Working With Your Friend As A Co Founder

I read this articles online and  I could completely relate to it,  I had once found myself in the same situation sometime ago and also didn’t handle it well. Reading this article made me realize the mistakes I made. Be inspired when learning from this.

Should I Work With My Best Friend As Co founder?

By Brett Fox

I had a very close friend who was a co-founder of my company.  Here’s what happened:

“You have an EQ of zero!” Ken yelled at me.

“What the hell is an EQ?” I asked.

“Perfect!” Ken screamed back. Then he hung up the phone. Those were the last words Ken ever said to me.

Just like that a twenty-year friendship and business relationship ended forever.

Ken was a co-founder of my company. More importantly I considered him a close friend.

I had lunch with Ken the day before to have our weekly 1:1. I pushed him pretty hard at lunch because he wasn’t performing well.

I looked down at Ken’s feet and he wasn’t wearing socks.

It triggered a memory of when we were raising money. We were in a diligence meeting with a VC and I vividly remembered the VC looking disapprovingly at Ken’s sockless feet.

I told Ken that day with the VC that he needed to wear socks.

At lunch I said nothing. But I was a little pissed off.

Over lunch, I went point-by-point with Ken about my concerns. Ken listened without saying a word.

I ended our lunch conversation saying, “Make life easier for us.”

Ken didn’t say a word as we drove back to the office.

The next morning at 9AM, I received an email from Ken. The title was “Resignation”:


I’ve decided to make your life easier by resigning. I will no longer come into the office, but I will make my last day May 30th, so I can vest one more month of stock.”

I immediately got on the phone and called Ken.

That’s when Ken yelled at me, “You have an EQ of zero!”

I haven’t spoken to Ken since that day.

I did some deep thinking after the call ended and after I called the board of directors letting them know Ken resigned. The first thing I did was Google “EQ”. Here’s what I found on

“For most people, emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than one’s intelligence (IQ) in attaining success in their lives and careers. As individuals our success and the success of the profession today depend on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.”

I asked myself a lot of questions:

  • “Should I have pushed Ken?”
  • “Was I out of line?”
  • “What did I miss?”

The reality is that I wasn’t being honest with myself or with Ken. I think we both had known for months things weren’t working well.

I was holding out hope that he would suddenly get motivated and start working the way used to years ago.

It wasn’t going to happen.

The way I should have handled my conversation with Ken was just stating the specific facts about his performance. Then I should have asked him a question, not with anger, but with empathy:

“We know there’s a lot of hard work and personal sacrifice needed in your role. I am just wondering whether you really want to do this anymore?”

Maybe we would still be friends if I handled the situation in this way. I don’t know.

What I did know was I was bummed out for two reasons:

  1. A dear friend was no longer a friend.
  2. I thought my EQ (after I learned what it was) was pretty high. It wasn’t. I would have sensed the personal issues Ken was dealing with if my EQ was higher.

The reality is you can always get better no matter how good you think you are.

Growing your EQ requires five things:

  1. Self-Awareness. You have to be able to recognize your emotions and the effects your emotions have on others. You also need to be self-confident.
  2. Self-Regulation. How well do you control your emotions?
  3. Motivation. You need to set clear goals and have a positive attitude.
  4. Empathy. You need to have the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference.
  5. Social Skills. You need to be able to understand, empathize, and communicate well with others to have a high EQ

Effective communication is everything in the working world. It doesn’t matter if you are a manager, a CEO, or an employee.

Think about everything and everyone you have to effectively communicate with:

  • Your employees
  • Your board of directors (if you’re CEO)
  • Your investors (if you’re CEO)
  • Your peers
  • Your manager
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Trade press



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