This morning, I had an amazing conversation with a good friend about his new venture. The topic went in many directions, but we talked for a while about company building and leadership.

I asked a question that I’ve asked myself in my quest to learn how to become a more effective leader - what is a company? It led to a short diatribe about the current state of leadership advice, which ultimately led to answering the question. I’m documenting it here, for future reference.

Leadership advice surrounds us in the tech community. It’s everywhere. It’s amazing that people from different companies at different stages are openly sharing their lessons in an effort to make us better. But that’s made for information overload. The problem of “popular advice” has never been worse. Popularity is a horrible proxy for many things, but especially so for advice. It creates recency bias and results in misapplying tactics.

The conclusion I’ve reached is leadership advice needs to be received with more structure. All advice needs a mental framework in our minds, so we can use the right tools for the right jobs.

That framework for me is the company system - people, organizing as teams, creating some output, received by a market, which done enough, produces impact. It translates the line between an individual and impact. There’s nuance around governance and company stage that needs to be considered, but for the most part the simple structure is an incredibly useful mental model.

This simple framework also helps me place advice, and I look to challenge it everytime I learn something new (reading a new book, or a blog post).

Read more about the company system.