Your Chaotic Story Is an Asset

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you worry about your startup’s story — or rather presenting it.

The pivots, founder feuds, competitors, and development delays are just some of the many hairpin turns that contort your journey into something much more…free-spirited.

You and I have realized that we need to strategically and positively frame our stories to raise a successful funding round. Yet, our startup stories can sometimes seem so chaotic that we might mentally predict failure — how on earth can our messy story look appealing? Who would want to get involved in that? We may even begin envying companies with a seemingly more linear (as far as we can tell) storyline. But regardless of our perceptions, the chaotic story you have can actually be an overwhelming advantage if played correctly. Let’s take a look at this extreme example.

Enter Jon Medved, the CEO and founder of an Israeli startup fund called OurCrowd. In 2012, Medved was in the process of courting OurCrowd’s first investors. These two New Yorkers had never been to Israel before, so Medved decided to show them around Tel Aviv and introduce them to Israel’s startup landscape. After having an enjoyable afternoon of touring and meeting local entrepreneurs, Medved and his guests were on a highway back to Jerusalem when the sound of spine-chilling air raid sirens began to howl. Rocket attacks on Tel Aviv had just begun, the first attack in twenty years.

I pulled over to the hard shoulder and directed my guests to lie down in the dirt by a wall as Israel’s Iron Dome defense system soared into action over our heads. We heard the booms as Iron Dome intercepted the Iranian Fajr missiles overhead, and felt the sickening impact as three of the rockets fired by Hamas exploded a couple of miles from where we were taking cover.

After the assaults ceased and sirens fell silent, Medved and the two investors climbed back into the car. On the drive back, Medved had the sickening feeling that the successful day had just been completely ruined — who in their right mind would invest in companies that were threatened by missile attacks? Upon arriving home, the two investors informed Medved that they would reconsider their investment proposal and get back to him tomorrow morning.

When I arrived at the hotel the following morning, the investors had already made up their minds. I opened my mouth to speak but one of them stopped me short.
“Jon, we must tell you that we’ve decided not to invest a million dollars in OurCrowd,” said my guest, exchanging a glance with his colleague. “After what we went through yesterday, we’re going to invest two million dollars. If those guys from Hamas think they can intimidate us, they’ve never met a real New Yorker.”
I have those two gentlemen to thank for helping get OurCrowd off the ground.

Woah.

Imagine being told that your company will not only receive the funding it needs but double the amount because of the hardships you’re enduring. Wouldn’t that make you a little prouder of the obstacles you’ve overcome and are overcoming?

I think we often get caught up in keeping our journey as neat and as straightforward as possible at the expense of missing the opportunity to demonstrate how strong we really are. Thus, we try to minimize and skip crucial hurdles instead of giving them proper attention — giving how you overcame and progressed forward its proper attention. This isn’t to say that you need to go into gory detail about every embarrassment and roadblock — don’t do that — but you should discuss the highlights of the arduous journey you and your team have traveled. Such a journey demonstrates that you’ve got skin in the game and, most importantly, that the next time an ugly debacle comes your way, you won’t run and let the company fold.

Because of your nonlinear journey, you and your team are seasoned warriors unphased by chaos. Just as those Israeli companies turned managing the daily threat of missile attacks into a strength inspiring to investors, so can you with your startup’s journey. As VC Mark Suster said of investors, “it takes a miracle to get investment dollars out of them if they’re not impressed with the team.” A difficult journey that your team has persisted through will impress them. It’s up to you to share it.

* * *Leading ForumMark McKinney is a High Point University Grad Student and entrepreneur. He is the founder of BlueSkyAI. Mark loves reading, writing, photography, and building new tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @MarkDMcKinney and at Thought Science.

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Teresa Amabile on how to kill creativity:

“Organizations routinely kill creativity with fake deadlines or impossibly tight ones. The former create distrust and the latter cause burnout. In either case, people feel overcontrolled and unfulfilled—which invariably damages motivation. Moreover, creativity often takes time. It can be slow going to explore new concepts, put together unique solutions, and wander through the maze. Managers who do not allow time for exploration or do not schedule in incubation periods are unwittingly standing in the way of the creative process.”

Source: Harvard Business Review: How to Kill Creativity

II.

Authors John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison say we often don’t even know what we are looking for or the questions to ask to get there, so it calls for a different approach:

“We need serendipitous encounters with people because of the importance of the ideas that these people carry with them and the connections they have. People carry tacit knowledge. … You’ve got to stand next to someone who already knows and learn by doing. Tacit knowledge exists only in people’s heads. As edges arise ever more quickly, all of us must not only find the people who carry the new knowledge but get to know them well enough (and provide them with sufficient reciprocal value) that they’re comfortable trying to share it with us.”

Source: The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion

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Look for these ideas every Thursday on the Leading Blog. Find more ideas on the LeadingThoughts index.

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How to Find Your Edge

Edge

WE’VE HEARD that hard work is the secret to success. But all too often we see that hard work is not enough. What then?

We need an edge.

Laura Huang explains just how to gain that advantage in her insightful and encouraging book, Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage. “Certain people seem to be endowed with a unique advantage in which they can execute faster and better and get the things they need, because they are positioned in such a way that others help them move forward. You can create your own edge and open doors—wide-open doors—for yourself.”

Having an edge makes hard work go further. Those that have an edge, Enrich, Delight, and Guide to make their Effort go further.

We must put in the work, but “when you create an edge, you create tailwinds that help you capitalize on your hard work more effectively.” We all face biases, prejudice, and harmful (to us) perceptions and attributions. But these can be the key to overcoming the adversity and roadblocks we face. “for most of you,” she writes, “it will be about positioning yourselves as an antidote to stereotypes, which will allow you to guide the perceptions of others, delight others, and ultimately will result in others seeing the unique value you can provide.”

Enrich

Huang begins with Enrich because it is the foundation of our edge. To do this, we begin by finding our “basic goods.” Those basic things that make you, you. “Creating an edge starts with pinpointing your basic goods and defining your circle of competence, and operating inside that perimeter.” It’s how you enrich.

Your history and your story are part of your basic goods. Don’t underestimate where you’ve been planted—grow there.

Our constraints provide us with a unique way to enrich when we own them—when we use them to see differently. “Don’t let the constraints that others create prevent you from identifying the problem for you, and hence the solution for you.”

Delight

Getting the door to enrich is made possible by our ability to Delight. Delight opens the door, so we can enrich. It’s how we deliver our value.

What is delight? It is the unexpected. “When we delight, we violate perceptions, but in a benign way. Delight unsettles and challenges beliefs about your context, grabbing the attention of gatekeepers and making way for you to show how you enrich.”

There is value in planning to delight, but it is important that you stay flexible and be looking for opportunities to delight. “Authentically delighting in situ requires you to be constantly fine-tuning, as well as constantly attuned to how you can shape situations to present the opportunity for your talents and core competencies to become apparent.”

Delighting requires you to have an opinion or point of view—being authentic while having the audacity, or the stomach, you might say, to take a bold, surprising stance.

We all have the capacity to enrich. But when you are able to also delight, that is where the real magic happens. That is how you allow them to let you in, and how you build your edge.

(As an associate professor at the Harvard Business School, Huang offers a great section on the advice she gives the students and entrepreneurs she coaches on the high-concept pitch, the two-sentence pitch, and the extended pitch. She states that “no pitch should be longer than one minute—after that, you should be in full conversation mode.”)

Guide

Once in, we Guide how others perceive our work and our worth. “It is inevitable that we will be affected by how other people view us and how they perceive us when we are merely trying to ‘be ourselves.’” We should keep in mind too that other’s perceptions of us are to a large extent about them.

Huang says we should look for patterns in our life—what rhymes. “Don’t go for absolutes go for directionality.” This is very helpful. Rather than adopt labels, we should identify directions for three reasons:

Going for directionality, rather than absolutes, helps you manage the impressions of others and guide their perceptions. You can be more fluid and adaptive.

If you go for general directionality, you’ll be more likely to avoid striving for goals that don’t leverage your strengths and that make it harder for you to create advantages. Self-awareness, in and of itself, is an elusive goal. We never really know ourselves, the best we can do is to find general directionality.

And finally, going for directionality allows you to simply move toward something that feels right, while already finding ways to cultivate an edge.

Self-awareness is knowing what we put out there and how it will be perceived by others. “Guiding entails being purposeful in helping others frame the attribution that they make about us.”

Don’t let them make assumptions. Give them the data points so that they can draw the trend line that you want them to see. Tell them, rather than allowing them to guess, about your future potential.

By providing directionality, you determine what is meaningful for them to know.

Effort

Effort works with the edge you are creating to inform you of the things you should be putting your effort into—things that you can enrich, delight, and guide. It’s in this combination that your effort then works harder for you. “Effort reinforces your edge.”

The optimal conditions for creating an edge are those in which bitterness and regret do not restrain you; they embolden you. Even if you are perfect, the world isn’t. Acknowledge and accept this, and you have already begun to create your edge. The secret is to know that the deck is stacked, and that life is not fair. But you put in hard work plus, regardless. Don’t let success define you, but don’t let failure define you either. Play the long game, not the short one.

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Why You Should Sponsor Others

The Sponsor Effect

MUCH HAS been written about mentoring. Mentoring is a gift you give to others. And while mentoring can be of tremendous value to the person being guided, it is one-way.

Sponsoring is “all-in.” You have skin in the game. Sponsorship is a two-way, reciprocal investment where both the sponsor and the protégé are working for each other’s success.

It goes without saying that having a sponsor is a huge career plus, but here’s the startling fact, being a sponsor is just as important as finding one. Sylvia Ann Hewlett reports in her book, The Sponsor Effect, “Senior-level managers are 53 percent more likely to have received a promotion in the last two years, if they have a protégé.” In addition, “Entry-level professionals who have a protégé are 167 percent more likely to have received a stretch assignment than those who don’t.” And for those who were actually doing sponsorship right, the results were even better. The point is, become a sponsor. It’s good for you too!

The sponsor must devote serious attention to identifying top junior talent, developing their skills, scrutinizing their progress, and advocating on their behalf (or more practically stated, believing in them and using up precious political capital for them, advocating for them, and providing them with air cover to take the risks that success often demands). Protégés must deliver for their sponsor with stellar performance, rock-solid trustworthiness, and a differentiated skillset that adds value to the team and the organization, as well as to the individual sponsor.

Sponsorship In Action

Take note: “The right protégé will complement your leadership skills and style, provide honest feedback, make you feel that you have extra hours in the day, and enable your influence to persist even after you’ve moved on to your next role or opportunity.”

Seven Steps to Effective Sponsorship

Hewlett offers a playbook to do this right. Taking a chapter for each, she explains how to get started, and answers questions like how do you contain risk? And What tools and tactics work best. After all, “If you’re going to sponsor someone—linking their career to yours—they’re going to be walking around with your brand on their forehead.”

Step 1: Identify Potential Protégés
Know what to look for in the talent you’re considering sponsoring, starting with performance and loyalty. Performance is table stakes. “What you should be concerned about when evaluating a potential protégés is loyalty to you and the organization. The ideal number of protégés is three.

Step 2: Include Diverse Perspectives
Find those who are different from you—in their mindset and viewpoints, or in their gender, age, ethnicity, experience or background. “The point is that protégés can add the most value if they can provide something you lack.”

Step 3: Inspire for Performance and Loyalty
Ensure that your protégés’ values align with yours and use their ambitions to spur them forward.

Step 4: Instruct to Fill skills Gaps
Work with your protégés to develop where they need to grow, whether that’s in knowledge or soft skills

Step 5: Inspect your Prospects
Keep an eye on your protégés to ensure that they’re continuing to deliver in performance and also, most importantly, on the trustworthiness front.

Step 6: Instigate a Deal
Having inspired, instructed, and inspected, now make the ask, specifying in some detail the two-way flow of value.

Step 7: Invest in Three Ways
You now need to be “all in.” Endorse in noisy ways. Advocate behind closed doors. Provide air cover. Commit your political capital and your clout, while providing air cover so that your protégés can take risks. “Rule of thumb: the more significant the investment, the bigger the payout.”

The following example Hewlett shares highlights the value of sponsorship to help leadership groups break out of their shared biases and points of view that so often hold them back.

“In this business today, if you want to grow, you’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Lou Aversano, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather in New York (a division of WPP), told me. “You have to be willing to burn your lifeboats before someone burns them for you.” Yet industry veterans such as himself face a challenge that he calls “altitude.”
“We see things from a certain height, and we have biases based on our years of experience and established ways of getting things done,” he explains. So when Aversano took the helm in 2014 and started a strategic transformation, he reached out to millennial talent that didn’t look at things from this same altitude.
For that, Aversano tapped one of Ogilvy’s employee resource groups, the Young Professionals Network. He tasked its one hundred members (average age twenty-seven) to offer ideas about how to reinvent the business model that underpinned the agency. But the process wasn’t a suggestion box. Aversano and other senior leaders worked with these young executives closely for nearly two months, instructing them on the business challenges and offering feedback so they could grow their strategic chops and offer evolved, informed ideas.
[One of the results] was that Aversano identified a standout potential protégé: a young man named Ben Levine.
After working closely with Levine through the Young Professionals Network, Aversano was so impressed he put him on Ogilvy’s leadership team as a “senior advisor for transformation.” There, Levine has delivered transformative advice. For example, given his refreshing lack of altitude, Levine has been able to map out novel ways Ogilvy can engage with clients. He has also identified patterns that show which of the approaches are most likely to produce revenue and profit. “He charted the path to grow for us,” Aversano says.

Sponsorship requires an investment of time, but it has immediate value. You can begin to see the benefits very quickly. So, find some protégés today. The Sponsor Effect offers a formula to get it right.

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Teaching By Heart

DESPITE what the title Teaching By Heart might imply, it is really a book about servant leadership. It is a journey into self-awareness so that you can serve those you lead or seek to influence in spite of your self-doubt, anxieties, and insecurities. It is a remarkable book and a perfect means to refocus your leadership development this year.

Professor of management and organizational behavior at Harvard University, Thomas DeLong, writes, “I’ve found that the best teachers are also leaders, and the best leaders are also teachers.” I completely agree, and it is easy to see the parallels.

Using himself as a case study, DeLong generously shares what goes on in his head and heart as a teacher. He shares what he has observed how in a teacher’s “best moments, they can life people up, and in their worst, let them down.”

You will learn what it takes to teach and lead better. You will gain a better understanding of yourself. Through his introspection, you will come away with a better grasp of your own patterns of behavior. You will understand the need to ask yourself: “What is it that I do consistently that assists me living and teaching, that leverages my talents in unique ways? Just as important, you need to understand those emotional or behavioral patterns that sabotage your efforts to make a difference.”

As teachers [and leaders], we focus more on our inadequacies and failures than on our strengths and accomplishments. I’ll deconstruct why this is so. I will walk you through the heaven and hell of teaching by dissecting and analyzing what I’ve experienced in the Harvard Business School classroom.

After thirty-five years of teaching, DeLong still has anxiety about teaching. To counteract the doubt and anxiety on the days he teaches he must get into the classroom early. “Rather than listen to irrational thoughts and feelings, I need to engage with the ‘enemy.’ I need to look students in the eyes and engage. I need to get out of my head and be interested in something other than my thoughts and feelings and insecurities. The pattern that surfaces is he either/or syndrome. Will I leave the classroom with a feeling of either success or failure? So even if you aren’t a teacher who is wrapped up in your own doubt and insecurities, you should know what your patterns are—the tendencies and habits that either serve or disrupt your effectiveness.”

“As the instructor, you need to increase the probability that your students will see and experience and feel what you want them to experience.” This doesn’t just happen. This is a challenge for teachers and leaders.

Self-Awareness and Growth

This self-awareness is a negative and a positive—a negative because it caused me to beat myself up continuously over my real and imagined shortcomings, a positive because it helped me become cognizant of my patterns.
By remonstrating with myself over my actions, I hope I decrease the chances that I’ll repeat this bad behavior. I still might. But I trust that I will do it less.

On Knowing Students

I am freer as a teacher if I feel I know the students on some level, better able to adjust and adapt o their requirements. My hope is to turn their mindset from one of certainty to curiosity where their assumptions can be tested, confirmed, or revealed to be false.”

The Power of Covenant versus Contractual Relationships

As leaders, we create a covenant with those we lead. A covenant is a good way to think about a leader’s relationship with others. Three elements make up the covenant leaders make with their people. “I promise to set direction with you, to secure your commitment, and help you execute. If I do these things, you’ll succeed and so will the company. This is the covenant leaders establish with their employees, and it drives performance far better than salary and perks.”

Teachers create this covenant with students in much the same way leaders do with employees.

First, students must know that they are in safe, competent, understanding hands. The first dimension is built on faith.
Second, students need to know that teachers care about them and their work. They learn this through feedback, interactions in the classroom, and observing them interact with their peers.
Third, students must feel like they are learning and growing and developing. They need to know that they are being stretched and pushed and challenged with new knowledge, that their assumptions are being tested, and they must gain new knowledge about themselves.

Contractual relationships are transactional. It’s all cognitive. “Contractual leaders and teachers worry about their image, how they are perceived by their boss—a manager or department head. They possess little empathy for others because their goal is to survive where they perceive themselves to be unwelcome.”

Reflections

The ideas expressed here are valuable to leaders in many roles—parents, teachers, pastors.

One of my goals for the students is to have them stand back and face their own life path. An underlying assumption is that the students will do less harm if they are aware of why they do what they do. They will hurt themselves and others less if they understand the purpose and path they are on. I don’t pretend that they should have an answer, but I would like them to be asking questions about their journey before, during, and after the experience at HBS.
As I gaze out the window and reflect, I question whether I’m helping students become more adaptive. Will they make it through their next crucible with greater resilience? Can they maintain a clear head in times of crisis? Do they become paralyzed with fear? Do they wait for someone else to save the day? Are they unable to be the people they were before they experienced the hardship? I want them to be able to keep tough feedback in perspective. I want them to be able to be direct when a tough conversation is necessary?
We need to have “road miles” so that we, through the process of elimination, understand the intersection between our values, motivations, and needs.
I try to highlight that we need not only to focus on the integration of work and play, of home and work but to be more aware of the quality of life we create with those who are near and dear to us.

Avoid Focusing on the Negative

If we use external criteria to define success or happiness, we will come up short, given the powerful influence of our negative-remembering reflex. Everything gets distilled and reduced to one reflection or observation. The technical term for this cognitive process is asymmetric effect with a negative bias. It holds us captive in everyday life.
I find myself returning to the internal dialogue that reminds me of my negative or self-doubting narrative than my self-affirming story. I find that my negative voices are louder than my positive ones, and so I lose confidence and my classroom persona is diminished—I am unwilling to push myself as a teacher, failing to try something new or push boundaries, since these classroom behaviors all carry risks.
The goal, then, is to remind ourselves that we possess a positive story, not just a negative one.

Three Guiding Questions

DeLong offers three guiding questions that will help guide our efforts to be authentic and genuine:

1. How do I experience others? What do we believe about others? The answer will inform how we interact with others.

2. How do others experience me? How do I portray myself to others?

3. How do others experience themselves when they are in your presence?

Teaching By Heart is a very relatable book that all leaders should read. Leadership comes in many forms, but we all deal with the same issues. DeLong’s journey will help.

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The Gift of Struggle

The Gift of Struggle

BOBBY HERRERA has a message and the message is “We all struggle. Inside every struggle is a gift. Leaders share their gifts with others.”

We tend to not share our struggles or the lessons we learn from them. They are painful and very personal. But Herrera—CEO and cofounder of the HR service company Populus Group—say that’s exactly what leaders do. And that’s why he is sharing his stories and lessons in The Gift of Struggle.

One of the core principles at the Populus Group is that “everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed.” It makes sense, and it drove Herrera, but he felt like the people working with him didn’t share his passion and didn’t understand why he did what he did. But once he shared his story—his struggles—they connected, and it gave them meaning. It not only changed the employees but more importantly, it changed him. He understood them better and became a more compassionate leader.

If you don’t step up and tell the story that gives you identity and purpose, your people will be left on their own, trying to guess what matters to you and why. Without fulfilling work, they will make assumptions about your mission—or lack thereof—and leave when they find a competitor who offers what you’ve withheld. Until them, they’ll give you just enough to check the box and get through the day.

His journey to founding and building the Populus Group is full of ups and downs. But every struggle left him with a gift he used to grow and overcome. The stories he shares are relatable and illuminate the gifts that will help you become a better leader.

Here are overviews of some of the gifts you will learn:

Share What You Imagine—Build Together:
These organizations don’t allow “ROE” (“return on ego”) to compromise the integrity of the culture. Enduring cultures are never enforced by a top-down hierarchy. Everyone lives in a culture, and therefor everyone must use their voice to contribute to it.
Own Your Part:
Leadership amounts to wanting more for your people than we want from them.
Always be a Student:
If you want to be a wise leader someday, you must fiercely apply what you learn. You must also be selective when choosing who you will study.
Not Everyone Will Summit:
The guide said, “I can’t recall a climb when everyone made it to the top. It’s possible, I guess, but it seems like something always happens.”
There is no actual summit in business. There are peaks and valleys—the business cycles we endure, the victories and pain points within an organization—that we experience as highs and lows. And yet as long as our doors remain open, there is no final endpoint, only new challenges, problems, innovations, and solutions.

And applying this gift to people, I thought this was eloquently put:

It’s is important to realize we are all climbing our own mountains. Everyone you hire started their career climb before you met them, and they will continue climbing for a long time after their tenure with your company is over. All of us are working within our own set of constraints, goals, and unexpected life events that shape our journey.
We all climb for different reasons, so it’s important to honor people’s dreams. Your job as a leader is to encourage the growth of your people and to appreciate their particular contributions to the ongoing climb of the company. Regardless of when a person chooses to strike out on a different course, celebrate your time together. Life is a sequence of intersections, shared efforts, and differing goals.

Herrera says, “struggle is the currency of progress.” We need to become students of struggle. Welcome it into our lives as a tool for growth and increased meaning. Strength comes from our struggles. When you view your struggles as a gift, you will become a stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate leader.

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Straight Talk for Startups

Straight Talk for Startups
ENTREPRENEURSHIP is not for everyone. It’s not an escape from the cubicle, hard work or bosses. But it is creative. It can be enriching in many ways. And if you are successful, you can believe that you did it all on your terms. And while it’s easier than ever to get started, it harder than ever to succeed.
Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman bring decades of startup experience to help you beat the odds. In Straight Talk for Startups they offer 100 insider rules to bring clarity and a dose of reality to the entrepreneurial process. So whether you’re thinking of starting a business or are in the middle of managing one, this book will help to avoid (are correct) rookie mistakes.
Komisar and Reigersman begin by telling you what matters and what doesn’t. Before you quit your job, here are a few things you need to think about:
It’s hard. Because money is abundant, “it’s no surprise that the competitive landscape becomes crowded and non-economic.” It’s not uncommon for your competition to sell below cost in order to buy customers with their capital. And employees tend to act more like mercenaries than comrades in arms.
Try to act normal. “There is nothing normal about being an entrepreneur.” I loved this line: “Venture capitalists have one of the greatest jobs in the world. They get to sit across the table from passionate strangers who hallucinate the future for them.” They advise that when selling your idea: “Don’t let them know you are one of those precious lunatics hell-bent on changing the world until you’ve gotten to know them better. You don’t want to scare them off right at the start.”
Aim for an order-of-magnitude improvement. You’ve got to give people a really good reason to move from where they are quite comfortable to where you want them to be—a loyal customer. An order-of-magnitude of ten times is the minimum. Beyond that you improve your odds of success. “If you try to thread the needle with an innovation that is just good enough, you may miss [the target] entirely. But if you shoot for an order-of-magnitude change, you may still be in the game even if you miss by half.”
Most failure result from poor execution, not unsuccessful innovation. “Plenty of people confuse luck for skill. We flatter ourselves and find cause where there is none. The difference between skill and chance boils down to repeatability.” Timing matters. The elements need to line up. The authors identify six significant stages of development:
Stage 1: Idea—develop your idea and assess its attractiveness
Stage 2: Technology—build the technology
Stage 3: Product—deliver the product
Stage 4: Market—demonstrate market demand
Stage 5: Economics—prove unit economics in real life
Stage 6: Scale—now, finally, grow your business
There is a method to the madness. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Great clarification: “The creative process is essentially an execution process, not a eureka moment.”
Other rules include:
A part-time game changer is preferable to a full-time seat filler.
Manage your team like a jazz band.
Net income is an opinion, but cash flow is a fact.
Avoid venture capital unless you absolutely need it.
Too many unanimous board decisions is a sign of trouble.
Success is not linear.
Learn the rules by heart so you know when to break them.
Komisar and Reigersman close by saying, Always ask why. Why this? Why you? Why now? Asking why will keep you grounded.
Know why this venture is important to you. Why it should be important to others. And given the low probability of success for any venture, why it is nevertheless worth failing at. Of course you don’t want to fail; success is always preferable to failure. But if you fail, will you feel you wasted your time, or that you fought the good fight?
Keep yourself grounded and your wits about you by frequently asking yourself, Why? Entrepreneurship is important because it has the power to make the world better. That is why it is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.
If you are considering starting a business, you will do well to also read Randy Komisar’s The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living.
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