Bring Your Team Together to Solve the Hardest Problems Startups Face

Unique insights from pioneers of Google’s Startup Accelerator on why building teams is harder than building tech—and a proven way to develop a tight team that’s ready for the intense challenges of startup life.

The Bonfire Moment: Bring Your Team Together to Solve the Hardest Problems Startups Face
National Bestseller
USA Today Bestseller
Amazon Bestseller
Barnes & Noble Bestseller
Thinkers 50

About the Book

Decades of research show that 65% of startups fail because of people problems

Most startups fail not because of a bad product, poor timing, or mismanaged cash, but because of people problems: conflicts over strategy, decision-making, and team culture. Even the smartest entrepreneurs have been derailed by these soft problems: How do you fire a loyal friend who’s not up to par? How do you motivate your team to give their all? What happens when egos and emotions overpower facts and reason?

The “soft” stuff can be shockingly hard.
Martin Gonzalez and Josh Yellin outline the common traps startup teams fall into, and share their powerful one-day workshop that helps teams escape those traps. The unique process of The Bonfire Moment brings colleagues together for a full day of facing hard truths, noticing hidden dynamics, and gearing up for the intense challenges of startup life. When the constant hustle feels overwhelming, a team’s Bonfire Moment pulls them out of the day-to-day intensity to reflect and reboot.
The Bonfire Moment has proven effective with hundreds of teams of all sizes around the world—from the smallest startups to large organizations—significantly improving their cohesion, focus and effectiveness. Now this book will teach leaders the principles behind The Bonfire Moment and how to run the workshop on their own. It’s ideal for anyone who needs a committed and resilient team to achieve big goals.

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Garry Tan

President and CEO of Y Combinator

“Getting the people side of startups is so hard, and there is not a lot written that is practical and gives founders and future founders a way to peer around the corner, which is why The Bonfire Moment is an important read for anyone wanting to create something from nothing.”

Eric Ries

bestselling author of The Lean Startup and founder of LTSE

“If the people working towards a company’s mission are at odds, the chances it will ever be fulfilled — much less sustained long-term — are low. The Bonfire Moment lays out the ways dysfunction can…” Read More

Kim Scott

author of Radical Candor and Radical Respect

“There is nothing soft about “soft skills.” They are hard to learn, and they are the biggest contributor to your success. Gonzalez and Yellin are the compassionate yet clear-minded mentors you’ll need in the toughest moments of your leadership journey.”

Jake Knapp

author of New York Times bestseller Sprint and Make Time

The Bonfire Moment is a proven recipe for rebooting team relationships, building better culture, and making your workplace the place everyone wants to work.”

Steve Chen

YouTube cofounder and CTO

“This book should be required reading for all entrepreneurs, and for managers who are under startup-like pressures. The Bonfire Moment has created a science where previously there was only art. It’s loaded with fascinating stories and practical principles you’ll wish you’d known five years ago.”

Robert I. Sutton

New York Times bestselling author of eight books including Scaling Up Excellence (with Huggy Rao), The Friction Project (with Huggy Rao), The No Asshole Rule, and Good Boss, Bad Boss and Professor of Management Science & Engineering, Stanford University

The Bonfire Moment is a remarkably well-researched, engaging, road-tested, and, above all, practical guide that teaches you how to identify and avoid the people problems that sink startups…” Read More

Jeff Dean

Chief Scientist, Google

“I have worked with Martin on effective organizational structures to best support Google’s research teams. This is a complex area, since there are many different research teams, projects and desired directions, and designing effective structures that…” Read More

Eric Friedman

Fitbit cofounder

The Bonfire Moment is a great read for one just starting out and for those who are well underway.”

Bill Coughran

Partner at Sequoia Capital

The Bonfire Moment sheds light on these hidden challenges startup teams often grapple with, reminding you that your team’s dynamics can make or break you. Rich in insight and grounded in organizational psychology, this is a must-read for every leader.”

Laszlo Bock

former Google SVP of People Operations, and bestselling author of Work Rules!

The Bonfire Moment is an indispensable guide for anyone trying to beat the odds in growing a new venture, whether in a small startup or a big organization.”

Amazon Reviews

tom fusco

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A Vital Resource for Start-Ups

Bonfire Moment by Martin Gonzalez and Josh Yellin is a game-changer for entrepreneurs. Their insights from the Google for Startups Accelerator are both profound and practical, providing readers with the tools to avoid common pitfalls. This book is a vital resource for anyone serious about building a successful startup.

Kat Bruno

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New fav

Gonzalez and Yellin's The Bonfire Moment is a revelation for leaders seeking to cultivate high-performing teams. Its practical wisdom and actionable advice offer a roadmap for creating the moments that fuel collaboration and innovation.

Jared F.

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The Bonfire Moment is a must-read for business leaders. Written by Google's Martin Gonzalez and Josh Yellin, it is engaging, insightful, and needed. 10/10 would recommend!


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Actionable Insights for Start-Up Founders

In Bonfire Moment, Martin Gonzalez and Josh Yellin share their hard-earned wisdom from the trenches of the Google for Startups Accelerator. Their book is packed with actionable insights that help founders anticipate and avoid common challenges. It's an indispensable resource for navigating the complex landscape of entrepreneurship.

Vincent Haro-Moss

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Great Book

Gonzalez and Yellin's The Bonfire Moment is a revelation in leadership literature. With a blend of lucid prose and actionable advice, it offers a roadmap for leaders to kindle the flames of synergy within their teams.


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An incredible book for all leaders!

Martin and Josh have done an incredible job laying out a proven process that is absolutely critical for startup leaders but applicable to all leaders. Leaders too often depriortize the "people stuff" but it is should be addressed regularly and with care. This books tells you how. It should be on the bookshelf next to all the business book greats!

Rosemary Donegan

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Powerful Guide for Entrepreneurs

In Bonfire Moment, Gonzalez and Yellin deliver a concise yet powerful guide for entrepreneurs. Their experiences from the Google for Startups Accelerator shine through, offering invaluable insights into navigating people problems. This book is a treasure trove of actionable advice, making it an indispensable resource for any founder.

Jake Fusco

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Must Read for Anyone in the Start Up World

Bonfire Moment by Martin Gonzalez and Josh Yellin is a must-read for anyone in the startup world. The authors' expertise and real-world experience provide a solid foundation for understanding and avoiding common pitfalls in entrepreneurship. This book is filled with practical gems that every founder will find invaluable.

Amazon Customer

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Bonfire book! Light your fire!!!!

Drawing on their time at the Google for Startups Accelerator, they offer clear, actionable advice on managing people problems. This book is a must-have for anyone looking to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship successfully.


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Gonzalez and Yellin's The Bonfire Moment is a game-changer for leaders seeking to cultivate thriving teams. Its practical strategies and profound insights provide a roadmap for creating the moments that spark innovation and drive collective success.

A game-changer for my career!

The Bonfire Moment is a game-changing resource for leaders striving to cultivate cohesive teams. Gonzalez and Yellin's insightful guidance empowers leaders to foster the moments of connection and inspiration that fuel collective achievement.

Essence of Effective Leadership

In The Bonfire Moment, Gonzalez and Yellin distill the essence of effective team leadership. Their practical wisdom and illuminating anecdotes offer a roadmap for creating the moments that inspire collaboration and drive results.

About the Authors

About the Authors

Martin Gonzalez

Josh Yellin

Martin Gonzalez is the creator of Google’s Effective Founders Project, a global research program that decodes the factors that enable startup founders to succeed. He also works closely with Google’s engineering and research leaders on org design, leadership, and culture challenges. Martin is a frequent lecturer at Stanford, Wharton, and INSEAD, and has advised leaders across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He studied organizational psychology and behavioral science at Columbia University and the London School of Economics.

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Josh Yellin cofounded Google’s first Startup Accelerator and spearheaded its growth, reaching founders in seventy countries. Along with Martin, he cofounded Google’s Effective Founders Project. Josh recently spent four years as the chief of staff at Google Brain and is presently an organizational leader at Google DeepMind. Josh studied biology at the University of Illinois and business at the Wharton School.

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The Bonfire Moment: Bring Your Team Together to Solve the Hardest Problems Startups Face
National Bestseller

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