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.



MAY 14

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.



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

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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MAY 14

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