9 fintech CEOs share the best and worst parts about being a leader

The CEO crown seems very alluring, but it may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Sure there are benefits, prestige, and money, but what about all the things that aren’t spoken about, like the long hours, time away from family, and stress over making payroll?

We spoke to 9 fintech CEOs and founders, asking them what the best…and worst parts of the job are.

Nav Athwal, CEO, RealtyShares:

Best: The customer feedback, getting validation that what you’re building is something that gets them excited. Hearing things like ‘I love what you did,’ ‘it changed the way I think,’ and ‘it’s the best thing since sliced bread’.

Worst: Raising money is a necessary evil and not my favorite part of the job. You have to tell the story to skeptic VCs who have to pick the best company for their investment. It’s not the most exciting part since you’re so far way from the product, but it’s important for growth.

Brian Zanghi, CEO, Masabi:

Best: Working with a team of people and turning something that seems impossible today into something real. Especially when it delivers rewards to those with high career aspirations, it’s something that feels great.

Worst: I’ve learnt over the years that things take longer and cost more. You have to be comfortable losing money at early stages of a business. Understanding that is half the battle, and the other half is working with investors, who don’t always agree with a CEO’s perspective.

Cyril Chiche, CEO, Lydia:

Best: Changing the way people live their lives as a company. If you do it by yourself, it’s great. But if you have a great team that are passionate, rigorous, and devoted to change, it feels super cool to make a change together.

Worst: All the hours, days, weeks, months that I haven’t seen my kids grow up. My wife jokes around to our friends and at dinner parties that Lydia, the name of our company, is a very demanding mistress.

Derek Webster, CEO, CardFlight:

Two things are hardest. First is the constant switching of roles. First I have an interview, then a sales call, then prep for a board meeting, then contract negotiations, followed up with closing a customer and a meeting with engineering. I love bouncing around, but it’s also hard. Rarely is there a time where I have nothing to think about.

The other part is building a product and team, raising money, and getting customers. You can’t do one thing without the other two. Most entrepreneurs fail because they can’t accomplish this impossible goal. The art is somehow figuring out how to do it makes a successful entrepreneur.

Scott Galit, CEO, Payoneer

Best: All the great people I get to work with and support. We have a unique business since we have a global team and I get to work with so many people, and I get to see how people from different backgrounds are similar. Dealing with people from all over the world and finding the commonality and the humanity in all of it is a great feeling.

Worst: There’s nothing I hate, but it’s hard to keep a growing company aligned and sharing the same vision and sense of purpose. Continuing to scale and keeping the heart and soul the same and not losing our identity is no easy task.

Tom Burgess, CEO, Linkable Networks

Best: I’ve done this four times in 20 years, and somehow I keep coming back. The best part is giving your employees and investors success. Making calls for higher salaries, options, or a more fun place to work is the best part of it all.

Worst: You create a company with a ton of potential and sell it, but the potential that you won’t deliver is on your shoulders. It’s an addiction. Once you do it once, you keep going for it again. Feeling that delivery is crazy good and you keep fighting to do it again, but it weighs on you.

Evan Gentry, CEO, Money 360

Best: Being a part of creating something that’s awesome, creating a team and having the control in your hands is the best. Providing opportunities for loans, investments, and jobs for lots of people all at once are some examples of why it’s so great.

Worst: Harder on yourself than a boss, I’m driven to be successful, but you have to do things the right way and be disciplined. You also take it home with you, it’s part of who you are, you don’t punch a clock.

Gino Zahnd, CEO, Cozy

Best: I wake up everyday with no idea how to get the next thing done, and I love that about my job. It challenges me to be better and constantly learn.

Worst: It’s tough being OK with not moving as fast as you have in your mind. We move at a rapid pace, and it’s still slower than my vision. You have to remain patient even though you want to move faster.

Philippe Gelis, CEO at Kantox

The hardest part of running a company is coping with regulation, especially when dealing with a multinational company. Having a great idea is one thing, but trying to fit them into regulations is another.