Memories On Memorial Day Weekend
May 30 2011

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend.  I certainly spent a lot of time reminiscing about old memories with long time friends while the kids played during the day and into the wee hours of the morning when the kids were asleep.  We created new memories with old and new friends.  My kids had fun playing, swimming, playing games on the iPhone and Wii, eating hot dogs, seeing Kung Fu Panda 2, etc.

It’s great to have old friends to ground you and remind you of who you were back then and talk about how we have all changed and/or stayed the same.  It’s good to have new friends who  know you now (i.e., after kids).  New friends open you up to new and different experiences because they don’t know who you are supposed to be, and they don’t let your old self hold back your new self.  Under their influence you may be able to see and experience things you never have before.

But Memorial Day weekend is about remembering those Americans who died for our freedom.  So, thank you to those who serve, who have served, and whose families support them while they continue to protect us so people like me can hang out with our friends during this long weekend.  I’m ever so grateful that I live in the United States and have had the opportunities that I have had, including the ability to express myself on this here blog.

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The Power Of The Team
Sep 26 2010

As I watch my son play soccer, I think to myself how great it is that he is part of a team.  I watch him and his other 7 to 8 year old buddies communicate with each other on the field and off.  There’s a neat camaraderie and chemistry they have even at this young age.  They can be intensely focused on winning but realize that you win some, you lose some, you get some goals, you totally choke and miss some goals, and you are still a team.  The team skills are something I see him picking up organically because although I know I could try to explain to him the importance of playing certain positions, playing to your strengths, working with others on a team, etc. he would never really get it unless he experienced it.  He doesn’t know that he’s already learning valuable life lessons on the field and when he hangs out with those same buddies off the field.  Right now their team seems to work really well together and they win most of their games, which is good because they enjoy it and it motivates them to continue.  I think those people who played team sports growing up or were in groups like the military have an advantage when starting businesses or working on teams that are creating innovative products because working with other people can be the most enjoyable and yet sometimes the most emotionally draining experience you can have.  Knowing how to ride the waves of your own and others humanity can be the difference between success and failure in an endeavor or a work place.

My daughter seems to prefer swimming which is a more individual sport but if she gets good enough, she might want to join a swim team.  I played team sports at various times during my elementary/junior high school years (track, bowling, basketball) and then later in junior high and college I rode horses competitively as part of a team.  I also participated in some college intramural sports and company sports teams…mostly softball, but I wish I had done more.  I don’t really remember most of the people on those teams, but I do remember a few that made strong impressions on me based on their personalities and talents.

As the saying goes:  “There is no “I” in Team.”  Even investors in the high tech entrepreneurial world will say they would rather invest in an A Team with a B idea than a B Team with an A idea because the A Team has a better chance of navigating changes that inevitably get thrust upon them.

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Entrepreneurship vs. 2008 Summer Olympics
Aug 29 2008

The Summer 2008 Olympics are now over.  The national conventions for the Democrats and Republicans are happening.  Democrats just wrapped up theirs and Barack Obama is the official candidate.  The Republicans are up soon and John McCain just announced his VP, Sarah Palin.  School has started for all kids across the country.  Summer vacations are over.  And life goes on. 

Like many I watched the Olympics when I found the time in the evening and was fortunate enough to see some of the men and women’s gymnastics, swimming, track and field, and volleyball.  I saw the US women’s beach volleyball team win.  I saw the women’s gymnastics team win and saw Nastia Lukin win gold.  I saw Michael Phelps win several of his gold medals for swimming.  One weekend I even caught the Chinese synchronized swimming team.  Wow, that was impressive!  My husband stayed up later and saw the women’s and men’s volleyball teams as well as the men’s basketball team. 

I actually think I was able to watch more of the events during this Olympics than any other Olympics in my life.  I’m not sure why that is given that my life is so much busier than it used to be.  It’s probably because my husband was watching it and it was a nice (often nerve wracking) way to end the day and see several of the events “live.” 

What struck me was how hard all of these athletes have been preparing for the vast majority of their lives for this one shot at gold, fame, and potential sponsorship opportunities from big name brands/companies.  All their preparation comes down to a single point in time to succeed or fail.  The pressure and mental stress must be extreme, and yet they get up every day to prepare for that one moment in time. 

Every individual who competes tries hard, practices hard, prepares hard and only 1 receives the gold medal.  The same is true for entrepreneurs but fortunately there aren’t hundreds of little kids competing to win in one particular business (e.g., selling widget X).  There may be several competitors in a space but it’s doubtful that the leaders of your competitors started practicing to compete to sell “widget X” when they were 10 or even 5 years old!  

However, there seem to be many more factors way out of the control of the entrepreneur that determine their company’s success or failure (e.g., the economy, people issues, product issues, market timing, etc.).  An athlete has much more control on whether they get up and practice every day with the major big unknown being a devastating injury.  They are rarely blindsided by a last minute entry who ends up being a well-funded Superman/Superwoman athlete! 

Building a successful business is extremely hard, costs money, and is time consuming, but after watching the Olympics, my guess is that preparing and then winning a gold medal is harder, requires more discipline, and is more time consuming but with more defined parameters.  Even more so if you happen to be a Chinese Olympic team member who are often taken from their parents at a very young age. 

People expect athletes to take years or even a decade to train to even make it to the Olympic games, but many expect entrepreneurs to make it big in just a few years and in the process they often burn themselves and others out.  I’m guessing that fewer entrepreneurs earn ‘gold medals’ than individuals and teams do every four years in the summer Olympics.

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