Make it your personal mission to build cool shit with cool people.
If you’re thinking about starting a company don’t make it about it be about money, power, success, or the cool factor? These are the wrong reasons to start a company…and if this is all you got, you better be ready to fail.
Yes, you do need drivers as you do in anything, but don’t let these be the reasons why you start a company.
Starting a company is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It’s tougher than any Iron man, fight, school paper, exam, breakup, or fight you’ve ever been in. Starting a company is like getting in the ring with an MMA fighter just to get your ass beat over and over again – the key, getting right back up because anything worth doing is worth fighting for.
Don’t waste another day doing anything other than this. I’ve started several companies for the right reasons and I’ve started companies for the wrongs reasons. What I’ve learned is this simple statement: build cool shit with cool people.
Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made, get out there, find cool people, and get started building cool shit.
If you do this, it will change your life.
Are you a journaler? What do you journal about? Life, challenges, family, relationships, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc? These are the things most people journal about.
Journaling is one of the better decisions you will ever make in your life. It allows you to reflect on your day, process things, and take a hard look at ways you can better yourself.
How about startup journaling? Have you considered it?
If you are an entrepreneur looking to start your first venture or maybe your second, third, fourth, fifth…. you should start startup journaling. This too will be one of the better decisions you will make.
Here is what you do. Each night before bed, take some time to list the gaps and anomalies you noticed that day. What did you see that can be better, changed, or evolved? Why has something remained the same for so many years? What problems can you potentially solve? Was there something that day that really just pissed you off to the point you were like, why has this not happened? These are the things you need to jot down. And the key here is not to write about big startup ideas (Google, Facebook, Twitter), but rather just the things you see and want to better understand.
Don’t be like so many people and sit around trying to come up with the next big startup idea when right in front of you could be a brilliant disruptive idea that you can get started on today.
Now grab a journal and start tonight.
What do you want to be great at? For me it’s a husband, father, and then entrepreneur.
After my family, I want to be great at starting companies, providing jobs, and changing the world. To do that, I felt that I needed a set of rules to live by.
I use this list for myself and for the startups that I decide to get involved with.
This is a short list of things I work hard to hold myself accountable for…and those that I decide to partner with.
1. Be disruptive and visionary.
2. Go big or go home
3. Build your network through relationships
4. Plan for the next 5 minutes and for the next five years
5. Be flexible
6. Persistence pays off
7. Get your product to market fast and early
8. Seek honesty in everything
9. Stay hungry and humble
10. Be everywhere all the time everyday
11. Culture is the lifeblood of everything you do
12. Break these rules
What does your list look like?
Some really good startup quotes.
“The challenge with most startups is just dealing with the emotional ups and downs, which can be huge.”
500 Startups’s Dave McClure
“You worry all of the time.”
Zendesk founder Mikkel Svane
“I hit this wall of fear when we were about 30 people.”
Julia Hartz of EventBrite
“I’ve had my share of failures. That’s kinda what makes a person ready for success.”
Scott Kveton of Urban Airship, who pitched VCs unsuccessfully 30 times before hitting pay dirt
“You’re gonna screw up.”
Dan Levin, COO of Box
“Not all of us can lead. But this is a special type of sport.”
Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network
“If we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes, we will never invest in things that are radical.”
Jeff Clavier, VC, Soft Tech
“Be brazen, but don’t be arrogant.”
Kate Rutter, cofounder of LUXr
Out of these quotes, which ones connect with you?
Lets be real honest here for a second. Startups are fucking tough and the emotions that they cause often times seem unbearable. They make you want to give up. They drive you to the point of wanting to rip your hair out.
The truth is, you are not alone (I’m there with you).
These emotions are completely natural and part of the process of developing you into the leader that you need to be for yourself, your family, and your startup.
Question: Think back at the last time you were being screamed at by your customers, employees, or your wife, you worked until you dropped, you ran out of capital, made a stupid decision, or you just pushed yourself to that point of breaking? How did you respond? Are you proud of how you responded? Or do you feel like an idiot?
Emotions are normal…especially for a startup.
The key to being a great startup leader is knowing when to display emotions, when to delay them, and when to put your head down and fight them.
Emotions will do two things to you: 1. Make you better 2. Wreck you. It’s up to you to choose how to deal with your emotions.
Make a decision that the next time you have to deal with emotions (You will) that you will put others first and you will handle them, process them, and allow them to shape you into the leader that you need to be.
I am happy to say that my little buddy has arrived and he is healthy and strong; weighing in at 8lbs 1.3 ounces and a length of 21 1/2 inches. He is a gift, a joy, and a blessing. I know he is only a week old, but already he has changed my life in so many ways.
Sarah and I are super thankful for him and we look forward to all the great years ahead.
It’s go time!
Are you making startups a job? They’re not a job (At least they shouldn’t be) they are a lifestyle.
Everything comes down to what’s important to you. What do you really want to achieve? If it’s just money, then you fucked up somewhere. Startups shouldn’t be about making money, they should be about living out a love and passion to change the world. To execute on a vision. To make a difference. If these are your priorities and reasons for starting companies then money, life, happiness, and all the gifts and joys of life will follow.
Lets be honest, startups are hard work, they take up much of your time and you have to sacrifice things. However, if you’re doing things for the right reasons, it wont feel like much of a sacrifice – it will feel like a gift.
Take a hard look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it – money, ego, fame, friends, and be honest with yourself. Figure it out. Ask hard questions. And even if the answer becomes a very hard reality…deal with it. Drop everything, shift your priorities, and live the life you were meant to live.
Do you ever wonder why Silicon Valley is so awesome? I always wondered. Then, I moved here and found out why.
It’s not because of Stanford or all the VC’s like everyone thinks. Silicon valley once started out as nothing – It didn’t just one day pop up and be this incredible place for a startup. It started in the same place you are. Yeah, they have nice weather, you can surf and board in the same day, and it’s absolutely beautiful, but again, this is not what made the Valley the place to be for startups.
The reason Silicon Valley is successful is because the people here are more open to trying things and doing shit. They’re not afraid to take risks and lose their shirt. And they understand that high risk breeds high reward.
Everyone is on board with the vision and moving in the same direction. It’s not a top down ecosystem – It’s all-encompassing. Everyone is included and everyone has the same opportunity.
There is a sense of connectedness like I’ve never seen – I actually saw this in Boulder as well.
The other thing is that for the most part everyone trusts one another. You can meet with someone for coffee and within 30 days that person has written you a check to invest in your startup.
Think about this for a second. In other parts of the country, people want to strip you down naked, pull every record and file you and your company have, meet your kids, and then, they still come back asking for more – this shit kills an early stage startup.
Any community can build what Silicon Valley has built. The key though, is taking risks and trusting one another. People can say what they want, but Silicon Valley is built on the foundation of risk and trust.
Law 1: Pull everything out of your mentors and advisors, pull everything out of your team, and pull everything out of yourself.
Law 2: Put it all on the line and stick to it for a while. Nothing happens overnight. Short term success is bullshit.
Law 3: If you’re mentors and advisors are not pulling everything out of you, find new ones.
Law 4: Everything is an experiment. Treat it that way, learn more it, and press on.
Law 5: Be self-discipline. Do what you think not what you feel.
Law 6: Focus on making not winning. Enjoy the process and appreciate the act.
Law 7: Nothing is a mistake only a learning experience. Don’t be afraid to screw up.
Law 8: Do work. People who can work hard consistently will one day wake up a success.
Law 9: Creating and analyzing are separate things. First create then analyze – don’t do these at the same time.
Law 10: Always break the laws. Break your own laws.