For every project you take on, any commitment you make, you’re agreeing to a longterm relationship. Other people will depend on you, habits will form and roles will shape.
It’s like adopting a pet, as a colleague and I say to each other sometimes. Are you willing to walk the dog? To feed it and give it water and be willing to spend the energy, time and money if it gets sick?
I say that to myself when I want to start something new, and I find it helps influence my thinking. If I think of the longterm requirements and still want to move forward, then I will. If not, well, there’s no use to start at all. (One way I’m working to say no more often).
A version of this essay was published as part of my twice-monthly newsletter several weeks ago. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.
Someone asked me recently what was the biggest motivator for me to start a company, and I told him it was fear.
That’s true, if still somewhat self-deprecating.
Continue reading I am motivated by fear
What a wonderful privilege to be an outsider.
With distance can come perspective, yes, and that is vital but distance also removes you from responsibility.
Continue reading What can you be blamed for?
When you’re growing a team, it’s easy for you to get the attention. You have the power to always take the final word. You can always be the focus of the meeting or the team social event or the group discussion.
Continue reading Founders need to find moments to not show up
Facts do not matter in arguments.
This is a big idea I first began wrestling with meaningfully last year — I shared in my newsletter back in June a mess of links I had been reading. Since then, my interest in the topic has only grown — the post-truth era certainly helped.
Continue reading Stop using facts in your arguments
Harvard University’s Nieman Lab journalism trade publication profiled last week Technically Media, the digital media company I cofounded, for the first time since 2012 (that year we got both a profile and an expansion look).
This new profile, which you should read, seemed like a grand opportunity to revisit the check I made in 2015 when we surpassed $1 million in revenue for the first time. So to supplement my professional accomplishments of last year, I wanted to share a few notes included in the Nieman Lab report I find important.
Continue reading With $1.67M in 2016 income, here’s what I learned with Technically Media
The truest goal for starting a company is to grow it to a stronger place of stability.
To battle a generational low point in business incorporation, we’ve built a solid drumbeat celebrating entrepreneurship. To complement this charge, we need a serious dialogue about transitioning founders into leaders, from the one who started a company to the one who is growing it.
As a cofounder of 25-person publishing company Technically Media who has interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs along the way, I am experiencing this transition myself. To give yourself the best shot at success in business, you must know what your goals are. One of them should be looking for opportunities to make this transition from founder to leader.
That was the focus of a lecture and workshop I led at the second annual Fearless Conference, held by the precocious Melissa Alam, who has developed a wonderful community of (mostly) young women aspiring to build businesses of their own. Below I share my slides, some notes and reaction to my talk.
Continue reading Be a leader, not a founder
When you’re building a team, each role is best filled by someone on a range between generalists and specialists. The first is flexible but lacking expertise, and the latter is experienced but lacking range.
Of course, like the term use among animals, most of us are somewhere on a spectrum, but it still can be a helpful prism to see your applicant pool. Some celebrate the generalist and others honor the specialist but both are necessary and nuanced. And perhaps most important to remember: anyone can move along that spectrum, depending on their willingness and adaptability. But be conscious of your choices.
Continue reading Generalists and specialists: when to hire for habits and when not to
There’s a feeling that persists that at some point in your career, you’re successful enough that you get to the stage.
You’re handed a microphone and you begin to share what you have learned, all that you have accomplished. You move from the crowd to the curated. And once you get there, the goal is to never go back.
Continue reading Great leaders sit in the audience
Entrepreneurship has a legacy of leaders who got started early. That sense of independence, experimentation and motivation to be challenged appears to often be a natural instinct.
When I started Technical.ly in early 2009, I had no experience or real awareness of entrepreneurship. We’ve learned a lot, and in truth, I still remain a relatively inexperienced founder, but I have taken and enjoyed this early entrepreneurial experience.
Continue reading Entrepreneurs often start early: here are 5 of my own examples