Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page
[Disclaimer: The person in the picture is not me though I wish it were]
This week I am snowboarding in Mammoth Lakes, California.
I am still at the stage where most of my concentration in snowboarding is directed at making it down the mountain safe and sound. When I do make it down the mountain, I realize that I was completely focused on avoiding the snow covered trees, carving my turns, and maintaining my balance in the deep powder snow. And that is when I begin to come out of my meditation with a smile on my face.
It has taken me a lot of experimentation in different areas to find hobbies that I both enjoy and that shut the volume off the everyday thoughts running through my head. Maintaining a few hobbies that give you piece of mind is one of my key ingredients to prevent burn-out while starting an entrepreneurial venture.
Fear of being Alone
One of the hardest aspects in the early phases of starting something new is the emotional rollercoaster of being alone. You are alone to deal with the prospect of failure. You are alone and dependant only on yourself to make progress in starting your venture. There is no kinetic energy or momentum helping you to identify the right business venture or to start turning it into a reality. If you take a day off or are sick nothing happens and you are nowhere closer towards reaching your dream of creating something new. In fact I would say that the fear of being alone is a primary reason people are not quitting their jobs right now and becoming self employed since the advantages are so appealing.
For me there is (at least) one more problem related to being alone. My best ideas and passion come from interacting with other individuals and engaging them in a dialog.
First Who, then What
My ability to start a new venture is first based on finding and building an ecosystem of smart, creative, determined, and fun people that will either partner with me or support me through the journey. With the right team of individuals my chances to successfully find, refine, and execute on my next venture dramatically increase.
Pay it Forward
As I tell this story to others I find that they completely empathize with my situation and have a strong desire to assist me in finding the right individuals that will help me through my journey. As I share both my fears and motivations with the people I meet they embrace the role of a supporter and advocate for my success. In most cases, people ask me how they can help.
My request is that they introduce me to two people that they highly respect, know well, and feel can also benefit from meeting with me. I call this “Pay It Forward” (if you have not seen the movie then go rent the DVD). In many cases there is nothing immediate that I can give the introducer but hope that their favor will be returned in the future by me or by someone else who adopts this approach. So far everyone I meet has been “paying it forward” on my behalf. The few contacts I have in Israel (most of my network is abroad due to the geography of my career history) are already multiplying and leading to many more introductions. In fact, through this approach I have already found a few partners in crime.
You leave your job and step into the void… This feels like the roadrunner stepping off a cliff – you are unsure whether you have the momentum to cross to the other side. First you are fearful that you won’t find anything out there. Then you discover so many possibilities that you are not sure which one to follow. And that is when you realize that you better calibrate your internal compass so that you know how to find and recognize your dream job and venture.
Jim Collins came up with a model that I find extremely useful. It is composed of 3 aspects that need to overlap in order to find your sweet spot which is where you are at your best and most fulfilled.
1. Motivation – what are you truly passionate about?
2. Killer Skill – what are you best at in the world (this is different from what you would like to be best at)? What is your ultimate core competency?
3. Environment – what drives your economic engine or the environment within which you operate? The environment is external to you and defines the norms & rules of your surroundings.
Most of us want to have a real impact on those that surround us. To what degree you impact the world and whether you are fulfilled (happy, jazzed, adrenaline rush) by the work you do is directly related to whether you have found your niche.
I look forward to sharing my internal compass and dream job in a future blog.
Good Luck on your Journey!
I believe there are two types of entrepreneurs; “lifers” (serial entrepreneurs) and “one poppers” (zbang vegamarnu). I have friends that fall into both categories and it is clear they have very different outlooks on life. They each condition themselves (mentally and lifestyle) very differently.
The “one poppers” are running a sprint which starts and finishes within the single start-up they have created. It is their one lottery ticket where they will either cash out big and fast or crash and go back to the “normal” life of an employee.
The “lifers” are running a long marathon with multiple relay races that mark different start-ups along the way. They have a long-term perspective and lifestyle that prevents them from burning out.
As someone who perceives himself as a “lifer” I have mapped resolutions to ensure I am at my best throughout the lifelong marathon.
1. Identify and launch my next initiative (start-up) which provides a meaningful result in the world
2. Ensure that my passion at work and at home co-exist and that the bonds with my family and friends continue to thrive
3. Laugh with my wife every day
4. Find at least one business partner that I can completely trust, is fun to work with, compliments my weaknesses and strengths, and escalates my passion and ability to create
5. Get a big huggable loyal dog
6. Inspire people to push themselves beyond their perceived boundaries
7. Play tennis at least twice a week
8. Create significant and lasting emotional connections with my colleagues
9. Always have the vacation after the next one planned
10. Commit to building out this blog by making at least two posts a month