One of my big goals for 2012 is to give back. I have learned so much over the last 17 years launching and running tech startups that I now just want to share as much of what I have learned with as many people as possible. I have signed up to help many of the local LA startup accelerators, spoken individually and on panels and mentored founders 1-1. It has been a very busy last few weeks but also rewarding. In Oprah Winfrey’s 2008 Stanford Commencement Speech she said that “in order to be truly happy you must give back.” She was right. It feels great.
I have been focused on teaching the fundamentals that we sometimes forget when starting companies. It should not be about valuations, pivots and exits as much as building something of lasting value that will leave a great legacy. I had the pleasure of speaking to the current MuckerLab class and left them with these 3 Great Things that I consider to be the core building blocks of a great product, service or organization.
3 Great Things
1) Find your purpose
You have to work toward some greater purpose in life in order to be truly happy. No amount of money, stature, fame or material possessions will get you there. Unfortunately it takes a while for people to realize this and they chase the wrong things for a good portion of their life. How do you find your purpose? You have to look to your past. What have you done? What skills have you learned? What experience do you have? Use that as a starting point. Your past has made you who you are today and will help define who you will be in the future. You will find that you are already close to finding your purpose by simply looking back and taking stock. Your individual purpose will be critical when defining for your organizations purpose. They must match. You must know your own purpose before your create one for your company.
2) Do what you love with who you love
Make solving for what you love your number one priority. Focus only on the things you truly love and are passionate about. Achieving greatness is hard work and there will be many challenges along the way. Startups are about survivorship. You want to be in love with your work so you can weather any storm and rise above any challenge. Work with the people you love. Your day to day happiness and success is dependent on them. The journey IS the reward and everyday is a gift. What better way to enjoy the journey than with people you love to work with.
3) Self Test
Don’t worry or Alpha’s or Beta’s until you have done the Self Test. The best products, services and organizations were built to solve a need. That need is usually identified by someone and that someone should be you. You do not need 10, 50 or even 100 people to tell you if a feature is good or bad, you just need you.
If you want to create a new startup, improve the one you are working on or just be better at your current job find a way to use these three great things. Let me know how it goes.