I Can’t Code and You Can’t Sell Crap.

Posted by | May 06, 2013 | Uncategorized | 25 Comments
I can't code and you can't sell crap image

So I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why I’m not angel investing as much lately, and I think there’s a conversation there that I’d like to talk about and bring into our space. And the title of that is:

I can’t code, and you can’t sell crap.

It’s an analogy for what’s going on right now which is that whether you’re a developer or a designer; a CTO or maybe an operator like a COO or a marketer as a CMO, there is a very distinct personality trait that you need to have in order to be a leader/CEO/co-founder/executor of a profitable business. It’s easy to go out, come up with a pitch, raise some money, and start a business. It’s hard to navigate it as the word continues to change. What I’m realizing, and what I want people to think about a little bit (especially VCs, angels, and most importantly 22-35 year old young women and men who are thinking about starting an internet company/startup/app) is that there are a lot of #2’s and #3’s right now who are trying to run companies. That’s just the truth. There are a lot of players who would be amazing right-hand-gals or left-hand-guys – unbelievable #2’s and #3’s – who are trying to be #1’s. We’re going to see a lot (I mean an obnoxious amount) of companies going out of business because those people don’t have the stomach to navigate through the waters.

There is this huge disconnect right now where everybody thinks they can be entrepreneurs and the fact of the matter is that I could think in theory I’m a great python developer, but I don’t have the natural talent to pull it off (and could never really get there. I mean, I’d love to be an NBA superstar, but no matter how much trying or effort I put in, I’m just not gonna get there). You can try to start a couple of businesses and think that maybe on the third try you’ll pull it off, but the fact is that “I can’t code, and you can’t sell crap” really sums up how I feel about the space right now. There are a lot of people starting businesses right now and they can’t win.

Be honest with yourself. Look inside yourself and understand that you’re that #2 or #3; that you could be the boost, the turbo-charge. There are just a lot of people right now who could make a lot more money jumping onto a #1 instead of trying to start their own thing.

Big disconnect in the market guys. Big disconnect

  • Guest

    I couldn’t agree with this more. In the end this comes down to your final thought “Be honest with yourself.” If you aren’t, you will consistently be disappointed. Know what you are good at and find a place that needs that.

  • Guest

    I agree with almost all your viewpoint, but this is a rare instance where I do not. The only way to improve is to learn from your mistakes. Since you used a sports analogy, I will to. As Yogi Berra once said “50% of baseball is half mental.” Same is true for business. Pushing yourself beyond being lazy and being resourceful is half the battle. You don’t necessarily need to be smart – you just need to have the will, the drive, the passion. I’ve seen a ton of crappy product on end-caps at Bed, Bath & Beyond. You don’t even need a great product. You just need to push until you get somebody to say YES, and buy it.

    Same applies to music. Are the best songs on I Heart Radio? No way! But these musicians have agents who push, and move, and shake, and create an image for the musician, and they become a start.

    This applies for any product, in any field. Just push, don’t be lazy, and don’t take No for an answer. As another wise person once said: “No mean Yes. And Yes means faster!”

  • bkrudy

    I agree with almost all your viewpoints traditionally, but this is a rare instance where I do not. The only way to improve is to learn from your mistakes. Since you used a sports analogy, I will too. As Yogi Berra once said “50% of baseball is half mental.” Same is true for business. Pushing yourself beyond being lazy and being resourceful is half the battle. You don’t necessarily need to be smart – you just need to have the will, the drive, the passion. I’ve seen a ton of crappy product on end-caps at Bed, Bath & Beyond. You don’t even need a great product. You just need to push until you get somebody to say YES, and buy it.

    Same applies to music. Are the best songs on I Heart Radio? No way! But these musicians have agents who push, and move, and shake, and create an image for the musician, and they become a start.

    This applies for any product, in any field, in any industry. Just push, don’t be lazy, and don’t take No for an answer. As another wise person once said: “No mean Yes. And Yes means faster!”

    • tmock5

      Great insights bkrudy. I’m going to have to agree and disagree w/ you a bit on this. Just differing opinions I guess.

      I think Gary nailed it. Yes, there’s always the exceptions of people who can grow and learn to be a better “#1″ or whatever. But, over the past couple years… investing in a few businesses and growing my own… I’ve seen exactly what Gary is saying. People out there talking the talk of being a CEO or the head of the company… when their “walk” ain’t making it happen… no matter how hard they try. In one circumstance the founder of a business with great potential… great guy… smart as heck… creative, etc etc… would be phenomenal as a #2… but ain’t cutting it as a #1 and the company is suffering big time because of it. For 2 years I’ve said if someone could step in and run the company (as Gary said, be the #1)… and this guy would be the #2… the company would crush. But they’re hesitant to make the changes.

      With music… the artist doing the music isn’t necessarily the #1 in that equation. I’d argue that Justin Beiber isn’t the “#1″. It’s his producers and manager… he’s making piles of money being a #2 running the “Beiber brand”.

      Nailed it Gary. It’s important for people to know what they’re truly good at (and enjoy doing). I learned from a mentor that working on your weaknesses only “creates strong weaknesses”. Much more effective to make our strengths better and find people who compliment our weaknesses (i.e. – for this company I’m talking about… this guy needs to bring in a CEO to run the show… he needs to be the #2 and focus on bringing in customers).

      Great stuff guys!

    • http://www.garyvaynerchuk.com garyvaynerchuk

      BK I understand more on this subject coming :)

  • Almerindo De Palma

    Gary, do you believe we are close to the second big bubble burst? How could it affect America’s recovery in the next two years if it were to happen tomorrow?

  • ericbieller

    This is a really good point but I also think founders need to push themselves to be more than they think they can be. This doesn’t always mean that they are the leader their company needs, so it’s certainly important to be honest with yourself about your abilities, but we both know how difficult that can be sometimes :/

    The bottom line is we all need to be more truthful with ourselves and willing to own the place where we can be the most helpful.

  • Fault Bot

    Speaking of disconnects… maybe not the best choice of film set.

  • Steve Woods

    But at the same time,how do you know you’re not a #1 unless you try ;)

    • http://www.garyvaynerchuk.com garyvaynerchuk

      thats for sure and that I agree with, just hoping the self aware are paying attention !

  • Lee

    Do you think that there is a negative association with being a number two?

    Walt had Roy, Steve had Woz and Bill had Paul…

    All extremely important #2′s who made it possible for their leaders to be legends. Not to mention the thousands of people in these organizations that dedicated their lives to ensuring their team won.

    Do you think it’s a case of too many and not enough Indians and not enough Cheifs?

    • Lee

      It’s part of a thesis from a book I’m writing called “The Self Made Myth”

      I agree with you 1000%. People need to be okay with being a strong number two.

      If you want to be the next (insert famous icon’s name) you will most likely need a strong number two…

  • Big breakfast

    Your worst post ever Gary. There are plenty of examples of those who in the end succeed though persistence, energy and learning. This just sounds so elitist!

    • blwinters

      I don’t think that this sounds elitist. It’s just that people need to take an inventory of all the skills that are required to run a company. Many people start a company because they know they have the technical skills and they’re passionate about the idea, but when it comes to motivating staff and maintaining industry relationships (sales & PR), they aren’t the best person for the job. I say this because it is my #1 self-doubt and area for improvement.

    • http://www.garyvaynerchuk.com garyvaynerchuk

      I understand BB and I get it and I know the tone was tough, its just if you sat through the 100 meetings I am having with new startups and the entitlement that comes with most of these wonderfully smart people you would have the context to where I was going

      • Eric R

        this makes a lot more sense now Gary, thank you for your posts and your inspiration, my life is way better with your leadership THANK YOU!!

  • Peter Malamas

    The fact is, it’s fairly rare to have an executive founder that has the skills to be both the “#1″ visionary, and also the one that can navigate the waters to execute flawlessly, optimize the idea for the market, hire the right team, and achieve operational excellence to monetize the idea in a big way, i.e. SELL. And, even if you do have that rare founder that contains the whole package, it’s just not scalable. That founder will still need a lot of help from super high-quality people that have those skills.

    Yes bkrudy, If your basic wiring doesn’t contain that operational execution excellence skill set, I agree you should keep plugging away and try to learn on the job to improve, and thats admirable. But while you’re doing that On-the-job training, someone else is eating both your lunch and your dinner from a business perspective. You can’t have a team full of quarterbacks or an army full of generals. It’s better to hire the right people immediately as your number twos. Maybe you’ll learn something from them too.

    The big problem here is just one of terminology: theres the emotional stigma for a lot of professionals around calling these positions a “number one” or a “number two”.

  • Brett Watson

    I do think you’re right in that some people just aren’t cut out to be “#1′s” and I agree with @disqus_DLjmPb6odK:disqus that takes the experience of starting and running a company to realize that as well as what their true strong point are and how they could use them as a #2 or #3. But what do you think is the next step once you realize you are only a number #2? And don’t you think some people would rather be an average #1 than a really good right hand man?

  • http://www.medicalentrytest.com/ Basit

    That was nice post, got your name while reading a post and I wondered who you are , so checked it , :)

  • Thomas Phelan

    As long as it’s something I love doing, I’d rather be a #3 pushing for #1 into the dirt anytime. Maybe the people who want to succeed should watch this post and choose to “hustle” anyway.

  • http://Spherit.com/ Phil Lawson

    Just found your blog after reading your post about Medium on Linkedin. Thanks for both.

    I agree with the sentiment in your post here, I have seen many, too many, that fit your description of 2s and 3s and seen them get funded and fail.

    An equally disturbing trend is that those who have the skills required (and the experience to deal with a world that constantly changes) and who have viable products/technology can’t get VCs/angels to even look at them because they aren’t in the 22-35 demographic.

    What is really sad is these very same VCs/angels write and speak about the fact that everything getting funding are simplistic apps done by said demographic but which have no real long term significant financial or social value (or are being run unsuccessfully by 2s and 3s).

    Bit of a Catch-22.

    If investors want really big ideas that haven’t already been done and people who can execute them, these will require a bit more wisdom and experience then most between 22 and 35 have (and yes, more than we had during those years, even though many of us ran successful companies during those years).

  • Opinionator

    Way to smash someone’s dream of grandeur…

  • http://www.thesocialmediahandyman.com Paul Chaney

    I came to terms a long time ago with the fact that I’m better as a #2 (or #3) than a numero uno. I run my own marketing business – Chaney Marketing Group – and, at times, have struggled internally with whether I should try and grow it into a real “company,” (you know, like with employees and such). But, invariably, I return to the notion that I’m better off staying within my wheelhouse as a freelancer and independent consultant.

  • Iuliana

    Why is every conversation strictly about “internet company/startup/apps”? What about non-web-based tech companies?

  • bryonbuzz

    Gary great post . I am the guy at my company who is # 1 but should be no higher than #3 . Im very good with my hands and a very good problem solver but very bad at business and doing business . I have 2 products out right now and have 3 more products on my desk . And if in not careful i can really screw them all up . What i need is a real CEO or a business partner who wants to make a lot of money getting these products on the market moreso than what im doing now . But how do i find theses people and how do i know they are what i need . I am willing to give up a good % of my company to the right person or company for the help i need . My products are in th construction / DIY / tool products area . please check out my web sites an feel free to make any comments regarding the product ore the sites . sidejobracks.com & speedsand.com both tools save time and money for the people using them .

    kind regards
    Bryon Bierman
    President ?

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