The Power of Founder Role Models

May 1, 2014

Taking the leap to being an entrepreneur is really scary. Every founder that I know points to role models that made that leap possible. Some of those role models are legends like Steve Jobs or Alfred Sloan. While legends inspire us at a high level, their path also seems unattainable to most of us. We read about them in biographies, but cannot relate to them as people. Another type of role model comes from those that we directly identify with as peers and inspire us to believe that we can also be as bold as they are in aspiring to achieve our dreams.

When I was working as a strategy consultant, and miserable in my very incremental daily routine, I dreamed of starting a company, but was unsure if I was being realistic. I was inspired by the legends, but following in the footsteps of Jobs felt inaccessible to me, like trying to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. Just because I admired them, didn’t mean I had any chance of becoming them. Two role models stand out in my mind as people who I related to as peers and gave me the courage to believe in myself as a founder.

One of those people, I didn’t know personally at the time. Todd Krizelman was the founder of I first encountered Todd along with his co-founder on the cover of a major magazine in 1999, held up as a symbol of the new economy. He was approximately my age and we knew people in common. I remember staring at that magazine cover and thinking how awesome it was that someone my age, with a similar background, was betting on himself and succeeding. Fixated on that cover, I couldn’t help but question why I was sitting still and not even trying to achieve my aspirations.

The other role model that stands out in my mind was a friend, named Josh Schanker, who went to a neighboring high school. I met Josh through various high school activities and thought really highly of him. We stayed distantly in touch while at different colleges. When I heard that Josh became Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Crimson, I wasn’t a bit surprised. I always viewed Josh as a talented and thoughtful leader. Like me, Josh also graduated and went to work for a consulting firm. He then paved the path that I was struggling to muster the courage to take and founded a company called BargainDog with a friend of his named David Beisel.

Not long after, I quit my uninspired job and founded a company myself, but I’m not sure I would have done so without Todd and Josh showing me that it was possible and giving me the courage to bet on myself.

Life has a funny way of coming full circle.

In 2007, I got the opportunity to invest in a company founded by Todd Krizelman called MediaRadar and have been a very happy investor ever since.

Today I’m proud to announce that I’m leading an investment in Josh’s company Bookbub.


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