Invest 90 Minutes

I aspire to have Jerry Colonna to be my professional coach.  We swapped notes last year and he told me he is at full capacity and isn't accepting any new clients. I've gotten to know a couple of entrepreneurs to have made it on his client list before he closed it and they've told me that I am in fact missing out. So, when Jason Calacanis had Jerry on This Week In Start-Up, I was intrigued. After I pressed play, I took three full pages of notes and became even more determined to earn a spot on Jerry's client roster int he future.

I considered posting my notes here, but then reconsidered as each of the pieces of wisdom that Jason and Jerry share is incredibly and refreshingly personal.

I know that 90% of you reading this will not invest the 90 minutes to watch this in its entirety, but for those of you that do, I know that you will see the adventure ahead differently.  When you're finished up, shoot me a not or leave a comment below, would love to hear which piece of the discussion jumped out to you most.

UPDATE: Jerry mentions a talk he gives called The Crucible of Leadership. I found a great summary he wrote about that talk over on Fred Wilson's blog HERE. Another great piece of thought provoking questions and deep thoughts worth pausing to explore.

Rainy Day, Keeps The Fake Friends Away

A friend of mine recently had his birthday party in a Meatpacking Gallery space. He invited just about everyone he knew in NYC to be there. He knows a lot of people in NYC. The day of the event, torrential down pour and the kind of rain that no one, regardless of size of umbrella or having Uber on call, escapes.

As a result, the attendance of his birthday party was about half of the RSVP list.

And it was, by his telling, the best weeding out process of real friends vs. tag along when it is convenient friends. He said it was one of the best birthday parties ever because it was just real friends that didn't care about showing up looking like a drown cat for the first five minutes, friends that wanted to be there for him despite the conditions.

Will Smith said, "If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present for my success."

Woody Allen is famous for saying, "Half the secret of success is just showing up."

Whenever there is a change in life circumstances, for the better or for the worse, you learn a lot about your friends. Which ones show up on a rainy day, and which ones wait for the sun to come out.

Here's to being able to spot the difference and be a better friend regardless of weather.

I'm after ME

Annie and I went to the Whitney Museum this afternoon and worked our way through some fascinating exhibits and permanent installments. There was one painting that, for reasons not apparent to me in the moment, really jumped out at me in the room dedicated to artist Edward Hopper.

What really caught my eye in the descriptor next to the paining was the phrase "I'm after ME." It was buried in this sentence, "Asked once what he was trying to achieve on a painting, he answered, "I'm after ME." His aim was not to record outward appearances but to use his observations of the external world as vehicles through which to portray his inner life." (Learn more about the artist and this work HERE) As I read that, I wondered if the same wan't true in the "art" that I create. Now, I don't actually think about my writing and blogging as art, but it is the most consistent and public place that I share my thoughts and inspirations.

A friend of mine who is a reporter for a major news station shared this today on her Facebook wall: "I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” This quote by Joan Didion is exactly where I was going with my curiosity about Edward Hopper's pursuit of "ME." My writing, both in my personal notebooks and in public forums like this or Forbes, are as much about understanding what I understand about my world as it is sharing that understanding with anyone else.

So here's to that discovery and the revelations that come along with it.

Andy Dreams Of... What?

Last night I watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary featuring 85 year old Jiro Ono, arguably the world's greatest sushi chef. The movie chronicles his life, his restaurant, and the challenge that lies ahead as he and his 50 year old son work through a succession plan that will keep the legacy of his father's work preserved. The opening scene, Jiro explains his life work:

"Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honorably."

He was sent out into the world at the age of nine and became an apprentice at 10. He has been making sushi for over 75 years and for 75 years he has been searching for an even better version of his work. He says in the movie that every piece of sushi he serves is better than the one before. That when he does his work, he feels victorious. Every single day, repeating the same steps to create the same excellence, and pushing just a little bit harder to make it just a little bit better. Never settling.

His persistent and consistent work to create excellence and the expectation of his staff (minimum of ten year apprenticeship before they are allowed to be in the front of the restaurant) got me thinking about Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 Hour Rule." It would certainly seem to apply here. But that rule also always gets me thinking, what have I spent 10,000 intention hours work to become the best at?

My career has been much more dynamic than Jiro's and anyone on Gladwell's list. The skill set that I've been asked to bring to the work I do can and does change with the task at hand. My aspirations of being a renaissance man seem more realistic than an master craftsman like Jiro. And there is nothing wrong with that, but, it does beg the question, of the skills that I use today and know I will use for the rest of my life, am I obsessed with making everyday's efforts better than the day before?

 

Owning Your Ambition

"We shouldn’t give up on our ideas of success but we should make sure that they are our own.  We need to focus in on them and truly own them. We must be the authors of our own ambitions because it is bad enough not getting what it is that we say that we want, but it is even worse to have an idea of what you want and then to find out at the end of the journey to get it that it isn’t what you truly wanted all along." - Alain de Bottom

Fortunate Situations

"The strongest thing to cultivate as an entrepreneur is to not need to rely on luck but to recognize fortunate situations when they're occurring." - Jack Dorsey

"The best time to innovate or start something new is in the midst of a recession or depression." (speaking about launching Square during the 2008 financial downward spiral.)

Make sure to listen to the passion with which he describes the Golden Gate Bridge at the 21:50 mark. It is something that shouldn't exist but does and does so beautifully.

 

Your Brand

Over the past two weeks, I'v gotten into more debates online than the past two years combined. Part of that has to do with being a little more exposed online via my posts on Forbes or debating Canadian news anchors on live television (hustle brag, yes I know) but the other side of that has come from picking sides. There are a lot of things that I don't have a well formed opinion on but I am learning a lot through the debate, gun control being the current argument du jour on my Facebook page. And then there are others that I can argue with the best of them. Earlier this month FastCompany posted an article called "Why Your Brand Should Piss Someone Off" and it had a few lines that resonated with me:

"If you are willing to be anything to anybody--to surrender your identity and your individuality--no one will have strong feelings about you either way...In business, a dull existence means a weak brand. If you want some people to love you, you’ve got to accept that others may hate you.... Polarization is good. Traveling the middle road, as broad and tempting as it may be, is always and unequivocally bad."

I've for a long time played the middle of the road and cared quite a bit about what other people thought. By hoping to please both sides of the fence ended up with no one engaging one way or the other. There is nothing to debate if everyone is right. But, as I have started to narrow in on the story line that I am telling, those that it pisses off and those that it appeals to is becoming clearer. It is definitely a work in progress, but, the more challenging situations I create for myself, the stronger the resolve and the more I understand the things I am confident in.

It is all a work in progress but, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."