Life can happen fast. I haven't written a blog post in months and have been battling with myself on whether that is failing or whether that's ok. I committed to myself that I would write regularly to share my thoughts on entrepreneurship and my personal journey to maybe help others as they go down a similar path. Taking a few months off from posting was not in the plan.
In April I found out I was getting promoted at P&G. Great news and it was something that I was very excited about. The past few months have been chaotic as I offboarded my previous role and onboarded into my new role. I had new projects to jump onto, teams to meet and a lot of things going on in my mind as I took it all in. I was up late every single night trying to manage it all.
The blog got deprioritized and as the weeks went by I came to terms that doing that was ok. There was just no way I could do the blog and mentally and physically be ok. Either my sleep would suffer more than it already was or the needed down time I had on the weekends to re-energize would be taken away. I wasn't willing to make those sacrifices.
This adjustment brought up memories on the Sloane journey where there would be particular years that were just incredibly demanding at work and I wouldn't be able to make the progress I wanted on Sloane. If I beat myself up over that, then Sloane would start feeling like an obligation and something I was failing at when it was intended as fun and a place where I could be creative and grow.
Life is unpredictable. Its always changing, which requires individuals to adapt. If you cannot adapt, then you just won't succeed. I mean 2020 was a year that you either adapted or died. No one could've predicted that COVID would ravage the world. The blog is miniscule in comparison to COVID, but definitely was something that I was initially disappointed about. I was hard on myself, but had to look at the overall situation and just be ok with me not having the capacity to do it.
I am hoping now that I will have more time to share! I have made a lot of progress on Sloane Golf, which has been another thing that has been taking my time. New blogs will be out soon on how that is going. :-)
Its all about enjoying this journey and not getting stuck!
I have been saying a lot recently stuff like....
"I honestly don't care if this fails".
"I will take full responsibility of this fails".
"This test will have probably an 85% chance of failing".
My earlier self back in high school, college and most of my working life would NEVER say that F word. Failure was not ok. You didn't even want the option to be in your head at all.
Failure would mean I couldn't get into a good college. It would mean a tough conversation with my parents. It would mean I wouldn't be on par with my classmates. It would mean that I could get fired from my job. It would mean that my co-workers would think that I couldn't hang.
Failure was BAD.
My acceptance of failure has totally shifted as time has passed. That has happened for a few reason.
1) I've failed a lot over the years and experience has shown me that life will go on. The failures have actually taught me a ton and been my biggest learning experiences in life. For example, I was "failing" at my sales role and decided that sales wasn't for me. I ended up shifting to go to business school, which was a very wise move. Failure guided me to where I needed to go.
2) If you never fail you probably aren't pushing yourself hard enough. You aren't trying enough new things. You are staying in your comfort zone and its hard to achieve greatness staying in your little cocoon. I like the quote, "a ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are built for". Going to business school when I'm not really great at school. Starting Sloane when I was already in pretty intense school debt. Going to Cincinnati to work at P&G not knowing if I could hang. Taking new roles that I wasn't sure I was ready for. Recommending something I knew wouldn't be popular. Risk of failure on all of those things were pretty high....and in the end they all made me better.
3) The new digital world is changing really quickly. You can start new businesses. You can track so much now with the data available, which can lead to incredible learning. People aren't watching much TV anymore, so you need to be aware of what they're paying attention to. Trends are shifting faster than ever. You need to be out experiencing these things or else the world will pass you by. I see people who have stayed in their comfort zone and seen that their skillsets just aren't relevant anymore. They would prefer to do it THEIR way forever, but that's not how the world works.
When you are putting yourself out there you are getting better. You know you are good. You know you can make it. That confidence builds and it actually makes you able to just have failures bounce off of you. You aren't as sensitive and scared anymore. You have experienced failure and made it, so what is there to be afraid of? Nothing.
Its a positive cycle. The first step is the hardest because that is when your armor isn't strong and the failures will have their biggest impact. You just have to believe in the journey and know you will pull yourself up every single time.
Another quote I like is "steel sharpens steel". Put yourself in the position where you are grinding against steel. Not butter. You will cut right through butter too easily. Grinding against steel will make you strong and sharp. Ready to destroy.
Starting your own company is a process. You start from square one and then start slowly building and building and building. There are gates along the way that show your commitment to the journey. Coming up with the idea. Buying the URL. Investing in product development. It goes on and on.
At each gate you ask yourself, "Am I ready to take this next step"? Each step requires an investment in either time or resources or cash. As you move forward the investment gets higher and higher and higher. Your commitment continually gets tested.
As you move through this process you need to think long and hard. You always have the opportunity to pump the breaks and stop. Things change and you must always survey whether these changes lead to you really considering stopping or pivoting. Maybe an investor backed out? A co-founder is getting cold feet? A competitor just came out with a new compelling product? It could be ANYTHING.
Jumping in too fast and too hard might blind you to some red flags around you. That could work sometimes because the thinking could slow you down too much. In many instances the red flags are helpful to see and think about.
I am looking to launch a golf brand. I have started the journey. Got the LLC. Got the URL. Have the brand logos. That has all costed me some time and money, but I have been excited. My current next step is to buy the prototypes. This is a decent size cash outlay that makes my stomach gurgle a bit. Its a big step forward and a big commitment level.
I have looked at the website where I need to make the prototype order for multiple nights in a row. The product is in the cart and I am staring at the checkout. I look at the cost....and it hurts. I look at the product....and get excited. I then look at the cost....and it still hurts. I literally have filled out the credit card information, shipping info, etc....and have hovered over the "buy" button. I just haven't been able to pull the trigger.
Pulling the trigger escalates my commitment. Its a pivotal moment. I can still back out later, but the cash outlay is significant enough that I would be pissed if I just stopped a couple of weeks from now. I will continue to think on this and decide what makes sense for me.....now.
This is a very real feeling and its ok progressing....or stopping. This is a personal decision and you need to get anyone else's judgement out of it. This is about YOU. YOU are the person who needs to lead this. YOU need to have the passion. YOU need to have the energy. If you get to a gate and just aren't feeling it anymore, then really listen to that. Talk to people. Figure out why you are having the tension. Is it a natural nervousness/excitement or is it something bigger?
I want to share that its natural. I was all in on this idea a few months ago and now I am seeing it a little different. I am still excited, but have to recalibrate to ensure my soul is still into it.
I will keep you all updated!
When you are starting something from scratch you are already fighting the odds. You need to build something that solves for a consumer need, get word out about it and then have them pay their hard earned money for it. That is a hard task in this day and age with so much vying for the consumers attention.
In order to make it you need A LOT going for you. One thing that can't be valued enough are the people on the journey with you. Having the best people increases the likelihood that you can solve everything that needs to be solved and make it. Having mediocre or bad people severely handicaps what you need to accomplish and can singlehandedly sink the ship.
This isn't a new thing in the business world, but the more I see the more I appreciate how hard it is to find those amazing people you need. When you look at a resume and see where people went to school and their experiences its just scratching the surface on whether they are who you really need. Sometimes the people who have the best resumes are actually the worst people. They are doing things to build THEIR resume and don't have the loyalty and work ethic for YOUR business.
Below are some things that I see as critical to getting the right people. This is also helpful if you want to be in a position to be one of those right people.
EQ vs IQ: I read Danny Meyer's great book 'Setting the Table'. He likes to hire 51%ers. People who have 51% EQ and 49% IQ. So people who are kind, empathetic, self aware and overall great to work with. He believes the technical skills (IQ) can be learned, but the high EQ people are the ones that are the ones that create the positive culture and have the soft skills to make work enjoyable. Too many people who are all IQ can be cold, calculated and not bring enough emotion to the work. When you're on the startup journey you need to be working overall with people who are enjoyable and you feel good going to war with.
Work Ethic: The odds are stacked against you. You need to do everything in your power to claw your way to success. You cannot do that working 9 to 5. I read Sam Walton's book (Made in America) and that guy was tireless....and picked people who were tireless. He had his staff meet EVERY Saturday morning to review the weeks results and figure out how they could do better. He arrived at the meeting at 3am to start preparing for it. EVERY Saturday. That is intense....but that's what it takes. You need people so loyal and devoted to the cause that they will stretch themselves. Work late. Think about solutions in their free time. Someone just in it to get a name on a resume is not willing to push hard enough.
Perseverance: You will have more losses in this processes than wins. Likely way more losses than wins. That is how it works when you start. Will your team roll over? Will they be afraid of competition? Will they buckle under pressure and bring down the team? I like to tie perseverance and growth mindset together. Someone who is seeking to grow and learn takes losses and learnings. The losses sting, but the right people stop and want to figure out how they can adjust and get better. People who don't have growth mindsets have excuses. It was Steve's fault. The agency we used was bad. The product wasn't good enough. Its the blame game and these people drag everyone down. You spend too much energy dealing with them versus on solving the problem.
You can see that its hard to see these traits on a resume. That is why its important to get to know people. Ask them deeper questions. Understand the core of who they are. Bringing on people too quickly without getting deep can result in a total mess. And the journey becomes more of a complete pain in the ass versus a fun journey with comrades.
Do not underestimate people. It is done too easily now and people are just seen as replaceable. Value them and bring in the RIGHT people.