How Do You Deal With Feeling Like A Fraud?

brett fox
4 min readApr 11

I felt like the biggest fraud in the world.

My co-founders, “Jim” and John”, had just quit three months after we started the company. John said, in his parting comment to me, “I know better how to build a analog IC company than you do.” In other words, John was saying, “We don’t need you.”

Picture: Depositphotos

I was back to square one. I was without a team, and I needed a team to get my company off the ground.

A year earlier, I had been fired as a general manager of Micrel, a public analog semiconductor company. My self esteem, at the time, was pretty low.

I think the Micrel experience made me pretty tentative when my company was just starting. I didn’t want to screw up, and I was unsure of how to assert myself as CEO.

Sometimes, you have fake it till you make it.

The weekend after I was fired I thought about what I wanted to do next. I knew I didn’t want to work at another company like Micrel.

Ideally, I wanted to continue pursuing my goal of being a CEO, but I had no belief that I could get there. As I said, my self esteem was pretty low.

The good news was I had a ton of contacts. So I emailed them with the simple message that I was available.

Mike, the managing partner of a San Francisco based VC firm, responded to my email. He asked me to meet him up at their office in the Embarcadero.

I thought Mike wanted to talk to me about helping out one of their portfolio companies. I looked at the companies they were backing, and I could see a few where I might fit in as a VP.

When I met with Mike, he had a different idea. “Let me get right to point,” Mike said. “We’re interested in building an analog (semiconductor) company, and we’d like you to build it.

“What do you think?”

I felt like saying, “What? You must be kidding. I was just fired, and you want me to be CEO? Are you serious?”

Instead, hiding my surprise, I said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I want to do.”

My job was to recruit a founding team, develop a business plan, and raise money. Now, it looked like, after Jim and John quit, I had…

brett fox

I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at

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