Inside LaunchStreet Les Trachtman

Why Remembering That ‘A-Players’ Don’t Play Great at Every Position Will Help You Win the Game!

Les Trachtman is a master entrepreneur and the CEO of Trachtman Consulting group where he helps startups grow and scale. He stopped by Inside LaunchStreet for an in-depth talk on the difference between Founder and CEO, why they aren’t usually the same person and how to get out of your own way so that the entrepreneurial venture you started can actually grow and thrive.

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Key Takeaways:

[1:37] Find out how Les acquired some bumps and bruises while transitioning from founder to CEO.

[2:28] Les compares moving from founder to CEO to giving up your baby for adoption.

[3:36] How does the entrepreneur know when it’s time to get a CEO or become a CEO?

[5:29] Get introduced to the “founder value ladder.” Find out how to determine your value in each rung of the ladder. If you aren’t the best person for each level, it’s time to hire the person who is. Levels include individual contributor, manager, strategist, architect, investor. Ask yourself, “If I had a boss today, would they hire me to be the CEO?”

[7:05] Tamara shares her personal experience of being a VP in a consulting company. She shares her belief that ‘A-players’ don’t always play great in every position. Les shares that many founders get stuck before they realize that growing and scaling requires change.

[8:51] What are some ways founders become their own worst enemies as they scale and grow? Les explains how to avoid this in his book, Don’t F**k It Up: How Founders and Their Successors Can Avoid the Clichés That Inhibit Growth.

[9:29] Les shares that lack of taking risks and lack of innovation can kill any company. Tamara reminds Launchstreet listeners that it’s important to remember that your strength is creating and innovating. That’s what you’re good at. The next level may not be where you are at your best.

[12:16] What things need to happen at the early stages to scale and grow the business? 

You must question everything all the time! How do we learn to ask the right questions to make things more effective?

[15:55] Les shares that it’s important to ask people to think. It’s OK to ask inquisitive questions. It’s OK to turn up issues that are wrong, and It’s OK to fail. This needs to be developed as a culture.

[17:54] Tamara believes that people need to be able to do their jobs when she’s not in the building. Les encourages founders to take vacations to places without good cell service.

[20:50] Les thinks that innovation is critical to today’s business. You must figure out how to get ahead, or another founder will come eat your lunch. You must create a culture where innovation can fail and learn from it.

[22:29] How do companies get over the hurdle of implementing failure?

[24:08] Les defines failure as the task that you are currently performing did not end up with the intended result. He shares the history of 3M Post-it note. Out of failure, the Post-it note was born!

[25:54] As a company grows and scales how do companies continue to innovate?

It’s important to continue to tell the story. How was your company founded? How you risked it all to get where you are today. It’s everyone’s job to innovate, not just a certain team.

[27:46] Les’s advice to founders is to remember that you are great at something. You don’t have to be great at everything. Find someone that is almost as good as you and start handing off jobs. Measure your success by how much you can hand off, not how much you can take on.

[28:43] Founders need to get out of the box and diversify your workforce. Diversity in thought and background are essential. Choose people that are in different disciplines.

[30:18] Les is seeing a massive change in tech but believes that the biggest innovation is seen from the structural move from computing in your office to computing in ‘the cloud.’ 

[32:22] Connect with Les at


Mentioned in This Episode:

Don’t F**k It Up: How Founders and Their Successors Can Avoid the Clichés That Inhibit Growth, by Les Trachtman



LaunchStreet’s Innovation On Demand 

LaunchStreet’s Innovation Quotient Edge Assessment