Monday, October 19, 2015

What I learned from the Founders Institute

I had the privilege to be a part of the inaugural class of the Founders Institute in Greenville, SC. I have to admit that it was an arduous and stressful journey, filled with sleepless nights fueled by almost impossible deadlines, and last minute curve balls that force you to scrap everything and start over. That being said, I would do it all over again. Below are a few of the lessons that I have learned during my time in the Founders Institute.

Ideas are easy, execution is hard

At one time or another we have all had an idea for a product or service that will change the world; however, very few become are CEO’s of amazing companies that were built from the ground up. That’s because ideas are the easy part. It takes A LOT of work to make an idea a reality.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

When I started working on my idea, I envisioned this amazingly slick mobile application that would solve every one of my customers’ needs. The reality is that perfection is an almost unattainable goal. You have to learn to work with what you’ve got where you are, and the majority of the time both of those will be far from perfect.

Lawyers are your friends

If you’re like me, then you have never really liked lawyers. More than likely due to the prevailing stigma that they are all money hungry sharks who try to weasel their way out of anything and everything that they can. However, I have learned that a good lawyer is an important asset who can help guide you in the right direction, and keep from making huge mistakes.

You can’t do it all

A good team of dedicated individuals is an invaluable asset. No matter how talented and smart you are, you are not an expert at everything. You have to learn to identify your weaknesses and find others that can pick up the slack in the areas that you are lacking.

You have to be humble

For all of the reasons mentioned above and for all of the countless other reasons that have not been mentioned… You. Have. To. Be. Humble. The fact of the matter is that you will make mistakes, and you have to be able to recognize them, ask for forgiveness, and then work to correct them.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Power of Community

Labor Day of 2015 is a weekend that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a weekend that reiterated to me a very important lesson that many of us take for granted, the importance of your community. 

For a majority of the American population, Labor Day weekend is typically the final celebration of summer. Where family, friends, and neighbors gather together to relax, grill out, and enjoy the outdoors before the chill of the coming winter begins to creep in. Unfortunately, our neighborhood was unable to enjoy such pleasantries due to a microburst that hit on Friday evening just before sunset. For those who are unfamiliar, a microburst is a column of air that flows straight down and then spreads out in all directions and is capable of producing winds of over 100mph.

When the microburst hit, my wife and I were at our neighbor’s house preparing to engage in our planned Labor Day festivities of grilling out and enjoying a few beers. Instead we watched in horror as large oak trees were uprooted and thrown around as if they were toothpicks. Fortunately no one was injured, however, several houses and other structures were severely damaged. 

As soon as the winds subsided many neighbors, including myself, ventured outside into the still driving rain to check on our neighbors wellbeing and offer assistance to those that needed it. Half an hour later, the rain stopped, and the entire neighborhood was out in force, helping one another. They showed up with buckets, mops, tarps, wheelbarrows, chainsaws; and a plethora of other items. Often first introducing themselves to their neighbor for the first time, and then immediately offering to help in any way that they could.

It was an extremely frightening and traumatic experience for everyone in our little neighborhood, but in the end it brought us closer together and provided proof to us all of the importance of community. 

I truly believe that we all need to place more importance on getting to know our neighbors, because community is a truly powerful thing.