I hope this letter finds you well and development on that 3 year project is moving smoothly. I understand you’re very busy, so I’ll make this short.
Do you remember that small company that you read about a year ago on TechCrunch? It was run by 3-4 guys, they only had a few hundred thousand dollars in funding, and were charging only half the normal price of the industry.
Remember how we joked about how all the startups in San Fran operate in a bubble, only provide services for each other, and just exchange each others resources.
I thought you should know they just landed one of your competitors top clients.
I heard feedback that this didn’t make sense. Maybe I tried to be too deep and obscure. I thought of this letter when I read about a startup that’s starting to make headway and it happens to be in a similar space as the company I work for. A year ago I read about them and I shrugged it off. They’ve grown, pivoted, and now they are competing with our competitors head-on…they’re changing the industry conversation.
That’s where the the last 2 lines of the letter come in. You say, “Ok, now what?” As in, what can I do about it? Make better PowerPoints? I say you create a new group that innovates, which is what we do: IgniteWithUs.
What makes a company innovative? Heck, what makes people innovative? Why are we most creative when we’re in panic mode? I’ve been asking myself these questions over the past few months as I’ve been able to settle into my position as a manager of an incubator/R&D lab.
I believe it’s running lean and out of necessity that creates the most innovation. Yeah yeah we keep hearing that, but we’ve only partially read about who the real enemy is, success. When you’re at the top of your game, what’s keeping you there? Your “Why” changes. It’s no longer about becoming something great. It’s just about staying great. You go from trying to become the best, to trying to maintain what you’ve become.
For example: Batman kicked butt during the Dark Knight, but Bane told him what’s up. In fact, this blog post pretty much states what Bane has already told Mr. Wayne. Click the link. Maybe that’s not fair. He kind of retired, but Bane makes a good point.
Tight deadlines and tight teams are innovative. Small departments that are out to solve real problems are innovative. How do you maintain it? You do something amazing, so you get a bigger budget, and then what happens? Your “Why” changes. You’re now focused on that budget, and not conquering the world. So, with each success your life should actually get harder. You have to set higher goals for your team and you set even higher personal undisclosed goals that reach to Variable 12, in the galaxy NGC 4203. Yeah that’s right, screw the “Moon”. People have been there. There’s a flag there. You have to reach for a place so far away it’s called Variable 12.
Setting amazing goals for yourself set you up for a personal failure, but they set you up to always strive and accomplish new things. I read a book (Damn Good Advice…) that my sister gave me for Christmas that I casually read, but it constantly keeps coming back to me. The number one thing I picked up from it was, “If you don’t come home at the end of your day completely exhausted, you’re a bum.” That seems a bit harsh and holy crap you’re workaholic. It’s not just for work. It’s for life. Set high goals for yourself and try your hardest to reach them. Otherwise what’s the point.
This is coming from a C student who only tried at sports because I didn’t understand how to try at anything else or see the point. I used to live by the saying, “What do you call a doctor that made C’s in school?…A doctor.” My wife, Samantha, made this flip last August when she decided to become a Pre-K teacher. She kicks some much ass at it. She reads up on it. She learns about new teaching styles. She gives those kids everything she has. She’s always thinking of new ways to take care of the kids and she is absolutely exhausted, and she loves it.
Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.
So my point is, don’t let success be your downfall. Keep going and remember your “why”.
Double feature of music this week. One is to celebrate the title…but the first is just some good, good tunes.