Over the past week there has been a huge focus in the media and even the geek internet culture around Charlie Sheen's supposed breakdown. He's been doing a lot of interviews, but mixed in are a lot of interesting quotes that can be applied to entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is on a thin border between insane and brilliant.
"Defeat is not an option. CBS picked a fight with a Warlock."
Most entrepreneurs don't end up losing because of market forces or what can be attributed to specific failures. At the end of the day, entrepreneurs fail because they decide to give up and accept defeat as an option. When starting a company, Elon Musk referred to it as the equivalent of eating glass and staring into the abyss on a daily basis. From day one, you need to realize that there is nothing else you can do accept win. It may be a hard road, but complete and utter defeat is NOT an option. Take a look at Airbnb. They failed to attract any attention and failed continuously for not only days, months, but actually years. Instead of accepting defeat, they persevered and kept going. Most startups don't die due to specific circumstances, but because they commit "suicide". Here are two HIGHLY suggested links:
Airbnb story from Startup School:
Paul Graham on "How Not To Die":
"Everyone will say: Don't be special, be one of us! NEWSFLASH: I am special, and I will never be one of you"
No one will understand what you do. They will hear the entrepreneur word and think you are crazy, broke, or some combination of all three. You have to ignore those that don't understand us. We're a crazy breed and we're special. If this were for everyone, then it wouldn't be special. As an entrepreneur you have to have thick skin and trust that it will all work out. Even when it does, you will always feel as if the respect you deserve isn't where it should be. Steve Jobs said it best with a quote that goes along the lines of "You have to be insane to do this and you have to love it. Any sane person would do what a sane person would: just quit and give up." Focus in on being different and drown out the noise. They will be fast to hate on you and they be move even faster to congratulate you.
"It (my brain) fires in a way, not particularly from this terrestrial realm"
As an entrpreneur you need to think at a level that is not from this world. Look back at the legendary Apple ad campaign about "Think Different". The rest of the world happens to be a fickle bunch. On the one hand, they want to vilify you for being an entrepeneur and take you down a level or two. On the other hand, they want something that is outside the box and pleases them. The only people capable of doing that are entrepreneurs. If what you're doing is criticized as "tame", then you are doing something very wrong. At the end of the day, you should seem as if your creation is from another planet. Your brain needs to think in a manner that is truly extra terrestrial.
"I have one speed, one gear ... go!"
There is no slow down mode when it comes to entrepreneurship. You need to be always be five steps ahead and pushing on red line. The main advantage of a startup is pure acceleration and speed. Speed in the real world is calculated by distance over time, I'll declare that startup speed is the amount you want to accomplish (alot) divided by the amount you want to focus on (a small focused portion where you have domain expertise). Accomplish something sizable and focus on what matters. Say no and cut out a lot for each version. It will let you move faster and stay in that one gear that matters: Go!
"Can't is the cancer of happen. aka I can't do it."
Yoda said it best: there is no try, there is only do or do not. As an entrepreneur, whether you made something happen is a very binary answer. Either you have made it happen or you have not. By saying "I can't do it", you are setting yourself up for failure and almost certain death. Take a look at the most successful companies in the technology sector and you will realize that "can't" is not in their DNA. The best companies defy the laws of possibility and do what many would simply throw into the "can't" category. Dream big and look for scenarios where many would say can't and make something happen.
"I exposed them to magic. I exposed them to something they'll never see in their boring normal lives...they'll live with that for the rest of their lives."
Your product needs to be the equivalent of pure and utter magic. One of my favorite Techcrunch articles from Paul Carr is centered around this notion of technology being magic. You need to wow people, many of which you will never meet. The best products will seem like magic to most of the general population and be an escape from their normal boring lives. A few days ago someone asked me, "How does Onswipe do what it does?" and I answered back with a simple response: "Magic. We code magic."
It's not about finding celebrity trends or other silly things. It's about looking in places you would have never thought of for inspiration to make a better product and a better startup. Many of your influences will come from the startup world itself, but many will come from random offbeat sources. No matter what, just keep #winning.
You Should Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jasonlbaptiste, Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jasonlbaptiste, Email Me: email@example.com, or even call: 201.305.0552