5 Steps To Become A Startup Rockstar

It is week four at Startup Institute Boston, and so far our cohort has gotten more than its fair share of exposure to the startup world. And like our friends at McDonald’s say, “I’m lovin’ it”.

After listening to the wise words of CEOs, founders, marketing pros and sales experts, I have come to understand that there are five best practices for startup employee success. I took these awesome insights and developed a CliffsNotes version on how to be a startup rock star. 

1. Draw the owl. The phrase “draw the owl” was introduced on Day One at SIB. Drawing the owl means to get stuff done, specifically complicated things without much guidance. The fast-paced dynamism of startups is rooted in this concept. Startups continuously take action to innovate and create, and waste little time developing an extensive plan on how to proceed on the day’s task. They just go for it.

#2. Be Authentic.Your fit in a company is one of the most important elements of success, and that is why so much emphasis is placed on culture and team interaction. Both employees and employers are happiest when everyone remains true to their personalities. Camouflaging on the other hand only sets everyone up for failure. Are you sarcastic? Deeply analytical? A social butterfly? Come as you are!

#3. Be Constantly Creative.Last week I asked the CEO of a local startup a question. “How I could meld my professional skills and experience into the startup world.” His response was, “We’ve been fed this false dichotomy that creative and technical people need to operate in inherently different realms….and that is B.S.” And he is right. The startup space is incredibly creative. Make something out of nothing? Check. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks? Check. Create a narrative to make people excited about a project? Check. Do not be afraid to exercise your creative side. There is always a need in startups for someone who can think uniquely differently.

#4. Pay it Forward. “Hi, I’m the CEO of company XYZ. We created an app that allows people to walk on water without getting wet. But, that’s boring. Tell me, how can I be of use to you?”

I have heard many variations of this question since starting at SIB. Initially, I was confused. I did not fully understand why people wanted to be so helpful to a stranger. The concept of “paying it forward” is in full swing in this community. Most people I spoke to are where they are today because someone extended their hand to help. When you are in the position to help someone else, be sure to act on it to keep the cycle going.

#5. Remain Humble.The startup community is incredibly humble, which is surprising considering how many brilliant, startup movers and shakers I have met. Everyone is so levelheaded and unpretentious. They are authentic, creative, value-adding doers. They are the people you want to work for and work with. If you want to be a startup rock star, remember to check your diva at the door.


Roselangie Cano joined Startup Institute Boston after juggling work for the nonprofit, education and human services sectors. She is a Sales and Business Development Track student and hopes to make a career change into the startup world. Say hello to her on Twitter @RoselangieCano.