Speaker. Entrepreneur. Author.

You Didn't Finish Because You Didn't Start

Added on by Sam Davidson.

It's not that your idea was bad or you ran out of money. It's not even that you couldn't find a customer or grow quickly enough. It's not that the universe hates you or life isn't fair. 

You didn't make it happen because you never started. 

The leaders and entrepreneurs who make stuff happen make sure to start. They don't stop at ideation; they leap from that to action as quickly as possible. In fact, here are the six steps anyone who has ever done anything awesome follows:

  1. They write down a goal.
  2. They set a deadline.
  3. They get to work.
  4. They evaluate how they're doing.
  5. They make any necessary changes.
  6. They repeat all these steps until they finish. 

Voila. No magic tricks. No shortcuts. No online course for $99.99. Just a step in the right direction. (And in the case of starting, any direction is the right direction.)

Two quick recent examples from my life:

I've got three pals who are speakers. We want to speak more to corporate audiences. We'd love a day where our corporate (professional, association, etc.) speaking opportunities balance out our college and student ones. That's where we want to go. So what steps are we taking to get there?

First off, we set a date to all hop on a call together. We made plans. We blocked time. And we talked. We listened. We encouraged and challenged. We left with an action item that we each have a month to complete and bring back to the group.

That's movement. That's starting. One day, when each of us has a slate of speaking opportunities that don't exist now, it'll be because we started with a call at 5:00 PM on Monday, July 28th, 2014. 

Second example: The good people at Jabra sent me some headphones to review (and write about). They mailed them over to me. I gave them a whirl. I now use them for conference calls and to listen to music while I work without disturbing others in my office. They're super handy. 

I also took them on a recent flight. They worked like a charm without all the wires getting tangled up or getting in my way. They're probably the best travel headphones I've used. For real.

But the point isn't that I got free headphones. It's that the only way I ever get free headphones ever is because ten years ago I started blogging

That's right - a decade of writing. (I've gotten more out of this than a sweet pair of Jabra headphones, rest assured.)

But I don't get to the milestone of 10 years unless I write a very first post. And then a second. And a third. You get the picture. 

So here's the deal: I want to know how you're starting. I don't need to know your big plans or your exit strategy. I don't need to know what your dream is or how your invention will alter the course of human history. I just want to know how you're starting.

And yes, I want to you leave a comment. Old-school style like people used to do on blogs a hundred years ago. I want you to signify your start by doing the hard work of typing something as a comment below.

So tell me how you're starting. And to sweeten the pot, I'll pick one comment at random and the kind people over at Jabra will send you some sweet headphones, too, so you can start whatever it is you're dreaming. 

Drop your idea for starting by Friday, and I'll pick one of you ambitious, awesome people as the lucky winner.

But you don't win (anything, not just headphones) if you don't start the game. 

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Not Everyone is Killing It

Added on by Sam Davidson.

I have a growing network of speaker friends and colleagues and as such, I follow them online, keeping up conversation and friendship as we do in this digital age. 

And quite often, I see pictures of people posted on a stage with captions about so-and-so "Killing It!" at an event. Of people "So Excited" that they "Can't Wait!" to be somewhere. This is all fine and well and I'm certainly guilty of these posts time and again. 

But if everyone is killing it, is no one bombing? Is everyone really this excited? Our best face is the one best fit for online consumption, but surely everything that Instagrams is not gold.

This is still one of my favorite Portlandia clips, capturing so succinctly how not everyone is as happy as they appear online. Take a look.

I'm not saying that we need newsfeeds and streams full of sad truths and mundane musings of the moment. But just know that if you happen to feel sad when everyone out there seems to be killing it, it's not as rosy as they make it sound. 

Whether you post it or not, it's okay to kill it and not kill it, to look forward and to dread, to shout for joy and lament in anguish. That is the whole life, not just the edited version we put forth online where our worlds are full of the idealized imagination of the self. 

(Besides, I've heard some of these people speak, and I know they're not all killing it.)

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When You Solve a Problem

Added on by Sam Davidson.

When you solve a problem, you can create a company, start a movement, and change the world. Until then, what you're up to may just be a nice hobby or a pleasant distraction. 

Successful companies and organizations grow because they're meeting a need by solving a problem. Of course, the notion of "problem" can be a bit vague. After all, it wasn't a "problem" that we couldn't carry around 1,000 songs in our pocket, but now that we have iPods, we think it was a travesty when we could only tote with us all the music a cassette and Walkman could hold. 

As we raise capital to expand Batch, we have been talking a lot about the problems we solve for our customers, be they individuals (B-to-C) or companies (B-to-B). But all along, we've wanted to solve other problems, too.

That's why we hired three teenagers recently. The fact that jobs for teens are hard to come by in general, coupled with the fact that some teens have an even tougher time, led our friends at Oasis Center to begin managing their share of a federal program to help young people find work, especially if it's a first job. 

http://batchnashville.com/blogs/news/14928621-getting-to-work

We needed some extra help in the warehouse and as it turns out, by finding help with our problem, we solved another one as well. (You can read all about what our young people at Batch do here.) Better yet, wait until September until we share more about how we're solving the problem of hunger in America. 

We like to think of companies, programs, groups, churches, and organizations in terms of their name, their bottom line, or their marketing savvy. But until any of these groups solve a problem, they're not doing much. And they may not be around for long. Sometimes, as referenced above, the problems, will be nicely trumped up, but any successful entity is ultimately in the problem solving business.

This week, take stock of your work, your business, your goals, and your mission. Talk about it all in the context of a problem you're solving. Because once people know you can solve their problem, well, they'll line up to pay for that.

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I Dare You To Move

Added on by Sam Davidson.

My friend and colleague Caroline remarked the other day how quickly the year has gone by for her, a consequence (and benefit?) of life at our start-up. "Welcome to this wild world," I told her, knowing that start-up life is often fast paced and anything but ordinary.

As it turns out, when we dare to move, to make a leap or take a chance, things move with us. Time speeds up. Progress happens. Things change. 

So, are you moving? 

Things move when we do. Sure, change happens without us, but when it does, we may barely notice, complaining that we never see or get in on the action. Getting in on the exciting action of possibility requires us to move. To shift. To sweat, hustle, try, and repeat.

There are those who sit on the shoreline with empty sand pails, waiting for it to rain so they can be filled. They don't even realize there's an entire ocean nearby, and all it requires is wading into the unknown to access more than they'll ever need.

Don't sit still this weekend, the rest of the month, or for the rest of your life. I dare you to move and experience all you were meant to be and do. 

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Let's Go Forward

Added on by Sam Davidson.

This comic nearly froze me in my pedaling tracks (I catch up on blog reading while on the stationary bike). Go scroll through it now.

The single line of copy (We go forward) is as haunting as it is truthful. 

We go forward without the support of those who got us this far.
We go forward with the memory of those who inspired us.
We go forward when it seems like the jump can't be done.
We go forward when only our heart tells us to.
We go forward when it's the hardest decision we'll ever make.
We go forward because we're not going back.
We go forward because that's the direction that life and work march.
We go forward while not forgetting where we've been.
We go forward alone.
We go forward.

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