5 Things They Don’t Tell You When You Make THE LEAP

I thought it was over, but we managed to overcome so much adversity. In the end, it was soooo much worth it!”

Of course, we keep on hearing this about those who’ve taken the great leap from corporate to entrepreneur, right? The insane difficulty and the inevitable phoenix-like rise to the top.

But what exactly makes it difficult? What are the exact changes felt?

I’d like to highlight some of the things I felt and observed when I made my own leap, almost exactly 3 years ago today:

1) I WAS DOUBTING PETER

From ten years of structured work with a boss, I suddenly now called ALL the shots. I went from doing final interviews and creating performance management systems as an HR Manager to suddenly deciding what to build, who to market to, how to handle finances, and how exactly to spend my time.  There was nothing in corporate that could’ve prepared me for it.

I remember smiling and facing the STORM team to tell them I was going to be fulltime: about how excited I was and we’d get to do all sorts of things. While I was confident and optimistic, I was at the same time wracked with doubt.

What if I’m wrong?

In retrospect, having a team to lead also helped a lot: you’re forced to live up to the confidence you WANT to exude around them.

After some time, did end up getting used to it, largely because no matter what happens, you realize you don’t get fired.

Now, there is still doubt, with the difference being the knowledge that doubt really comes with the territory of doing new things. So the focus becomes – let’s do this fast, so if it doesn’t work, we learn and adjust fast as well.

2) THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A SALARY

The whole point of a salary revolves around its consistency – every two weeks you get it, and what you get is exactly the same month after month.

If that’s what a salary is, then sorry, but you don’t get that.

I thought I gave myself a salary when I started fulltime for STORM, but it turns out, what I gave myself was an upper limit:  I would usually get something lower, and what I would get would vary each time.

Why? Simply because startups struggle in their first years, if not altogether folding.

It was the time when I understood when A/R was really all about. Sometimes, clients just don’t pay on time – and it could be for inane reasons (like “the accountant is absent” or “the check is in the drawer and the person with the key is on VL”). Of course, they don’t really know (or care) that you’ve been banking on that check for everything.

Gosh, I hate receivables.

 

3) YOU NEED YOUR SPOUSE TO BE THERE FOR YOU

So in essence I told my wife, who just gave birth to our firstborn, that I was going to take an 85% pay cut to pursue my dream during the recession.

She had EVERY RIGHT to say something like:

“WTH?! Did you hit your head somewhere? Think about your son! Wait a bit first until the firm is more stable to give you higher pay”

And you know what? Thinking about it now, if she told me that, I probably would not have taken my leap when I did. And not doing so at that time would have killed STORM.

She continued to believe in me during the times relatives doubted my choice, or when there were more bad news, or when we had to tighten our belts.

My wife had faith in me.

And that made all the difference.

4) YOU WILL NEED TO FIRE FRIENDS

As a former HR leader, it was usual for me to fire people. That doesn’t mean it would be any easier in my own firms. In fact, it’s harder, because in a smaller team, I worked directly with everyone. They’re friends.

There will be hiring mistakes though. I think one big weakness we have had in STORM is that Pao and I have cream puffs for hearts, so we delay and delay.

Indecision like this can kill startups, because it isn’t built to carry deadweight like larger firms can. You just need to realize any delay isn’t doing anyone a favor and just do it.

5) IT’S TOUGH TO LEARN FROM MISTAKES

The cliché is true – mistakes will be where you will learn from the most. What they don’t say is how difficult this is to go through. In a lot of times, the lesson gets ingrained in you precisely because the bitter pill was tough to swallow.

In a startup, a mistake can make you miss a pay period. A bad hire can lead to extreme frustration. It can mean the loss of an important client. A series of mistakes can lead to further self-doubt and paralysis.

But this is something you have to learn to deal with and embrace, because it WILL happen. I do think these battle scars are precisely what makes an entrepreneur a true entrepreneur.

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How we are ALL in danger of doing the dodo – and what to do about it

Uhm…no offense dodo, but you even looked the part!

Unfortunately for the species, the dodo remains synonymous for concepts or objects which have become obsolete due to failure to evolve.

When I graduated in 1997, the following industries were kings of the the roost. They are now dead or are shadows of their former selves – all in just 15 years.

Record Stores – remember shops like Odyssey and Music One?

Today, everything in this room can fit in the phone in my pocket

Newspapers – My dad used to get 3 newspapers for the house daily. And that Sunday Manila Bulletin edition was thicker than the Bible.  Now? My dad goes online for his news. Manila Bulletin is now as thick as a comic book.

Video and Game Rentals – ACA Video anyone?

Landlines – I’m not really sure why we got a landline for our house. I think it was because of the bundled package with the internet. It NEVER rings anymore.

Point and Shoot Cameras (not SLR’s) – the lining was on the wall when the smartphone camera specs started getting better and better. Then the iPhone 4-S came out and was essentially the straw which broke the camel’s back.

Photo Developing Shops – These shops seemed to be in every other commercial block at one point. Now you hardly see one.

Encyclopedias – Remember Collier’s, World Book, and Britannica?

These are some of the industries which I think would be in quick decline from hereon:

The PC – Have you seen how cheap laptops now are? It’s also worth noting that the Macs, while still selling well, are now Apple’s lowest-selling machines next to phones and tablets.

Book Publishing – Did you know you can now self-publish in Amazon? (and according to a lot of authors, make MORE money)

Brick and Mortar Bookstores – I used to think, “There would always be a need for a book! It’s a different feeling to turn actual pages.” Then I got an iPad and was introduced to ebooks and Amazon online. From buying a book almost every month just 2 years ago, I haven’t bought a physical book ever since.

(What do you think is on the verge? Hit the comments!)

It’s not surprising that we see industries come and go. What is staggering to observe is the rate of human adoption – and therefore, disruption. How much time did it take for books to gain prominence? Hundreds of years. What about newspapers? Landlines? Record shops? Cameras? The PC? Decades.

Now? You can change the world (and make something obsolete) in months, or even weeks. Just visit the likes of techcrunch and mashable to find proof.

What does this mean?

No one’s job is safe. 

Nowadays, it’s dangerous to become a one-trick pony. (Hello, cobol programmers) You have to be a lifelong learner.

Nowadays, you have to become an expert in becoming an expert. You have to do it fast, too.

Nowadays, you have to deal with the ambiguity that comes when technology disrupts markets every other week.

Flexibility, learning fast, and managing ambiguity?

Sounds awfully like what an entrepreneur does.

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The Shy-Guy’s Guide to Awesome Networking, Part 2

(This post is the second part of a two-part series. Part one can be found here.)

5. Remember, there is no template

No, you don’t need to be THIS GUY to be able to network effectively.

Like in part one, I’m starting this segment with a psychological hurdle. We often have a perception of what a networker is – someone extraverted, someone who is oftentimes the life of the party, someone with 4,839,234 friends in Facebook. A natural gift of gab certainly helps, but it doesn’t mean your destined you can’t network well if you aren’t. Some of the very best networkers I’ve come to know are mild-mannered and unassuming. This is important if we want to grow into mega-networkers: it CAN be learned and it ISN’T necessarily tied to our personality.

Like in growing any skill, however, you have to be able to practice it often.

6. Build, but also remember to maintain

It’s relatively easier to build a network versus maintaining it. Maintenance is hard work. Maintenance means keeping tabs, sending emails, grabbing lunch together, doing Skype chats and all that. How do you do this if you want to maintain say, 500, quality relationships?

Segregate.

Quick and dirty strategy: choose 50 (why 50? try googling path.com’s original strategy) relationships which you find very critical to your objectives. Be sure you have face-to-face time with them regularly. The next 100, perhaps a face-to-face meeting every 6 months or so. The rest? Email correspondence. Build up a system like this (the actions and the numbers are dictated by how much time you can free up), and remember, you can move people up or down your hierarchy.

The most basic way to maintain a business relationship? Keep promises.

They say a relationship takes a lifetime to build and a moment to ruin. Your network of “quality contacts” is a web of relationships. A single broken promise can ruin not merely a singular relationship, but your entire reputation.  Don’t let people down.

7. To sell, avoid selling

This is a very interesting irony I’ve seen happen time and time again. Most of the time, we network with people with the particular intention of selling. The thing is, most people, especially in events/occasions where the person isn’t there as a buyer, are immediately turned off the moment they sense a sales pitch coming. And the feeling is, “I’ve been had!

SWITCH OFF that paradigm that you are there to sell. Instead, make friends. Allow your genuine interest in people to take over. Focus on building a relationship.

Once the relationship has been established and you are talking, trust me, the conversation will naturally flow into what you are peddling. The person will then buy from you if she is interested. Sometimes this process I just described can happen in one conference, or it can happen across months.

8. It’s not about you

Always remember the double-edged sword. Rather than always thinking “what can this guy do for me?” Always think,  “what can I do for this guy?” You’d be surprised at how much more helpful your contacts can be if you are proactive with helping people out.

What are some easy concrete ways you can do this? Send people articles you’d think they’d appreciate. Introduce people to one another if you think it would be mutually beneficial. Give free referrals. Be a mensch.

Dive in! What have you got to lose?

Bonus tips!

– Always have business cards in handy. Put some in your wallet and in your car.

– Blog

– If you find yourself all awkward in networking events, ask yourself, “What have I got to lose, and what have I got to  gain?”

– Contribute. Don’t be a lurker.

(No, I won’t spam you, subscribe now to Juan Great Leap!)

The Shy-Guy’s Guide to Awesome Networking, Part 1

I have always found it easy to speak before a crowd, but I’ve always been a little bit on the shy side when it comes to one-on-one meetings with strangers.

It’s funny that I never really saw the value of effective networking when I was in Human Resources. As a startup owner though, I gradually found out how extremely critical it was to network effectively. Clients, suppliers, co-startup founders, mentors, friends, advice-mongers – you name it, I’ve found them all in networking.

We all know the cliché, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I used to scoff at this when I started working, having the image of a social butterfly in mind. I have discovered though, that it’s not like that at all. To be effective in business you NEED to have a good network.

The following tips are from my own personal experience on how to grow a network effectively.

1) Forget the “user” paradigm

This was my first hurdle – it was psychological. I had to get rid of the notion that I was trying to get to know a person because I wanted to “use” the other party. Of course, it’s partly true. The thing to remember is, it’s a two-edged sword. Yes, you want something from the person, but you are also trying to offer something of value to the other party. If establishing a great business relationship could be mutually exclusive to both of you, then why not?

2) LinkedIn Rocks!

I have always found that LinkedIn is miles away from Facebook when it comes to business networking. Isn’t it much easier to invite strangers (or accept invitations from strangers) than doing the same thing in Facebook? It’s because LinkedIn is an accepted business tool for networking with strangers. Three important things to remember in LinkedIn:

A) Reflect your accomplishments

LinkedIn is wonderful because it’s essentially your online resume – so when people visit your page, they know exactly what sort of value you can give them. Don’t give them a hard time guessing what you do. Say it straight. Use 2nd person. (3rd person sounds a bit too Lebron James) You’d be surprised at how many people will reach out to you through the social network once you’ve established your expertise.

B) Be a person

When inviting people, say something like:

“Hi, my name is Peter. A goal of mine is to network with great people in the industry, so I hope you don’t mind this humble invitation to connect. It’s my hope that you find some value in my own profile. Cheers!”

instead of the robotic template “I’d like to add you to my professional network – Peter Paul V. Cauton”

C) Above all, do not spam!

3) Think of quality AND quantity.

I’ve always been told something like, “10 quality contacts is better than 100 informal acquaintances.” Agreed. For sure.

You know what trumps 10 quality contacts, though?

100 quality contacts. 500 quality contacts trumps a hundred, too.

Yes, quality contacts are crucial, but with the advent of the internet and mobile tools, you can now establish and maintain a wider network of quality contacts.

How exactly do you get to that many quality contacts? Here’s a very important paradigm to take:

4) Be a conscious networker

This is a very important tip, and it’s helped my networking a lot. Networking needs to be a choice – something you allot a specific time of the week for. For example,  I have one hour in a week dedicated to just finding good contacts to network with in LinkedIn – so I easily add 10-15 people in my network through this.  Also, every week, I resolve to have at least one opportunity-seeking coffee talk. I usually ask old friends if we can have coffee, or someone I’ve had online exchanges with, or even a current client. These meetings can usually mean the start of an acquaintance becoming a “quality contact.”

Pay for the coffee. It’s worth it.

I’ve paid Starbucks a small fortune over the past few years. In fact, I was mildly amazed that last Wednesday, I was in three Starbucks shops (and ordered each time) in a span of 5 hours. Yes, the expenses creep up a bit, but when I think of it, ALL my ventures in the last 4-5 years started in a coffee shop. It’s all worth it.

Continued here!

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Don’t Put Parrots In Customer Service

A few weeks ago, I was in the hospital passionately arguing with an HMO officer who was insistent on applying a policy which was so evidently not applicable to my own particular case.

“If we implement this policy, instead of the insurance paying for my fees, I would be paying YOU – it doesn’t make any sense.”

“Ganoon ho talaga.”

WHAT?! I was furious. But I understood what was happening. The person on the other line was trained to placate customers and explain policy, but no true power to interpret or be flexible.

This is inherently why customer service sucks in so many companies – most customer service personnel are simply given a script and if-then scenarios. Invariably, there WILL be cases which won’t fall under any of the planned scenarios – a lot of them. So what happens?

“Ganoon ho talaga.”

“I’m extremely sorry sir, but that’s policy.”

“Let me work on this sir, I’ll put you on hold.” (I’ve had a service put me on hold before for an hour)

A friend of mine told me before that the root cause of this was structural – the product management group is oftentimes separated from the group which does customer service. It gets worse in this outsourcing age – the customer service group can be in an entirely separate company. Structurally, customer service would NOT have easy access to information, nor would they be in a position to make any calls about how to interpret a policy for a specific customer incident.

The problem is, customer service IS a part of the product.

This is why I love Citibank Phone Bankers – I can feel a real difference with how empowered and well-trained they are. In my years phone banking with Citibank, I’ve yet to have a problem they couldn’t solve by themselves in a span of a few minutes, or give me a number where I can talk to a person who can solve my problem. I also know they are paid well and are taken cared of – it’s tough to pirate them. Good job Citibank, you’re putting your money where your mouth is.

Any business that has customers will automatically have to think about customer service. How is your business treating its customers? Do the people who manage customers directly have the power to solve unforeseen customer issues? Or are they parrots with a script?

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Humble Pie is essential to the Entrepreneur’s diet.

We all know that confidence and having cajones is a big part of being a successful startup founder or entrepreneur. You simply cannot make the leaps and bold decisions necessary without that certain confidence.

What I am discovering more and more though is that confidence’s seeming polar opposite, humility, can be just as critical.

Here’s why:

1) Humility Enables Learning

Learning is the new metric for growth. The faster you learn, the faster your startup develops. If you are able to create an internal system which systematizes learning, then you are halfway there.

Take a look at Facebook’s 2005 interface:

This old version is now completely unrecognizable. The 2012 version is infinitely more user-friendly and intuitive – an incredible social media experience. How did they get from point A to point B? They must have gone through hundreds, if not thousands, of iterations, small and large. How did they know what to iterate and how exactly to improve it?

They learned.

What is the pre-requisite for learning? That acceptance that the present condition is flawed.

This requires humility.

2) “I was wrong” is a way of life 

When starting or running a business, making mistakes is a absolute given. You will make mistakes. A lot of them.

Startups are usually small organizations, so it is plainfully obvious when a bad decision is made. Usually, it is pretty easy to correct. Just tweak and move on, right?

Well, to correct a bad decision, you first have to admit you made one. Here is where the trouble begins for some people. Don’t we all know of people whose pride is such that they never admit a mistake, and worse, blame everyone and everything before they take accountability.

For a startup, time and energy zappers such as this could be fatal.

For a startup, creating a culture of ownership, accountability, and yes, admitting mistakes is vital. When driving culture of course, everything starts from the top.

The startup CEO has to quickly admit when he is wrong, and then quickly pivot the firm towards another option. The faster this is done, the faster the company can get to the right option, the lesser the strain on resources. He has to walk that line between powerful conviction and the ability to admit mistakes quickly.

This requires humility.

3) You have to hire people better than you

After the founders, the first employees you hire set the tone for what happens after. If you hire awesome people, you create an absolutely great foundation. A great team is everything. To ensure this, you have to be prepared to hire people who are better than you.

This takes BOTH confidence and humility.

Confidence, because you need it to bury your insecurities regarding questions like: “Will they outshine me?” or “How will other people still regard me?”

Humility, for simply the acceptance that there ARE some people better than you and that you NEED them.

(Moreover, great people can easily distinguish a blowhard from someone with authentic confidence. Who do you think they’d prefer working with?)

4) Hubris kills

Left unchecked, excessive confidence can lead to hubris. Hubris can lead not only to the fall of large corporations (see Enron), but startups as well.

Overconfidence can lead a to a great many things which can kill startups: unilateral decision-making, not listening to customers and partners, a false sense of entitlement, resting on one’s laurels, excessive self-rewarding, refusal to accept the real situation, denial of probable consequences, and so on. This has led to the splitting of several founding teams I know – when one or more of the founders falls into the hubris trap.

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Judo on Curveballs

Three days ago, I was feeling a wee bit nervous. I was set to undergo laparoscopic cholecystectomy – I needed to have my gall bladder removed.

I was admitted to the hospital at around 8pm, with my pregnant wife accompanying me. My operation was set at 10am of the next day. When we got to my room, I started unpacking our stuff when Pauline excused herself to go to the comfort room.

When Pauline got out, she had a smirky look on her face. “I have something to tell you,” she said.

“What is it?” I asked, totally not prepared for what she was about to say.

“My water broke.”

Life just threw us a curveball.

We smiled to one another, chalked it up to God’s timing and sense of humor, and then went to work. We split a set of phone numbers and called a lot of people:

The nurse’s station to ask for a wheelchair to take Pauline to the Delivery Room.

My surgeon and anesthesiologist to cancel the procedure.

My healthcard to cancel the process.

The admitting section to cancel my admission and to process my wife’s admission.

Our parents to tell them about their new, impending grandchild.

Our friends to extend prayers and include not only me, but mother and baby.

Then it was off to the races. I started going around the hospital to fix the paperwork, and then Pauline was wheeled to the delivery room. Soon, I was called to the delivery room myself.

In just over 2 short, exhilarating hours, I was a father to my newest startup, Siena.

Curveball. 

You know it’s coming. You don’t know when. You don’t know how. You don’t know in what shape or form. But yeah, you know it’s coming.

Something that changes everything. 

Yes, you can try anticipating it, resisting it, or even “risk managing” it. You can even try crying over it with the hope it goes away if you cry hard enough (hello, recording industry!).

My advice is to apply JUDO on it. Embrace it. Move with it. Flow with it. Smile.

While the startup is highly vulnerable to the curveball, it also has to realize that it DEPENDS on the curveball. Entrepreneurs and startups are created when they pounce upon a thrown curveball.

Are millions of people suddenly buying millions of apps over mobile? Pounce.

Did a big regulation just change? Pounce.

Are the buying habits of young people changing? Pounce.

Or better yet…

…you could tackle a truly tantalizing possibility:

How can you throw the curveball instead?

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The RESISTANCE is real, and it aims to KILL.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar:

1) A new idea dawns upon you, and you are exhilarated. You cannot stop thinking about your idea. You begin thinking of the steps you need to make to make your idea happen. You are on a high.

Then sometime after, something happens. A seed of doubt plants itself in your consciousness. Suddenly you see holes in your idea which you haven’t seen before, and you begin to realize how difficult it would be to fill them. You begin to realize you might not have time for all this. You begin to think of the huge scale of work you have to do to accomplish your idea. Soon, you conclude that your idea wasn’t so “hot” after all, and chalk it up to “momentary foolishness.”

2) You have a huge project you need to do that’s absolutely vital to your dreams, your fulfillment, or your passions. It could be finally writing that book, or pursuing that startup idea, or creating that app, or pursuing that killer project idea you’ve always wanted to do in your corporate job. So you set the stage. “When I get home, I will lock myself in my room, face my laptop, and start on my project at 7:30 pm sharp.” Then you start. Oddly, despite all your motivation, you CANNOT start. You do check your email. You check your Facebook page. Then everyone else’s. Twitter. Youtube. You take a bath first. You find yourself doing everything humanly possible EXCEPT that particular thing you WANT to do. Finally, it is 12:00 midnight and you are exhausted. So you say to yourself, tomorrow! And the cycle begins anew.

3) New Year comes and you have 2-3 resolutions which you want to do. Perhaps it’s losing weight. Controlling your temper. Quitting a vice. So you begin the year right. A mere two weeks pass and you succumb to the status quo…telling yourself it isn’t so bad in the first place, and that perhaps you’ll try to change again in a couple of months.

Familiar?

Isn’t it funny that most of the time, we KNOW what the next, crucial step in our lives would be – that one thing which we know would make a dramatic impact in our lives. We KNOW what to do.

Isn’t knowing half the battle already? It all then boils down to just doing it right?

As soon as we try though, we find that something opposes us. Self doubt. Fear. Procrastination. Distraction. Analysis paralysis. In his two landmark books, War of Art and his follow-up, Do the Work, author Steven Pressfield calles it The Resistance. He explains:

…there is a malignant presence that exists to block you. It rises up against you to stop you from doing what you most need to do. This force is the Resistance.

And, as Pressfield puts it:

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Can you recall a time when a great opportunity or idea came your way, and you find yourself ON THE ROAD TO TOTALLY BLOWING IT?

I remember getting the idea for STORM way back in the early 2000’s, but it was only in 2005 that I actually got around to looking for partners and telling them about my idea. I KNEW it was a good idea, and I KNEW I needed partners to pull it off, but it still took me years of dilly-dallying before I put my intention into action. I would start thinking it might be embarrassing to tell my friends about it. That my idea might not be worth anything.  Resistance.

Sometimes the task is so simple, like “send an email to this big potential client,” or “talk to this person about her performance” and yet I would find myself doing so many other things to put it off. Or sometimes I would tell myself to sleep earlier because I want to begin my day right by praying and going to the gym very early in the morning. Yet, I would find myself at nights reading unimportant stuff on the internet, watching TV, playing Skyrim, needlessly analyzing my fantasy basketball lineup, or even cleaning my room. And then waking up late.

Isn’t that crazy? When something is of crucial importance to you, there is really an inexplicable force which descends, sabotaging and paralyzing you. Resistance. Pressfield continues:

Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.

For startup founders and would-be founders, this knowledge is absolutely crucial – because The Resistance has killed more startups than we can count. We read everywhere that the biggest stumbling block for startups isn’t financial, nor product related, nor strategy related. The biggest killer of startups is the failure to start. The biggest reason for this failure to start? The Resistance.

It doesn’t get any easier when you start, either. You will find the Resistance going at you full force. Complete freedom with time and effort makes the Resistance doubly dangerous for the startup founder as well. There is no supervisor, nor camera, nor company deadlines to tow you back in line.

It is your battle. And everything is at stake.

Amidst all the entrepreneurial and startup-related book I have read in recent years, Pressfield’s twin books have made such a remarkable impact on me. Just recognizing the existence of the Resistance, that there is such a thing – and it is what has been sabotaging my efforts – have made me more sensitive to the Resistance’s power in my life. As Pressfield writes, Resistance acts like a True North – when you feel it working, you already know where to go: the EXACT opposite of where it is trying to lead you.

Oh, I need to stop writing this blogpost to check on Facebook?

I continue writing this blogpost.

You’re saying I don’t need to call this client now because it might be a bad time to call her, just wait for tomorrow?

I call the client.

Just another 5 minutes of Skyrim, perhaps one more area to explore?

I close the console. (or more recently, I placed the dang thing where I can’t touch it)

Just do it.

This sort of thinking has actually led me to one of the most creative periods in my life. Ever so recently, I was wracked with doubt and fear and the Resistance about this blog, some of the startups we recently founded, or even doing Juan Great Meet. In all cases, I recognized the Resistance, harnessed my competitive nature and told myself “hindi ako magpapatalo.” (I will not be defeated)

(The interesting thing is, the more “practice” you have in resisting the Resistance, the better you get at doing it.)

Buckle up. Get ready. If you want to follow your dreams you’re going to have to fight for it.

You already know it’s worth it.

Quick! Try looking for an unhappy startup founder!

Have they all taken the happy pill?

Earlier today I talked to a startup founder who told me his startup story – he made A TON of money in corporate, decided to retire early, and then one day he woke up thinking that he just had to start something. So he created a company he ran from his living room, which grew by leaps and bounds over the last three years. Now he runs a sizeable tech startup operation at Fort Bonifacio. I was just in their office, which looked just AMAZING. He’s also very evidently pumped up.

On the other end of the spectrum, I know more than a few founders who are struggling. They scrap and hustle like crazy to make ends meet and barely make it. And you know what? They, too, are having the time of their lives.

Some of these guys make it big. You see them in the news. Some of these guys will experience moderate success. A bunch of these guys will not make it. You will see it in their Linkedin accounts, where you see 1-2 years of “President and Owner, ABCD Company” in between corporate jobs. Talk to these guys. You will learn a lot. None of them it seems regret the experience, and in fact, most will say it was the best learning experience they’ve ever had. Most will say they had the most fun in that stint.

It seems that startup success IS NOT a determinant of founder joy – just jumping in seems enough. 

Interestingly, most of whom I’ve talked to who’ve founded startups which have folded are raring to do it again. They might have gone back to corporate, but a number are just biding time to cook another idea. I would love to work with entrepreneurs like these – failure is almost a pre-requisite in startup success.

Try looking for an unhappy startup founder. You won’t find one. You could have a number of frustrated ones who are stuck with a problem. Or struggling ones. Or poor ones. Or confused ones. ALL of them though, I can almost assure you, are having the times of their professional lives.

There is a different joy your soul experiences when it is fed with the pursuit of its passions.

34 Reasons Why Startups are F-U-N!

Okay, so for a number of posts now I’ve been talking about how difficult startups are, overcoming huge obstacles, the bootstrapped life, how sheer hard work is a requirement, etc…

But you know what? Startups are just F-U-N.

I’ve never been more engaged in my life, and now I’m really just addicted to the experience of STARTING.

Here’s a quick list of reasons why!

1.  You can opt not to work with people you don’t want to (either client or employee)

2.  The feeling of that first office when you get the furniture in

3.  Seeing the idea you thought of ACTUALLY being bought

4.  Seeing that FIRST check, cash, or deposit from a customer

5.  Unencumbered creative brainstorming knowing the discussion could go ANYWHERE

6.  Not being able to sleep because you’re psyched about something you want to implement

7.  Winning a bid over a more established competitor

8.  Working in the trenches with your startup team, CREATING SOMETHING

9.  Pizza

10. Overnight overtime resulting in MAKING the deadline

11. Working on a truly innovative idea

12. Working with great people

13. Working on something YOU OWN

14. Getting a sincere “thanks” from a client

15. Pizza

16. Feeling momentum build

17. Great people saying “yes” to your job offer

18. The ability to MAKE your job your ideal one

19. Freedom from incompetent bosses

In your own startup, there's no need to hide

20. Freedom from useless meetings

21. Freedom from the need to suck up

22. Freedom from tyrannical bosses

23. Freedom from CYA culture (cover your ass)

24. CREATING a culture, not merely assimilating yourself into one

25. The continuous process of LEARNING about stuff are truly passionate about

26. Working on WORTHWHILE projects

27. Making the rules up as you go along (or as you need them)

#32 No limits!

28. Less talk, more action

29. It’s an investment and a day job (with a salary) at the same time

30. Exchanging ideas and war stories with other startup owners

31. The slow realization that you don’t need a corporate job to survive

32. The slow realization that there aren’t any limits

33. Current customers creating new leads through unsolicited referrals

34. Freedom to choose what sort of condiments you like for the pantry (like good brewed coffee, knorr seasoning, or banana ketchup)

35. Not only could you let your hair down and be yourself, you could be your BEST self

These are just SOME of the multitude of reasons why Startups are just awesomely fun.

Got more? Please feel free to hit the comment box to add reasons!