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Outlier’s Path

Fire and Ice

Growing up, I loved reading comic books. However, I always wondered why every superhero had only a particular set of powers and that enormous strength would eventually become their biggest weakness. If only a superhero could yield opposing powers.

This past week, a founder searching for a new idea asked what is one piece of advice I would give someone starting a company. My answer is similar to how I answered it in 2018 for Sequoia’s Seven Questions newsletter.

You must have fire and ice to excel as a company or team. Each team member might lean towards one or the other, but collectively, you want both Firestorm and Killer Frost in your company to thrive.

Fire represents passion, drive, and the burning desire to solve a critical problem the rest of the world has gotten wrong. The burning desire comes from the purpose and determination to make a meaningful impact. This fiery passion fuels creativity and pushes boundaries.

Ice embodies composure, clear-minded strategy, and effective execution. This cold nature allows for a calm and collected mindset amid challenges,  calculated decision-making, and a focus on task and project completion. Ice is the discipline of turning raw inputs and ambitious ideas into desired outcomes and tangible output.

If your company is always fired up about new ideas and possibilities but cannot bring projects to fruition, your team has fire but no ice. If your company runs like clockwork as a Swiss train but no longer has inventive ideas to go to the next level, your team has become cold and has no fire. As a founder, you want both superpowers in your company—the fiery spirit of entrepreneurship and the icy discipline of management.