Not Worth Working For

I had a quick conversation with my father the other night right after I had learned that my youngest had fallen off of our zipline in the backyard and really busted up her ankle and leg.

I had just landed in Houston to spend 4 days with the local team here to help launch our new campuses as we take over the great state of Texas (and eat some great Texas-sized food) and my family needed me back home asap.

Ah, what to do, what to do!

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Planning is Guessing

Building a successful product and company takes a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of incredible execution and, if we’re honest with ourselves, a whole truckload of luck. We can have the best laid and strategic plans as well as the most tactically-defined roadmap but in the end the future is just as unknown as what you are going to have for lunch today (or tomorrow).

You see, the simple truth is this: Planning for your startup is as good as guessing. I’ve had more than a handful of ventures at this point and I’ve seen this truth work itself into every single scenario.

It’s not that planning is a bad thing; quite the opposite as it’s a very important part of building your product, service, and bringing it to market but where it can trip up founders (especially new startup founders) is when they put all their “eggs” in this planning process and thus reduce their ability to pivot, to change, to be flexible with their venture in ways that will be necessary.

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Remove the Ego: Start From the Ground Floor

developer-apple

I’ve been asked more than a handful of times where and how I teach myself a new coding language most recently being Obj-C and related pairing technologies and IDE of XCODE.

Time and time again I have disappointed my audience by telling them that I started with the very basics and that I did not do much more than just spend time diving deep into the existing material provided by Apple. Specifically I start with the Developer Documentation and went from there.

Why, then, is the answer that I give such a gross disappointment? Why do people look at me sideways and continue to ask as if my answer is not good and decent enough? They ask me for websites or online tutorials or paid curricula and I return their blank stare with my own. It’s as if they expected that being a seasoned software engineer excused me from having to learn the basics!

I encountered this question once more today and it was just another moment to reflect on this strange exchange and I have discovered the tragic truth that underscores their disappointment.

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Start, Stop, Continue

Start, Stop, Continue is a very well known feedback strategy that many businesses and individuals use to gauge workplace and relational effectiveness. You simply ask, in the context of business (or anything for that matter):

  • What can I start doing that will make you and the team more effective?
  • What can I stop doing that’s making you less effective?
  • What can I continue to do that’s providing value to you and the team?

I’ve used this in previous companies and I am thinking about starting to use it @ The Iron Yard as we begin to scale our staff.

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