Bet on Yourself

Matthew John Brady
HumanCentered

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Thoughts on entrepreneurship and building

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

One month ago, I announced the launch of a new venture, Volley Solutions (which I describe at the end of this article). It has been a whirlwind, with more interest and traction than even expected.

In the future, I will write about the science and art of decision-making.
This post is about the entrepreneurial process and the need for builders.

Mixed emotions

Pursuing this venture has been a dream of mine for a long time, so the feeling is bittersweet, so much so that I have had to balance the emotions of wishing that I had pursued the idea years ago, with the excitement of “betting on myself” and seeing the vision come to fruition.

It’s much more sweet than bitter though. In fact, I think that we are all supposed to be much more forward-looking in our orientation towards business and life, instead of living in regret for days gone by.

The windshield and the rearview mirror are proportioned for a reason.

We must focus our attention on what lies ahead. Even if the rearview mirror seems clearer than what is on the distant horizon.

The importance of building

Marc Andreessen of the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz recently wrote an essay called It’s Time to Build. Well worth the read / listen.

Marc argues that we as a society have effectively chosen not to build.

That beyond lacking foresight and failing to imagine the future… we haven’t executed in a manner that we are capable of. He cites examples in healthcare, financial services, housing, urban development, education, manufacturing, and transportation.

“Our nation and our civilization were built on production, on building.” — Marc Andreessen

Marc’s essay is a sweeping but constructive critique. It is a wake-up call to entrepreneurs and builders.

Giving your “yes”

When my wife and I agreed to help start a non-profit some ten years ago, we didn’t fully realize what we were getting ourselves in to. We certainly understood that we would need to relocate from Chicago, where all of our family and decades of friends lived, to the front range of Colorado. We knew that our schedules would be even crazier, given that we were going to be volunteering dozens of hours per week beyond our day jobs.

But we only recently realized that we were teaching our children what it really meant to commit to something by giving our “yes” and then standing behind it. In doing so, we would have to say “no” to many other things. But with any commitment comes new opportunity… and great freedom.

We have been free to choose our own adventure ever since then. People regularly comment that they are surprised we uprooted our family for “no good reason” to help start a new organization, and surprised that we continue to be willing to take on new roles involving new unknowns.

We simply respond that every organization was started by someone. None of them just grew out of the ground. If pressed, we explain that being open to accepting risks has allowed us to be involved in numerous startups that have successfully exited, which in turn have allowed us to place bigger bets.

Coming back to the launch of Volley Solutions, it has been awesome to receive so much feedback and support. In part because it has reminded me about the importance of mindset. A friend recently said, “it is very encouraging to see you rally and start a new venture in this uncertain time”. I had forgotten that there are always reasons not to do something.

I follow the edict that you should do something every day that scares you.

Not because of the edict though. Because it’s the best way that I have found to live my life. Whether in business, family, relationships, or faith.

And, because this is how things get done. One day at a time.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

As background, I am commercializing technology that I developed at Purdue University and Northwestern University, which allows organizations to make better decisions using behavioral economics and multi-sided matching. The research has existed for decades, but the practical application has thus far been relegated to very few, very elite industries. Much like entrepreneurship and building.

I believe that organizations can make important decisions using information instead of intuition. Standing on the shoulders of giants, my hope is to advance the conversation.

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Matthew John Brady
HumanCentered

Founder & CEO of @VolleySolutions , Instructor @LeedsBiz. Successful exits as CEO @AbsenceSoft; CTO @Opolis; COO @2lemetry. MBA @Kellogg; BS @TechPurdue