Everybody Wants to be a Gangster, Till its Time to Do Gangster SH-T

Marvin Liao
2 min readNov 24, 2021

Seeing this awesome t-shirt made me chuckle. Also made me think. We live in a social media & media saturated world full of posers. So much talk and so little doing. How many so-called entrepreneurs who are seen to be driving around in Lambos, living in a crazy big mansion actually own these. How many business gurus actually built something and were actually successful before they started selling courses?

One of the biggest challenges for founders, LPs, and investors is sorting the signal from the noise. And it is really damn noisy out there. Much of this is made by LPs, Venture Capitalists, angels and founders who have figured out how to tell a good story and dominate the news cycle and social media. So many are amazing writers or great on social media or the PR front. This is also why we see so many of the best VC funds turning into Media companies. A16Z has 70 people who work on the media aspects and frankly think they do an amazing job. Lots of other funds are in the midst of attempting the same thing, albeit doing it very poorly.

I think this is a challenge for founders especially. Which investors will really help you when the chips are down? Which ones are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to do the hard work? Reality in my experience is very few (ie sub 10% for sure).

It goes the other way too. So many founders are following the concept of “Building in Public.” They have become incredible at social media and the hype machine. This clearly helps them when it comes to fundraising, hiring and even potential partnership conversations. But how many of them are able to execute and deliver on their promise? Also pretty rare. And in the most extreme cases “Fake it till you make It” ends up turning into fraud. There is a balance to be struck here. How do you balance promoting & selling with actually delivering? Worst thing you can do is overhype and raise expectations to a level you can’t deliver on (think Matrix 2 or the awful Star Wars movie prequels). It only leads to disappointment and sometimes anger. In the consumer world, this is death for companies.

Unfortunately, we are in the time where flash truly has become trash as we see deal cycles speed up and where due diligence is sparse. This probably is not going to change for a while and it’s the game we have right now. All I can say for both investors and founders: take the time to make sure you are partnering with the right people.

And follow the basics:

  1. Always manage expectations
  2. Do exactly what you say you will do, and when you promise you will do it.

If you do these two things, you will be a true gangster. And more importantly, you will be far ahead of 95% of people out there!



Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com