Monthly Archives: October 2012

Startup Lessons Pt. 1

I’m working for a food startup in San Diego called uberfood. We launch very soon, and I’ll talk more about it then.

The team is made up of an investor/co-founder, general manager/cofounder, and me. The Investor is a successful entrepreneur and I’ve taken some notes on some the things that he’s said about business, negotiating, and entrepreneurship. Here’s the list so far.

1. Titles are toxic

When egos, salaries, and deliverables intermingle, titles make people act irrationally. A boring title is a good thing.

2. Entrepreneurs always act without all the information

There will always be more information to gather and evaluate. When we were deciding on which chefs to work with, I wanted to wait try all their food before we made a final decision on who we would move forward with. The Investor advised that we just pick some chefs that we liked and move ahead with the negotiating and testing. If it didn’t work or something broke down in the in meantime, we would move on to someone else. It make sense. We can find out information by waiting until the next meeting, or we can insert the information we do have into our business model and see if it’s compatible.

3. Everything will go wrong

The Investor is extremely cautious. When we were discussing initial operations of the business, he made it clear that we have to assume everything will go wrong, people will sue us, and workers won’t show up for work when we expect them to. I first thought this was extreme, then I realized I was delusional if I thought these things would never happen. You have to be prepared for when everything breaks. This lens has set us up with a thousand what ifs. We can’t damn every leak, but we can get most of them with forethought.

4. Be clear, explicit, and honest about expectations

There have been no serious misunderstandings about the expectations we all have for each other so far. The Investor has made it clear from the beginning that everything about uberfood will be done legally, by the book. All the contracts, negotiations, and discussions dealing the company have been ego-free, open, and honest.

Cold Showers

Cold showers jumpstart my day. It’s an easy way to start off beating the resistance. If you I beat it once a day, I think that’s more than some people.

Last summer, I started taking two ten minute cold showers a day. It’s an easy way to increase lean muscle, stimulate your immune system, and keep your mind happy. Seneca bathed in cold water everyday of his life, even as an old man.

During the winter in upstate New York, I stopped because I would have gotten pneumonia.  Now that I live in San Diego, I take cold showers every morning. The 52 (brutal, I know) degree San Diego mornings make it easy to convince myself to just turn the knob to warm water. But I don’t. I always turn it on cold. When I’m done, it’s an accomplishment. I can tell myself that I did something uncomfortable and hard, and I haven’t started my real work yet.

If you want to try taking cold showers, it’s best to start just 30 seconds or one minute and increase the time you stay in by 30 seconds each day. I made passing time easier by memorizing my favorite monologue of all time or by meditating. If you don’t have something to keep your mind occupied it’s harder.

Going Harder

When you’re comfortable, feeling good about what you’re doing, laughing to yourself at how lucky and amazing your life is, that’s awesome. It also means you need to work harder. When you’re stressed, pressed for something, and feel like you’ve slipped up or failed, you can get the fire burning  under you and easily to get back on track. When you’re on your game and feeling good, that’s when you’ll start to slip. Your ego tells you that you’re smart, you’re doing it right, you made it! But it’s wrong, that’s The Resistance. Push harder now, because you’re going to fall again, and if you’re not always moving forward, you’ll fall harder.

This is how I feel now. I moved to San Diego six weeks ago (more on why later) and it’s not easy place to do hard work. It’s 75 and sunny everyday and I’m always within 20 minutes of the beach.  I just start laughing to myself at how ridiculous it all is. It was my plan to come to California after I graduated college. But it’s so much better than I expected. I know the east coast is starting to bundle up for winter, and it was an unseasonable 85 today. I am laughing at how crazy the ways things have worked out. I am working in the exact environment (more on that later) I wanted with an all-star team, and we’re working for a mission that I actually believe it. I am emotionally attached moral fibers of the company. Even as I’m typing this I am fucking laughing at how ridiculous it is. Still, I know the hard shit will come soon. But I’ll just surf off the stress on the weekends.