target market. Call a client unannounced and ask about their experience. Design a 10-question survey for your target market. Go work the cash register and get to know your customers better.

One hour to make a world of difference.

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    This is a cool set of insights, thank you for sharing! I also talk to A LOT of founders regularly, and you've synthesized a lot of what I've seen/observed really well.

    One thing I'd add is that it depends a lot on the context in which you're talking to said founders. The most skilled operators I've met blend both extremely well: while fundraising they'll adopt their visionary outlook and narrative, and when doing sales or searching for PMF they'll work through listen attentively to their clients and stakeholders.

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