A couple of weeks ago I was one of 4 entrepreneurs invited to work with some students in a simulated "Shark Tank" event. My job was to listen to presentations of about 10 individuals/teams and give them feedback.
Not one single student took notes! And these are students! I'm assuming that they take notes in their classes, right? It should be a habit, right?
A few months ago I was one of a group of entrepreneurs who helped a team of two experienced business executives prepare their business plans for presentation to a group of investors.
When the big day came, neither of these executives took notes of the feedback!
Imagine: you have worked many long hours on your ideas, and you finally get the very rare opportunity to share it with people who have great experience with this sort of thing, and they give you some very valuable feedback, and you don't even take notes?
Seriously, do you think you can remember everything you were told?
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
The wikipedia article calls taking notes a form of self-discipline. I agree, and amplify that by saying that it is one of the better habits a business person can form.
But beyond that, it is a form of respect for the person to whom you are listening.
When they see that you are diligently taking notes, they will be impressed with your seriousness of purpose, and want to help you even more. Taking notes is an indicator of your coachability. If you are coachable, you will get more of it. If not, you will be dropped for someone who is. Life is too short to waste with dullards.
Learning from your own experience may be Smart, but it is expensive and time consuming.
Learning from others' experience is Wise.
Technology makes it easy. I recommend to my coaching clients to record our meetings on their smartphones, so they can pay full attention during our meetings, and then play the audio sometime later, when they can take notes from the recording. I recommend this, and it is just completely amazing to me how few actually do this. Is it laziness, or are these people just not highly motivated?
Show me a man who takes notes and I will do extra work to help them.
Show me a man who takes notes, and actually does something with them, and I will move heaven and earth to help them.
Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.
You have big ideas. You know you're going to make it, it may just take some time, possibly a lot of time. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, great days and horrible ones. You love your job one day and wish you worked for "the man" the next. But you're resilient. You will hold onto the hope you started with and power through each challenge - because it's your job.
Here are five ways to stay resilient and motivated.
1. Find a mentor. Being able to talk through your worries with someone who can offer up real advice and will keep your head in the game. Find someone you can trust, who understands the ins and outs of your industry and you can learn from.
2. Get out of the office. Exercise can make you happy, even if it's as simple as a long walk. If you don't think you have time, make it. Get up earlier, quit working so late or take a 30-minute mid-day break. It will kick up your endorphins and make you more creative.
3. Surround yourself with positive people. Being around happy people will motivate you. Whether it's the people you hire or the regulars at the coffee shop, find space to be inspired by others.
4. Give back. When you give to others, you get so much more in return. Join a group that gives back to the community. People who give tend to be more positive.
The first thing I liked about it is the way it is broken up into sections, making it a lot easier to use because each of the sections is bite-sized. The sections make it more organized than just a long, long list that is pure chaos. You probably did the same thing with your checklist, right? Of course you did!
One thing I would add to the checklist is a post-email checklist to determine if you achieved your goals, and what you can do better next time.
I love that they call it a pre-flight checklist. Did you know that checklists were developed to help pilots deal with the ever-growing complexity of aircraft. It was a matter of life and death. (Read the true story) Your email marketing campaign is also a matter of life and death, of your business.
The New Yorker magazine has a nifty little piece with the headline: Epic Fails in the Startup World, which completely fails to deliver on the promise of the headline. It never names a single Epic Fail in the Startup World. Instead it focuses on some drivers of the fact that startups fail at a huge margin over successes.
Over-confidence is a big reason for startup failure. To my way of thinking, another way to phrase that is just plain old stupid. It's the kind of stupidity that is sometimes characterized by the guy who says: "Hold my beer and watch this!". The most epic fails that follow sometimes get publicized by earning a place in the Darwin Awards.
But I'll bet that the rate of failure of startups is vastly understated. I'll bet that the conventional estimates of 80% of startups fail is low, and that the number is much more likely at 95% or more. This is likely true because many/most startups never get reported as starting up. The question becomes: "When does a startup become a startup?" A lot like "When Does Life Begin?"
If a startup exists at conception of the idea, then probably 99% of startups fail. Most never get past the idea stage. You probably have a few of those yourself. I know I've gone through a few of those. But of course they were never reported to anyone keeping statistics on startup failures. And, by the way, who the heck is keeping track of these things anyway?
It's not just the failures that are worrisome, it's the walking dead. Those are the startups that just keep hanging in there, in that ugly space between the champagne and burnt toast. These are a testament to the motto: "You can't fail if you don't quit!" Someone should put them out of their misery, and let them go on to fail at something else, just for the variety of it all.
Speaking of going on to something else, one point that the New Yorker article debunks is the conventional wisdom that an entrepreneur who fails once has a better chance of success the second time around. Absolutely wrong. Stupid is stupid. Ain't no cure for stupid. Or, as Forest Gump says: "Stupid is as stupid does". Yet even with all his stupid, he went on to startup a successful shrimp fishing business. Of course, that was just in the movies, not real life.
Take heart, startup people, success is right around the corner!
These resources are important because it's better to get smart from other people's stupid than from your own. People who learn from other people's experiences get smart fast. People who don't learn from other people's experiences will fail at a much greater rate. That's one of the best reasons for having a Board of Advisors.
The different plates represent different types of Activities
that are required in the startup:
Product Development, Admin, Support, Sales, Finance, HR, Board of Advisors, etc. The founder/CEO is the only plate spinner, at first. To scale up the adventure he must Delegate as much as humanly possible to others who will be reliable spinners. To attract human resources to optimize Time, the entrepreneur uses the power of Story to communicate the Vision, the Message, the Call to Action. The Plan of Action. The Story needs to be Written Down.