Just Show Up

If you don’t, you don’t learn anything. Conversations happen without you, insights occur that you never get access to, and experiences get shared that you may not hear. If you try to catch up, you end up playing the telephone game and get an abbreviated or inaccurate version. And it’s not their fault for being brief or wrong; it’s your fault for not showing up. Continue reading

The Incongruency of Education and Life

There’s no syllabus for life.

No course objectives, learning outcomes, class schedule, homework, or textbooks. We’re not told when to show up or given a rubric. We don’t get a choice of instructors, access to their office hours, or the topics they believe we should explore.

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Make Good Choices

Your business is defined by decisions. Who you hire, where you locate, how you message, what you sell, why you exist. They all contribute to the identity you have and will have – to employees, customers, and yourself. But those are the big decisions and we often take them seriously.

Every day, you’re faced with dozens of others, most of which seem minor but really aren’t. Each one adds a bit more identity to your company, affecting the product, the culture, the brand, the operation. Over time, they add up considerably, to the point where the results are so intertwined, each element seems impossible to pull apart if you wanted to. Continue reading

The Frictionless Startup [revised]

There’s a group of entrepreneurs that fascinates me. They don’t show up at startup gatherings. They don’t get mentioned by the press. And if you bring them up in the community, you get a response of “Who?”.

They’re the ones who realize that all startups compete on a level playing field because they share one common asset – time. The difference is how they use it. They believe in working hard and working smart. Continue reading

To My Students

  1. I believe entrepreneurship can’t be taught but I do believe it can be learned. My job is to help make that happen by being a facilitator, coach, and mentor rather than a teacher. Your job is to help make it happen by telling me how I can help you.

  2. I believe entrepreneurship is learned when it mimics what entrepreneurs go through everyday: ambiguity, change, uncertainty, learning from failure, and celebrating small wins. Taking initiative, making decisions, and asking for help along the way. Having a vision you don’t deviate from and having a plan that you do deviate from. Always iterating and improving because it’s never good enough.

  3. I believe entrepreneurship is learned by doing and thinking. I can “see” the doing based on the work you do but I can’t “see” the thinking. The closest I can come to that is by hearing what you have to say.

  4. I believe in learning together. Each of us has only one brain capable of producing thoughts based on experiences, ideas, and talents. When we share those thoughts with others, everyone learns more. The more brains that share, the more exponential the learning becomes.

  5. I believe learning goes to another level when we’re pushed outside our comfort zone but allowed to stay in our safety zone.

  6. I believe learning is lifelong. What you learn in this course should be useful far and beyond the course, the academic year, and your degree.

  7. I believe I can help make you smarter and better. And it will require both of us to take a leadership role.

Writing for Inc.com: Thank You

As I tweeted yesterday, I’m honored to join the esteemed ranks of columnists who contribute to Inc.com, the companion website to Inc. Magazine. In my first column, I tell the story of how I got the gig by circumstance, sparked by a post I wrote on this blog back in July.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity. As an amateur blogger who has been writing primarily for my own benefit, it’s quite a challenge to write for someone else and their audience. I learned that when I submitted the first draft of the column to my editor; it was as humbling an experience as I’ve had in recent years.

For the Inc. column – entitled “Growing Smart” – I’m going to focus on leadership, learning, and emotional intelligence as overall themes, hoping to use a voice of thought-provoking content targeted squarely to founders and leaders of growing companies. I’m planning to bring my experience working with startups and growth firms, especially what I’m learning through our work at The Junto Institute.

I look forward to your reactions, positive and negative, as well as ideas for future columns. And I’ll continue practicing my writing in this space on a daily basis.

Thank you for caring enough to read, react, and respond.

The Little Things (Still) Matter

First impressions are formed by big things: initial appearance, reputation, messaging, friends and affiliations, etc. But over time, our impressions are increasingly formed by the little things, subtleties and nuances that tell us much more about individuals and entities, and lead us to investing in relationships or not.

Our fast-paced world has forced each of us to be multi-tasking, hyper-connected, over-scheduled, and constantly accessible. It affects our attention spans and how we communicate. We’re far more connected than we ever were but we’re also less connected than we ever were.

Fewer people interact face-to-face. Fewer people call to just say “how’s it going?” Fewer people have real conversations. Fewer people look each other in the eye. Fewer people listen. Fewer people say thank you.

Improve three little things this week. See how they make you feel and see how they affect others. See how they still matter.