Kevin Koym describes a quick and easy exercise to help you focus your efforts and stay reminded of your “why”. He provides examples and stories to support.
Hi, this is Kevin Koym with Tech Ranch. I’m here to share with you another video in the “Defining Entrepreneurship” series. The question I’d like to ask you is… “how can a napkin shape your life?”.
A couple of weeks ago I received a text from a woman named Laura. She was in Munich, and her text said, “Hey, you know what? A couple of years ago we had this conversation and I want to tell you what happened.” Her Facebook is full of photos from her experiences in Europe, in Florence, and her story explains how she got there. It’s a very simple idea. She made a life-changing statement on a napkin.
Laura and I first met when she came to one of our Campfire events and then I randomly ran into her again at a bar, and the conversation went something like this:
Kevin: “Hey, so what is the follow-up? What is it that you really want to do with your life?”
Laura: “Hey, I really want to have the following type of life. One where I feel free to do whatever I want to do, one full of grace, one that feels a certain way.”
From there we embarked on an exercise to help her realize “that life” and it really made a big difference. I encourage you to read her blog post and decide for yourself. Many times people feel as if this type of awareness is kind of woo-woo, but the entrepreneurial journey is kind of woo-woo too. Whether you are building a B2B start-up that has some business-changing technology to disrupt an industry, or you are thinking, “I want to change my life. I want to go into a different direction that I’ve never done before” then you need to really explore your “why”. You can define a lot of this and overcome some of the ambiguity and uncertainty that occurs by just using a simple napkin. And this is what Laura did.
Now, there are countless entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to go through this process with, both in our Venture Start and Venture Forth programs, but a lot of entrepreneurs will simply come to our Campfire events and have the same type of experience. I want you to have a taste of this experience as part of this video. Why is this important? Henry Ford said it in a very simple way, “Whether you believe you can do something, or you don’t think you can do something, you’re right either way.” The theme that is present with all entrepreneurs is that if you don’t have a compass to help drive you in the right direction, and a compass can be something as simple as this example on this little napkin, then you will get lost in the storm. It’s just that simple. Many times I’ll see entrepreneurs that are so focused on the day to day that they forget about their overall vision and what they’re really all about.
At the Tech Ranch, as part of our Venture Series, we have a model that has four different parts. You can see it here. It has the motivations of the entrepreneur, which helps him or her find the right direction and that pioneering spirit to make sure they go the direction they mean to. Second is mechanics, whether it’s the Lean Startup model, or something else, it is important as part of the puzzle because you need to know “revenue minus cost equals profit”, but if you have those without the right motivations and compass, you’re going to get lost.
Third is the culture of a community that is supportive of you. Where each person supports one another. The final piece is to have the structure in place to create bridges to opportunity. For those of you all that are aware of the international work that we’re doing you’ll notice that a lot of what we’re doing is building bridges to help entrepreneurs on both sides expand their network to find their early adopter customers.
Now, back to motivations. This is very critical and can be as simple as writing things down on a napkin, or a three-by-five card that you have, and fundamentally shifting what’s possible. So let’s go through this together. What I’m going to ask you to do, at the end of this video, is take four minutes. All you need is four minutes and a timer. The reason you set the timer is to give the “reasonable” part of your brain permission to stay quiet and let a bit of “unreasonableness” come out.
- Set a timer for four minutes.
- Grab a piece of notebook paper, napkin or 3×5 index card.
- Write down four to ten characteristics – to help ask yourself the following questions: How do you want to feel? How many employees do you want to have? What is it that you’re working on? Whatever it might be.
- At the end, transfer these characteristics to a 3×5 card and keep it with you. Have it visible, for example, I keep mine in my wallet and Laura kept hers on the refrigerator.
- Allow yourself to regularly inspect it, “oh wait, there’s that card again” and over time you’ll see how it helps direct your motivations.
For me, it was actually very simple. I want to have a 10 million dollar business that has a fundamental world impact, that helps entrepreneurs, and has 10 employees to help it reach that type of scale, and that’s right in line with what we’re on point to do. Your napkin’s going to look different than mine, it’s going to look different than Laura’s, it’s going to look different than many of the other individuals that have done this process with us.
A couple of other people have blogged about this as well and we encourage you to also read Jerry Tian’s story. It gives you another example of what might be possible over time. This little piece of paper can have a fundamental impact in the way you’re thinking about your adventure. Whether your adventure is to change your life and go to Florence, build a business that’s meaningful to what you want to do, if your goal is to introduce new technology into the B2B space.
We want to hear from you about this. Come to the next Campfire, bring your napkin, bring your three-by-five card, come to our next webinar and tell us about it. This is what we want. I totally love the fact that I got this text from Munich a week and a half ago, and it was one of the most meaningful things that I’ve received in months – to see how this little process created a big opportunity for this woman in her life. We want to be a part of that process with you. Come to Campfire. Come to our next webinar. It’s an honor to be on this journey with you. Thanks you and with that we’ll finish up today and see you soon.