Scott Belsky’s The Messy Middle 〰 How to survive after the start?

Behance’s founder and Adobe CPO: How to run when no-one is looking.

11 min readSep 7, 2020


“…On average, every low is less low than the one before it, and every subsequent high is a little higher.” — Scott Belsky

The Author: Scott Belsky

Scott was the founder of Behance which was acquired by Adobe, where he is now Chief Product Officer. He is also now a VC.

My key takeaways for the middle:

  • Focus on your team as much as your product — you won’t get there without them
  • Provide the safety net — for arguments, ideas and fun
  • Avidly encourage and track real progress in fun ways

💉💊 Commit to suffer

Before starting out, commit to suffer with your co-founders. Know that it will hurt. Most companies take 5 years. It takes two years to get traction. Most companies pivot.

If you don’t have this commitment and enthusiasm you will get burned.

💪👨‍💻 The middle is the only thing that matters. Endure it and optimise.

The beginning and end are largely irrelevant to learn from. They are thrilling, romantic, inspired bliss.

Sure it makes sense that investors would be interested in this, but when the whole world is suddenly there is no-one who wants to come on the hike with you to the top of the mountain, only people to wish you well at the start and see you at the finish.

What is the middle? Nothing headline worthy yet everything important. Your war with self-doubt, a roller coaster of incremental successes and failures, bouts of the mundane and sheer…