Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam told a reporter during a Google chat session that Warren Buffet is a "little bitch." Photo: Hubert Burda Media Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam told a reporter during a Google chat session that Warren Buffet is a "little bitch." Photo: Hubert Burda Media

In this story for Canadian Business, Richard Warnica laments the glut of rich, out-of-touch megalomaniacs in Silicon Valley’s startup scene. SV is a bubble, says Warnica, where “tech bros” say whatever they want, no matter how sexist, racist or classist. It’s also a place where tech startups are making tons of money.

Is there a correlation between the two?

Alison Shontell believes that there is. In this story for Business Insider, Shontell provides numerous examples of business owners, all of them tech entrepreneurs, whose brash behaviour and ruthless attitude has led to success. Uber’s Trevor Kalanick, who has been called badass; Mark Zuckerberg, who famously ousted his friend Eduardo Saverin from Facebook; Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who lost his temper and locked former Stanford friend Reggie Brownout of the app shortly after it launched.

Shontell quotes a former colleague of Kalanick’s, who said, “If he were less brash, I don’t think he would get half as far as he did.” And another friend who said, “There is absolutely no way [Uber] would have gotten where it is without Travis and his arrogance.”

Many more have argued that ego is what pushes people to launch their own business, rather than work for someone else. While riding the Startup Train to Startup Fest in Montreal last summer, I asked some of the passengers—mostly entrepreneurs—what drives startup success. Rubson Ho, a co-founder of Toronto law firm Cognition LLP, suggested that ego is what pushes entrepreneurs to succeed. When you’re in the thick of launching a business, he said, “Your ego drives you to want more.”

Entrepreneur Jeff Adams disagrees. He recently tweeted: “Not all founders start their companies because of ego,” in response to Darrell Kopke’s story about how ego causes founders to blow it as CEOs.

There is a difference between the “ego” Ho is thinking of—that pride in a venture that is 100% yours—and the egocentrism or narcissism Adams is probably thinking of—the kind that Warnica finds so dispiriting.

In his column for Canadian Business, Warnica quotes Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam, who called Warren Buffet a “little bitch” and invited him to “suck” his “d—”. Is he getting attention? Yes. But are statements like this helping him win over investors? No. Extreme confidence is what’s attracting investors to guys like Kalanick, not extreme jackassery. It just so happens he’s got both.

Entrepreneurs looking to get investors, customers and employees to believe in their business should adopt Moghadam’s confidence, but maybe stop short at suggesting that other famous entrepreneurs felate them.

In a recent blog comparing sports to business, Deborah Aarts argues that tennis it girl Genie Bouchard’s “of course I belong here” attitude is one that a lot of entrepreneurs—especially Canadian entrepreneurs—would do well to adopt.

“Far too often, we’ll see leaders of compelling, dynamic, innovative companies default to stereotypical Canadian modesty, hoping their products or services will sell themselves on merit alone while they defer to the ‘aw shucks, we’re just glad to be here’ position,” says Aarts, asserting that our national inferiority complex may solidify our collective “nice guy” image, but won’t do much to put us ahead on the global stage.

This is especially true for small business owners. It’s difficult to go up against bigger competitors, even more so when you don’t have access to the network of support Silicon Valley can provide. My best advice? The tried and true “fake it ’til you make it.” Try these eight tips for giving off a more confident vibe.

Bottom line: confidence wins over investors. It just so happens that being a jerk sometimes reads as being confident. That doesn’t mean the two are inextricable.

Read: How to Take On Giants

More from Mira Shenker

Loading comments, please wait.