5 verified ways to keep your stress in check

My mother in law frequently asks me how I’m still normal after all this years investing myself and money in my startup and still not knowing if I’ll succeed or not. And there is my wife that at least once a month asks me If I’m happy when she sees me overworking myself out. And there is always the same answer — YES . And I’d say she is always surprised by the answer. But she doesn’t know I have a secret! I figured strategies of keeping my stress in check. I’ll show you how I do it.

stress in check

Strategies aren’t in any particular order, but you should have them all checked if you’d like to have your stress in check. [Read more...]

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You Will FAIL

English: Former basketball player Michael Jordan

English: Former basketball player Michael Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course you will. We all fail and we fail many times. But you will also succeed if you decide so. It’s YOUR choice.

I tried to play handball, cycle, cook, write code, run a business, draw..etc. And I failed. Some failures were harder than others of course. There were tears, disappointment, pre-giving up states, every emotion a ‘broken’ person could experience I experienced. Did that weaken me? Nope. Instead I grew and succeeded (lets leave that success is subjective by interpretation for the sake of point in this article).

You too have this mindset

Well the concept is simple. Do you remember learning to ride a bike? I bet it was painful. It almost always is. You probably fell numerous time. Did that stop you? No.

Chances are, if you did anything for the first time, it’s going to be bad and you know what? It’s okay! What I want to say is, we all need to start at the very beginning. 

Next quote perfectly describes what one of the main problems is:

Don’t compare your beginning with someone elses middle.

~John Acuff

This kind of comparing most of the time hurts your self-confidence. That way you are projecting wrong picture that you are just not good enough and you should try something else instead. Be aware that you are starting out and that it’s ok to fail.

The Right Question

The right question to ask yourself is not “IF” but what happens “AFTER” I fail?

And the answer is simple. You try again, and again, and again until you finally succeed.

Here is inspiring quote for you today:

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

~Michael Jordan

So what do you think is it ok to fail? What the real problem in perception of failing is?

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Natural Startup Talent by the Looks

Here is one great advice for talent as well as job seekers from movie (and book) Moneyball:

He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks, he’s great at playing the part.

Spectacular startup success often becomes a game about scouting and recruiting. A common mistake entrepreneurs make is recruiting team members early on simply because they look the part. In the long run, it doesn’t matter if on paper, someone’s perfect. You want people that can actually do the job. That VP of Sales candidate that has 15 years of experience at Oracle? Likely not worth it for you. They’ll look the part, but they may not be able to deliver the goods. And, like Johnny Damon, she’s going to be expensive.

My advice: Get good at seeing talent where others don’t. Search for passion.

What do you think? Is passion the key? Something else?

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Handle Startup Pressure like Hydra

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules sla...

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules slaying the Hydra, 1545 (B.102, P.100 iv/iv) from The Labours of Hercules (1542-1548). Final state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being an entrepreneur requires one to take great deal of hits in its head, stomach and elsewhere—if I use K1 wording. In my 5 year entrepreneurship I saw people come and go. They couldn’t or wouldn’t handle the startup presshure—but every single one of them left in different personal condition.

I could classify them in three main categories:

  1. Fragile—like Glass
  2. Robust—like Phoenix
  3. Indestructable—like Hydra

 Glass (fragile)

These folks are like a vase made from glass. They are negatively affected by volatility. When something bad happens they get broken. They are left worse off then when they started. They are definitely NOT the type of person you should hire on your startup.

Phoenix (robust)

These folks aren’t negatively impacted by volatility; they’re resilient! Just like mythological bird, the Phoenix. If the Phoenix is killed, it rises again from the ashes. It is not harmed by a negative event—but it isn’t made any better, either.

Hydra (indestructible)

These folks are positively affected by volatility. When something bad happens, they actually grow stronger! Just like mythological creature Hydra! When you cut off one of Hydra’s heads, two more heads spring up to replace it. By hurting it, you are actually increasing its power. This is the folk you want in your startup!

In Hydra example I don’t imply you should hurt anybody by purpose—like never! Bad events are typical in startup environment when one person does few things.

So try to recognize Hydra(s)—or any other type for that matter— on your next future employees interview.

What do you think which one are you? Do you have some similar exprience maybe?

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Use checklist(s) on daily basis

A pilot of a DC-10 consulting his checklist.

A pilot of a DC-10 consulting his checklist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a true believer of checklists! I have them for everything(well almost). If you have clear goals then you can further systematize them by creating a checklist(s). You also should have a checklist in your job (not all of them but at least the ones that require team work)

A checklist is useful for 3 reasons:

  1. It helps take action
  2. It communicates you know how to get things done
  3. It motivates

Checklist helps take action

With a list, there’s a plan, and a plan focuses people on doing, not deciding what to do. Also note that on goals that span more than few(lets say for example 10) checkpoints, it’s better not to rush into checklist, but decide which tasks(checkpoints) are priority—create right order first.

Checklist communicates you know how to get things done

In a world of incompetent time wasters it communicates you’ve got your act together and builds certain level of trust (of course goal achievement is the ultimate trust factor).

Checklist motivates

It motivates you because it enables you to see the progress you are making and feel a sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment encourages you to do even more.

Also note that checklist doesn’t need to be made in some fancy software (Not true for collaborating teams—use Trello for that occasion, it’s free). It’s enough they are written with a pencil on a piece of paper. I’ve got those as well (actually whole notebooks of them).

Do you use them regularly? Do you have any tips/problems with them? Do you prefer having them on the phone or on sticky notes?

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Have you established clear goals?

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to go.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where.”
Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

—dialogue between Alice and the Cheshire Cat, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

The dialogue shows us a great picture of every situation you have if you don’t clarify your goals. How can you get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going?

And if affects all aspects of our lives—from everyday tasks, work, business, relationships etc.

I’ll take a look on the business aspect here. Knowing what you want to do with your business makes it easy for you to explain that ˝mission/reason˝ to your customers. That way you’re better able to achieve what you were up to in the first place (e.g. why you started a business).

On the flip side, if you fail to be understood because you haven’t clarified your goals or didn’t communicate them right, customers will have hard time embrace your business as they won’t be sure what you want from them.

One more thing—stating your goals adds to trust factor, to transparency. Your agenda si on the table, and while people might not like it, at least they know what it is.

So state your goals more clearly. If you have problems with clarification (it happens a lot with tech startups while pivoting on ideas)—begin with elevator pitch—it’ll work wonders! Trust me on this one. We’ve been in this ˝fog˝ for 5 years before clarifying goals.

So what do you think? Is establishing a clear goals the right path?

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The RIGHT CUSTOMER — don’t run for just everyone

When in a (any) business sooner or later you’ll start-up selling something to someone (I’m noting this as many tech startups tend to ˝burn˝ cash from some series xy funding irrationaly). And that means marketing. If you are a neewbie in business— as was I — you think you have the best product the world will see and that every user or business will jump in — em… Maybe you’ve got the best product but ˝jumping˝ part is probably not going to happen. Expecting such behavior is a delusion.

So when you are starting a business don’t try to market your product to the masses, pick the right customer for your product/service—early adopter

An early adopter or lighthouse customer is an early customer of a given company, product, or technology; Typically this will be a customer who, in addition to using the vendor’s product or technology, will also provide considerable and candid feedback to help the vendor refine its future product releases, as well as the associated means of distribution, service, and support.

— Wikipedia article

You should form a group of early adopters and market to them. People outside this group should think you’re crazy, or at the very least, ignore you.

Ask this questions when defining the (early adopter) customer—and be really clear about the answers:

  • What does he already believe?
  • What is he afraid of?
  • What does he think he wants?
  • What does he actually want?
  • What stories have resonated with him in the past?
  • Who does he follow and emulate and look up to?
  • What is his relationship with money?
  • What channel has his permission?
  • Where do messages that resonate with him come from?
  • Who does he trust and who does he pay attention to?
  • What is the source of his urgency—why will he change now rather than later?
  • After he has changed, what will he tell his friends?

Play smart and don’t burn your energy and resources on something that doesn’t work. You’ll end up with few unhappy customers instead of bunch of happy ones!

So what do you think—who is the right customer? Should it be a priority or not?

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Are You Accidental Entrepreneur?

Do you consider yourself or anyone you know as an Accidental Entrepreneur? Well here is my view on the term. For me being an Entrepreneur means finding the challenges you have in your life, and determining creative ways to overcome them and (hopefully) sharing that solution with other people facing the same challenges.

Alphabetical refrigerator magnets.

Alphabetical refrigerator magnets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was on Coinvests Hi-Tech Investment conference few months back (October I think) where somewhere around 200+ entrepreneurs gathered to geek out for a day with our own species. It was fantastic! Imagine the place where everyone are so excited about their ideas as you are about yours. Can you feel the energy?! Amazing! Anyway,with so much diversity of ideas, cultures and beliefs floating around, it made me wonder if there are any common traits that make up an entrepreneur.

As far as I can connect the dots the only common theme that runs through all the leaders (be it business, political, humanitarian, educational, etc.) is an innate desire to do crazy stuff—to make “a dent in the universe“and leave the planet a tiny bit better than they found it. You know—”to poke” that status quo floating around us.

I know only one entrepreneur who started off their career seeking entrepreneurship as an end result. Rather, I’ve found that almost all good entrepreneurs tend to be accidental entrepreneurs. That is – they didn’t choose entrepreneurship from the start but rather entrepreneurship label was attached to them afterwards.

The goal of accidential entrepreneur is making a dent in the universe. And I’m not talking just internet techies here, but all professions you can think of. They might be film producers (like Jim Gilliam of Nation Builder), teachers (like Daphne Koller of Coursera) or consultants (like Ryan Howard of Practice Fusion). What they have in common is “reaction point“—they had this problem punchim them in the face constantly day in and day out, consuming their every thought, until they had enough, put everything else aside and start punching back. At this moment in time, where the problem became the challenge, whether it was their intention or not, they become an Accidental Entrepreneurs.

This is my definition of term Accidental Entrepreneur.  In the comments, I’d love to hear how you guys/gals define the term Accidental Entrepreneur?

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Can you do your best on your worst day?

I know I can’t! Or sometimes I even refuse to! But sometimes I suceed – it takes effort and practice to master this.

Being a real Entrepreneur means being able to do the work on a bad day.”

Remarkably successful people don’t make excuses. They forge ahead, because they know establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort. They know how easy it is to instantly create a bad habit by giving in–even just this one time.

It is said that doing something to become “a habit” takes you for about a month in the first rounde (then there are 2nd and 3rd month).

So stop wasting your time with on/off(s) and start “a habit” for things you do.

I’d love to hear if you have this on/off moments and how you deal with them?

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Work in spite of disapproval & ridicule!

I’ve been places I wouldn’t be and experienced things I’d never experience! 

It comes with tears!

The absurd thing? Some (most that know me including family) people think I failed*! I don’t blaim them, after all they know just their side of the story and I haven’t jet told them mine. But..reallity couldn’t be more different.

You want to be successful? Yes? Ok then – It all comes down to a mindset. Here is mine…

I work hard, strive hard and I appear to be too ambitious. I try to stand out from the crowd. I get out of my damn comfort zone!! 

Pleasing the (average-performing) crowd I don’t worry about. I hear the criticism, I take the potshots, I endure the laughter or derision and even hostility and I keep on measuring myself and my efforts ONLY by my own standards. And they are MUCH higher than average. You can’t even imagine. I keep pushing!

It’s a lot easier and much more comfortable to reel it in to ensure you fit in. To stay in your comfort zone – which is perfectly ok if it works for you – don’t get me wrong there.

Someone really smart once said..

Only the people who believe they can change the world are really able to change it! No one else will even try!

Switch the mindset and in the process, you’ll achieve what you want to achieve.

*If we managed to lunch platform we’re working on by the time of this writing their opinion is probably different. If not, they’ll have to wait a bit more.

Tell me my dear reader, did you experienced any pushbacks in your journey? Did they stop you?

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