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Channeling the Tech Swagger

By: Stefanos Missailidis (Co-Founder at Fiestah)

Tech swagger, also known as geek confidence, is essential in the startup world. Let’s pause and think of the arrant audacity it takes to be a founder. To abandon convention and dedicate your mental, physical and financial resources to a venture that is not guaranteed to be profitable or successful by any means. There’s a reason the tech world is so tight knit. Like misery, crazy loves company. So why do it? There are so many reasons, the thrill of the journey, the feeling when you do get there. So what does it take to pull it off? Tech swagger. Why tech swagger, why not use the word confidence? “Swagger” unlike “confidence” has a momentum already charged within the word. There’s something errant about it that is perfectly in tune with the rogue nature of the startup world and culture. You channel tech swagger by....

Dressing the part. This may seems ridiculous in a world whose supreme king is hoodied Zuckerberg, but even his choice of clothes are a deliberate power play. When Facebook was in genesis, the business world was still ruled by powerheads donning thousand dollar suits, always flaunting their power by flashing their material wealth. Zuckerberg differentiated himself by wearing hoodies, saying that he doesn’t need to be flashy to be or be perceived as successful. Dress the way you want to be perceived. Be deliberate in the way you dress. For some this is jeans and a t-shirt. For others, it’s wearing suspenders and a bow tie. You can even make the way you dress an extension of your branding campaign like this guy. But most importantly in your worst days as a founder (and trust me, the journey is filled with many of those) the way you dress, your founder “uniform,” is a constant reminder of who you are and why you are subsisting on mac and cheese for the next six months to build the next Instagram.

Videotaping and analyzing your pitch, yourself. As a founder navigating the tricky waters of the startup world, somebody is always watching. Whether it is the investors at your next pitch event or the consumers you want to reach, your nonverbal communication is important. You already know to videotape yourself giving a professional pitch. But go farther. Videotape yourself when you’re walking. Many people judge you on the way you walk, especially when you’re entering a room full of people you need to wow for the first time. Videotape yourself when you’re eating. At networking events can you come across as professional while you’re eating or are you that guy who spits meatballs into everyone’s eyes? This may seem like a Beyonce kind of obsessiveness, but there’s a reason she is one of the few pop artists in full command of her media narrative. Like Beyonce, you need to be in charge of your media narrative as well.

Developing your brand of charisma. The key word here is “your.” Take notes from the masters, but don’t copy them. As a founder, you need to come across as organic, not forced. And while you should rehearse conversations, pitches and presentations, it shouldn’t look prepared.

Becoming a Super Networker. No good startup story starts with, “I was sitting at home in my underwear, working my way through the third season of “Breaking Bad” when this amazing thing happened.” For opportunities to open up, you need to get out there and network.

Having the Swag, always being prepared. Swag also refers to the merchandise your startup hands out for free to potential consumers like buttons, t-shirts, sunglasses, etc. For the purposes of this article, swag refers to your business card and/or your startup’s flyer. These should always be on you, because you never know who you are going to meet in that 10 second elevator ride. You never know who is going to be in the music section at Barnes and Noble. You never know, so always be prepared.

Stefanos Missailidis is a Co-Founder at Fiestah. He's a data freak, old school developer, and designer in training. When not working on Fiestah, he spends his time playing soccer, practicing yoga, and killing WODs at Crossfit. Before founding Fiestah, he worked as a Consultant at Accenture for 4 years.