Everything is Training

Everything is training.

In the early days of a startup, everything is training. You’re alway practicing. Talk to anyone who will listen. Think of yourself as an athlete, always training, practicing.

That party where you’re answering questions from some random person at your startup — 2 months later you’re going to get that question from a rock star reporter when you least expect it, and you’ll be ready with the answer on autopilot. Keep building. Keep doing stuff even when the payoff isn’t 100% clear. Invest yourself. Get paid later.

That random student who wanted to chat, you thought about blowing off? Turns out his mom is a VC. That candidate who you knew wasn’t right, but still wanted to chat? Turns out he knows the perfect person and introduces you after you do him the courtesy of a conversation. Invest. Share. It will come back to you in ways you never expect.

You don’t make your money now off your success now (mostly). You make your money in the next “life”. Because what you do in this “life” (your current gig) is what gets to that next, bigger gig, your next “life”, that’s an even bigger opportunity. You’ll have to earn it there, too, but you’ll never get the chance if you don’t invest.

Most of the money I’ve made, I’ve made via Endeca, when they/we were acquired by Oracle. And I worked my ass off for it. But I’d never have gotten the chance, if I hadn’t invested 5 “dog years” (seemed like 35 years) at PTC. It was a meat grinder, a hell of place to learn but an unrelenting grind. But because of the work I did there, and the reputation I built, I got a chance to take the next step up at Endeca. Invest.

I constantly speak to managers or leaders who are aggravated that someone who works for them makes more than they do. “Get over it”, I tell them. I’ve been everything from a manager of a few people to a VP running hundreds of people to a CEO. In almost every circumstance I’ve had someone reporting to me who made more than I did. They say you should hire people smarter than you. I agree. And that probably means they’re sometimes going to get paid more. And you know what — that’s ok, because they’re going to make me money, in this life or the next.