Dr. Amy Gannon’s 5 Rules for Founders

(as compiled by her ghostwriter)

By Olivia Barrow

Anyone who ever met with Amy for a coaching session knew that she gave out rock-solid entrepreneurial advice, and even more importantly, she rewired the way we thought of ourselves as entrepreneurs.

She knew we were prone to doubting ourselves, and she’d remind us how often she would see women waiting to raise their hand for an opportunity until they’d checked nine out of 10 boxes of requirements. “And you’d still feel like it’s a crazy leap to call yourself qualified, when a white dude in your position would call himself an expert with four out of 10 boxes checked.” 

This wasn’t a criticism of women, just another observation. In the next breath, Amy said, “the dudes need to wait til they’ve checked six or seven boxes, because incompetent men have gotten us into a lot of messes.”

She’d meet with women who didn’t want to call themselves CEOs. “Who the hell is the CEO if it’s not you?” she’d ask. 

Amy’s message for entrepreneurs was so powerful because it was so consistent. Everything she told me, I know she told all of the other entrepreneurs she mentored — again and again, because we needed to hear it each time.

I’ve done my best to pull out the five top pieces of advice that Amy gave me and that I saw her give others. Feel free to print this out, tape it into your planner, hang it on your wall, or just come back to this article as often as you need a dose of Amy Gannon fire to get you through the day. I know I will. 

Rule 1

You are enough. Repeat that to yourself constantly. Everything you don’t know, you can either learn it, hire an expert, or it does not matter.

RULE 2

Run good tests. With good tests, you can gather good data. Lots of people can see a problem that needs to be solved. What makes you an entrepreneur is whether you can create a hypothesis about a solution, and then test it, and test it, and test it again until you have created a solution that you know will work at scale. 

RULE 3

Get a coach. You’re going to need a coach to help you with the challenges every startup founder faces, whether it’s putting structure where there is none, managing a growing team, or staying true to your vision. But if that coach doesn’t take your brilliance as a given, if that coach questions your qualifications or tells you to think smaller, then WALK. THE FUCK. AWAY. 

RULE 4

Prioritize your health. You cannot make sound entrepreneurial decisions if you are not at your best. So take cultural norms, and flush them down the toilet, whether they’re about parenting, sleeping, vacationing, or stabilizing your income while you pursue your dream. Take care of yourself first. 

RULE 5

Build your community. Do not isolate yourself. Find spaces that put people who look like you in the spotlight, talking about their ventures, their empires. Find people who will reflect your brilliance back onto you. Find people who, when the doubts creep back in, will point you back to Rule No. 1.