In her TED talk, Kathryn Schulz, journalist and author of Being Wrong, raises a critical question: What does being wrong feel like? You may say it's terrible, embarrassing or awful, but that's not what it feels like. That is what discovering you're wrong feels like. The problem with being wrong is that it feels right at the time. I learned this the hard way.
When I founded my first company, I chose people based on who I liked instead of who was right for the job. Needless to say, that startup failed. However, it and the research for The 2 AM Principle, helped me develop techniques to quickly assess compatibility and build stronger relationships.
Choosing the wrong people as co-founders can be a fatal error. You are going to be working with your co-founders long hours every day. You will rely on each other to overcome challenges and grow your business. It is critical that your team is capable. It is even more important that you are compatible. Unless you are aware of these 2 tests and 3 scientific concepts, you may not know it until it's too late.
The Cash Register
Answer this question: How much does the average employee steal from a cash register?
Was the amount low or high? In his book Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant claims that the answer can suggest a person's level of honesty. We believe that other people behave like we do. If the response was a high number, it suggests that the respondent is dishonest. The lower the number, the more honest they tend to be. Note that this is not definitive.
The "E" Trick
Take a moment and draw a capital E on your forehead. Which direction is the letter? Is it written so that it can only be read from your perspective or did you write it so that others could read it?
This is a test that was developed by professors Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer. They claim that those who wrote "E" from their perspective are self-focused, a trait that is frequently found in people who hold positions of leadership or power. Those who wrote the letter so that others could read it are other-focused. This often means that they consider others but may not be able to make tough decisions that may be required in a leadership position. Again, the test is not definitive, but it can quickly give you insight into yourself and the people that could form your founding team.
Do these tests with your potential co-founders and share your answers at the end. You may be satisfied with the answers, but don't make anything official yet. Especially in the early stages, you should consider these concepts and how they may be affecting your decision-making.
The IKEA Effect
The more effort you put into something, the more you care about it. This is called the IKEA Effect, in reference to how people tend to overvalue their IKEA furniture simply because they invested time into building it. In a startup, it is likely that you undervalue the contributions of other team members and overvalue your own because you are aware of your effort.
A study from NYU and Elizabethtown College examined self-awareness and superiority. In the study, participants were asked if they are above average drivers. An overwhelming majority rated themselves as exceptional or above average drivers, but it was according to their own standards of good driving.
Even after they were aware that other drivers used different standards, they still believed that their own were superior. The reality is that you are not as important as you think. You can't have a functional founding team in which each person uses different standards for success. You need to be on the same page.
Once we have established a belief or perspective, it becomes difficult to change our minds. We search for any consistency to support our beliefs and dismiss anything that conflicts with them. This can cause a number of issues. You may think that you have a billion dollar idea even when your co-founders and other trusted connections try to convince you otherwise. According to a study conducted by a team of Princeton researchers, even when we are made aware of our bias, we still view ourselves as objective.
Whether you are recruiting co-founders or launching a new product, it is important to go in with your eyes open. An awareness of these tests and scientific concepts can help you, but it is important to share them with your entire team. Amazing co-founders are not only compatible, but they keep each other in check.