This is a picture of the office whiteboard. Lessons learned – wisdom in a nutshell. I’m a visual thinker and reading these quotes every day is an effective navigational tool. Some of the quotes are lessons learned while working for a startup company and others are from thought leaders I follow.
Be FedEx Ship Every Day – Make Each Day Count
Being FedEx and shipping your art each day comes from Seth Godin, I believe he is one of the best thought leaders of our generation and have read most of his books. Shipping every day is the single most important action you can do. For startup companies, you must learn to ship. Make decisions, and do something each day if not the company will never launch.
Chris Brogan talks about doing the grunt work to build your business. This weekend, I read Burning Entrepreneur [www.hyperink.com/Burning-Entrepreneur-How-To-Launch-Fund-And-Set-Your-Startup-On-Fire-b1518] by Brad Feld. My favorite part of the book is his discussion on spending his time and energy on the outcomes and achieving these outcomes not organizing his life. The goal is to focus on what matters rather than spending time on busy work.
Eliminate Waiting For Others removes the shipping roadblock. Often times, we allow others to dictate our schedules and due dates. Do we give others power over our ideas and action plans unknowingly? There is a balance when asking your network for help and I’ve learned from experience to think twice before I ask for something.
Before I send an email, I ask myself why am I seeking this information and do I know the answer. Am I asking for validation or confirmation that the idea is feasible when in the end my team is the only one that can truly answer the question?
Fear shuts us down. Nothing happens when we are consumed with fear. For startups, fear of failure and what others might think can be crippling for founders. Failure is where you learn. Feld talks about Fear as mind killer in his book and that tenacity is the killer of fear. I’ve gained more confidence by going outside my comfort zone frequently, taking action, and shipping regardless if I was ready or not.
In January, I began to rethink everything including the direction of my company (Dillon 5). My goal was to determine which beliefs, habits and thought processes were obsolete and then eliminate them. Rebranding the company under my name and shifting towards being a full-time author was energizing. One of my favorite quotes is by Paulo Coelho “close some doors today, not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance but simply because they lead you nowhere”.
Launching a startup can take many different paths and I have found that where you start and where you end are always different. What is created from the process is the best part. There are times when founders need to rethink everything – if only on paper or a whiteboard to gain a different perspective.
Think Like a Broadcaster
This quote was inspired from my trip to Madison, WI. To think like a broadcaster is to not let every little comment from the gallery get to you. Broadcasters receive hundreds of emails each year from viewers complaining about their clothes, hairstyles and if they should be wearing glasses or not.
When you launch your company in the marketplace be prepared for comments from the peanut gallery. I was talking with a chef last week about the comments he received during a recent product demo. He said a lady walked over to the demo table and told him his idea was awful and then walked away.
The chef was confused as to why she would say such a comment and then not explain. I suggested he think like a broadcaster and let the comment float away into thin air. Feedback that is meant to improve a product or process has merit – not meaningless chatter or comments. When I was in elementary school, my mother always said – put on your turtle wax and keep going.
Eliminate Pedestals, Kool-Aid, Excuses and Justifications.
Pedestals, Kool-Aid, Excuses and Justifications are roadblocks that prevent us from moving forward or facing the truth. Placing investors, companies and people on pedestals is unhealthy and we fail to see the whole picture. I have personally experienced placing someone on a pedestal and drank the Kool-Aid the vendor was selling. Going against my gut proved to be the costliest mistake I’ve made since I launched Dillon 5.
Kool-Aid is all around us and creates a herd mentality that can be costly for any business. Enron was one of the best examples of Kool-Aid being sold to investors. Excuses and Justifications – cost money every time. When founders justify or make an excuse for an expense it is time to step back and understand the real meaning of the excuse or justification. Why must I justify this expense or decision?
Be mindful when your team starts down the path of making justifications for decisions. I’ve learned the hard way and now stop myself when I start to justify a decision. Place the decision or purchase on hold when you are spending all your energy to justify your reasoning.
Listen and Learn
Listen and you will learn. Filtering is key to balancing inbound information flow and learning to determine which feedback matters and which comments to ignore.