Inside

How does anyone know if their choice of a partner is correct?  Several founders have asked me variations on this question recently.  In each case, the initial founder has recognized that they need more capabilities and insights than they have within themselves.  The conclusion is to find and sign another as a co-founder.  It may sound easy, but to anyone who has been through the process, it is anything but easy.

My response is often shaped but the individual, what I know of them and the situation at hand.  Having said that, I always start with the same theme.  “I have no secret sauce or magical formula.”  What I can offer is the lessons Life has taught me, the good and the bad, the easy and the something so difficult you are not sure you will ever get through it. read more

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Truth

A friend shared a bit of wisdom which still lingers with me; “if you are ever unsure about what you should say, always use the truth.  It is the easiest thing to remember.”

As I teased the early stories out of different founders, it was interesting to see how stories evolved.  There was a common twist is moving from what each perceived I wanted to hear to what they wanted to share.  For several, it was less of a pivot than a change in the perspective of the storyteller.  A move from being packed and wrapped to messy and random sequence of events, experiences, and memories. read more

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Intensity

As I listen to young founders, I find myself asking questions about their beginning.  What is the story?  What were you thinking, feeling, and doing?  What pain point did you see with such clarity that it triggered something more?  It was a repeated quest to hear their story firsthand – personal, intimate, and real.

As I listened, I discovered several passionate centers.  These individuals wanted to share!  Their intensity came through in passion, conviction, and belief.  It was stunning to hear.  I found myself asking the obvious; “have you ever thought about your story?  It is the foundation for your vision.  It sets the stage, invites the listener to join you, and then lays out a picture of the future. read more

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Recognition

A friend reminded me of the natural disconnect between our heads and bodies. We both recognized that while our minds remained eternally young, our bodies in the present proudly wore the wear and tear of age.  Additionally, we rarely moved beyond the challenge of how we saw ourselves in the mirror.

As we laughed at our inability to see things honestly, I realized how rarely it was to ever see myself clearly in the moment.  My rose-colored glasses work just fine, thank-you!  While it feels good to think I am still in my twenties, able to run marathons and more, it is not helpful in facing the challenges before me. read more

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Deadlines

Deadlines are, to many, motivators.  Each may be a way of measuring winning and success.  Frequently, they come with an embedded threat of what will happen if one does not deliver the outcomes expected by the day and time.  Deadlines can be consequential or completely arbitrary.  Even the discussion of a deadline can bring a wave of pressure.

As I wake to the reality of my deadlines for this day, I am reminded of the hidden truths with deadlines.

Each has an author.  We may author deadlines for others as well as our self.  More frequently, others are the author.  Each author knows the reason and rationale.  Often the recognition is determined by the author, possibly a reward but equally likely to be a penalty.  Some authors try to apply their deadlines to us.  It is important to distinguish one author from another, the intent and purpose of one deadline from the other. read more

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Sequence

I enjoy listening to founders talking about their start-up ideas.  Founders with limited experience share an interesting trait.  Each is trying to run before they walk, talking about success before they understand the game they are getting into.

As I listen to their pitches, it feels as if I am in a mid-60’s video with the Byrds singing the song original written with the title “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “To Everything There Is a Season”.  The echo of Solomon’s biblical wisdom put to music fits perfectly.  In my mind, my eyes conclude the young characters have never heard the song.  For some, the lyrics seem out of touch.  With others, they think they would never apply to their situation.  Ignoring the lessons of history is always a risky proposition. read more

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Place

The view from the office chair I normally occupy includes a golf course.  There are two sand traps, a grass bunker or two, two immediate water hazards, and several strategically placed trees and palms.  From this description, you might imagine that there are no fairways, however this is not the case.  As you might expect, I see as many people in trouble as I see safely playing through.

It is interesting to reflect on the obvious.

Where one’s ball lands will determine how many choices one has with the shot at hand.  While the skill level of the player can expand the number of viable options, the spot where one’s ball land will likely set the range of choices available. read more

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Standing

The session was framed as a VIP-Pitch.  I do not think the presenters, young founders with passionate ideas, fully appreciated the challenge they would face.  90 seconds in front of a virtual audience with 3 mentors take a judge seat.  At the end, each judge would give one-way feedback.  There was no Q&A, no chance to explain, and the clock starts….now.

First, let me acknowledge that it is far easier to judge than it is to present.  We are, at best, outside commentators who can see what one on the inside will struggle to grasp.  We get to pick and choose.  We know we have incomplete information, however the information the founder shares and our own experience are all that we can use to ground our observations. read more

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Outcomes

Recent events remind me that I do not control the outcome.  There might be a few exceptions.  Perhaps my decision about what I eat and the outcome which follows as my body responds, has a direct link of control.  However, if the outcome also includes others, then I am not in control!  If the outcome also includes the decisions made by others along with their actions and how their outcomes mix with the outcomes of others, there is little if any control on my part.

The rhetorical question remains relevant.  If I know this to be true, then why do I catch myself trying to control the outcome? read more

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Buffeting

It was time to ride.  Cool temps, light breezes, and a cloudy sky; the road called out, a gentle yet persistent calling to let K13 enjoy itself.  The final straw was a new-to-us food place on the beach.  Ninety minutes of riding and a casual hang out in a quiet marina.  Road trip!

Post the trip, I knew sleep would come easily.  The ride included several rounds of buffeting winds.  At 85 mph (speed limit for large stretches of the road), it felt as if nature was randomly slapping different sides of my head.  The shifting winds combined with dirty air stirred up by traffic created wave after wave of invisible baseball bats. read more

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