Category: Discipline

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt.” – John Muir

Today I am backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Hiking in the woods is where I think; or not.  It’s where problems get solved in my subconscious.  It’s where the Creator reminds me that there is something more.

Our lives are so full of noise.  It’s getting worse and worse.  It’s good to get away.  From people.  From technology.

Take the time to be alone and to be quiet.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“We’re always on the lookout for enormous boons” – Dr. Who

The GoPro action camera seems to have come out of nowhere.  But it didn’t.

Nick Woodman’s recent interview on Charlie Rose shed some light on the innovator’s process of discovery.  Mr. Woodman was on a surfing pilgrimage and wanted to capture his experiences first hand.  So he crafted a small camera and put it on a wrist band he could wear while on his surfboard.  Before long, other surfers wanted cameras and a company idea was born.  But it didn’t take off at that point.  Woodman went on to drive race cars and the same problem presented itself.  So he took his wrist camera and strapped it to the frame of the roll cage in the car.  Other drivers wanted one.

Stellar success comes from diligent hard work over time.  We tend to hear about it all at once when the media discovers a “new” idea but it usually takes years of slow but steady progress.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 

 

“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson

Entrepreneurs need advisors.  In the world of accelerator programs, we call them mentors.

You don’t know everything and you need critical feedback.  Find people who are good at things you are not, like finance or sales; whatever it is.

Find people who will tell you the truth; people who will help you confront the brutal facts.

Find people who know other people.  You may need an engineer or programmer or venture capitalist.

Meet with them regularly and share your progress.  Listen carefully.  Buy their lunch.

“Getting to your goal is not so much about what’s in front of you as it is letting go what’s behind you” – Alex Lavidge

A good friend advised me this week to think about how things would be different if all my existing encumbrances suddenly just vanished.  What opportunities would open up?  What new possibilities would fall before me?  How would my path change direction?

We hang on to stuff. A lot of it is good.  But much of it is for reasons that don’t exist anymore.  What’s left is what we hold on to because of fear.  We know what we have, good or bad but we don’t know what lies ahead.  So we carry the baggage.

Crisis provides the opportunity to erase the whiteboard.  Some leadership gurus advise manufacturing a crisis now and then for this purpose.  But it doesn’t have to come to that.  Letting things go by deliberate thought process and habit is a better way.  The place to start is with your “Stop Doing List”.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Think in the morning, act in the noon, eat in the evening and sleep at night.” – William Blake

Routines help provide focus.  You need time to plan and you need time to get things done.  It’s easy to let other people and circumstances fill your schedule with meetings and drop-ins.  Scheduling your time for being offline can provide some control.

It’s also important to turn it off and be a regular person.  Have friends, hobbies and activities you enjoy.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Urgency rarely leads to trust” – Seth Godin

It seems like entrepreneurship is sometimes like moving from one crisis to another.  Either you’re running out of money or the big deal with the key customer is falling through or perhaps the product still has to many bugs to ship.  And there’s always another week to put off starting the SBIR grant, until there’s not.

Urgency leads to desperation which is rarely attractive.  If people sense you are desperate, it’s a sign your company will not be around much longer, which only aggravates the situation.

There’s this list of things you should “always” be doing:

  • Selling – sell something as soon as possible.
  • Raising capital – don’t until you run out of money to start raising the next round.  Investors take their sweet time
  • Customer discovery – Talk to new customers every week
  • Innovation – “ideate” every day

There’s no easy answer.  There are great tools and concepts that help manage time.  Two I like are Jim Collins’ “Stop Doing List” and Steven Covey’s “First Things First” and of course the old fashioned To-Do list.  Learn to recognize the things that are urgent but not important.

There is also your team.  A great leader picks great teammates and delegates important tasks.  It allows the opportunity to focus.

The chaos never goes away though.  It is the nature of startups.  So there’s one skill you’ll have to master and be comfortable with:

Fake it till you make it!!!

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 

“We’re all naked underneath” – Dr. Who

This quote found it’s way into three conversations last week.  Each time the person was anxiously anticipating a meeting with someone of influence and power.

Despite all the egos, positions, wealth and cultural trappings that serve to distinguish ourselves from each other, people are still people.  Unless you’re a jerk, there is no reason to be anyone else but yourself (although there is research to support that jerks are generally unaware they are jerks so the principle still applies).

During times you are the focus of attention; the board meeting presentation, the performance observation, the funding pitch, the oral book report – these are really opportunities for you to continue the narrative of your life.  That is, you get to tell another part of your story.  Make sure the story is yours and not someone else’s you invent.

And give yourself a break.  The outcome may not go your way for a slew of reasons which you have no control.  Stress will only keep you from being you.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Eighty percent of success is showing up” – Woody Allen

A good one for a holiday Monday.

We are working with a company that is developing an app for a specific sales function.  Their customer discovery process revealed that many of the sales people they are trying to help are lacking in some pretty basic discipline, namely showing up.  For the sales call.  For the demo.  For the open house.  They seem to want the 4 hour workweek but they haven’t done what it takes to get the machine going.

This is ok if you are working to pass time and make a little money but you should’t be surprised then when you are not making  your monthly and annual sales goals; and you shouldn’t expect someone else to make it happen for you.

It’s early on a holiday Monday morning.  Did you show up?

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson