Great Leaders Know When Its Time to Step Aside (Recruit Rockstars 400)

You only turn 400 once.
So for this special 400th episode of Recruit Rockstars Podcast, I knew you were counting on me to land a very special guest.
I think I bagged the elephant.
David Cohen is Co-Founder (and now Chief Instigator) of the legendary Techstars venture accelerator. It’s birthed over 2,300 startups. (You know their names: SendGrid, Outreach, SalesLoft…)
And for 20-minutes, we discussed a very delicate, sensitive, personal subject:
Stepping Aside.
What if the Founder isn’t the right person with the right skills to scale the business? (Odds are, they’re not)
How do we get the Founder into their “zone of genius”?
When & how should a Founder be “promoted” to Chairman, and a new CEO appointed?
If it doesn’t happen, when & how should a VC & Board member make this very difficult decision?
How do you separate the Founder (and their identity) from the business, which needs to have its own life & legs.
While Mark Zuckerberg Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk went from Founder to CEO to Mega Industry Changer, that type of tenure is rare.
(You can safely assume that you are none of those people.)
So for you, the day will come when your business outgrows you. Your skills. Your passions. Or both.
And then what?
David is uniquely qualified to address this topic.
Many startups …including those birthed by Techstars… go thru this transition. He’s sat on the Boards of countless companies who have successfully gone thru a transition from Founder to a new CEO.
And last month, David – and Techstars Co-Founders David Brown, Brad Feld, Jared Polis – recruited a new CEO to lead Techstars next phase of growth.
After evaluating 350 candidates, they selected Maëlle Gavet, an outstanding global business leader.
She’ll build on Techstars’ heritage, which is pretty remarkable to consider:
– Over 2,300 startups funded & launched
– 85% of which have been acquired or are still active
– Funding 500 companies per year
– 8,000 mentors advise the 3 month program in 35 cities in 16 countries
– The average company raises $1M
– They’ve raised over $11B in total
– Cumulative market valuation of $32B
In this 20-minute conversation, David gets vulnerable & no-BS about how to make the most challenging people decision in the life of a company:
When to Step Aside.

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“Jeff has recruited Rockstars and built winning cultures for 25 years. Finally, he shows us how!” —Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group Venture Capital