December 10, 2021
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The struggle between being a CTO or a CEO: Introvert vs Extrovert

If you are working on your startup, chances are you are a technical founder, an engineer, a scientist, or a builder. Most builders are introverts. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is true about most. Say, you are a technical solo founder and want to raise money, hire engineers, sell, etc. You need to be out there pitching and it’s not easy. Especially if you’re an introvert.

There is no shame in being an introvert and being a problem solver behind the scenes. I know it’s a cliche, but a successful startup needs both arms. Some people thrive being at the center of attention and some don’t no matter how well things play in their head. In our heads, we are the heroes of our world. Unfortunately, things don’t pan out that way.

A startup needs someone who can constantly solve problems behind the scenes without being distracted by the press or the know-it-all VCs.

It’s tough though. If you came up with the idea and built the thing you want to be recognized for it. You want to control it. You want to be the boss. That’s where most of us make a mistake. We’ll end up owning a lot of nothing as opposed to half of something.

I’m especially talking about the minority founders. If English is your second language, you are going to have a more difficult time raising money. It’s a fact. If you are a woman engineer, the same. People will have a harder time believing in you. It takes ten times as much effort to get where you want to be if you are a minority and I say that as a brown guy from the middle-east.

Should we be a victim or make lemonade from these lemons? I’d choose the latter. Here’s the thing: If you are the CTO of a successful startup, you will have a much higher chance of succeeding in your next startup regardless of the role you pick. Make that sacrifice if need be.

In almost any startup that I was involved with, the power struggle between the CEO and the CTO roles was apparent and damaging to the startup. If you have the slightest doubt that you will become a great CEO, do not do it. Because either you fit and doubt yourself and you don’t fit. In either case, you will have a hard time leading the company until you resolve these internal doubts.

Hope this helps.