Water Bear. Isn’t it cute!!? Courtesy of wired.com

The Evolution of a Startup & Bruce Lee! Part 1 - The Employee

A Water Bear (Tardigrade) is a microscopic animal that is truly invincible. They can withstand nuclear radiation, extreme temperatures, and outer space! Throughout millennia, these critters have evolved to survive no matter the condition. Essentially the Water Bears have created a shield, a protective protein that blocks their DNA from harmful environments.

How fascinating is that?

I’ve spent the majority of my professional life in startups of various stages. I have probably gone through every experience and emotion a person can fathom, from excitement to agony, tears of joy, tears of sorrow, anxiety, tremendous success, border-line homelessness, growth, indignation, and the list goes on and on. Every single one of those stages were learning moments and I don’t regret a single one.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing people in my life - from mentors to family, all that have taught me ever-lasting lessons, and because of that I have shared my learnings and wisdom with others coming up in their careers.

The absolute common denominator I have heard from folks who are either young in their careers or new to startups, is navigating through the numerous (inevitable) and sometimes surprising changes a young, fast-paced organization goes through.

Lesson #1- Just like in life, in startups there is uncertainty.


Lesson #3- Constant change is guaranteed.

There are many reasons why a startup goes through so many changes. It could be something as simple as the CEO doesn’t like the direction of a certain initiative or process. It could be missing sales targets. It could be going through a round of funding with a Venture Capital firm and now systems need to be set in place that may have been missing in the past. Whatever it may be, it will happen.

No matter your age or experience level as an employee, you should write this down, memorize it, put it in your phone! What you need to remember is that:

As a company goes through changes, you as an employee must evolve and adapt to your environment. If you fail to do that you will fall behind or get pushed out. If you make that happen you will succeed! That is the nature of the beast.

This may seem harsh or insensitive, but startup environments are competitive and talented people are all around you. With change comes new opportunities and new challenges. There will be someone smarter, and more talented than you, that takes initiative. The moral of the story is that nothing amazing happens to people who just sit and wait for something to happen.

This won’t be easy. Changes will happen that can directly affect your job. You have to adapt to it and realize the business will do what’s best for the whole company not just certain individuals.

Being stuck in your old ways or the motto of ‘we used to do it this way’ or ‘we were this type of company’ doesn’t cut it. You will end up getting fired because your performance will be hindered or you will let your ego and being stuck in your old ways get in the way and you will quit. It’s all up to you how you approach change.

One of my great heroes, Bruce Lee, was not just an amazing action star, but also a philosopher and a great mind. He was well-read and had an extensive library of martial arts and philosophical texts. Ultimately, he believed in knowledge of self. I strive for that everyday!

Bruce Lee once said;

You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.

Be water my friends! Or be a Water Bear! ;)


Stay tuned for Part 2- The Employer.

Have feedback? Please email, snazhand@gmail.com or tweet me, @SabbaNazhand

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