Avoid Entrepreneurship If You Can
Sep 2014 08

There is a growing trend that is concerning to me. It is called Entrepreneurship. People are leaving perfectly good, safe, and predictably jobs and taking big risks. Sometimes really big risks. And for what? To do what others that have gone before them haven’t been able to? To beat odds that have kept countless others with more resources, more connections, and more know-how from solving the problem you think is yours to solve?

You have to be crazy to look at that and say, “Yep, I have to go do that.”

If you can, you should avoid being an entrepreneur. It will take everything you have. It will change your idea of a balanced life. It will be taxing on you, sure, but it doesn’t stop there. It will change your family. It will change your friends. It will change your health. It will change your life.

You have to be crazy to look at that and say, “Yep, I have to go do that.”

Your LinkedIn profile won’t make sense to former colleagues. You won’t be able to really explain what you do at networking events or family gatherings. You’ll be “that start-up guy” or the “does internet things girl.” Your career trajectory won’t be linear and it may be years and years before you really have anything to show for your countless hours, missteps, and do-overs.

You have to be crazy to look at that and say, “Yep, I have to go do that.”

You have to try and avoid entrepreneurship if you can. Resist it for as long as you possibly can. Stifle those urges to be in charge of your own destiny. Repress that belief that you have what it takes to make a dent in the universe. Keep it to yourself that you have an idea that could change your world/industry/life. For as long as you can. Until it drives you crazy.

Crazy enough to say, “Yep, I have to go do that.”

Is Hiring The New Status Symbol?
Sep 2014 05

There is a decent chance that you’ve seen friends and connections sharing “the exciting news” that because of “how fast things are moving” they and their team “are proud to announce, We’re Hiring!” (Yes, StockUp is hiring also) In the past two months, I have seen more “We’re Hiring” posts than ever before and I spent some time digging into it last night on the train.

There are three possible motivations behind these posts:

1) You’re signaling that you’re now in a position to make a hiring decision for your company.  Mommy wow, we’re all big kids now.

2) You’re reminding anyone reading that your company is in fact growing and moving forward. Any company that isn’t currently hiring likely won’t be in business a year from now.

3) You’ve joined the ranks of people baffled by the seeming contradiction in headlines of “Over 40% of Millennials and unemployed or underemployed” and “Companies of All Sizes Struggle to Retain Top Talent.” (In a survey of top CEOs by INC Magazine last month, over 50% said that their biggest challenge right now is attracting and retaining a skilled employees.)

And that last one is the one that keeps sticking out to me.  When I look at the current head count of our team at StockUp, and where I expect us to be, both with our developer/design team and our sales/marketing team, in the next six months, I am a little bit overwhelmed. Sure, there is a lot of work that goes into finding, hiring, and onboarding any new hires, but it is much more than that.  Each one of the people that, for whatever reason, say “yes, I want to be a part of what you are building” are also saying “I trust you enough and believe in this company enough to say ‘no’ to everything else and chase down this big idea together.” And when you’re a part of a young growing company, that takes a lot more trust than when you’re a well established company.

Simon Sinek, in the now most over quoted TED Talk in the history of TED Talks, says that you’re not “looking for people who need a job, you’re looking for people that believe what you believe.”  That is our challenge, as those looking to attract and retain amazing people, drill down to the core of what we believe and be able to make a case for why saying ‘yes’ to our opportunity is worth the cost of saying ‘no’ to all other options that are out there.

So maybe, instead of “We’re Hiring” the announcement should be “Open seat on a rocket ship, You’re invited.”

Dropping Knowledge
Aug 2014 26

If you can listen to Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz rift and rant about all things disruption, technology, investing, and the future of our world and not say walk away with at least a handful of new ideas for your world or company, I will be shocked.

This is amazing and generous to have captured this range of topics in 45 minutes.

“If you are against disruption, you are pro-status quo.”

The Grinch Who Hated On The Ice Bucket Challenge
Aug 2014 17

As with all fun things on the internet, haters show up quickly. And given the recent surge of videos from all ends of society in the name of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, haters are showing up and are doing their best to hate.

Now, first let me set the stage: Israel and Gaza are launching rockets at each other and killing hundreds by the week, racial tensions are flying high as a result of the tragedy and response in Ferguson, MO, and anyone who has ever loved laughing is reeling from the loss of Robin Williams. Against that backdrop, people start dumping ice water on themselves in the name of a good cause and encouraging their friends to do so as well.

A chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

An excuse to laugh with some family while putting yourself through a moment of discomfort in the name of good cause.

An opportunity to have some fun, pass on the fun to others, and raise awareness for a disease that isn’t quite as sexy as cancer or diabetes.

(And for what it is worth, I think I did a pretty decent job with my attempt.)

People who I haven’t seen on social media in a long time jumped back on to be a part of something that captured their attention. Companies and corporations made it an event their top executives were the victims of. People went up the societal food chain and made the asks of people a couple pay grades above them.  By most accounts, it was something that didn’t require picking a side.

Until the trolls showed up.

Because it is the internet.

The trolls always show up.

And publish articles called “Dumping a bucket of ice on your head doesn’t make you a philanthropist.” 

Really? No shit sherlock.

People claimed this is just “hashtag journalism” and another “attempt by Millennials to feel good about themselves.”

Or another way to look at it is this:

If I am doing the math correctly, that is almost a 600% increase in donations. An increase that didn’t cost the ALS Association anything more than the price of that first YouTube video.

In a time when there are so many things wrong with the world, those of you hating on something going well for the world might need to get your heart checked, Grinch style.

If you haven’t been challenged to join in on this great cause and really fun movement, let me know in the comments and I’ll dump more ice water on my head and challenge you to do the same. If you are interested in joining me in financially supporting the ALS Association, here is the link: http://www.alsa.org/donate/

Laughing Only On The Outside
Aug 2014 12

Robin Williams’ passing is one of the first celebrity deaths that has really thrown me.  He made me laugh more in the 90s than any other actor.  My siblings I quoted his best lines from Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Good Will Hunting frequently. He was a part of the entertainment of my youth and today I am grateful for the part he unknowingly played in that time in my life.

But today, the laughter he gave to so many is replaced by questions. So many questions. How does seemingly one of the more entertaining and funny actors, and by all accounts, a true gentleman off the screen as well, find himself in a place where taking his own life is the answer?  Where a man loved by so many finds himself absolutely alone and ending his own life is the choice he makes?

A friend of mine in high school that I lost touch with committed suicide after college. A good friend went through a really dark time and hinted at suicide a couple years ago but fortunately is in a better place now. Another good friend fights depression daily and openly and has taught me so much about the grip it can have on you.  And those are just the friends and circumstances I know about. Who did I talk to last week that was laughing on the outside but destroyed on the inside? Did I even think to truly ask how they were REALLY doing? Not just the “fine” or “really busy, wow!” answer we all give in the 140 character at a time attention span world we live in. Am I spending time with people because it is on my calendar or am I being present with people and fully engaged in what is really happening in their world?

For over three months earlier this year, I lied to every single person that asked me “How are you doing?” Good friends, family, everyone. I wasn’t doing well and had let my world spin my head in such a way that I was convinced if anyone knew how not-well I was doing, the house of cards I’d constructed to conceal the confusion and hurt would come falling down and I’d be exposed for the fraud I believed I was.  It was a really dark place and it took a lot to pull out of that nose dive.

It took hugs from friends who didn’t know how much that hug meant.

It took hard questions from folks that were willing to call my bluff when I responded with “fine.”

It took some one foot in front of the other honesty in my journal to unpack how I’d allowed my mind to live in that dark place.

And above all, it took time.

Time for me to get back to understanding that every single person I was talking with was fighting their own something.

Time for me to be okay with not having it all together and that other people knew. (Even though they already knew, I just now knew they knew.)

Time for me to get back to learning and growing and asking for help without forcing myself to go through the mental gymnastics I’d become accustomed to in my hide’n'seek phase.

And while there is, and always will be, the possibility of a quick slide back to that dark place, there are things that can be done right now to strengthen the good in the places where we are now. Life is too hard to try and do this by ourself. There are too many ways life can beat us up to go it alone.  Every single one of us is fighting something inside and making it up as we go.  You aren’t the only one.

And the sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can work together to fight through this beating known as life, rejoicing with those that rejoice and mourning with those that mourn.

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”