Archive | March 2010

“It’s never as scary or as hard as you thought”

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I had breakfast with my buddy and great entrepreneur, Jason from Jackthreads yesterday.  I’ve written about Jason and his entrpreneurial path before, so I don’t need to rehash the story, but needless to say it’s been a lot of fun watching both he and Jackthreads grow over the last 3 years.  The last 4-6 months in particular have been very exciting. It’s a very fast growing company.  And as a result he’s been thrown in many situations that he never had to deal with before from large scale customer service to dealing with investors to negotiating offers to hiring and managing employees. As an entrepreneur I think it has always been his plan and hope to face situations like these because it meant things were and are going well, but it doesn’t make facing them any less scary.  So yesterday as we discussed the next big step for him, I asked how he felt about it.  He said “well just like everything else, we’ll just jump in and see what happens.  It’s never as scary or as hard as you thought.”

I’ve had many things in my life that I was scared to face as I know everyone does.  As an entrepreneur there have been plenty of things I just didn’t want to deal with, and honestly wasn’t really even sure I could deal with. But truthfully in every situation I feared  but ultimately faced, I have to say Jason is exactly right.  It’s never as scary or as hard as you thought.  Or as another friend likes to say “the monster under the bed is never as scary as we expected,” and most of the time it’s not even there.  It’s seem like fear (and what it does to us) is the only thing we need to fear after all. (yes a reference to FDR there)

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The magic wand – do overs

Several years ago I taught an undergraduate class in business leadership at Queens College. From the beginning I had, what to the students seemed a revolutionary policy: You always got a chance to re-write your essay. If you didn’t like the grade you got the first time, you could incorporate my suggested changes (or not) and re-submit your essay at least once.

The lesson I tried to teach was that doling out Do Overs was a powerful incentive. It mitigated the fear of failing and, more often than not, brought out the best in the kids.

Many walked away with the notion that they, too, when they ran their own companies (and they all thought they would one day), would hand out Do Overs. Fewer of them, though, walked away with the deepest lesson of all: you’ve got the magic wand in your hand right now. Give yourself a Do Over. Let go of the shame, guilt, anger, fear from eating too many Oreos and try again today.

I really love this post by Jerry.

I was listening to the Philosophers note on Learned Optimism a few weeks ago and Brian / Martin Seligman talk about the difference in perspective between an optimist and a pessimist that is very much in line with what Jerry is saying here. Someone with a more pessimistic perspective tends to see things as permanent, especially their own mistakes, while a more optimistic person sees things as temporary. The optimist, they said, truly believes in the do over. It has taken me a long time to finally start believing this.

The reality is this: There are very few things in life where a do over is not possible. So why, sometimes, do we want to torment ourselves by thinking things are permanent? Do you really want to torturet yourself by believing the deal you failed to close was your last shot?

I guess without realizing when it happened, I started giving myself more do overs in the last year, and it’s amazing how different the world looks. It’s so much lighter, I sleep better, and life seems much more playful. When you know you have another chance at something, you’re willing to play. It’s no longer so serious. Why shouldn’t life be more playful?

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The magic wand – do overs

Several years ago I taught an undergraduate class in business leadership at Queens College. From the beginning I had, what to the students seemed a revolutionary policy: You always got a chance to re-write your essay. If you didn’t like the grade you got the first time, you could incorporate my suggested changes (or not) and re-submit your essay at least once.

The lesson I tried to teach was that doling out Do Overs was a powerful incentive. It mitigated the fear of failing and, more often than not, brought out the best in the kids.

Many walked away with the notion that they, too, when they ran their own companies (and they all thought they would one day), would hand out Do Overs. Fewer of them, though, walked away with the deepest lesson of all: you’ve got the magic wand in your hand right now. Give yourself a Do Over. Let go of the shame, guilt, anger, fear from eating too many Oreos and try again today.

I really love this post by Jerry.

I was listening to the Philosophers note on Learned Optimism a few weeks ago and Brian / Martin Seligman talk about the difference in perspective between an optimist and a pessimist that is very much in line with what Jerry is saying here. Someone with a more pessimistic perspective tends to see things as permanent, especially their own mistakes, while a more optimistic person sees things as temporary. The optimist, they said, truly believes in the do over. It has taken me a long time to finally start believing this.

The reality is this: There are very few things in life where a do over is not possible. So why, sometimes, do we want to torment ourselves by thinking things are permanent? Do you really want to torment yourself by believing the deal you failed to close was your last shot?

I guess without realizing when it happened, I started giving myself more do overs in the last year, and it’s amazing how different the world looks. It’s so much lighter, I sleep better, and life seems much more playful. When you know you have another chance at something, you’re willing to play. It’s no longer so serious. Why shouldn’t life be more playful?

random thoughts on being an entrepreneur | gapingvoid

22. One successful entrepreneur I know well has a wonderful quality, namely that he never, ever compares himself to other people. He just does his own thing, which actually serves him rather well. Just because his competitor has bought himself a bigger motor boat, doesn’t mean he feels the need have a bigger motor boat. This quality helps him to build his business the way he sees fit, not the way the motor boat people see fit.

23. Running a startup is full of extreme ups and downs. Which is why so many successful and happy entrepreneurs I know lead such normal, stable, unglamorous, “boring”, family-centered lives. Somehow they need the latter in order to balance out the former. Extra-curricular drama looks great in the tabloids, but that’s all it’s ultimately good for.

24. MBAs are conditioned to use their brains in much the same way as sex workers are conditioned to use their genitals. Nice work if you can get it.

25. Bill Gates may have a million times more money than me, but he isn’t going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven String Quartets than me, nor sire a million times more children than me. Human beings don’t scale.

Really great post by Hugh over at gapingvoid.com. These are just a few of the good ones.

I particularly like 22 and 23. Both can be extremely difficult to pull off. It seems to be a human tendency to compare ourselves to others from time to time, some of us more often than others. What’s inevitable though the more you do it, the more likely you will feel like crap. There is always someone out there better than you at something, if you’re looking and comparing you’re going to find them a lot. Being comfortable and proud of you and your skills is empowering.

On 23. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions, no doubt. I met with an entrepreneur last week who has done it many times, and he told me “You’re going to have several moments where you have 2 or all 4 tires off the road.” There’s no way to avoid those situations, they are part of the journey, but even more importantly don’t be so quick to get your emotions wrapped up in things. Good things happen and bad things happen, but they don’t change who you are. Hugh nails it, a key to being a successful entrepreneur is being reminded daily of who you are by those around you who love you.

random thoughts on being an entrepreneur | gapingvoid

22. One successful entrepreneur I know well has a wonderful quality, namely that he never, ever compares himself to other people. He just does his own thing, which actually serves him rather well. Just because his competitor has bought himself a bigger motor boat, doesn’t mean he feels the need have a bigger motor boat. This quality helps him to build his business the way he sees fit, not the way the motor boat people see fit.

23. Running a startup is full of extreme ups and downs. Which is why so many successful and happy entrepreneurs I know lead such normal, stable, unglamorous, “boring”, family-centered lives. Somehow they need the latter in order to balance out the former. Extra-curricular drama looks great in the tabloids, but that’s all it’s ultimately good for.

24. MBAs are conditioned to use their brains in much the same way as sex workers are conditioned to use their genitals. Nice work if you can get it.

25. Bill Gates may have a million times more money than me, but he isn’t going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven String Quartets than me, nor sire a million times more children than me. Human beings don’t scale.

Really great post by Hugh over at gapingvoid.com. These are just a few of the good ones.

I particularly like 22 and 23. Both can be extremely difficult to pull off. It seems to be a human tendency to compare ourselves to others from time to time, some of us more often than others. What’s inevitable though the more you do it, the more likely you will feel like crap. There is always someone out there better than you at something, if you’re looking and comparing you’re going to find them a lot. Being comfortable and proud of you and your skills is empowering.

On 23. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions, no doubt. I met with an entrepreneur last week who has done it many times, and he told me “You’re going to have several moments where you have 2 or all 4 tires off the road.” There’s no way to avoid those situations, they are part of the journey, but even more importantly don’t be so quick to get your emotions wrapped up in things. Good things happen and bad things happen, but they don’t change who you are. Hugh nails it, a key to being a successful entrepreneur is being reminded daily of who you are by those around you who love you.