Starting a Start Up - Nobody is Stopping You

We all have a creative spark -- the desire to be better, and to have something unique.  We think we can accomplish the impossible (dream?). Interestingly enough,  we tend to  believe those who have acquired wealth have some kind of special talents, magical thoughts, or just good luck. I think that way myself from time to time. Maybe you do too. I personally prefer positive remarks over negative(fear); it's just my taste. It took some effort for me to see past his method.

Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur 3.0

Minimum requirements:
  1. loves Challenge
  2. likes Risk
  3. In constant search of the Unknown
  4. enjoys Helping Others
  5. willing to make Sacrifice
  6. sees a vision but able to act in Gradients
  7. shares his Knowledge
  8. listens to others but ultimately follows his Gut
  9. likes People
  10. not afraid to express Emotions
  11. accepts criticism 
It is beneficial to listen to other people who have created success, read books about it, and ask for opinions, but in the end we all have to follow our gut -- our passion, and we must keep building on it. As cheesy as it may sound, we can all be a Gates or Jobs. We can create something meaningful. We can turn all the reasons not to to do a start-up into an exploration of our positive qualities. Why not give it a try? You can do it! I don't see anybody stopping you from starting a start-up, but you!

Please share, If you found value in this article.


Find Your Fuel and Burn It Wisely

One thing I've found hard in life has been finding that single thing which powered me in my all of my pursuits. I am referring to that passion -- that love for what we do, and the reason behind it all.  To understand it, you must find your fuel. After years of operating technology , web development shops, and working for corporations, I have found that it can all be boiled down to "creating stuff other people use". Over the span of the last 10 years I've been unconsciously creating systems, designing, servicing,  and feeling great when others enjoy my work. It is that satisfaction that makes me move forward. There are thousands of ways to make stuff others can benefit from or use. It can be anything. The key is to find what makes you feel good about making others feel good. It may take some time, but you will find your fuel. Jeff Bezos once said:
I imagined himself as an very old person, then thought about how it will feel if I didn't execute his dream (his idea), would I regret it when I have years to live.......
So, what is your FUEL? What makes you feel good? If you could do one more thing in life, what would it be? ============================= 
If you've enjoyed this post or found it useful, please share it with others, and be sure to comment. I want  to know what works for you. Did you find your fuel? What is it? 

Thanks very much for reading. 

Francisco Suarez @codex73

Start Ups - You Are by Yourself

I often stress that when we go into new adventures and step into the unknown, as with start ups, we sometimes think the world around us will notice and will come to help magically, as though our first steps will amaze everyone around us.  It doesn't happen like that. When we have a bunch of ideas we would like to pursue, the desire for validation and assistance from others becomes even more amplified. This is especially true with entrepreneurship. There is risk involved with start ups, and it is up to the individual to get through it all. We like to have our ideas and business ventures validated, confirmed, tested, and proven by others. It provides an explainable sense of satisfaction when others tell us "That's right! What a great idea! You can do it!" The problem I see with this approach is that we wait to actually start up

We have a hopeful expectation for something that may not arrive. This can effectively hold your ideas and would-be implementations hostage (indefinitely). It can be compared to an endless loop in programming,  where the ideas continue forever because the condition for execution is never met. I have come to realize that having expectations that others are as excited about your business is good -- to a certain level, but is not good to have the idea that you cannot move without that pat on the back, or that extra push forward. When you do this for too long, your ideas will fall by the wayside. When it comes to start ups, it all begins and ends with you. My advice is to work towards your vision by yourself instead of focusing on garnering unclear expectations from others about what the your ideas, products, and ventures should be. 

Start ups require you to get moving by yourself.

If you've enjoyed this post or maybe got some kick out of it, share with others as you please. 

I'll love to hear from you and help you. 

Thanks very much for reading. 

Out of Your Comfort Zone

I've read lots of motivational, business, and leadership books.  I truly enjoy a variety of subjects. To me, books and other sources of good content should provide at the  minimal, a different perspective. They should require you to get out of your comfort zone. Interestingly enough, I have come to realize that change can't be directly influenced by any content (books, audio, blogs, etc). Although these help to give us ideas and reasons for motivating ourselves, our best comes when we make up our own recipe -- that secret sauce, or custom program,  and decide what feels best for ourselves.
There is really no guide to success or failure....stop looking, It doesn't exist. Instead, build your own as you go, learn it well and execute it.
In other words, think for yourself and step out of your comfort zone. During  2001-2006, while running an outsourcing information technology business for small companies, colleges, and government entities, I didn't had time to look for content on improving or taking operations to the next level. However, I did  learn something valuable, and it shapes my thoughts,  execution of ideas, and business ventures. I have found  that every time I step outside my comfort zone (routine... the usual... that safe place...), take controlled risks, and pull away feeling SAFE, I execute ideas faster and better. I recharge myself with certainty and have tons of fun. Successful entrepreneurs, big thinkers and others have mastered staying away from that safe place, challenging themselves and charging up their certainty every day. They take the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone very seriously, and experience serious benefits from it. Are you creating your own custom recipe for success? Very nice article by Owen Greaves on The Future Of Business Is Not Playing It Safe

Negative Feedback Does Not Exist

We often hear others write or say "I got negative feedback", or "I only heard bad things" when ideas are shared. I believe there really is no such thing as negative feedback. Any advice you get can be used for positive purposes. I've come up with a basic way to go about explaining how I view positive and negative feedback. Imagine you have the task of running a survey across 200 people at a conference. Your purpose lies in finding out what they like, what they believe needs to be changed, and seeking out any issues that may have been avoided. When you are done, it is unlikely that you'll go back and ask each of the survey participants for the reason they selected survey answers the way in which they did.  It doesn't work that way. 

Surveys are a one-way collection method and they are meant to be utilized with  a purpose. A survey has the primary purpose of collecting both positive and negative opinions from a group of people on specific topics. Asking individuals or groups for feedback should be treated in the same manner: 

 feedback = opinion (points of view) = mini surveys (two way) 

When we form ideas and ask opinions of things we'd like to execute or conceptualize, we need to understand our goal is to Ask => Retrieve It => Clarify => Repeat Clarifying why we get negative feedback is more important than defending ourselves by trying to diminish the source of the feedback. Apply what you learn from negative feedback, and you will end up with more positive feedback when you run another survey. 

 A good article on negative criticism: What is the best way to handle negative criticism?

Bad Ideas Can Be Transformed

Whether we have bad ideas, or very good ideas, we get very attached to them. We guard them as secrets in our heads. Sometimes (maybe most of the time) we fantasize about our ideas more than we actually work at materializing them (e.g prototypes, presentations, making wire-frames, collaborating with others, business, organization, group, etc).

Every day, there are hundreds -- even thousands of good and bad ideas being conceived and implemented. Imagine if we could join our brains like clusters of computers and share it's output. This is what communication does. Communication at its core allows us to our share thoughts, ideas, and points of view. We can gather feedback, work together,  and exchange emotions. I personally don't like when somebody tells me "I don't like it", or asks,  "What does it do?", or "What is it for?". It is much better to hear, "Oh, I get it..", "I love it!", "When are you launching?", or "Wow, people could use something like that!". As we build and conceptualize our thoughts, we need to ask questions of more people, gather even more feedback, form lots opinions, bounce ideas more, and simplify them. Think of this as a factory with the high speed factor in place (How to Kill Your Ideas). Don't ask questions with the line of thought, "Why shouldn't it work?" . Instead, ask "Why will this work?" questions. You can read more about asking the right questions in the article called "How I brew ideas like Flash". Nobody's opinion that your idea is a bad idea matters. You have to sort through the feedback and draw your own conclusions. I won't let negative feedback bring me down. If somebody were to come to  me and tell me that I have bad ideas,  my response will be "How could it be better?"

Generate Ideas Like Flash

It is easy to generate ideas. The work comes with separating the good from the bad and then executing a plan. I wrote a post a while ago named "Stop the Idea Frenzy", in which I explained how I managed to stop the impulse to gather ideas, and execute them instead. Some have asked what I do to come up with ideas so fast. Let's see... We talk to lots different people everyday.  This usually starts with the closest ones to us. This could include family, neighbors, friends, work colleagues, gas station clerk, your coffee server, etc). Now, consider how you would like to improve on something that affects your own and others' lives, then think about how you'll do it if everything you think is needed is already available. For  example, money, time, market, supporters... . Once you generate ideas, then you have 50 million people fill out a survey to answer any doubts on your solutions. Well, here's the trick: You cannot do  that type of survey for every single thing you believe could be better.

How I Generate Ideas

I ask my closest circle questions in this context:
  • Imagine if we had a ______ , wouldn't that be nice?
  • If you had something to do ____, how would you do it?
  • What do you think would work to make this useful?
To generate ideas that are useful, you must learn to ask the right questions to reinforce (not validate) your feelings, listen with your built-in mega recorder (your brain), play back your day as much as possible, and carefully mix your thoughts to find a common thread.  When you practice this type of brainstorming,  you will strengthen your skills and learn how to generate ideas like Flash. 

Is it possible to steal ideas?

After a two hour discussion on the subject of ideas and innovation, my mother in law introduced a question she believed I could answer. The question was as follows: "Is it true that the Facebook guy stole somebody's idea, as the movie portrays?" It was a very good question. I knew I could only answer by defining the idea of an idea.  I've seen the movie (good one by the way), but I really don't know the whole story behind the start of the idea , and I have never been interested in the conception of Facebook.  In fact, "The Social Network"  does not influence my thinking, but it has reinforced my feelings towards idea execution and business. I do not believe it is possible to steal ideas. 

My answer was as follows: "No, he didn't stole somebody's idea. Nobody "owns" an idea. You can't patent an idea. You patent the process. A working concept is a process being built, not an idea." I have come to understand that we tend to ask questions which consciously and unconsciously align in one way or another to our thoughts and needs for information. We complete our own theories with questions and we answer these with communication, reading and vision. This natural process helps us form opinions which in turn helps form ideas, concepts (sets of ideas which interact), and vision. The world is not inundated with "idea thieves", it is not possible to steal ideas.   There are many examples we could use around this topic. My belief is that this one in particular (Facebook), became popular because of its tremendous success as a social networking platform. An idea is a thought about how something should work. It is an answer to a question that has been generated by the mind. An idea is  not a fully proven step-by-step guide you can follow through with ease of completion. People have to build their ideas into concepts and then follow through by making and executing a plan.

People do not steal ideas.

However, people have been known to steal a plan. 

 "The unanswered question is the one unasked." - Unknown

How to Use Feedback

We tend to depend on feedback to decide whether an idea is valid or whether it should be tossed aside.  Over time, I have learned that negative feedback is considered to be criticism. There is even a special name for it. It is called "constructive criticism", but what does that actually mean? Criticism is not constructive unless you know how to use feedback to build on your success. Gathering both positive and negative feedback is indeed an important part of forming ideas, both in business and in every day life. It should not be confused with validation. 

I've trained myself to abstain from replying to the feedback of others. It doesn't matter whether I hear it, or read it.  I collect this information in order to use feedback. I analyze it, and put the results into action.

How to Use Feedback Constructively

Ask yourself:
  • Why did I ask for feedback (not sure, different views, spot checking, opinions)?
  • What can I accomplish with it?
Remember: Feedback is not only about validation.   When compiling feedback, go through the answers you receive and ask yourself: Should I respond to it with anything with another question (another feedback request),  or simply thank the responder for their input? Whether it is positive or negative, we must stop arguing about it, and learn how to respond to and use feedback.

Executing Ideas Is Not About Speed

I've come to learn (the hard way) over the years that executing ideas is all about motion, not speed. So what do I mean by motion and  not speed? Let me explain.

We entrepreneurs, creatives and visionaries are:
* great thinkers (over thinkers too) * confident of our own intelligence * unique in how we feel * driven by motivation I believe and have learned from experience that idea execution is all about motion not speed. This is proven. If you want to be successful, concentrate on executing ideas, not the speed. Sometimes we stop moving the ball forward with nonsense considerations trapped within our heads. This is often caused by our own impatience. Rather than keeping ideas in motion, we are overly concerned with how fast we can implement those ideas.

A reader compared this to the story of  the tortoise and the hare. My response was "Exactly!". In order to make ideas come to life we have to focus on  executing (staying in motion) ideas better and not on trying to get "there" faster.  Do not push so hard that your once-wonderful ideas exhaust themselves and end up resting by the roadside. Execute ideas with the determination of continuance.