Want to Succeed? Become Replaceable

Ari Meisel
4 min readMar 29, 2019

The market is saturated with really innovative books and philosophies about growth; how to find new opportunities, how to create new content and marketing, how to identify and nurture customers. Entrepreneurs especially have endless choices these days when they are pursuing those solutions.

My book, “The Replaceable Founder”, is not that book.

This book will assist you in uncovering what is holding you back, and find where your constraints hide.

It will show you the relevance of becoming replaceable.

It’s a daunting word, for sure, but it does not mean what you think it does.

My methodology does not seek to make you disappear; it aims to give you the time and space to truly lead.

It is, after all the bottlenecks we are trying to avoid as we nurture our vision. The truth is excellent ideas shepherded by brilliant people will usually succeed. In Latin, ceteris paribus which translates to “all other things being equal.”

So this book is about the constraints that impede progress, and it’s been my experience that the obstacle is usually the founder. It is this person, the one who came up with the brilliant idea, the one who wants to get it done, yesterday, that becomes their own worst enemy.

They may rush to bring their aha moment to bear, and then bring in the wrong people to help. They buy cumbersome and ill-fitting software, and they don’t put the proper systems in place first; processes that reflect and support the mission of the organization.

These hasty decisions mar progress and erode the company’s DNA and those breaks in the DNA multiply untethered throughout the evolution of that organization.

What remains, several months or years into a venture, is an overwhelmed founder with too much to do, not enough time to accomplish anything significant, and an attitude of defeat which will surely spell the demise of a terrific idea.

If the founder is spending their time like this, they are detracting rather than adding value to the initial offering. They will fail, and more importantly, they will not know why.

The solution lies in a fundamental shift in mindset whose hallmark is, “Everyone should be as replaceable as possible.” I do not mean personally, I mean professionally.

It doesn’t mean firing; it means optimizing processes so that people, especially the founder are free to drive their vision forward and this is impossible to do if they are mired in the daily grind of putting out fires.

The objective must be to replace the “how” not the “what” and the “why”.

Naturally, the founder should be spearheading the mission of why but the how needs to focus on replacement, making everyone as replaceable as possible, without actually replacing them.

Remember, the founder’s team has a wealth of knowledge and experience.

They wouldn’t have been hired to help grow a business if they didn’t possess these talents. Their unique gifts continue to be more and more valuable every day they are with an organization. The core team is invested in the vision, has a passionate and proprietary interest in its success, but like the founder they are spending too much of their time doing things that could be done by someone else, faster and for less.

If the founder is paying his Marketing guru to post on Instagram, they are wasting money. If their accounts person is personally answering customer queries, they are drowning in inefficiency and if the founder is unable to relinquish control to anyone outside the core team, productivity halts.

I realize that to many people, this may sound like a paradox, a double edge sword. “If I make myself replaceable, I’ll just replace myself out of a job!”

Admittedly, in many organizations I’ve worked with, there are those who can’t or won’t see that finding an optimized solution enables, rather than disables, but the people who do embrace the notion can fill that empty space with new and better opportunities.

It’s the opposite of the Peter Principle, the satirical book about incompetence, written by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in 1969, that heralded the notion that people rise to the point of their incompetence.

Peter and Hull uncovered the lunacy of traditional corporate structures that only promoted based on a person’s ability to do the job they currently held, which left many within the organizational structure over their heads in positions they were incapable of mastering, rendering them obsolete.

My view and I’ve seen it work countless times, is to get to a position, through optimizing, automating, and outsourcing, where the founder, in particular, is now able to step up into that void and get shit done. Real shit. Substantive shit. Shit that turns that great idea into a brilliant triumph.

The mantra must be:

Become replaceable.

Seek out the constraints.

Remove the bottleneck.

Allow the natural growth to happen.



Ari Meisel

Founder — Less Doing /The Replaceable Founder/ Overwhelmologist/Serial Entrepreneur / Ironman / Author / Inventor