Sign up FAST! Login

Choosing to Be Formidable | Seth Godin

Stashed in: Character, Decisions, Awesome, @paulg, Ethics, Leadership, Badass, Leadership, Work

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

"A formidable person is one who seems like they'll get what they want, regardless of whatever obstacles are in the way." - Paul Graham

I prefer people with a sense of ethics and morals that go along with their ruthlessness.

Paul Graham conveniently left those out when praising formidable as a character trait. 

I feel the same way. There is a vital difference between formidable and ruthless. Graham's article actually does list truth as an essential component of being formidable:

That's the secret. Convince yourself that your startup is worth investing in, and then when you explain this to investors they'll believe you. And by convince yourself, I don't mean play mind games with yourself to boost your confidence. I mean truly evaluate whether your startup is worth investing in. If it isn't, don't try to raise money. But if it is, you'll be telling the truth when you tell investors it's worth investing in, and they'll sense that. You don't have to be a smooth presenter if you understand something well and tell the truth about it.

The entire article is here and it's an interesting read:

Thank you for the link, Rich.

Here's another interesting read: The meanest thing Paul Graham ever said.


"Moments like these make me glad we invested in sixty-four startups!" Graham exclaimed. "If you want to drive off a cliff, go right ahead."

He later told Ballinger and his team that they were "like moths for bad ideas." 


That is interesting. Funny how "mean" words can sometimes turn out to be actually "nice!"

They took Graham's advice and went back to work on its fraud detection service via machine learning startup.

Ballinger says Graham later told them it was actually the meanest thing he had said to a startup. "But in retrospect, it was actually one of the nicest things anybody did for us," Ballinger writes.

Since going through the program, Sift Science has raised $4 million from Union Square Ventures, Max Levchin of PayPal, Chris Dixon, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Alexis Ohanian, and others.

Read more:

Well yeah. The message was right, but the way he said it was mean.

Yes, it was mean -- I'd have to agree with you there. Do you think that sometimes the "nice and reasonable" route doesn't work and someone is forced to escalate to "mean" to get the point across?

Sometimes. He probably thought delivering the message any other way would not have gotten through. 

You May Also Like: