ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

June 27, 2011

Tell a great story.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ifindkarma @ 11:20 pm

Turn it off.

 

“I’ve often spoken to the editorial nature of what I think my job is, I think I’m just an editor, and I think every CEO is an editor. I think every leader in any company is an editor. Taking all of these ideas and editing them down to one cohesive story, and in my case my job is to edit the team, so we have a great team that can produce the great work and that means bringing people on and in some cases having to let people go. That means editing the support for the company, which means having money in the bank, or making money, and that means editing what the vision and the communication of the company is, so that’s internal and external, what we’re saying internally and what we’re saying to the world – that’s my job. And that’s what every person in this company is also doing. We have all these inputs, we have all these places that we could go – all these things that we could do – but we need to present one cohesive story to the world.”

 

And there it goes.

 

I40m

We are feedback loops. We are the stories we tell ourselves.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — ifindkarma @ 6:11 pm

 

He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder.
       ~ M.C. Escher
 

We are feedback loops. We are the stories we tell ourselves…

 

I want to learn to be an excellent storyteller.

So I searched like a panda, and here’s what I found.

Seth Godin’s best storytelling rules:

  • Be consistent and authentic.
  • Promise fun, safety, or a shortcut.
  • Emphasize the worldview of the audience.

Suite 101’s best storytelling rules:

  • Start with a catchy beginning.
  • Keep it short.
  • Use silence.
  • Satisfy the audience.

Then I saw this tweet from @Shervin quoting @Jack:

“I’ve often spoken to the editorial nature of what I think my job is, I think I’m just an editor, and I think every CEO is an editor. I think every leader in any company is an editor. Taking all of these ideas and editing them down to one cohesive story, and in my case my job is to edit the team, so we have a great team that can produce the great work and that means bringing people on and in some cases having to let people go. That means editing the support for the company, which means having money in the bank, or making money, and that means editing what the vision and the communication of the company is, so that’s internal and external, what we’re saying internally and what we’re saying to the world – that’s my job. And that’s what every person in this company is also doing. We have all these inputs, we have all these places that we could go – all these things that we could do – but we need to present one cohesive story to the world.”

@Jack’s words are in @Shervin’s yfrog:

I40m

And actually these words come from 100 days ago when @Jack gave his Golden Gate Bridge speech.

Telling a great story requires patience and research.

A great story is not just marketing or celebrity.

A great story needs conflict (against others, nature, and/or self).

A great story needs plot (voyage and return, quest, comedy, rebirth, tragedy, overcoming the monster, or rags to riches).

A great story needs themes (love and death being the most powerful).

A great story needs perspective.

I_see_lots_of_gifs_of_pandas_rolling_all_over_the_place_nowadays
As an example, consider Chimamanda Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story:

And telling a great story requires practice.
Then again, so does anything excellent.

 

 

Always remember: fall down seven times, get up eight.

 

June 20, 2011

11 Reasons Why Starting a Company is Hard …

In books we find we are not alone.
       ~ Carl Sagan
 

In stories we find we are not alone.
     ~ Jonathan Nelson

 

I’m giving a pariSoma talk to the Hackers and Founders Co-op Startup Class of 2011 tonight. And like Paul Graham, I found it helpful to write down what I’m going to say.

Like Evan Williams’ startup advice, I want to say something positive and useful.

My main message is that it’s important to have a network, because you can trade notes with other people who are doing similar things. This is why we started 106 Miles — so that any founder, engineer, or friend who joins us at our meetups will have a network to exchange knowledge and connections, and listen and learn.

That said, if I could tell entrepreneurs one more thing, I would say:

Being a first-time entrepreneur is hard.

Come to think of it, actually…

It’s hard starting a company even if you’ve done it before.

I’ve done it three times, and it’s still hard.

Off the top of my head here are 11 reasons why.

1. Having a great idea at the right time is hard. Big ideas are hard, and timing of ideas is hard. Being excellent is really hard but truly important, since nobody can steal an idea.

2. Designing an excellent and simple product is hard. User experience is hard to make excellent, and user interfaces are hard to make simple. Product-market fit is extremely hard.

3. Developing something people want is hard. Prototyping is hard, and iterating is hard. Minimum viable product definition is hard, and figuring out what people want is hard.

4. Getting traction is hard. Users are hard to satisfy. Attracting and retaining great users is hard, and attracting great content and quelling bad content is hard. Network effects are hard.

5. Keeping the damn thing up and running is hard. Technical operations are hard. “The Cloud” means some computer somewhere out there that you don’t control is going to go down at the worst possible moment.

6. Implementing a scalable business model is hard. Revenues are hard. Not all advice comes in three words. Although there is a lot of three-word startup advice, that matters not. Revenues require continual improvement of sales knowledge and the market, and that takes time, patience, and unbelievable tenaciousness.

7. Building a great team is hard. Finding a great co-founder is hard, and hiring is hard. Even if you read a lot about hiring, it’s hard. And sweet sassy molassy, managing people is hard. And being tough is very hard.

8. Raising seed money is hard. Angels are hard to understand. And finding a great fit between investor and entrepreneur is hard, very hard.

9. Raising venture capital is hard. Venture capitalists are hard to understand. Once upon a time you could
raise money with just a great idea. Then you needed a great idea and a great team. Then you needed a great idea, great team, and great prototype. Then you needed all those things and great traction. Now you also need a great business model, great revenues, great press, and if it’s not too much trouble, make the world a better place, too.

10. Turning away all the free advice is hard. People are unpredictable, and making decisions is hard. But it’s better to make any decision than no decision. Furthermore, the right people make all the difference in the world.

11. Managing your emotions is really fucking hard…      
Ben Horowitz said it best. Also, not quitting is quite hard.

If it were easy to start a company, everyone would do it.

But it’s not easy. And not everyone does it.

It’s hard. Really, really hard.

There’s a great analogy here: starting a company is like you’re 106 miles from Chicago, you have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and you’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it!

Here are 11 things you can learn to navigate those rough waters, ripped lovingly from a long Quora answer I once wrote about mistakes entrepreneurs make. 

  1. Learn the difference between important and urgent.
  2. Learn the difference between working smart and working long.
  3. Learn the difference between an opportunity and a problem.
  4. Learn the difference between lucky and smart.
  5. Learn the difference between focus and activity.
  6. Learn the difference between publicity and reality.
  7. Learn the difference between prepared and over-prepared.
  8. Learn the difference between output and throughput.
  9. Learn the difference between managing up and managing down.
  10. Learn the difference between managing expectations and just riding the roller coaster unmanaged.
  11. Learn the difference between knowing the path and walking the path.


Remember, you can do it. But it’s hard:

Keep your eye on the ball,
Your head above the clouds,
Your ear to the ground,
Your shoulder to the wheel,
Your nose to the grindstone,
Your finger on the pulse,
Your feet on the ground, and
Your head on your shoulders.

Now… try to get something done. 

 

In summary: Activate your network, work smart, work hard, open yourself to opportunities, close off some opportunities, overcommunicate, underspend, hang in there, stop things that aren’t working, collaborate, and listen.

 

June 12, 2011

Be excellent.

I want to be truly great.

I want to do something great.

So the question is, how do we become excellent?

 

You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process. ~ xkcd 896

 

Interconnectedness takes me from that illustration, to a place that makes me want to watch a Tony Robbins video.

Tony says being great depends on tiny differences that put a person in a state of certainty, confidence, and flow.

 

To be excellent, we train ourselves emotionally. Get rituals.


Incantations, not affirmations, embody what we want.

Incantations help us navigate MUSTs vs SHOULDs.

 

As we move from within our own minds out to interactions with others, influence is essential.

Because when two people are having a conversation, the one who is more certain is going to influence the one who is less certain. Always.

 

This is why I’ve been thinking a lot about conversations lately.

And conversations are the foundation of 106 Miles.

106miles3

 

106 Miles recently had a conversation of greatness, which inspired me to find 11 great quotes…

11) “Greatness doesn’t take two months, or even a year. It takes years of focused practice to achieve even an ounce of it.” ~ Trizle

10) “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” ~ Albert Einstein

9) “On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

8) “Success is moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill

7) “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” ~ Will Durant, not Aristotle

6) “Excellence is not a skill; it is an attitude.” ~ Ralph Marston

5) “You do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren Buffett.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.” ~ Geoffrey Colvin

4) “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

3) “Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” ~ Swami Sivananda

2) “It’s not what you take but what you leave behind that defines greatness.” ~ Edward Gardner

1) “It’s not where you take things from; it’s where you take them to.” ~ Jim Jarmusch

Now, I am incanting to take excellence to me.

 

Be_awesome

 

I want PandaWhale to be excellent.

I want 106 Miles to be excellent.

I want my favorite pizza place to be excellent, too. (This will take time. Right now, people hate us on Yelp.)

People_hate_us_on_yelp

And in my state of incantation, I include greatness.

As if I’m climbing the Ron Swanson pyramid of greatness.

Pyramid-jumbo

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.

Don’t just be excellent. Be excellent to each other.

Be excellent. Go beyond a limit.

This takes my mind to an epic night. A really epic night.

190k_receipt_perezsolomon

After a party like that, it’s difficult to focus.

I want to hear Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory“!!!

Sing it, Gaga!!!

I’m on the edge… of glory…
And I’m hanging on a moment of truth… 

And I’m dancing like no one’s watching!!!

Did YouTube invent Lady Gaga or vice versa?

No worries. Hakuna matata!! Or is that…

Hasa diga eebowai!!

Um.

Where was I?

Oh, right, dividing my attention.

Unlike attention, happiness is something that multiplies when it is divided. (Thank you, @aaker @padmasree @paulocoehlo!)

 

Now, where does motivation come from again?

Tony Robbins says understanding motivation is the key to happiness.

 

Daniel Pink says we are happiest and most motivated in our work when we have the opportunity for mastery.

Now, I’ve been told it takes 10,000 hours to master something.

That said, being good at something makes us like it more.

And there is much power in perseverance aka “grit”.

Thinking about all of this puts my mind into a state of flow.

Challenge_vs_skill

 

Which brings us back to where we started: xkcd 896.

Repeat after me: Do something so hard that you become great in the process.

 

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