All posts tagged founder

10 Things I’d Tell My Pre-Startup Former Self

This post is a part of this week’s Startup Edition, a collection of posts inspired by the question: “What advice would you give young entrepreneurs?”

I never planned on being an entrepreneur.

I never really planned on a career at all, like most of the people in my generation. I spent the first 22 years of my life thinking I might play professional soccer, and when that stopped feeling right I walked away from the sport without a Plan B.

I primarily followed my nose after that, and it lead me on a path to trying to build companies and products.

If I could go back to my senior year in college and share a few nuggets of wisdom with my youthful self, these are a few of the things I’d say:

  • Building products, services, and companies is an enlightening experience that’s likely to redefine your paradigm for the idea of work. If it’s right for you, you feel as if you’re almost always working but it never feels like work.
  • Think about networking any which way except for the way you’re taught to think about it. Don’t do it with a specific goal in mind – do it because people are what will truly make the difference for you.
  • Speaking of people, focus on meeting as many great ones as you can. Good people lead to good things, always.
  • Hypothesize and prove yourself wrong as often as possible. Every day if you can. Being wrong is hard for most people, and the more comfortable you are with it the better equipped you are to succeed.
  • There’s a big difference between acting like a founder and acting like an owner. Founders are leaders, owners are bosses.
  • Co-founding is akin to marriage in a lot of ways. Don’t do it lightly, and hold up to your end of the bargain.
  • One of the tricks to being efficient (as opposed to busy) is learning to say no more often than you say yes.
  • Work hard at becoming a great product picker. If it’s not your thing, find a co-founder or team member who’s already great at it. It’ll make all the difference going forward.
  • Stay fit. The energy, clarity, and strength you’ll get from exercise is a competitive advantage.
  • Eat real food and make food a priority, even if money’s tight. Ramen profitable doesn’t mean you actually have to eat shitty ramen.

There’s probably hundreds of little insights I’d like to share with my former self, but these jump out based on my experience over the last few years.

What advice would you give yourself prior to the path your currently on?

Where I’ve Been & Where I Am

A big thanks to everyone who still finds me invading their inbox or RSS reader.

I’m going to be writing a lot more going forward, but things will change a bit. It’s like that time you told your dog she was going to the park and really you were taking her to the vet.

(Your intentions were great, by the way.)

I’ve always written extensively about my relationships on this blog in the past, and I’m not sure that will go away. I can’t really write without including the deeply personal stuff.

But…I am sure that I’m a different person than I was when this blog started. I’ve gotten into the frame of mind that nearly anything is possible if you dive in head first, learn as much as you can as fast as you can, and stay close to amazing people.

The last few years have been transformative, and I’m passionate about the role that technology plays in our lives. I need to explore that with you, and I hope that while I do that it will benefit you (no matter how much you think about tech).

As to the title of this post, I’ve been through the amazing process of being a first time startup founder. To all the people out there who’ve started businesses or hope to start one some day, I’m going to do my best to share my experience (finally).

Today, I’m working on another startup that two friends founded, hell bent on helping them turn their already measurable success into a true game changer. It’s brought me back to San Francisco, a city I adore on every level and a community I’m deeply excited to be a part of.

Going forward; moar writing.

Founder Title

Almost every day I grow increasingly uncomfortable with the founder title.

The reason I think it was a mistake to emphasize founder status is that I was essentially implicitly trying to say I was better than the other, non-founder employees. That I was special, and had something they would never had. But that benefit was right there in the cap table: I had the ownership of a founder, and that ought to be enough. And my naked self-interest was for every employee to act like an founder and work their ass off — so rather than feeding my ego with a founder title, I should have been giving everyone the founder title and hoping they’d stay all weekend to get the software release out.

via Should you keep the founder title? | Josh Hannah.

Lemonade Stand Founders

Kids who start lemonade stands aren’t all that different than the guy who started Zynga or Google, although one could argue that a lemonade stand is a deliberate attempt to make a margin and starting something that’s useful for people before you even have a revenue model is deeper.

Thing is, I don’t think kids post up lemonade stands to make money, so much as they throw up lemonade stands to have people take a few minutes out of their day to recognize what they’re up to.

I think most lemonade stands are exercises in business education handed down from up high.

Lemonade stands are lesson plans.

But if you started a lemonade stand where people got something more than lemonade, those kids would be sitting in their plastic chairs on the corner of the neighborhood cul-de-sac selling more than lemonade, in order to sell lemonade.

The lemonade stand might be a place where you got points towards your influence on community politics, for instance.

You stop by and grab a fresh drink and you got yourself ahead in the running for the neighborhood mayorship.

Your mayorship meant you might represent your neighborhood at County Hall when they were deciding on where to build family-friendly parks.  The Mayor with the most points was carrying a lot more votes, and maybe that Mayor’s votes represented the overall participation that their neighborhood had delivered in the previous couple of months.

They had their points, which made them Mayor, but they’d need their neighborhood’s points to really have influence.

The whole community could empower their leaders to have a say in local government.

They could do that on their way to their important jobs that let them afford to live in their neighborhood.  They could do that knowing that two bucks at the corner was a way to be at City Hall on Tuesday night while they were travelling on business.

A lot more lemonade would get sold, I think.

A lot more kids would see the value of thinking about the world in an entrepreneurial way.

Why is it that only outcasts find themselves motivated to build things that disrupt our experience?

Something is wrong if removing yourself from the mainstream is a prerequisite for trying to change the world.