Last night, after an incredible football game between two conference rivals, a winner was crowned. The most important play of the game happened within the final minute. Emotions were running incredibly high. The player responsible for causing 70,000 fans to erupt into euphoria and send his team to the Super Bowl was given a microphone less than three minutes after he made the biggest play of his career. He went on to explain that he was the best and that his rival shouldn’t have tested him with it all on the line. And, while it was a little closer to center ring WWE than a Tom Brady post game interview, this excited athlete didn’t curse or slur anyone, just threw down some good ol’ fashion trash talking.
And then the internet blew up.
And, a solid 12 hours later is still blowing up.
In 2007 I participated in an amateur boxing match sponsored by the local sports radio station and went three rounds against my roommate. It came down to the final 10 seconds of the third round and I landed one final blow just as the bell rang. It was enough to tip the scales in my favor and be awarded the victory. Before I could even catch my breath, I was live on the airwaves and gave the worst interview in the history of sports radio. I was amped up from the win but also completely out of breath. I have the audio and sometimes listen to it before I give speeches to remind myself no matter what happens, it won’t be that bad.
I am in no way comparing my amateur fight night interview to the pinnacle of a professional athlete’s career post game interview, but, there is something about the endorphins that are coursing through a competitors body that just might take their enthusiasm to a level that makes others uncomfortable. Mine to the point of uncomfortable for lack of breath and mumbling. Richard Sherman to the point of uncomfortable that his intensity in that interview was so much more raw than any level of competitiveness you’ve ever dreamed operating at.
When you say “Richard Sherman’s interview makes me cheer for the Broncos in the Super Bowl” I see you saying “I don’t like my team being that competitive.”
When you say “Richard Sherman just said he is the best, what a douche bag.” I see you saying “I’ve never thought about believing in myself that much.”
When you say “Richard Sherman shouldn’t claim being a Stanford Communications grad, that’s embarrassing.” I see you saying, “Has he ever even raised a seed round?”
When you say “Richard Sherman is a thug.” I see you saying ”I thought I was watching Tennis.”Tweet
Remember when it was possible to not know something? A time not so long ago when over dinner, someone would ask a question or try and recall a fact and the entire table would discuss what their memory of the topic was and perhaps even a debate about who knew what would ensue. A time not so long ago that when everyone had shared their thoughts, the conversation would progress without a definitive conclusion and later, on the way home, “I was actually right” statements would be made and the conversation might progress again and new opinions might surface.
But, now with Google in our pocket, these conversations are much shorter. The debates don’t carry on, an answer can be presented and factually laid out by the fastest search engine connoisseur. Facts can be known in the blink of an eye, no one has to remember anything, and unstructured conversations last only moments longer than they statement, “someone google it.”
What kind of toll is that having on our ability to think outside of the box and beyond what is “known?” On the older end of the millennial generation, I still remember life before I got my first cell phone (2002) and Facebook (2004). I remember a time not too long ago when I used to be able to have a clever thought and not worry about whether it took more than 140 characters to say. In fact, this blog post it self only is now 243 words long because I couldn’t figure out how to say this thought in one tweet.
But what about kids that are in elementary school now that learned to type their names before they learned to write them? What about a generation whose attention span is now too short for Facebook but prefers images that disappear after 10 seconds?
In a world that moves this quickly and where not knowing isn’t a viable answer to a question, where does wonderment and naivety fit? Are we always to know everything and react accordingly? If we have an idea and think there is room to develop it into something bigger, are we brave enough to do so without checking to see if someone else already had the idea or bought the domain?
Pendulums swing even as the world moves forward. The question I am now asking myself is where does it swing back to from here.
I recently met with a young entrepreneur who has had some recent successes. We talked through some of the wins and how they came about with his new company and the momentum he felt like he had. Intrigued by where he was hoping to take things, I asked what I could be doing to be helpful going forward. He responded, “There’s nothing that comes to mind, I think we’re good.”
Having seen my share of start-ups over the past few years, not needing help from someone can only mean one of two things:
1) You don’t like the person and are doing your best to keep them as far away from you and your company as possible. You think they have the potential to be a hanger-on and have no value to provide.
2) You’re in denial about how hard the road ahead is going to be and haven’t even begun to think about what it means to build a company from scratch. Not knowing how someone can help is tipping you hand that you haven’t even scratched the surface of how hard the road ahead is going to be.
Some of the best entrepreneurs and professionals I know are the most skillful at involving anyone and everyone in their initiatives. Not in a “cry for help” kind of way, but by understanding who their audiences is and what value they can create together. When we play the tough guy and show no vulnerability, we are missing out on the chance for others to work their magic on our behalf. Not out of pity, but out of caring and the desire to see us succeed in our endeavors.
The next time someone asks how they can be helpful, think about who they are, what they’ve done in their career, and if nothing else, look to them for advice about a situation you know they’ve encountered that you may run into further down the road. The last thing we need is more tough guys that don’t need anyone else. Being an entrepreneur is tough enough as it is, why handicap yourself further by doing it alone?Tweet
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.Tweet