If you’ve ever watched, The Social Network you know a little about the backstory to Facebook. Like anything in Hollywood, it is certainly over dramatized. And like most things that do with Entrepreneurship, they focus on the idea of Facebook. It’s almost as if the only thing that really mattered with Facebook was the idea. Once Mark had the idea, the rest was simply inevitable.
But nothing could be further from the truth. They had to build it. They had to host it. They had to overcome technical challenges. And perhaps most important, they had to get people to use it.
Facebook was an awesome idea, but dozens of other social networks had existed before. What made it better was the execution. In business, execution is everything. Ideas don’t really count.
It’s also true in life. Having the idea of working out doesn’t make you healthier. Having an idea to ask a girl out doesn’t get you a date. And having an idea how to help someone in need doesn’t change the world.
To borrow from our friends at Nike: Just do it.
“Why don’t you just go work for Google?”
I get this question occasionally from very well meaning people. They see that I work in software and the web and assume that I would want to go to the “mecca” of the web – Google. But the truth is, although I love what I do with the web and software, I secretly love running my own business. It’s the uncertainty and the opportunity that draws me.
It’s the ability to make a real difference in a client’s business. It’s the opportunity to work hard knowing that you are sowing seeds that will eventually come back to you – not to some billion dollar organization.
That’s the entrepreneurial bug.
Growing up, there’s an idea that often gets perpetuated. That time equals money.
The fact is, time is far more valuable than money. And there are ways to make money that don’t necessarily take time. So don’t bill by the hour. Find ways to add lots of value immediately.
It’s easy to observe. It’s easy to scroll through the Facebook news feed or turn on the television. It’s easy to sit by and watch and consume what other people create. In fact, the creators want us to consume what others are creating. That’s how they make money.
But we were meant to be creators. If you ask kids in preschool how many of them are artists, every one of them will raise their hands. If you ask kids in the sixth grade how many of them are artists, only a couple brave ones will.
What happened? We’ve been taught to observe. But today, I’m committing to create.
If you are struggling with a problem, chances are you need to simplify it. Things naturally breed complexity. Atrophy is real and complexity builds on itself. Embrace the complexity, but seek simplicity. The challenge is knowing when to simplify. Simplify too soon, and you’ll miss something important. Simplify too late and you’ve missed some key opportunities.
Decide if you have the info you need to simplify. If you have the information, do it.
There’s a distinct difference between those who are good at something and those that aren’t. I see this all the time in marketing. There are people who are really good at checking off boxes on a to-do list or at looking busy for their boss, but don’t drive real returns. Many careers allow these people to continue to exist.
If you want to make a difference, get good at something really valuable. Not just better than average, but WAY better than average. Commit to make it work. Dig in with both feet. Endure the struggle.
On the other side is success. Most people aren’t really good at their jobs. If you can get good, you can make a difference.
It’s not about your passion. It’s about finding something to get really good at. If you do that, that thing often becomes your passion.
I used to think it was talent was the most important thing for success. Now I’m convinced hustled is the most important thing.
Talent can’t be controlled. Hustle can.
Talent is good. Hustle is better.
But like peanut butter and jelly, they are best together.
Talent + Hustle = Unstoppable
There are literally thousands of lessons from trying to start and run a company. I’ve learned more in the past 5 months than I have at many other points in my entire life.
One of the lessons that has been a theme for me over the past year and a half is persistence. I used to be really bad at being persistent. If I didn’t get results, I’d give up. If I didn’t feel like doing something, I’d give up. When things got hard, I’d give up.
But giving up never really gets you anywhere. The difference between the people who make a different and those who don’t is largely due to persistence. At least we’ll put it this way: If you’re not persistent, you won’t make an impact. If you are persistent, you have a chance.
But there is also some wisdom. There are things being worth persistent about. And there are things that aren’t. Figure out what things are worth pursuing, and then don’t give up. Be persistent. Let everything else go.
I love reading. Not just a little bit. I love it immensely. It might be a borderline addiction.
Knowing that I will never get a chance to sit down with all the great theologians, physicists, marketers, evangelists, investors, and (insert a profession here) is troubling. There’s so much knowledge that they’ve gained over the year that I want to tap into. But because I have books, it’s like getting a four hour personal interview with each of them.
That is priceless. With books one idea can cause a major pivot in your life. One idea can change the way you approach something. An idea can change you.
So start reading.
P.S. As a rule of thumb, if you read books over 40 years old, you’re far more likely to stumble onto something good. The good things tend to stick around.