Our CTO Wore A Crown To Work — Handling Toxic Team Members

Entrepreneurs need better managerial skills than I could have imagined: My personal worst-practice example.

Hannes Grauweihler
7 min readJun 27, 2022


How I felt after this mess [image by author]

We were heading back from a trade fair where we had spent a few days trying to get some leads to feed our CRM. We were exhausted and heading back to Berlin.

At some point, we came across that burger joint, which offers crowns to their younger, juvenile or engaged-in-a-drinking-game customers. Sergej (name changed) did not hesitate and put the little crown on his adorable head even before ordering. Boy, I was happy to see my favourite developer in the world wearing a crown.

Sergej’s relationship with the team

Sergej was fraught with different personality issues, making the crown appear like the tip of the iceberg. I will share three examples here, part of a very long list.

I am a little diva

Software engineering is a task which makes it hard to adhere to a strict schedule. Developers spend the most time trying to find errors in their own code. Sometimes you find those errors after a few minutes. Sometimes it takes weeks or gigantic workarounds.

Naturally, you run into problems if you promise clients who use your MVP to fix a specific issue and fail to deliver. This became a recurring theme, and we had many painful discussions begging clients for mercy.

On top, we had some serious technical flaws on our website. The worst part: Our user database spent a certain amount of time accessible from anywhere on the web if you just entered the URL, along the lines of company.com/users/HannesGrauweihler. You would be able to find all my personal data there. This was enough to cost us the company if the wrong people found out about it. Luckily, a friendly user alerted us to this issue instead of sending the screenshot to the press.

We would have to discuss these points with Sergej. No matter how we tried to address them, Sergej always felt offended and told us: I am a little diva, so don’t criticise my work.

I am the CTO



Hannes Grauweihler

Surfing, Finance, Career, Startups, Venture-Capital and some other things I got to experience.