Online Community Leadership: The Founder’s Mentality


The Founder's Mentality

RumbleTalk customers are by and large online community leaders, and a lot of times the founders of those communities. When I heard that Chris Zook and James Allen were writing another book together titled The Founder’s Mentality, I was instantly intrigued. I was lucky enough to receive complementary advanced copy of the book and will use this blog to discuss the topic.

You can also read my review of the book on Goodreads here.

The first thing you should know is that this isn’t a peachy story about what a founder’s mentality should be in order to achieve success at the outset of an organization. Tellingly, the full title is The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth.

This book is about the mentality you should have if your business is stalling, sliding downward, or in a free fall to bankruptcy. The quick answer, as the title suggests, is to get back to what made the company a success in the first place. The characteristics that (successful) founders embody don’t have to and shouldn’t go away once the company has scaled. However, the process of growing and scaling a company all too often undermines these qualities that made it a success in the first place.

But not all hope is lost for large and struggling organizations

Zook and Allen’s research is used in the book to explain that when a company grows a number of factors remove the business from their best potential route

Some of these factors are:

  • Layers of complexity are added that slow down the decision making process
  • Territorial departments protect their budgets rather than moving resources where they are needed
  • A culture of “this is how we’ve always done it” prevents innovation

These become weights on a sinking ship when the market changes. A business needs to be adaptive, resourceful, and flexible in order to out-pace fast growing competitors.

Zook and Allen use many excellent examples of companies struggling with this situation and how they turned it around.

This is the reason you should read the book

Zook and Allen together have a great background to get information that otherwise isn’t accessible to the general public. It was fascinating to read about the internal workings and failures of some of the world’s largest companies and how each one turned around its situation to then lead the market.

There are also examples of companies that were not able to turn around their situation.

In either case their research shows that simplifying the business structure to be lean, efficient and focused was a necessary step to be on the right path.

Even though the book is about companies in crisis, it’s value can be gained as a cautionary tale and a reaffirmation for founders to stick to their guns.

I was reminded of a Ted Talk I watched a while back about the “Why” factor. Why do you make your product? Why do you perform your service? This is where the company and the company’s message should start.

Lessons for Online Community Leadership

RumbleTalk sees online communities in many different forms.

But at the core of what our customers use our product for, online community leaders offer group chat rooms for their members to tap into the collective emotional or informational knowledge of the community.

After reading The Founder’s Mentality, I hope that online community leadership feel empowered to strip away excess and focus the core of their mission: to bring like-minded individuals together online for a greater purpose.

Lacie Larschan