How many times have we heard or said the phrase: “It’s not you, it’s me” or “I’m sorry, but it’s not going the right way” – why do we say these phrases? why are we all so self involved with the way we see the world? are we that self involved and incapable of seeing other perspectives? – the answer in most cases is “YES”. Sorry to say, most CEOs and managers are so self involved, so self centered – that apart from their little point of view, they are incapable of seeing the big picture (or in some extreme cases, any picture).

Over the course of the past few months I’ve come to learn that running your own venture is not about myself and it’s not about the venture – it’s about one simple thing, my ability to let go and let others do their job. Being a tech-head and a CEO is always problematic – it’s the never ending conflict between the “I’ll do it myself in 10 minutes” and the “I need to let go”. It’s so hard to let go, personally speaking, it’s virtually impossible at times. But, and this is the biggest but in the world, if as CEOs we want our companies to evolve, grow, expand and succeed in their goals – we must simply let go.

What have I let go? I have let go of my own personal desire to know each and every line of code in our platform. I’ve let go of my own fear of not having intricate details of each and every one of our products. I’ve let go my overbearing nature of telling other people what and how to do things, and most importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that just like myself – other people prefer to be shown the way, but walk it on their own. Personally speaking, it’s one of the most frightening thing a person needs to do. It’s like walking into a self-driven car, put the destination and sit in the back, grasping the seat with fear, praying and hoping that the car doesn’t crash into another one along the way. But, if you learn how to communicate with said self-driven car – you rapidly realize that while it is autonomous, it listens to you. You are able to direct it and point out various flaws to it – after all, it is intelligent, but still lacks your years of experience and know-how.

So, as I’ve let go of some things, I had to take ownership of other things. While I no longer cared how the “Object Factory” was implemented, and the reasoning of using one library against another was no longer an issue to me – I’ve discovered that my mind started racing to deal with the larger questions. For example: “How to increase my deal funnel?”, “How to I convey my thoughts and ideas in a clearer way?”, “How do I turn my ideas into actionable items?” – and then I realized one little thing, all these questions are no longer about me, they are all about THEM.

Who are THEM? Them are the company employees that work alongside with me with a shared vision, them are the various prospects that we converse with, them are our customers and partners whom we’re at constant communications. It’s no longer about my own personal wellbeing or success – it’s about theirs. Their success become my company’s success, their personal growth and advancement are my advancement and growth – and as they grow and advance, so do I, as a leader, as a CEO, as a person – and as a human being.

In the world of business it’s easy to forget. Easy to forget that we are all human, that we all make mistakes, that at the end of day we all crave and desire the same basic things. I used to work to someone who said: “If an employee doesn’t challenge me technically, I have no use for that employee” –  what a stupid thing to say. This is not a Trivia contest, this is not an academic decathlon, business has its own set of challenges and issues. Some are technical, but most of them are not.

So, what CEO will you be?

Marissa Meyer is attributed to the following saying: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. Over the past 6 months, due to various changes in my workplace and some personal changes of my own – I’ve been reflecting upon this sentence multiple times. I’ve been trying to understand what it truly means, as an engineer, as a CEO, as a human being or in general terms – what does it truly mean…

Regardless if the attribution is correct or not, the sentence can be interpreted in various forms. It all depends on who you are, how you see yourself and how you see others. Or to be more exact, not how you see others – but how you communicate with others. But in order to understand communications, let’s try and get a grasp on how people communicate. In order to do this, I would like to introduce you to a small psychology related term, called DISC.

“DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke.” –

Now, without dwelling too much into the psychology analysis, or the “accurateness” of the DISC assessment methodology, judging from my personal experience with DISC assessments, they are fairly accurate – or at least, as accurate as you can get with human behaviour is in play. So, DISC stands for Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. Some describe it Dominance, Influence, Supportive and Compliant. In general, they all means the same thing exactly. Each of us is a mix of these 4 traits, where the statistics show the following:

Only 5% of society will exhibit a single dominant trait. For example, a person with an extremely high “D”, but all others will be really low – will be a highly passive aggressive person, with very little care towards other people and a very short trigger. Basically, this person will be a decision making machine, but mainly for the sake of making a decision.

80% of society will exhibit two dominant traits. For example, a person with high levels of “I” and “S” will normally be a very good sales person, while a person with high levels of “D” and “S” will natural born leaders. A combination of high “D” and high “C” will result in a highly results driven person, driven much by fact, however capable of making rapid gut based decisions.

15% of society exhibit 3 dominant traits – these are your true motivational leaders. For example, a person with a combination of high “D”,”S” and “I” will be a combination of a sales person, a leader and a mentor. A person with a combination of high “D”, “S” and “C” will be a a mentor, a doer, a facts driven decision maker. A combination of high “I”, “S” and “C” will an ultimate team member, highly influencial, highly supportive and facts driven – these are normally highly valued teachers, highly valued mentors and role models.

So, back to our previous statement: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” – means multiple things to multiple people, depending on their behavioral traits. While one person may interpret it as: “Damn, this room is filled with idiots, I need to leave this place”, another may interpret this as: “Wait, the people in this room appear to be wrong, how can I fix that?”, while the third may say: “These people are just wrong and I’m going to tell them out loud”. The interpretation of the statement is in direct relation to your behavioural traits. For example, a person with a high “D” only will believe his decisions and thoughts are what counts and everything else is pointless. While at the same time, a person with a high “D” and “I” will believe that he’s right and everybody else is wrong, but he needs to educate them and teach them.

These various communication styles and behavioral traits will dictate the dynamics and performance of your team. It is true that every team will have a leader, be it a choosen one or a naturally appointed one – but the performance is directly dependent on each persons’ ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas to the other team members, in a manner that they can relate to and able to assimilate the information accordingly. For example, a person with a high “D” will responed better to the phrase: “I see your point, however, let’s try and examine another point of view or option”, than to the phrase “Dude, you’re so wrong, I can’t even start expressing it!”. While at the time, a person with a high “C” and low “D” will respond better to the phrase: “Go over the facts and give me some options”, than the phrase “Dude, just make a decision already!”.

While understanding the various communication traits people exhibit in close quarters is one thing, it is entirely a different thing to maintain proper communication paths with open source projects. It is fairly amazing at how poorly, sometimes, people within various projects communicate with one another. Not because they don’t want, simply because they don’t see and discuss things in person on a regular basis, which makes their communications based on email, chat, forums and the yearly developers meetup. This drives a situation where developers working alone in remote locations will provide a highly valued product, but only if they communicate with their team members on a regular basis. Of course, I don’t expect open source projects to perform DISC assessments to their team members, that would be just plain bizzare, but people should always try to assess the communication traits of their team members and figure out what works well with whom. We do it naturally, but if you try and thing about deeper, you may discover new things and new methods of promoting ideas, agendas and most importantly – innovation and exelence.

Do we perform DISC assessments as part of hiring process – absolutely. Do we rule out a candidate due to their results in the assessment – absolutely not. The assessment only helps us in understanding who the person is, how they communicate and should we hire them – how do we introduce them to the team and instruct the team leader accordingly, in order to successfully assimilate them to the team. Hiring someone new is hard, you always want to make the best choice. Sometimes, the most qualified person is simply bad for the team – in that case it’s a bad hire. But if you hire someone that fits the communication style inside your team and they are highly qualified for the job – you have a win-win situation.