The thing about being an entrepreneur, the thing I love about it more than anything else, is that you’re never focused on any one single thing for an extended period of time.
With the product, you’re constantly pushing envelopes and breaking paradigms and leaning and disrupting and whatever other cliche you can substitute for trying to make sure the way you do things is different and better than the way everyone else does (roughly) the same thing.
With the business, one day you’re working on fixes and the next you’re on sales calls and maybe after that you’re slogging though resumes or tweaking marketing materials.
I don’t even enjoy doing any of those things I just mentioned, but I can be pretty freaking good at them for a short while if I can justify how those things will inch my company forward.
And some days, I just don’t want to code or otherwise make the product better. I want to make logos, because it’s not making product. Or maybe I want to take a 20-minute brain break and write a 500-word dump on entrepreneurship.
Well, that explains a lot.
My point is, sometimes I think the main reason I’m an entrepreneur is because if my job was to do the same thing day after day for months or years on end and just try to do it better, faster, and with an improved margin, I’d hate every minute of every work day.
I also think this is why most nine-to-five people watch the clock — because humans just aren’t built to be soft machines. We’re not meant to do the same repetitive task over and over again. We’re not good at it. We get carpal tunnel and restless leg.
But there’s also a side of us that gets uncomfortable without structure. There’s a part of each of us that likes to know what’s coming, how difficult it’s going to be, and when it’s going to end. We like goals that we can visualize. We LOVE goals that we can quantify.
So I totally understand why people go to events with titles like “Cold Calling Your Way to Sales Success” or “12 Things You Shouldn’t Do During Open Heart Surgery.” They’re necessary in order to make one better at that important thing that they do.
Especially the latter.
Entrepreneurs aren’t like this — and this is why I chose not to slap a topic on the ExitEvent Startup Social, even a monthly rotating topic.
If the Startup Social was about, say, perfecting your investor pitch, well, it sounds like a really good idea. I’d know exactly what I was delivering to you and could sell it to you with zingers like:
“Learn what investors like to hear from entrepreneurs who have told investors things they like to hear!”
“Pick up critical/essential/valuable/life-altering skills for raising money to grow your business!”
“Discover the secrets of successful entrepreneurs. And by successful, I mean, they raised money!”
But you’d sure as hell know what you were in for every time you showed up, which would be the one and only time you showed up, because:
A) Hopefully, you’re going to take maybe an hour or two, once, ever, to perfect your investor pitch, sticking pretty much to format and etiquette. Anything more than that and you’re likely wasting your time.
B) Every entrepreneur and every startup and every product is different. If I were to spend an hour with you working on your investor pitch, I’d have to take the first 50 minutes to just listen to what it is you do.
So instead of changing the content, I changed the model. Instead of deciding what you wanted to hear and inviting you all to hear it, I put all of you in a room once a month and let you, individually, figure out what’s best going to help you.
For some of you, it’s in-depth discussions about issues you’re having with traction or growth. For others, it’s making a connection that may lead to a partnership or hire down the road. For still others, it’s blowing off a couple hours once a month with free beer because that’s the only time you get to do that.
Sadly, that last one has been me more than I care to admit.
But that’s the awesome thing about the Social, in my mind. Sometimes I’m there to hang out, sometimes I’m there to figure out, and sometimes I’m there to help out. In any case, I’ve learned something each and every time.
I hope you come by some time and do the same, wherever your focus happens to be at the time.