— Seth Godin
Entering the Arena
Last week I hit a wall.
Afraid of hearing the word “no” from a potential business partner, I preemptively shut down conversations by hiding behind the need to develop a perfect pitch. Of course, this only resulted in me sitting in front of my keyboard feeling deservedly frustrated and unaccomplished.
What I should have done is entered the metaphorical arena by couragously committing to my ideas and drafting a proposal thereby opening up the conversation, knowing full well that the only way to find the perfect pitch is by asking more question and allowing a co-created solution to emerge.
This realization hit me while listening to the TED Radio Hour Podcast on Making Mistakes, where Brene Brown explores if we can gain strength from recognizing shame and embracing vulnerability:
I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly.
Ultimately, the proposal that I sent today was no better than the proposal I would have sent last week. In fact, the delay probably did not help my case much. Moving forward, I guess I’ll just have to take a page out of Guetta’s book, don some titanium armor and join the fight.
I’m criticized, but all your bullets ricochet
You shoot me down, but I get up
I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Watch the full TED talk here:
Leslie Knope. ”The Debate” - Parks and Recreation | Season 4, Episode 20
Battle cry. Let’s go.
CAREERS ARE NOT A LADDER – THEY’RE A JUNGLE GYM
What do you get when you knock the traditional career ladder on it’s side?
That piece of career advice came straight from Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg in a speech to Harvard Business School’s latest graduates.
Laurie has a great metaphor for careers. She says they’re not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym. As you start your post-HBS career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they’re going to give you. Do real work. Take a sales quota, a line role, an ops job, don’t plan too much, and don’t expect a direct climb. If I had mapped out my career when I was sitting where you are, I would have missed my career.
Among my favorites gems
- Motivation comes from working on things we care about but it also comes from working with people we care about
- If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.
You can find the rest of Sheryl’s commencement speech here.
- “If You’re Offered a Seat on a Rocket Ship, Just Get On: Sheryl Sandberg to Harvard’s 2012 Class” - Lauren Landry | BostInno
“Good Artist Copy, Great Artist Steal”… The Importance of Taking Ownership
It is kind of funny that a quote regarding stealing famously paired with Steve Jobs actually has origins tying it back to back to both Pablo Picasso and T.S. Eliot.
So what is the difference between copying and stealing? For me it can be summed up in one word: ownership.
When you copy something you can recreate its shape, its color, it feel, hell, even its scent; however, what your left with is a replica. A perfectly adequate substitute, but nothing the world hasn’t already seen before.
Stealing on the other hand requires taking ownership. A great artist will take the original idea and then build upon it, transforming it into a new entirely new piece. And while there may still be clear references to the original shape, color, feel or even scent, there is no denying that, when placed in this new context, these once borrowed ideas now take on a life of their own.
At this point, instead of providing the typical deep dive into Apple vs. Samsung patent litigation or the current girl on fire*, as it were, Pinterest fueled curation vs creation debates, instead I’ll zig into a personal guilty pleasure: mashups.
One of my favorite examples of great artists stealing is Mashup-Germany. If you’ve ever taken a ride in my car, you know that my love for mashups run deep. While good (or sometimes oh so very bad) mashup makers simply slap two songs together and sync their beats, great mashup artists like Mashup-Germany, are able to weave sounds and emotions from a number of artist across varying generations and generes in order to craft a new narrative. A song that while instantly recognizable, could never be confused as still belonging solely to the original artist. A new original.
And with that thought I’ll leave you with one of my favorite mashups “I Just Came to Say Hello”
*Sorry, couldn’t resist the Hunger Games pun, especially tied to Pinterest’s heavily female audience, +1 if you got it :)
- Mashup-Germany – I just came to say hello from Mashup-Germany on Vimeo
- “Good Artist Borrow, Great Artists Steal” - Shelley Esaak | About.com (Great example in comments featuring Romeo and Juliet vs Westside Story)
- “Social Media Trend: The Art of Curation” - Vikram Alexei Kansara | Hall-Five
Crossing off another resolution, I completed my first DailyBR!NK interview assignment featuring John Harthorne, CEO and Founder of MassChallenge, for their #fixyoungamerica series. Teaser below and for the full interview click on over to the DailyBR!NK.
A breakup is never easy, but sometimes some time apart can be the best thing to inspire change in a relationship. Perhaps it is time for entrepreneurs to take some time away from Corporate America to focus on themselves, find new ways to stand on their own two feet, and #FixYoungAmerica. When it’s time to get back out there and work towards their passions, John Harthorne and Akhil Nigam, co-founders of MassChallenge, are ready to serve as entrepreneurial wingmen, placing clients on an accelerated track to creating the jobs of their dreams. On a mission to “catalyze a startup renaissance,” these two have built MassChallenge into the world’s largest startup accelerator, helping over 111 entrepreneurs raise over $100M in outside funding and create approximately 500 new jobs in 2010 alone. Providing mentorship, funding, and office space to passionate entrepreneurs with high-impact ideas, MassChallenge is making it easier for young Americans to find work that they truly love. We spoke to John about it all.
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