When opportunity arises, say yes, and figure it out later. Simple as that. I got a 10 minute slot at last week’s #ChinaEntryChallenge with short notice and a license to “say whatever I wanted”. This type of freedom I love. So I took it. Here's what I covered.
I put the clock on myself (30 minutes), whipped out a blank note, and started jotting down ideas. The less time you have, the more important getting across an essence to the audience. Putting yourself under a timer is a great tool to trigger creativity, think fast and with your gut (a super recipe for achieving a flow state). We had young and younger startups around at a brand-new #DIGS co-working space in Trondheim so I figured I’d shoot off a list of high-level tips where I see teams struggling today (especially in Norway).
One story. 4 “soft” ones. 4 “tough” ones. Here’s the list, with thoughts.
(0) A STORY
Of myself growing up internationally as an “oil brat kid”, to #PennState, to managing major pro golf events, to playing poker “professionally” (losing everything, of course - $72 dollars left), back to golf and Tiger Woods mania, into depression as I’d lost my fire for it - and how #StartupWeekend saved my life, introducing me to entrepreneurship and a new way of getting things done. I was hooked. The details here is for another post and the core subject of my talk “Life (Startup) Lessons from an Oil Brat”.
(1) FIND YOUR WHY
Whatever it is. Try anything. The only way we know what we like doing is by experiencing what we don’t like. Check out the book “Start With Why” and "Find Your Why" for more.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. - Simon Sinek
(2) ASK FOR HELP
Startup ecosystems are friendly, open and helpful. The secret to connecting is to actually try - most people think CEOs, cofounders, investors, and “major” players won’t answer “because who are you, anyway?” type of attitude. You are wrong. Most WILL respond since most don’t actually try. Remember that.
(3) BUILD YOUR TEAM
Of cofounders, ambassadors, investors, supporters, people who love what you do. We are stronger together, always. If you don’t know how, number 2 helps.
Build your tribe - early.
(4) FOCUS ON BALANCE
Not everything is about hustling your startup, getting sales and turning into a unicorn overnight. Schedule a walk in the park in your calendar just like you would any other meeting - and commit to it - just like you would any other meeting. It’s important. You are a beautiful, light being fighting a system that wants you to fail at being your own, free entrepreneur. This comes with the need for disciple and focus. Just do it.
Align your mind, body, and (entrepreneurial) spirit.
(5) KNOW YOUR SH*T.
This means actually doing the work, actually running lean tests, actually talking to customers, actually building relationships, actually learning stuff you don’t know how to do, and actually getting out of your “government-funded” mindset that keeps you comfortable in co-working spaces without a prototype or sell to your name - for years. I’m looking at you, Norway.
If you sign up to play the entrepreneurship game, then play the game boldly and stop complaining when things don't work out.
(6) DO NOT ASS-UME anything.
Validate it. This one is simple. If you don’t know what it means, DuckDuckGo it.
(7) KNOW YOUR PITCH
And know your ask, your call-to-action, always - you never know who you will run into. If you can’t explain your ideas clearly, to the point, and know what you need to succeed, you fail. Number 5 is a major component to this.
(8) and finally, HAVE FUN.
Keep yourself light, humble, and curious. Life is a journey, an experience - and meant to be playful. Read number 4 again. For those of you nervous before a pitch, remember - most people in the audience, including the judges, are happy they are not up on stage, so relax, most are rooting for you.
Stop being hard on yourself and just be you.