#12 Extreme Ownership 🦍

I’m Ivan Landabaso, VC at JME.vc. Startup Riders is a weekly newsletter where I go down startup rabbit holes and share actionable insights. I also love surfing & pizza 🤙


  • 🦍 Extreme Ownership: Jocko’s pointers for startups.

  • 👋 Clubhouse: A social channel to keep an eye on.

  • 💵 Recent Deals in Spain: IronHack, Landbot and more.

  • 💭 Thinking or Reading: Eggs Benedict and black belts.

🦍 Extreme Ownership

Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership is easily one of my top 10 books. I keep it somewhere I can see it, to remind myself that:

  1. Taking responsibility > Complaining

  2. Taking action > Feeling sorry (for oneself)

  3. Discipline > Motivation

This book (and David Goggins’ - which deserves its own blog post), helped me a lot during the first Covid-19 self-isolation period - I hope it helps you too.

“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.” - Jocko

The book itself is a collection of war stories that Jocko lived through. Each war story has an associated leadership learning, plus a section dedicated to its application in the business world.

I found it fascinating how transferable these leadership skills he picked up at war are to the business / startup world. The key differences: 1. Consequences and 2. Time / Immediate feedback loops - a little like BJJ (but obviously without the death part).

Here are the main take-aways:

1. OWN

💡 A team’s success depends on the leader’s willingness to take blame for failure.

“Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.

“A leader who exercises Extreme Ownership must be loyal to the team and the mission above any individual. It is all on the leader."


💡 Planning, simplification & clarity are fundamental.

”A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep. To prevent this, the mission must be carefully refined and simplified so that it is explicitly clear and specifically focused to achieve the greater strategic vision for which that mission is a part. The mission must explain the overall purpose and desired result, or “end state,” of the operation.

“You need to ensure that your plans, orders, and tactics are simple and straightforward. When things get complicated, people misunderstand, wires get crossed and inevitably things go wrong. As a leader, you need to communicate the plans and tactics as simply as possible”


💡 Identify priorities and take action on them one at a time to remain efficient when the pressure mounts

“Leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute. When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute.”


💡 Decentralising all power is a fundamental part of successful leadership

“In chaotic, dynamic, and rapidly changing environments, leaders at all levels must be empowered to make decisions. Decentralized Command is a key component to victory.”


💡 Sometimes, you need to move forward making educated guesses.

“When things are complex and things are unfolding in front of you…most decisions can be slowed down. You can take an iterative decision that is smaller to see how it affects the situation and how the situation continues to unfold. So you obeserve what’s happening, you orient yourself to it, you decide what you’re going to do, you act (known as the OODA loop), but then you reboot and you do it again, observe how that worked, observe how that happened, and then decide what yo’re going to do, and act again. So, try and chunk those decision down a little bit to determine what you can do.


💡 Once you commit, commit.

“If you disagree with a decision, once it has been ,made you better commit to it. Do not undermine decisions. Be able to disagree while articulating down crisply why it was a difficult decision. Do not tolerate undermining decisions.” - Ben Horowitz


💡 Possess insight into the bigger picture

”It is paramount that senior leaders explain to their junior leaders and troops executing the mission how their role contributes to big-picture success.”


💡 Its not what you preach, its what you tolerate

”When leaders who epitomize Extreme Ownership drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance, they must recognize that when it comes to standards, as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.”

"Culture is what happens when nobody is looking. Culture changes every time somebody does anything against it and it is not addressed." - Ben Horowitz

And finally, the undisputed best video to start a week with 👇

👋 Clubhouse

Andrew Chen shares his thoughts on how A16Z invested in Clubhouse. Here’s the key thing to remember:

In a social media landscape that typically compels you to spend hours staring at a screen—often distractedly flitting between multiple screens—Clubhouse lets you multitask while you listen. Like podcasts, you can listen while you take a walk, fold laundry, or work out. It can also be the centerpiece of your evening, like attending a lecture or talk. But it’s also interactive, so if you have something to say, you can raise your hand and chime in

IMO it might be a good idea to dedicate some time & attention to any emerging products in this space - there is a lot of energy brewing in the audio-social-podcast world.

P.s - lets be friends on there, find me @IvanLandabaso 👋.

💵 Recent Deals In Spain

You love startups and want to enjoy a Spanish lifestyle? Come join the Spanish startup ecosystem. Here’s a list of recently funded startups:

💭 Thinking or Reading

🔴 Sector growth by RedPoint Ventures

Startup categories that grew fastest in terms of funding rounds year-over-year, provided there were at least 10 rounds in that category 👇


🥚 Eggs Benedict in < 4 minutes.

Interesting to see how an Engineer disrupts the Eggs Benedict time challenge through iterative learning. Highly entertaining:

🥋 Joe Rogan’s Black Belt in 2012

In case you had never seen the popular podcast host Joe Rogan cry, here you go:

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