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Showing posts from April, 2012

You're So Cool

I wrote a snarky (and not very deep) song one night back in 2002 or so after hanging out with some oh-so-hip acquaintances:
you're so coolI want to be near youI want to be just like youwhere'd you get those shoes Everything they did or said projected how cool they were (or wanted to be; I stopped hanging out with them at just about that moment).


You know what it's like--it's everywhere these days, it seems. Makes me long for the Mennonite kids I went to church with when I was young.

You're Not Cool. Yet. 
I'm noticing a lot of seed- and early-stage startups using marketing language designed to tell us how cool they are.

Claims of greatness. Or simplicity. Or bravado, like look out world, here we come.I used to do it too.

You should stop it.

Say it to yourselves, among friends, occasionally. But the reality is you aren't great yet.

And it's not about you. It's about the people you're trying to serve. So make it about them, and don't make wild c…

The Un-Sexy Startup Will Be the New Sexy

Startup tech news--some of it anyway--has become much more like Entertainment Tonight and a lot less like, well, tech.

Fred posted about the noise today, as did Brad. And they were both somewhat vague; more detail about focus would have been great. 
But that's not my point. 
The sexy stuff--controversy, hot startups backed by celebrities, or hot startups backed by celebrity Angels, or startups screwing up badly in public with some lousy behavior, or some crazy valuations or crazy exits--that stuff draws a lot of people in. 
It also can make you feel pretty irrelevant. You aren't invited to that party. Or any of the parties. Because you aren't in that scene. 
And it doesn't matter. Now now, anyway. 
I think the biggest opportunities in business right now are in the decidedly unsexy areas. Serving boomers. Transforming education.

Helping the unhip participate in social media in a smart way. Helping nonprofits grow into the hyper-connected world a new generation of donors…

What Do I *Get* to Do Today?

What do I get to do today?
I ask myself this every morning. The evening before I set reminders for myself so I don't forget something important. 
But early in the morning I ask myself--with a smile--what do I get  to do today? And by that I mean what do I get to accomplish today? 
I feel so much better when I've finished something. When I let the loose ends go, they start to gnaw at me--the dogs nipping at my heels. 
This week I had the flu. Thought it was a cold or allergies, but yesterday it hit me hard. I've gotten less done than I'd like, so today I get to finish some things.
I don't see that as a burden. I see it as a really great chance to do some good, to create order, to create a new opportunity. 
So today I'm already moving fast and very happy to have the chance to finish some important things. 
Later, I get to finish a few things for myself, including getting the start of community gardens at one of the local schools underway. It's going to be a g…

Midweek list

Here we are again.

Two days into the week and things are stacking up. Something came up and took 3 hours of time. Then there's the question of which CRM system to adopt (they all still suck, btw). That's another 3 hours.

And then the Spring Cold. This morning I woke up with either crazy bad allergies or a bad cold--I can't tell yet. I'm thinking it's the cold. Coffee didn't help. Chicken soup is on the way, metaphorically and literally.

So stop. Take a break. Look back at Monday's intention. Acknowledge it, and throw it away.

The midweek list lets you reset based on reality. Your plan met the enemy and you had to change your plan. That's ok. But you have to reset and make the most of the next three days.

Narrow it, focus, choose carefully, and get back to it.

Startup Mechanicsburg

Last night I drove out to Mechanicsburg for the first Startup Mechanicsburg.

Josh Smith attended a few of the Startup Lancaster meetings and was determined to identify and gel the ecosystem in Mechanicsburg, so he cloned it and bam--9 people attended, a good start.

Startup Lancaster has about 35 members now, after 11 months of existence, but about half of the meetings had around eight or nine founders, and only two had over 20.

I arrived late, and they had already done introductions, decided the topics for the night and were about to create breakout groups--Josh had it down pat.

There were at least 3 viable startups there; one of them is already at $14,000/month of revenue. They're going to do very well,  I'm certain.

It's so encouraging and exciting to see this. Hopefully others will follow Josh's lead and start their own groups throughout PA.

Here are the guidelines as I see them:

Who: Founders only. That means no employees, friends, spouses etc unless they are truly…

That Uneasy Feeling

You know it when you feel it. Something isn't right. There's some discussion happening somewhere else, and you aren't in it. Or the email isn't returned. Or the tone is guarded.

You can feel that unease for a lot of reasons. Maybe it's a communication issue. But maybe communication is the symptom. You give the benefit of the doubt. You wish for the best and assume it.

And then days become weeks, weeks become months. And you look back at those months, and wonder what happened.

I could be describing anything. The girl who didn't call you back in High School. The conference that said they might want you to speak. The employee who said they're working on it. The investor who said they really like the company and will talk with his partners about it.

And then nothing.

Radio silence.

And then you have that feeling. Face it--he's just not that into you. You were counting on hope. But you can hope in one hand and piss in the other and see which one fills up fir…

Punt: Instagram

Crazy busy day.

So check this out about building to an unbelievable billion-dollar exit (very, very rare).


Set'm up

Some days you wake up and know you have to crank relentlessly all day. Possibly all day. And you're up and ready for it.

Set them up.
Knock them down.
Repeat.


Going All In: Part II

Last night we held the 9th meeting of Startup Lancaster, a group of 30 tech-based startup founders from the region.

We got into a conversation about going all in, and I think there were varying definitions of what it means to do that.



One person had just quit their job and will be consulting three out of four weeks per month.  The fourth week is his free week. Not a bad way to live, but I wondered whether he could really have a free week, and if that's enough to move things forward.

Another person worried that his product wasn't ready for him to be full time yet, and since he can't code, how would it make sense to go full time?

It's a good question--what does a full-time non-technical founder do before the product's ready for show and tell?

I feel there's plenty to do--talk with prospects, develop relationships with press, keep dev focused on the mvp, research more, develop surveys, talk with prospects again, etc, etc. It's a great time to ramp.

Most people …

The Night Before List

When something's creating anxiety for me, I have trouble sleeping. For years I would either stay up half the night and then wake up after a few hours of sleep, or take a Tylenol PM and I'd sleep for a few hours and wake up anyway.

Every Sunday, almost, I have Sunday Dread. It's that anxiety that builds when you're starting the week with a lot of unknowns, work you haven't completed, things you might have missed, and things you need to do really well. 
And I'd add in this: the fear of judgment by others.
Anxiety isn't always easy to deal with, but there's a way I handle it now, and it makes a big difference. Step away from the computer. Turn off the TV. Go to a diner if a change of space will help you. 
Write down the following: --What's worrying you--What's the worst thing that can happen--What you will do if that worst thing happens--what are the consequences and how do you pick up from there?--The likelihood of the worst happening.  That's …

Punt: Michael McHenry on Startups

Today's punt is to one of the Startup Lancaster's participants, Michael McHenry, who compares building a startup to getting a plane off the ground.
"Thrust: Brainstorm, get input, connect with customers that reignite passion, engage in the activities that made you want to start in the first place, set attainable daily task goals based on agreed-upon milestones, and try to get more done each day. Network. Grow your Network. Grow your freaking Network." Great stuff.
http://michaelmchenry.tumblr.com/post/20536056316/personal-business-flight-envelope

One of Those Days

The morning started with a 4:50 AM spontaneous awakening and a few hours of code. The off to the cafe for the best expresso in town, and back to work. Then a meeting I forgot about, then a call I forgot about, and then backed up work that's taking too long, plus three more calls on the way.

Some days it's hard to get into the flow and actually produce something. But I'm determined to finish. Which means it will be a long night--the afternoon already looks shot.

Yesterday's News

Sometimes leftovers are as good as the freshly cooked meal.



Today's post is yesterday's post. :)

Why Don't They Support Me?

It's really great to see so many startups popping up around Central PA, and for me it gives me the chance to do one of my favorite things--help founders by giving advice. If only they could pay... :) 

This is something I'm hearing from a number of them recently.
You're working hard. You have vision and the plans to get there. You're executing on those plans. It's been a month or two, or six, and the people dependent on you don't know the details. They forget.
You've set the goals and strategy to get there. And you're doing the work. Everyone on your team is working hard, and you really have no idea whether this is going to work or not. 
And then your wife or husband questions you. Or a board member. Or a team member. And you can't understand why they don't support you fully, or whatever insecurity that creeps up and makes you feel alone.
Feels a bit unsettling. 
Maybe even feels a little rotten. And you know what? It's your fault. Not theirs…