The top 5 quotes from Startup Grind 2016 & how I’m going to use them this year
- “Don’t celebrate raising money. That’s like celebrating buying condoms before the first date. You’re being awfully optimistic about the outcome.” — Steve Blank
How I’m going to use this: When I think about this quote, I think about how I define “success.” There are a lot of people who consider raising a seed/Series A/whatever round of funding to mean their startup is now “successful.” I liken this to winning a big contract at my current job. Yes, it’s always good to feel validation — “all of these really smart investors are willing to give me money! I must have a great idea!” or “this big company is willing to trust me to develop an important app for them! I must be awesome!” Like Steve demonstrates with his quote, we are putting our cart ahead of the horse. We are distracting ourselves from our core purpose. Raising funding or winning a contract just means we have to press on the gas even harder. If I don’t put in as much (if not more) effort developing the app as I did winning the contract, I will not be successful. The company may be unhappy with their product, no longer give us any future business, and definitely will not refer us to others. Celebrate customer orders if you’re a start-up. I’ll wait to celebrate until the company sees and loves their product we’ve developed for them.
- “Be willing to be stupid.” — Tim Draper
How I’m going to use this: As an excuse to everything I do that others think is “stupid” of course! Kidding. Draper gives electricity, Velcro and Penicillin as inventions/discoveries that were initially considered “stupid.” I think most human beings tie their feeling of self worth, at least moderately, to how others perceive them. I fear that social media is making self worth and others opinions even more correlated. My Instagram pictures are not as pretty as that girls. My blog posts are not as well written as that guys. My Snapchat story didn’t get as many views as that kids. This makes me hold back because I don’t want to feel stupid. I don’t want to be creative because I’m afraid of what others may think. This will always be an internal battle for me, but I give props to Tim Draper to putting that quote out there as an excellent reminder to us all.
- “It’s easier to hold to our principles 100% of the time than 98% of the time.” — Clayton Christiansen
How I’m going to use this: Attention to detail is not always my strong suit as I like to get things done quickly. While I am a strong proponent of test driven development, I have found myself (on more occasions than I’d like to admit) skipping writing a failing test first or a test altogether because I wanted to move on to the next thing. “I can skirt around it this time. This is an extenuating circumstance that doesn’t need a test.” You know what Clay would say to this? Life is a series of extenuating circumstances. If I’m going to say I believe in TDD, well then god damnit, I need to do it. All the time.
- “Chat is an all day meeting with no agenda and unlimited participants.” — Jason Fried
How I’m going to use this: First, if you haven’t read “Rework” please do! Message me and I’ll even mail you my copy (I’m 100% serious.) We are all too damn connected. It distracts us from getting real work actually done. The number of people who spend 75%+ of their day either sitting in a meeting or responding to e-mails/chat messages is way too high. This does not constitute real work. It also decreases the productivity of everyone else to whom you are communicating with. I’m trying to make a habit of “real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time” to limit distractions to myself and others. Most things do not need to be discussed right now.
- “I’m making $5,000 dog cribs.” — Me
How I’m going to use this: No, I’m not making $5,000 dog cribs. But this is what my friend and I told people during the Startup Grind party. Why? Well, we may have been a little tipsy, but we were also amazed at the types of start-ups that our fellow Startup Grinders were working on (and in many cases, with the assistance of what I consider to be massive amounts of funding.) We wanted to see what others reactions would be to, what we believed, an outrageously stupid idea. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, people seemed to buy our $5,000 dog crib business without much hesitation. I haven’t tried, but my hypothesis of what would happen if I told people in Des Moines about this idea is that they would laugh in my face. It is easy to get caught up in a certain culture, the way its always been done, or just the way everyone else around you thinks. I need to remind myself to spend time with people who aren’t like me and have opposite viewpoints, as well as challenge myself to think about things differently.
I have linked the YouTube videos (that are available as of today. I’ll add Jason’s and a couple additional links below when availabe) of the keynotes I mentioned. I would also recommend watching:
- This chat with Stewart Butterfield (CEO of Slack)
- This keynote by Clayton Christiansen (especially if you work at Fortune 5oo-sized company)
- This opening keynote by Guy Kawasaki (Chief Evangelist at Canva)
- This chat with Anne Wojcicki (CEO of 23 & Me)
Overall, Startup Grind 2016 was an awesome experience! Thanks to Derek Andersen & everyone else involved in putting the conference together!
Make 2016 great & go read “Rework.”