Day71- Thinking Past December

What does my, and FailUp’s future, look like next “semester”?

Decided to jot down some ideas that crossed my mind during my jog. FailUp, Entrepreneurs Anonymous, offering Entrepreneur Therapy & Entrepreneur Training. Entrepreneurship as a sport. Interesting ideas for me.

October 14th, 2016

Started the day with a solid hour conversation with Misa, who is a fellow Watson scholar. I learned more about her experiences at Watson, her thoughts and ideas for the future, along with how she is doing generally. Really interesting to learn more about where she’s at. I have not had much 1-on-1 time with Misa, so really glad to have that conversation and look forward to future conversations.

Around 11:00, I had a meeting with Lorne, who is one of my two Watson-assigned mentors. I gave Lorne the update since we last chatted. His advice: “get super granular on the problem you are trying to solve, because that will get you more specific on your solution and how that solution brings value.” Good advice for sure. 73% of entrepreneurs facing mental illness & 30% of entrepreneurs failing because of their psychological state of mind are market-wide problems. They are not specific problems for specific customers.

We started talking about entrepreneurship from the institution’s standpoint and arrived at a pain point that I have explored in the path: engaging alumni. When I explained that alumni are not sufficiently supported or engaged by the institutions where they studied, he thought this was a great subset of the problem. Accelerators, universities, incubators, events, etc. How can they better organize and engage their alumni?

Lorne suggested that I speak with at least 5 organizations, including Watson, to learn more about their problems, work to solve those problems, and see if the orgs would pay. I would be doing rapid micro-consulting to better understand the problem and potential solutions. Good meeting, landed at a very different conclusion than what I expected. Lorne is thinking of this more as a business than an expensive hobby (which is what I need!), so it’s good to hear this and think about this problem.

Went to ImpactHub to get some work done. Emails, one-by-one. Watched a TED talk by Chip Conley on “measuring what makes life worthwhile?” Chip talked about this idea of Gross National Happiness as a metric that we should measure and value, opposed to the GDP which is the traditional metric that nations measure to gauge their growth. The question that was posed at the end: “what counts?” A really good question that is really hard to figure out.

While at the ImpactHub, the person from across the table started a conversation with me because I was wearing my Orioles hat. She was from Annapolis. Then, another Marylander overheard the conversation and joined. She heard that I went to Dulaney high school. And so did she! What?! Crazy, another Dulaney graduate in Boulder at the Impact Hub, so cool!! Ha, crazy. She graduated in 2008, I graduated in 2012.

Spent the rest of my time generating responses for the Watson application. So basically, I have an opportunity to reapply to Watson and attend the school for another semester. I’ve been thinking about this and it seems like that is what I should do. I have been getting so much value from being here and I’m pretty sure I want to stay in Boulder. Below you can read my responses:

How will continuing your education at Watson help you to get where you want to be in 5 years?

Goals change as our unpredictable futures become our present realities. But a sense of purpose remains more reliable. My purpose, I believe, is to strengthen entrepreneurs’ minds. And this starts with myself.

My short 2-month experience here at Watson has impacted my personal growth more than any other educational experience. Learning from the Watson curriculum & community is equipping me with the self-awareness and skills required to transform (you can observe this growth and increased sense of self-awareness through my blog).

In 5 years, I want FailUp to meaningfully impact the lives of over 1,000 entrepreneurs. Through FailUp entrepreneurs will become healthier, more connected, and more resilient. At Watson, I have learned to become healthier, I have learned to be more connected, and I have learned to act with greater resiliency. The training I am experiencing here is the kind of training that our world desperately needs. Building capacity to think creatively, logically, philosophically, emotionally. Building perspective to see sizes, shapes, colors, and people as mere reflections of internal thought. Building courage to express self.

I know that continuing my education at Watson would be extremely beneficial for me. It would be a strategic decision, since Watson is doing what I hope to accomplish. Healing, inspiring, and training entrepreneurs. I’m taking close notes of what I’m experiencing for a purpose. I’m learning a ton and am afraid to forget. And I want to share what I’m learning with the world. So many budding entrepreneurs need their version of Watson. They need a community. They need access to training. They need resources.

Through the power of creative & authentic human collaboration, whether that be online, offline, or both, I believe we can make incredible strides. There’s potential to spark energy in others, start conversation around self & health, and ride an unforgettable, entrepreneurial journey #FailUpWatson #WeFailUp.

What do you wish to accomplish next semester at Watson?

The training that is provided via the curriculum, master course teachers, and mentorship sessions will continue to provide the exposure that I need to more thoroughly understand how entrepreneurs can grow as individuals and with their ventures.

My work at FailUp carries many assumptions, many questions, many unknowns. But as I attend each class, engage in each conversation, watch each video, read each article, unknowns are beginning to lay the foundation for my knowns while simultaneously unveiling new unknowns.

Currently, I have a product but am unsure if it is the right product for the market since it has not been fully adopted. I need to dig deeper, how can value most effectively be delivered? Who should be engaged and what should be built to deliver that value? After listening to the problems and prototyping various solutions with entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them, I will develop a product or service that is fully adopted by the target customer.

This semester has very much been about personal development and growth. Next semester will be more about the venture’s development. As I have changed so has the venture. With a renewed sense of self-awareness, FailUp has a new foundation. I am excited to build on this foundation and for the creative possibilities with this enhanced level of clarity.

By the end of next semester, I will have developed a business model that is validated by the target customer to the extent of justifying at least one full-time position at the company. I need to dig deeper, is this a business or just an expensive hobby? What opportunity actually exists in the market and what evidence supports that opportunity?

But writing this application also got me thinking, wow, I can do so many other things that could also spur my growth. I could get a job, travel to another country, explore and experience something entirely new. And who knows, maybe one of those experiences would even better prepare me for an entrepreneurial career.

Going to China, for instance, learning another language, problem-solving and actively learning something everyday. Spoke to my roommate Zake about this, and he thought that it was a pretty good idea. Especially if I could get a job in China. The idea intrigued me, but would have no idea how to actually do this. Interesting nonetheless.

Ate dinner, ate some late-night snacks. Hanging out. Browsing the web. It’s a Friday, so taking it easy. Peace : )