Some days feel really fast, and some days feel really slow.
Recently, when my friends ask how it feels to run a startup, I have answered, "We have great days and we have terrible days. On terrible days, I feel like the world is falling apart and I don't know what to do. On great days, I feel like I cannot possibly improve on what is happening and I don't know what to do. Sometimes, we are in the comfortable zone between great and terrible, and so at those times I know what I am doing."
This morning, I had an awesome chat with Gen George, the founder of tamme.io and Skilld. She was such an amazing business person, with such a grand vision for what she is making. As a result, I feel that VIVA is not making enough progress fast enough, and so it is terrible, and I do not know what to do right now.
Nicola and I always meet on Thursday mornings to go through the business development agenda for the next week. Since she works from home to look after her two boys, she can be responsive to clients when I am roaming about Sydney.
Today, I felt the grim sense we are not maximising the value from our time. I think it was because I met Gen.
At times like these, I always return to assess the fundamental building blocks - what we can do to improve each of the three key pillars in our business - product, organisers and consumers.
Today, the most pressing need is to focus on our organisers, to make sure that we are giving the best service possible.
"I like your blog. It has authenticity," Adam said on Friday last week.
We stayed on the phone for a bit longer after Andrea dropped off the call to talk about some of the strategic business stuff beyond the scope of marketing.
Everything in the business has been tracking well. I have been focused on the product and marketing, so sales and business development have slipped a little in the last few weeks. This slowness has weighed down my conscience.
"You will never get anything if you don't ask, Horace," Beau said to me in the cab today. "I'm serious. It doesn't matter how uncomfortable you might feel. This is sales."
"So my natural position, and I am not saying I can't be more assertive, is to drop hints and hope the other side volunteers."
"You have to ask!"
We caught up today about our secret project for 2018. Beau had some great ideas that will mean I must go exploring the back streets of Waterloo and Redfern in the coming weeks.
Sometimes I feel like Beau is the bad cop to my good cop. It isn't so much that I am not forthright, but rather I tend to become overly friendly with people a little too quickly. As a result, I tend to treat every relationship like a friendship - and friends do not take from friends. Friends give, with only the hope and no expectation of reciprocation... and this is not a good thing in business, especially not when we are approaching the stage of VC funding. I keep forgetting that VCs do not see us as coffee buddies (yet). We get one shot with each VC, and we have to make the right impression from the start.
That reminds me. I really must make more time for my friends... that too has slipped a little in the last few months. How bad is it that I am the founder of a social startup and I cannot find time to be social myself?!
"I think of it as respect."
"Hmm. There is a tone of submission though, you are making them feel good. That's what anyone wants, to feel good."
I thought about that for a second, "Yeah, fundamentally."
"It is a simplification."
Later, when we were walking away from the Sneaky Possum, I remembered something Mike told me last week.
"You can only ever sell six things. Make money. Save money. Save time. Feel good. Look good. Feel secure."
When I shared this tangential tidbit with Beau, she said, "So you are doing three - feel good, look good and feel secure - and if your product gives them an extra, all the better."
We arranged today's coffee after the Sensation pre-launch party last Thursday night. Beau and I had been messaging about reviving an arts and music festival that ended in 2011.
Conversation jumped between topics, as they always seemed to do with us, but a little more rapid than my mind could handle today. The conversation found a landing on the topics of networking and the essential skill of making the other person feel good through deference.
My Dad used to tell me of a Chinese proverb, which roughly translates to "together walks three men, one is my teacher"; or, as our Friday funnies might go, "three men walked into a bar, an English teacher, a maths teacher and a PE teacher..." The point is to always remember to have the humility that we can always learn something from anyone.
"And always ask for someone else to meet, and always follow up..."
Beau is a genius at meeting people.
We put together a wishlist of five people to form the steering committee of this revival project. We have a month to put together the revival project's scope before we approach these people.