The Blog

Software startups take over your life

Software startups take over your life. This isn’t a bad thing. Rapidly growing a company including simultaneously building an incredibly skilled team, fundraising, and writing code requires laser focus and surgical allocation of time. 

It’s not a journey most are able to take. But if you do, meditating on your personal life is just as important as how you think about your company, team and product. 

Brad Feld is a legendary startup investor who is not only incredibly skilled from a technical and business perspective, he’s widely known as one of the best writers about life in general on his blog Feld Thoughts. His thinking about philosophy as it relates to work in startups is incredibly compelling, as is his unafraid approach to openly discussing mental health, personal life, etc. 

Learning from the best, I hope to do even a small fraction of the same. 

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The passing of time is good

The passing of time is an unambiguously good thing. There have been periods in my life where I wish time would stop so that I could capture a specific sense of joy or awe, but on the whole I have never felt afraid or sad about progressing through each year of my life.

Time heals painful parts of our past. Time provides the space for new experiences, new people, opportunities and relationships. It allows shame to fall away gracefully, and for reflection on a myriad of types of experiences to fully set in and change your life. It affirms decisions you’ve made as the best path you could have possibly chosen to move forward, or forces you to reckon with mistakes you can then use to learn more about yourself and grow from.

To me, the biggest tragedy in life would be to stay exactly where I am. And what better way to fight stagnation, pain, setback or sadness than to use the passing of time to make our lives stronger, more beautiful and more full of life every single day.

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Don’t talk about the work: do the work

In startups and tech, the most successful people in the industry have an incredible bias towards action and execution. Execution ability is the only way to delineate those who will succeed and those who will crash and burn before they ever get out the door.

I’m often amused by friends and acquaintances who come to me with startup “ideas” and ask me not to “steal” them. I chuckle in my mind, and keep myself together because I very much like and want to keep my friends, but there’s no easy way to tell someone who’s never written a line of code in their life that there is essentially a very narrow, almost impossible path to executing on even the most profitable of B2B startup ideas.

A successful path to execution relies on a mixture of enormous luck in your existing network (university, engineers you work with and who trust you), connections to not only many different potential angels and venture capitalists through the lifecycle of your startup—but really good ones you can trust to not rip your company from underneath your feet unexpectedly and who can add real value—and excellent skills in recruiting, retaining, and nurturing incredible teams.

People are extremely difficult to understand on average. This is why there are so many terrible managers in the world, and why the pantheon of hilarious office comedies exists. Startup management strategy also varies wildly as you scale. The team you hire from day 0-100 will look and act nothing like the team on day 500 or even on day 200.

Execution is many things, all at once. Can you not only create a product road map but actually build each feature efficiently and quickly? Are you meeting the needs of real customers in what you build or the whims of your engineering team? Can you ship code efficiently and quickly? Can you rely on and motivate every member of your team–including yourself–to take deep ownership of the every part of the business? Can you move fast, iterate, learn and adapt better than any over your competitors?

So, all you need is a bias for action. And an ability execute while delicately managing 50 different spinning plates between teams simultaneously building and selling an incredible product that customers actual want (and that beats out your competitors, too).

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

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