pirate ships

Not everyone is cut out to be a leader.

11.20.20 update: At the time of writing this, it was good advice for myself. The org and team lacked purpose. However, what I didn't realize is that during the 0-1 phase of team creation, buy-in is the utmost important. You are building a team ground-up, after all. Ensure that any mission/vision/value that you think of simply starts as the kernel. Pitch this kernel to your team and let them come to a consensus themselves.

This term, I'm starting a student-organization at Waterloo called Loo Labs. The purpose of Loo Labs is to connect Waterloo students by building cool apps and tools.

Throughout my highschool and university career, I've — surprisingly — never joined any club, let alone have experiencing starting one! My experience so far has made me realized that there are three different types of people on any team. They are:

  1. Team Members aka Crew Members
  2. Executioners aka First Mate
  3. Visionaries aka the Captain

Team member

As a team member, your primary responsibility is to execute the vision which has been created by the group of Visionaries. How you execute that vision is determined by the group of Executioners. Even though you're "only" a team member, your input is still very much valued. You have a lot of impact on how the ship is run. This is because, at the end of the day, the entire crew of the ship needs to be happy. Captains and first mates with an unhappy crew will not find treasure.


As an executioner, your primary responsibility is to execute the vision that Visionaries create. This usually means ensuring plans, processes, and operations run smoothly.

The First Mate also has another big responsibility: being the backup captain. If the captain is unable to lead for whatever reason, the ship must be led instead by the first mate. They are the only ones that fully understand the captain's vision. The classic example that captures this idea is Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook, and Bill Gates vs Steve Ballmer.


As a visionary, your primary responsibility is to determine the north star for the ship. Does the team/crew need a boost in morale tonight? Perhaps the ship should spend the night drinking and partying. Or maybe the crew needs to sit down and have a serious conversation on why no treasure is being found.