Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Be Stubborn

I like to draw paralells in life. It helps me deepen my understanding about things, simple or complex, but more importantly, it often opens up different angles for looking at ideas or problems. I'm a runner. I'm not new to running, but I am new to putting any distance to it. I plan to run the 30k around the bay road race in Hamilton on the 30th of March. I learned the hard way that you don't just decide to go from 10 or 15 k to trying out the 30, and I ended up in tears at km 23 of my pre-run of the course. There is a plan to getting to the 30k; it's been cooked up by a specialist who does these things, and it is a menu of runs of different lengths and speed that should get you through the race sans tears.
It's important to note that this is Canada. More important is that the training plan takes you running 4-5 days a week through the months of January, February, and now, March. This particular year, the weather just sucks. It hasn't just been cold, it's been windy, snowy, sleet-y, rainy, ice pellet-y. In my lifetime I don't recall such a rash of just plain bad weather. And still, I run. Why? Because I want the goal. I set the goal, I want the goal. Heck, I'm not even looking forward to the running part. The course isn't nice, it ends in hills, there's going to be 5549 other people jostling around me, and I don't have a running partner. BUT I WANT IT. Is it perserverance? Naw, that would be too "Rudy" of a word for me. I'm just plain Stubborn.
During my last run, I began to think about the Startups, and my own recent foray into working without a boss. I though about how many people must start, but don't make it. And I thought, I bet those who get to their Startup dreams would probably be out here running in the windy-sleety "snow-rain" nightmare, if the race was their goal. Starting Up can't be easy. There are people who tell you that your idea sucks, or that you'll never get off the ground; there are times when money's tight, and planning or development is stalled (or going backwards!); there are times when vendors can't deliver on time, or what they give you is crap..... and worst of all, there are times when you just plain feel like crap yourself, and you have no idea what you were thinking getting into all of this, and you doubt that you have the talent to make it fly, and you aren't even sure the goal is worth it. These are the times when no "chin up! you-can-do-it mom-style cheery optimism" is going to cut it. I'm gonna try treating it just like the running, with the consistant actions that are going to get me to the goal; the crappy running in the sleet. Me, I'm gonna Be Stubborn. I'm gonna do it just because I said I was gonna do it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

It's all New, Kids

Things have changed. I no longer work at a large Canadian success story, and I'm investigating what life might be like not to be tied to a regular gig; a sure thing. But it's more than that. I've stumbled on a new place, and a new perspective, and by finding this have re-ignighted that fire that I was known for; that cracker-jack spark that people would tell me about, but that I thought lived in everyone. Neat-o.

What is this brave new world? Startups. Startups and pseudo startups (former startups looking for the next big thing; the diversion from n+1 product development within their own companies). Ideas mashed with spirit, searching for the tools to make the dreams come alive. I know, I know, very Lewis Carroll. Some might argue that there is no fairy dust, but for me, right now, I disagree. Compared to a corporate world where 100+ hours a week go into seemingly benign tactics supporting someone else's dream, and your biggest reward is your paycheck and not getting ripped by an overworked VP, Startup Land might as well be Neverland.

But as far as I can tell, the world is new for the startups, too. With seemingly endless places to turn for community thanks to the web 2.0 tools that many are hoping to add to with their own endeavors, and ultra-cool (but not in the Swingers, Money Baby flavor; but it could be Swingers 2.0... perhaps more on that another time) gatherings of like-minded dreamers, dreamer helpers (read: Tools and Money) and wannabe dreamers at BarCamp, DemoCamp, StartupCamp around the country and the world, getting the stuff from lab to reality is bound to be faster than ever. Community driving innovation. No bubble-boy, plastic coated, locked up, class 100 clean rooms here. Lay bare your idea (and your soul in some cases) for the world to see, publicly critique, and yes, HELP. Yeah, yeah, your big secret is then out there, for someone to steal and make their own. Secrecy be damned. As Austin Hill, Canadian entrepreneur and angel investor said at StartupCamp Waterloo on Tuesday (and I paraphrase because I took poor notes) If you have thought of it, so has someone else. Do it anyway.