“Care. Care more than you need to, more often than expected, more completely than the other guy.” - Seth Godin
I spent one morning last week sipping a Cortado at my favorite local coffee shop, working through a stack of business cards I had collected from a recent conference I attended.
A few hours later and after more than 50 emails sent, I started getting some replies. Inevitably, as personal as my emails were, I received several responses that prefaced their response with, “I don’t have a budget to work with you right now”.
This wasn’t shocking, of course. I, too, have been “solicited” mightily over the years after attending an event. But it got me thinking about the way the “real world” works – and how transactions have jaded us from building valuable relationships.
“It’s really hard. It’s intense. It’s a struggle. It’s ambiguous. It changes a lot. It’s all consuming. It’s a lot of sausage making. It’s working weekends to hit numbers and dates. It’s stretching people beyond their comfort zone. It’s insisting on doing it better even when it’s already pretty good. It’s being brutally honest about gaps and weaknesses. It’s one day you’re headed in one direction and the next day another, because the first move wasn’t the best move. It’s being ok with things not working because that creates opportunities to learn how to fix it.” – Jason Goldberg, CEO, Fab
I run a startup. We’ve been around almost four years now and without a doubt the past 12 months have been the most difficult. I’ve talked before about managing the entrepreneurial ebb and flow and recently the roller-coaster has felt more like the Grizzly River Rampage (that’s a subtle reference for my fellow Nashville natives but to the rest of you, it means it’s been exciting, but to be honest, downright terrifying).
Jason Goldberg recently wrote on the topic of being a “fucking” startup. It’s refreshing to hear that, in a world that’ll lead you to believe everything is incredible and creative and awesome (and don’t get me wrong, it often is one or all of those thing) – that running and being a part of a startup is hard, even downright terrifying.
I’m not the best.
Neither are you.
I know that I’m not the best at what I do. You can work with other branding and design companies that have more experience. You can read the words from other writers who are far more eloquent and well versed than yours truly. You can follow leaders who have spent far more time earning the trust of their tribe. You can go for a run with someone who’s going to push you a helluva lot harder than I’ll ever be able to.
I was a nerd. Growing up, I chose marching band over sports. I opted for chat rooms over roller-rinks. I rifled through Goosebumps books and spent every Saturday night watching Snick.
Like most nerds, I eventually broke (or should I say, attempted to break) out of my shell – went off to college, spent a year drinking copious amounts of cheap beer, and did everything I could to deny my nerdy roots.
Somewhere along the way I combined my knack for all things nerd and my outgoing personality to become the man I am today. A married man with an amazing wife – a marathon runner – a business owner. Every part of who I was has shaped me into the person that I am.
“In moments of sheer panic, when everything is in question, I wonder if all this insecurity and frustration is worth the cost of losing what I left. Couldn’t I just go back? Back to a steady job, one that paid the bills and let me off the hook for creating art? Couldn’t I just blend back in to the status quo?” - Jeff Goins – Today, I Want to Quit
“Instinctively resourceful and at ease.” Michael Carroll, author of Fearless at Work, defines this as the “kind of confidence that remains fearlessly unshaken in the face of life’s often terrifying paradoxes.”
In the past 4+ years of not walking into an office, not working for someone else, not having a guaranteed paycheck or sick days or PTO, I’ve learned more about myself than I could ever be able to define here for you. But perhaps more than anything I’ve learned that fear is real and you face it every single day.