A Founders Manifesto

We're founders. So that means we're in it for life. If we fail, we fail repeatedly till we get it right. If we break, we fix it or find someone smarter who can. We sell the hard shit but if we realize there are holes we iterate and treat it like it's living and not like it's made of stone.

Somehow we magically make this happen usually without having a ton of money. For it is the depths and desperation for success with no parachute that clear the air of the wantrepreneurs. We build things always, like artisans. Not when its convenient and the market asks for us. But because we identify opportunities to win, big or small.

We don't need to be in Silicon Valley, or New York to win either. We don't need fancy investors, or offices. We need great product, excited talent, and a unique energy in the air whether it's a living room or the Chrysler building.

People need to feel this in the air, and within a few seconds of using your product. You make this for someone, and that someone doesn't have to be you. We don't need followers we need believers, we create the religion. Oh yeah, and it has to work.

Don't try and figure out why we do it. You'll never find rational sense doing it. If you don't get it you probably never will. We sacrifice literally every other human enjoyment to win, and for what? Because it's what we feel meant to do. We make it look easy but this is the hardest thing ever.

It's the people along the way either become absolutely crucial to our success or one of the reasons we fail. We gamble on the best people we can find to help tell the story, but you quickly learn that the potential for great talent to thrive truly lives within your companies culture.

We also have to remain humble and ready to listen. Being so close to our life's work also makes us extremely emotional about it. Nothing like someone telling us the most obvious critique that we've missed the entire time because we just have been so "heads down."

It's hard but don't complain about it.

It'll all be worth it.

Smart & Lazy

I've met a lot of smart people. Actually probably most are significantly smarter than me. Assuming you grade intelligence by IQ then i'm likely in a very low percentile. Its funny to self deprecate, but its true, by the books i'm not very smart.

I meet people with clearly higher IQ's, better references, stronger abilities to describe things, but they are actually insanely lazy. Their intelligence has felt like a replacement for them to do any real work and they spend more time trying to outsmart a system than actually lifting the sandbags and bringing them to the other side of the room.

The problem is that these smart and lazy people are usually guided by other smart and lazy people that they don't have to do some of the work others do, that its ok to skate by with a good brain and good general knowledge. Most of the time smart and lazy people also hang out with each other, there is something comforting there I think.

Where it gets dangerous is smart and lazy people are great at hiding their work. Making it seem like they've done a lot more than they have. Really good at the checkboxes, "playing" the part, and using the right tone when being asked to present themselves.

If you are thinking about hiring someone, or working with someone in any capacity, its important to think about whether they might be as lazy as they are smart. The two are exclusive attributes.

The only good thing about this is that lazy people miss opportunities, which means you not being lazy gives you a greater chance at impressing or beating the others to the endzone. Play on laziness as a way to capture a market and you actually might surprise yourself.

Cheap Lessons

People sometimes tell me stories about how they are so suprised about another persons actions towards them.

Often, they are about bad people, and are in such shock of an event that they flashbang their brain to comprehend the situation.

The reality is that we are all humans who have the incredible ability to be unpredictable. Including he ability to act really bad at times. Again, this can happen with anyone.

This doesn’t make it right, but it should make us aware that when people do bad things, it’s likely a cheap lesson for a bigger problem later. How you react is ultimately the most powerful result of the scenario.

We should take the small signs of bad character more seriously, those are the hints of the riddle of people, the answer will always present itself at some point.

Now reread this assuming we swap every “bad” with the word “good.”

The same logic applies.

Proving The World Wrong

It's important to remember that no amount of money or time doing something will outweigh what you actually do in this world. The sad reality is that when you meet someone, you can't physically feel or relate to the hours they have put in to something unless they can show you a finished product, or 10 people can refer you and say you should pay attention. If the relation to hours were actually true, we would treat old people with more than respect, but we'd actually treat them as gods.

So the playing field is more even than you think, it really boils down to those who are most clever and can take the situations at hand to use them as an advantage rather than a crutch. "I can't because i'm" or "It won't work because I" are generally the sentences I mute out when people talk.

If all of the above is gibberish, remember this one thing. Remember that you've got to spend every ounce of you proving that what you are doing is right. Start by proving this to one person that matters to you, then the proof will spread, this kind of stuff is contagious. If you spend all your time trying to look the part, you won't even be ready for the moment when opportunity strikes because you won't have the chop to back it. This sentence is for those who regularly attend lavish parties and clubs with the hope of "making connections." Sure, you'll make the connection but what will you then do with it? Maybe you just want to party, that's fine too.

So now that we've cleared the idea that you've got to prove you are right, again, this doesn't mean waving your hand in peoples faces, this is by doing, you prove by doing. Actions will always speaker louder than words.

Once you prove yourself, again, in actions, you will earn the respect and trust of people. This again works on 1, and 1 million. This same dignity should reflect in your product, and in your approach to about everything in life.

 If you do this correctly, you will have the opposite problem where people everything you say is gold. This is also not true, you can and will frequently be wrong, so you then must skew your "who I trust base" to people who hold less bias or are just more honest. Trying to silence the "yes-men" of this world is difficult, but you generally catch on to those folks pretty quickly, and it's more like swatting a fly away from your face.

Think about your work and what you are trying to prove. Perhaps you may even be just trying to prove something to yourself. 

All for now

~ sent from a WiSpa Hp Pavilion 23Cw

The Future Of Local News

News has had a similar format for a long time, it reports to you events happening around the general area and you as a viewer are inclined to watch because you relate closer to this news, and may affect you in a more intimate way than national news. I grew up on local news, particularly NY-1 which had 24/7 reporting. However, like most people, I haven’t had cable for 5+ years. I just use an Apple TV and get my more “local” news from the internet.

I think most people relate to this new setup, and that bares the question, who still watches local news?

It’s probably safe to say that the viewer base of local news skews older, likely 45+, or really anyone who still relies on cable to get their content.

Local news is also the highlight reel of every good pizzeria, deli, or place where people find themselves munching down for 20-30 minutes. I would probably 5x the multiple of people who watch solo v.s as a passive viewer in a restaurant or similar.

What happens when people phase out of local news completely? Being that you can no longer get an antenna, you really are reliant on your cable provider or Apple TV channel to watch this local news, but since we’re quickly losing cable, and Apple TV is pure on-demand, will people really make an effort to “tune-in” to their local news channels over the national stuff?

A lot of these local news stations also found most of their revenue coming from the local businesses that would pay to sponsor the channel. These businesses are also fading, and if they aren’t, they are spending their dollars elsewhere.

So that begs the question of an even larger conversation, what is the future of “local businesses” in general?

I think a large platform should invest in localized channels, kinda like what Snapchat did with their channel system, but really designed for local. The infrastructure at these local news channels isn’t going anywhere, so converting their output to be more mobile friendly also seems like an obvious choice.

Consider a world where all content is shot in the mobile aspect ratio, not traditional TV. It’s probably closer than we think.

Don’t Cut Corners, Occupy Them

I think you generally want to strive for the corners in life, not cutting them, but occupying them. Leaving you no exposure to your back, and clear visibility to the whole picture.

Don’t let other people convince you out of a corner, whether its a shady restaurant host or someone who wants your spot. Keep the corner as long as you can, and when someone else deems their value to the corner, allow them to share alongside you. Make room.

Why I Hate Barstools

l really dislike bar stools, as a matter of fact, I hate them. I actually don’t hate many things, but bar stools are very high on that list.

I don’t like them because they lack support. They require you to constantly be sitting up, and if you don’t, you risk the chances of developing an arched back for the rest of your life.

They also are uncomfortable to socialize with, requiring you to constantly move your head in awkward gestures, while typically shoulder rubbed up against others. Something about it feels so primal.

I think that when you are in a restaurant, and you are seated between bar stools and traditional seating, its because they don’t want you to stay long.

When meeting people, I tend to try and avoid barstools. They are fine for the moment, but always will be temporary. Eventually, you make the choice to pick a seat that provides support, or one that doesn’t. Chairs are designed at their core are designed for convenience and comfort. Stools are designed for a quick sit, and then you move on.

Written from angry patron on a bar stool @ Mondrian S.B.


Networking Pains

Your network is usually all relative to your output. What do you provide and what value does that bring to others, and even more so, is that of equal or lesser value their output.

In the case of "networking" a word that makes me cringe by the sight of it, is frequently misused to pave over a lot of the real qualities that are in its root.

More often, networking is used a sell to encourage attendance. Usually to a stupid event or outing, its used as a way to convince someone of doing something because it makes it more "professional."

Have you ever asked someone who parties alot, "why do you go out so much?" and their response is that they are "networking"?

Or someone who attends a lot of events, mixers, expos, or related aggregations of human cattle to mutually agree thay they are there to hopefully meet someone important.

I often think these are a waste of time, for multiple reasons;

1) It's really difficult to seek value, most of the characters at these events are there because they aren't building a business. Instead, they hope to leech on to someone like you to convince them of their clout.

2) Just like you, they are probably looking for something with lots of upside to their company, lots of overpromise and usual spotlight on names that are equally as depressed, or self-interested to be present.

3) The most common, the attendee who just really wants to have a fun, social, night out. But once again, needs the networking title to make it feel professional. To be clear, these things can get the furthest from professional, especially when you hope to discover your new enterprise SaaS customer at 1 Oak.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Some nightlife employees become real estate agents to continue to earn off of their network. This applies to a few other industries as well. The reality is though, that the successes are few and far between.

I also would take a strong position on the theory that if you instead just took the time to build something great, you wouldn't need the need to spend time converting your network to customers. They would do it anyway.

I tend to find that my network grows as I put more into the world.

By continuing to build on projects, collaborate with others, and avoid wasting time actively "networking", the machine, like most good things, runs itself.


Bi-Polar Founder Syndrome

Founders are a category of their own, and when young, or new, go through what I like to call "Bi-Polar Founder Syndrome."

This is when founders are plagued with a constant back and forth of decisions that not only contradict each other, but confuse those under them in mgmt, causing a distraction and absolute loss of leadership.

Usually, the root of this cause is because of the people above or more closely influential to the founder.

The Investors: Telling the founder what to build, how to build it, and how accountable they are for their cash.

The Founders Mentors: Telling the founder why they are building the wrong thing, how they have a solution to making it better.

The Personal Life: Telling the founder they are doing too much of X and that is causing Y.

These pressures create anxiety for most founders and unless this person is extremely secure and confident in their practice, can so easily sway the mindset.

Have you ever gone to a meeting with a hard stance on something, and then left it completely swayed in a difficult direction? Some would call this good sales, I call this weakness in concept.

What ends up happening is that founder returns to their office and at the next all hands, they will direct with a new "vision" for the concept in mind, they will then spend their next attention span selling team on it. By saying it out loud they are also encouraging their own belief.

Then, the team follows, usually because not enough or nobody is able to speak up and defend the point, they then agree in confidence or fear of their founders action, and end up building something half baked and likely mediocre.

The product they build either becomes incomplete or poorly built by the time its ready for executive review, and founder becomes enraged at the lack of follow through. Failing to realize that they themself were the ones who started on poor sporadic direction.

What usually happens is the founder will revert to 1.0 and continue to build as their initial instruction, the byproduct will likely be a loss of whoever headed up the previous new direction, and an empty spot on the team.

The result is that the team is instilled with a fear that if they too follow the same suit and own a new idea from the founder, then they too have the potential to lose their job. Run through this cycle 3x-5x and all of a sudden you lose your entire team.

My advice to founders is to be concious of your decisions as they impact the team. Don't be bi-polar with your vision, own what you initially wanted to create. If it isn't working, transition with understanding and feedback from your team. Likely they are working for you more than for your idea, but for your leadership.

Instilling this leadership is absolutely crucial to get right, you set the culture of the company from day one. Your employees will follow suit like your children, and you will immediately see the strong from the underperformers.

When Asking for Advice

There comes a time when we finally work up courage to ask for advice. Sometimes this feels outwardly easy, but in reality opening up your ideas to others never really is.

After asking, you typically get one of the following answers;

1) What you want to hear, someone tells you exactly what you want and you know they will, thats why you asked them.

2) What they they think they want you to hear. (Usually overwhelmingly in your favor or postive.)

3) The good advice, the real stuff. The information you need to hear to make the informed decision. Hardest to come by, but a necessary quality in those around you. This may be insensitive to your feelings but thats why you asked this person, their guidance and being was hardest to ask for, but most rewarding.

We typically know which we are going to receive when we ask for it, subconsciously at least.

An important thing to remember is that its healthy to take 1, and 2. Sometimes we need it, a validator that helps make our pretty decent idea, a great one. Good or not, its what we wanted anyway.

When going to people it's worth thinking about the kind of advice you'll get, you'd be suprised how differently you approach it.

Its sad how many people really do fit into 1 & 2. It also comes from the high someone gets when asked for advice, and obviously, lack of their ability to relate.

Something to think about.