Don’t stress about being the next Zuck
… maybe just work for him? Being a number two, three, or four in someone else’s organization is really fine.
I want to share with you something that may appear trivial but I wish someone had told me this years back. That would have saved me all that stress and anxiety trying to achieve something that just isn’t for me at this point in life.
It’s not that I’ve set a bar too high, I just set it in the wrong place.
I’m writing this inspired by GaryVee’s post on Facebook, though I’ve been thinking about posting this for quite a while already since I saw one of his public speeches on the same subject.
There is a video from a conference where Gary does Q&A and some guy(John) asks Gary, how can one monetize the attention he had built around his expertise. John provides a background on his efforts, his YouTube channel, fashion business and what not, and asks Gary how can he hook his community and make money out of it.
Jabbing and hooking is a reference to concept introduced by Gary Vaynerchuk in his book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” — highly recommended read. Simplifying it a lot, jabbing is providing a value to the world while hooking is asking the community to pay back for the jab.
Gary said that maybe for John the best way to monetize it isn’t becoming a solo entrepreneur, but becoming a creative director for Puma and making $900k/year, which well, sounds like a win to me.
That answer sparked an inner change in myself — I am John.
Hah, I found that video! Go to 1h9m37s
In the Facebook post, Gary writes:
For over the last half-decade, we’ve been living through a narrative that […] has convinced people that they could (and should) go and start a business. But, by doing this, I’m afraid that a lot of you aren’t putting yourselves in the best positions to succeed. […]. Instead of progressing yourselves professionally, what you’re actually doing is stunting your growth in a time where you could have been an incredible number two, three, or four in a great organization and setting yourself up for more long-term upside.
I can’t express how big shift it was to me, when I realized that I actually love helping other businesses grow, more than I like stressing about creating a startup myself. I’ve been struggling like crazy for years thinking what product can I build to “win the game”. There have been tens of ideas but I haven’t felt love to any of them, neither I felt like it is the game changer.
Second biggest problem is that I’m just not patient enough to spend years building the product.
Yeah, in today’s overhyped security space I probably could have built another snakeoil product, make big bucks and run away with it, but it doesn’t really drives me.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint, there is no reason to mess with my morality and do something I would be ashamed of and feel like a shit in the future.
On the flip side, I don’t feel like I totally wasted all that time pursing that dream.
It’s not like I’m left with nothing after that. During that time I learnt a lot about business, people, technology outside of my specialization and many other things. The acquired knowledge is still there, it didn’t vanish when I made a mindset change. I was lucky enough to know when to quit that pursuit and I acknowledge that while I may not be a great entrepreneur myself, I can utilize my knowledge and potential to grow someone else’s business. It resonates with me, because when I apply the same concepts in existing business I can see results in real time which pumps me to do more.
It also gives a sort of freedom, when you’re not trapped in your own business forever.
This way you can jump between companies, scale them up, and jump to another whenever you feel like you’ve done all you’re capable of.
Funny enough, I’ve been doing this for years, just haven’t seen that the way I see it nowadays.
When you open yourself to opportunities crazy things happen and yeah, not everyone is born to be the next Zuck, Musk or Gary.
Heck, even Gary started out growing WineLibrary and he was just contributing as an employee — yeah, I know it is a family business, but trying to make a point so bear with me. Now he’s directing a huge media company which still is about bringing value to other people and organizations.
Your life can still count even if you haven’t built a next FB. You can offer your services to help grow the next FB and become a big guy in someone else’s business.
If you still want to taste entrepreneurship, then you can follow Seth’s advice, find like-mided people and start helping organizations together. And here you are, a CEO of VaynerMedia II.
Yeah, this is still tough and takes shitload of work, but just so you know, the product is not the only way to hack entrepreneurship, and I believe the public narrative for a last few years have been too much focused on the product, leaving services a bit behind. The same narrative broke many people pushing them into entrepreneurship instead of letting them just to work for someone else.
I feel like we’re making a circle with this. A couple of decades ago, working for Corporate America and living calm life was as glorified as entrepreneurship today, leaving no space for people in the middle.
Obviously if you’re obsessed with building new product, if this is something that really resonates with you, go for it. Who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by people telling me what I shouldn’t be doing and how I shouldn’t take the risk, and this fucking hurts, so I won’t ever do this to anyone else. I just want you to know that aiming to be a next big thing instead of building a next big thing may work for you as well as it worked for me.
Long story short — if you haven’t found your high level purpose, just keep searching and trying new things. Don’t settle and don’t stay miserable fighting with yourself, because that thing you’re doing right now maybe just isn’t your calling. Keep looking and accept that sometimes, the best thing you can do is to quit.
PS. Seth I mentioned earlier is Seth Godin. This is his blog: sethgodin.typepad.com and here is a great introductory video:
or if you prefer more dynamic discussions:
[Originally posted at dawidbalut.blogspot.com]