Building Visions

Posted on by Brian Hertzog

We can't predict the future, but we can imagine what it looks like. What kind of person will we date? What will our homes look like? Weekend plans? These questions all have fuzzy answers.  They're not crystal clear, but we have a rough sketch. 

Imagination is a hell of a tool. I find it hilarious that in kindergarten they teach you to use your imagination but after that, no more. It's all information. Right or wrong. We're instructed to think binary when the world is more colorful, playful, and mailable than we presume. The secret is to keep imagining. Remember, building a "dream life" still requires you to dream.

Visualize your fantasy and work backwards. It's amazing how answers to problems manifest out of thin air when you know what you're looking for. It's only when the future looks totally dark that you need worry. The rest is reverse engineering. E.g. to get to "C" you must go through "B".

It can't be that simple. Maybe not, but it's worked so far. Imagining your future won't give you all the answers. What it will do is prepare you. You'll recognize the signs, and sometimes that little "heads up" is all the future we need. Don't get hung up on details. As long as your path is illuminated, have confidence in your ability to handle the bumps. 

You're the architect of your life. Imagine that.

The Rubberband Ball

Posted on by Brian Hertzog

A month ago I started a rubberband ball. Each day, the mail at work is delivered with a lonely rubber band holding the letters. Individually the rubber bands don't bounce--they barely stay together unless you twist them enough.

But over time, something magical happens. The bands only need to be looped once, the shape holds itself together, and you have a ball. Start with nothing, chip away each day.  In time, you'll start to bounce.

What Makes A Great Startup

Posted on by Brian Hertzog

I see hundreds of startups.  I'm no guru, but after running an incubator for six months, I do see patterns.  Every company has unique DNA, but there's something magical about a great startup.  Like interviewing job candidates, when you speak to the right one, you instinctively know.  You get a feeling deep in your gut and your decision is made long before the interview is over.

The ingredients for a great company:

1. People
People are the blood of your company, carrying oxygen to all your vital organs.  If you have bad blood, you have a sick company.  Great companies keep their team healthy, positive, and happy.  Without this, you're dead before you begin.

2. Purpose
After you've curated a team of brilliant, honest, driven, creative, and humble individuals--give them purpose.  Whatever you're working on, make sure every person in your company knows the big picture, the end goal, "the why".  If people are the blood, purpose is energy.  You need both.

3. Devotion
People with purpose need commitment.  Companies that stand behind their products with unwavering conviction are instantly noticeable.  Devote to shipping beautiful art.  It's not something that happens overnight and it certainly doesn't happen by accident.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Health is a combination of mind, body, and spirit.  Without health, nothing else matters.  The same goes for companies.  People give your ideas life, purpose provides the energy, and devotion fuels the soul.  Fail, improve, and above all, keep shipping.


All I Want

Posted on by Brian Hertzog

All I want is to give a gift to the world.  All I want is to leave something behind much bigger than me.  That is why I want to be an entrepreneur.  I believe in the magic of passion. "  If you want something bad enough, the whole universe conspires in your favor".

I hope I can make the world a better place.  I hope I can leave my "ding" in the universe.  I hope years from now I can read this post and smile, at my own naïveté. Nobody plans these things, but I have a feeling.  I've had it all my life.  I want to have fun sharing my gifts.  I want to spread my passion.  Above all I want to give hope.

Each decision we make is like a single drop in a still pond.  Our time is limited, our ripples lose effect as we age.  New drops make their splashes.  All I want is to make a big splash.  I've wanted that since I was a young boy, small for my age, wanting to impress the lifeguard, and I still want that today.  Here's to our dreams.  Here's to the impossible.  Here's to the magic in this world.  And here's to sharing it with the people we care about.

Why Startup Founders Should Learn To Surf

Posted on by Brian Hertzog

I have never felt the rush of riding a surf board.  I haven't had the blissful feeling of catching the illustrious "perfect wave".  But, I know someone who has.

Surfing is often referred to a meditative sport.  Frequent surfers usually will attempt to translate the experience as "it was just me, and the water", or some other overly zen-like expression.  But it's true.  When you are focused on not drowning, you're probably not thinking about those unanswered emails waiting in your inbox.

And, now that I've given myself "surfer-envy",  it has dawned on me that surfing is a brilliant metaphor for launching a company.  Startup founders, take note.

1.) Conditions
Wind, temperature, surf, current--all things surfers consider before paddling out to the big blue.  Assessing the conditions including the less obvious factors such as current is essential for a safe and successful day at the beach.  No waves?  No market.  Strong current?  Unseen market forces and possible danger.

But--to continue the metaphor, let's say, "surf's up!"  Now what?

2.) Timing

An idea and a market are not enough.  A wave and a board are not enough.  You have to have timing, rhythm, the sixth sense, when to take the wave, and when to wait.  Begin paddling too early, and you will find yourself buried under six feet of water as the wave crashes upon you like an unsuspecting bug wandering through a parade.  Wait too long, and you will find yourself watching your friends ride all the way to shore on "the perfect wave".  It's a dance.  You have to have rhythm.  You have to be patient, and when you do begin to paddle, you have to commit. 

3.) Persistence

Once you do begin to catch waves, you will quickly discover that catching and riding are two completely different concepts.  It takes persistence to be in control of the surf.  At some point in the evolution of a surfer, the wave no longer dictates direction, the wave becomes the propulsion for cutting in and out, performing exotic tricks, and emerging victorious from an endless tube. 

Aside from market conditions and timing, you have to be in control of your board.  You have to persist.

4.)  Presence

According to my surfer friend, the board is the most dangerous thing in the water (sharks not included).  Many surf injuries are incurred from collisions with your own board!  Collisions with the board, why does that sound strangely familiar?  But essentially, you must be mindful.  You must be present.  Why do you think surfers spend hours waxing their boards, aligning their fins, and making sure they are not too cold in the water.  When you build a beautiful board, to catch the "perfect wave", you really do become you and the water.  The board is no longer a piece of equipment, but an extension of your body, helping you navigate the always changing force of nature that is the big blue. 

Happy surfing.  Also, special thanks to @Dom for sharing his surfer wisdom.