When the weather is pleasant running fast is easy no point in carrying extra baggage speed first.
Suddenly. The weather changes. Typhoon.
When raising money for your startup don’t just raise for a sunny day.
There are two approaches to due diligence.
One approach is to create a giant checklist.
In between jobs.
Intellectual property agreements.
Audited financial stagements.
That’s just page 1 of 99.
The other approach is to go see.
Explore the environment.
Observe the products and services.
Spend time with the people.
Meet other people who know them.
Ask simple questions.
One approach adds complexity. The other approach brings clarity.
There are more startups than ever before. That’s great.
Many are failing. That’s OK.
Many are being bought by big companies. No complaints.
But what happens after the acquisition?
Products shut down. Ouch.
Team disenchanted at new company. Not good.
Big company stagnates. Slow death.
So what should happen beyond the exit?
Products get more resources to scale. Exponential growth.
Team given freedom to innovate. Impact.
Big company evolves. Rebirth.
Is an exit the end or the start?
Every country is an echo chamber. We are misunderstood. They are taking our jobs. We are beautiful. They are ugly.
Every city is an echo chamber. We have charming neighbourhoods. They don’t follow the rules. We have the best food. They talk funny.
Every organization is an echo chamber. We are right. They are wrong. We must win. They must lose.
Every group is an echo chamber. We know. They don’t know. We are insiders. They are outsiders.
Every person is an echo chamber. Anger. Sadness. Ego. Pain.
Get of the echo chamber. All of them. Listen to others. Change your habits. Open your beliefs.
We have a glass with water. And a lot of thirsty people.
A critic visits. He tells us the glass is half-empty. There simply ain’t enough water for everyone. We feel depressed briefly. And then he leaves.
A guru visits. She tells us the glass is half-full. She raises our hopes for a brief moment. Until we realize nothing has changed. And then she leaves.
A CEO visits. He has a lawyer draft a complicated agreement. He creates an elaborate and entertaining show. While we are distracted, he drinks some of our water. And then he leaves.
A government official visits. She promises us the rules will change to stop anyone else from stealing our water. She proposes new legislation prohibiting anyone from going within 10 metres of the water. While we are waiting for the legislation to pass, some of the water evaporates. And then she leaves.
An entrepreneur visits. She finds out we need more water. She goes away and finds a well with more water. She brings back enough water for everyone, including herself. She stays.
The world is on fast forward.
So how to deal with this?
Motivation through positive thinking is mainstream these days. Everything’s gonna be just fine. I’m happy. We’re the best. All that jazz.
But the reality is that fear has always been, and will always be, the stronger motivation to push beyond limits. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s powerful.
Not all fear is created equal. Fear of the unknown? fear of what others think? fear of failure? All scary stuff.
But there’s one fear that stands above others.
Most people would say fear of death. After all, who ain’t scared of dying?
People who survived death don’t seem that scared anymore. And there are many of them. Among us.
Fear of others dying, especially younger family members, is even scarier for most people.
Still, there’s one fear bigger than death.
The fear of not living your life to its full potential. Every day is a fresh opportunity. And yet most of us fail almost everyday.
The best way to motivate yourself is through fear. Not of dying. But of not living.
Failing 100% of the time is not the path to success. That’s obvious.
But being right 100% of the time is also not the path to success. That’s less obvious.
If you’re right all the time, you’re not exploring. Not learning. Not growing.
So how much failure over a lifetime, on average, is about right to make sure you’re learning?
That’s a lot of failure. And a lot of learning.
Of course, the consequences of failure are also important to consider. There are certain areas in life where failure is not an option.
Put those in a special bucket. But those are the exceptions.
The biggest mistakes in most lives are not the small fails, they’re the missed opportunities.
The traditional view of innovation is a lone genius who gets struck by lightning, has an amazing idea and then singlehandedly changes the world.
Makes for entertaining stories by the campfire.
Innovation always comes from interaction with the environment. Experiments. Mistakes. Surprises. Data. Feedback.
Without this interaction, there would be no lightning.
Every innovator has worked with and built upon the work of others. Sometimes history has acknowledged this process. Many times, the story removes important supporting characters.
Everything is a remix. There’s nothing 100% new. It’s all a derivative, combination or permutation of existing reality.
Rather than falsely holding up the lone genius as a mythical superhero, we should be celebrating the power of people working together. That’s what creates the lightning in the first place.
The first three months of a new hire are critical. If you can’t figure out whether or not someone is a good or bad fit for your startup within three months, you’re not spending enough time with them.
What happens if they’re a bad fit? You have to move on. A startup can’t afford to have even one bad fit for a long time. It’s also better for the person because they will grow increasingly frustrated at not being able to fit in yet not being able to do anything about it.
But it’s not good enough to simply say fire fast.
If you’re firing people fast, it means you made mistakes hiring. You need to go back and understand why you made the mistake. If you keep making the same kind of mistake over and over again in hiring, it means you don’t know how to hire. If you don’t know how to hire, your startup won’t succeed.
So what are the most common hiring mistakes?
Hiring people like yourself. Who you like. But who can’t help the company.
Hiring people with impressive resumes. Who look great on paper. But who can’t get the job done.
Hiring people who are cheap. Plenty of them. But they can’t deal with complexity and uncertainty.
Hiring people who say yes. They never argue. But they can’t think for themselves.
Hiring people who are superstars. They rock. But they can’t work with others.
The list of hiring mistakes is long.
Find your hiring mistakes. And then fix them so you won’t need to fire, slow or fast.