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Founding Voices: The Right Dose of Reality

The right dose of reality

The tech industry is fast, competitive and noisy. As such, founders need to exude confidence and self belief if they want to attract interest, investment and build businesses that go toe-to-toe with industry giants.

Critically however, you can’t afford to buy into your own hype. Falling into hyperbole often means overreaching, which can kick off a cycle of negative flywheels for you and your organization.

“To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be ambitious and optimistic. You have to believe you can topple VMware, or Amazon. But many companies get carried away and don’t back it up with a dose of reality.”


Co-founder & Former CEO, Rancher; Co-founder & CEO, Acorn

It’s important to have a bold vision for your company, but you need to prioritize pragmatism when translating that vision into goals and business expectations. That means setting attainable targets across your organization.

While temperate goals are less flashy, they indicate a disciplined and realistic approach to doing business. Eye-watering reach objectives are exciting, but they’re also meaningless if you can’t deliver. If anything, they open the door to a dangerous cycle of over-promising and under-delivering, which can hurt stakeholder confidence, and wear your team thin.

“Don’t confuse realism for a lack of ambition,” says Ursheet Parikh, who led Mayfield’s inception investment in Rancher and served on the board until their acquisition by SUSE in 2020. “Being realistic creates opportunities for your organization to win. You’re more likely to achieve practical goals, and the act of achievement is a morale builder; small victories add up, and they help your team develop the confidence needed to tackle more aspirational objectives.”

Ursheet Parikh


Human & Planetary Health, Enterprise

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