As 2011 comes to a close it seems as good of time as any to step back and reflect on what has been, for better or worse, a most incredible year. The lesson of this post is a lot can change in a year.
A year ago to this day I was sitting at a different desk, with a different job, different title, in a different life, and in a totally different industry. Technically speaking my professional title was Exercise Physiologist. I managed a corporate fitness facility and helped executives and employees make better choices in their health and fitness. This area of expertise was in fact my college degree and ultimately my profession for the greater part of a decade.
I don’t necessarily like to talk about this because I know others look at me and think “how is this guy a CEO and what the hell does he know about tech if his background is fitness?” Although I can understand where they are coming from anyone who thinks this way is mistaken.
For those who aren’t familiar with my background, I had been associated with the tech industry for more than 5 years and had been working on a “startup” for the last few. Things had not been going well and to say it bluntly we were heading straight for the deadpool, mainly for the fact that the entire team was still fully employed at their current job. Not all was lost as those years allowed me to study the industry, achieve a basic understanding of the web and learn what startup life was all about even if it was from outside of the window looking in. The most difficult part of it all was feeling like I was sitting on both sides of the fence, not being able to make the leap. And it was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.
Until something happened. I finally gave in to my pain, got tired of all the frustration and I decided to finally pick the right side of the fence and ended up making the leap. I quit my full time job to pursue entrepreneurship and become a real founder. This felt great, I finally made the decision… except I had no idea where I was going and where I would end up. All I knew was I didn’t want to be where I was currently on that spring day.
The craziest thing about jumping is what happens mid-air.
For those of you who might have been following my path, you’ll know I took to writing this summer and ended up finding a few channels where people could find and read my words. In an amazing turn of events, suddenly people from around the world were reaching out to me asking for my prospective on technology, social media, the web and inquiring my interest in possible professional partnerships. I was suddenly the expert! After considering numerous offers, I ended up connecting with some local guys here in Seattle and accepting an opportunity to form a company.
Today I am CEO of Seconds, an emerging mobile messaging and commerce startup with a pretty damn cool product and promising vision.
Your Future is more important than your past
I love this question…. “So what’s your background?” … especially as I sit across from a veteran investor during a meeting as we are about to review our company and our product. “Shit… how do I answer this one without totally ruining my credibility?” is what I am actually thinking.
I understand their logic as they inquire about my past. If someone has a Ivy league past, a Stanford degree, an MBA or previous startup experience with a successful exit it is a qualifier in the mind of an investor. It is proof positive this person has relevant industry experience and basically they pass the sniff test. The investor is just mitigated the risk (check). Yet, a strong argument can be made for some of the best entrepreneurs coming out of nowhere to change the world.
I am here to tell you entrepreneurship is not about where you came from, it’s about where you are going.
It is the most important thing I learned by jumping this year. You must determine where you are going. No matter your background you must figure out where you are going, refine it and become crystal clear on what you are building and why. Who cares about your past… Most of us are not very proud of what we have done in the past and look forward to where we are going. If that is the case with you, just focus on where you are going because it’s way more powerful than your resume will ever be.
Never, ever, ever…..ever think you are not capable of doing something. You just need to set your mind to it and get up everyday determined to chip away at whatever/whomever is holding you back.
As Tom Petty would say I am learning to fly . Or was it Pink Floyd? Either one… I am damn glad I jumped!