Credit and blame are two faces of the same coin, and both aren’t worth as much as you think.
When I was young, I was very concerned with credit and blame. My old mentor, Thor Johnson, called me “a shameless self-promoter,” and he meant it as a compliment.
When things went right, I made sure I was positioned to take credit. When things went wrong, I made sure that someone else got the blame (I had to be pretty subtle about that!).
Yet now that I’m older, I realize that focusing on credit and blame is a waste of energy, especially in the startup world.
Credit only matters when there’s a success for which to take credit.
Blame only matters in big organizations, where you’re trying to avoid getting fired by a pointy-haired boss after some disaster.
Both are a second-order concern, orders of magnitude less important than making sure your startup is actually successful.
When an entrepreneur comes to me and tries to take credit for success, I just smile and remind him or her of Winston Wolf’s line from “Pulp Fiction”: ‘Let’s not go sucking each others’ d–ks just yet.’ There will be plenty of time for that after the company sells.
When an entrepreneur comes to me and tries to blame external circumstances, I’m not interested. I only care about figuring out the causes of failure in order to avoid it in the future, assuming there is a future.
In other words, credit AND blame are both a waste of time.