The Week in Review #17: The Finish Line Theory

As entrepreneurs we are always in a rush to get to some preset goal. As we move from one milestone to the next we begin to lose sight of the race we are running. We get so caught up in the details, sometimes we don’t even remember what we were running for in the first place. The quote “Life is a marathon not a sprint” is a core building block of the highlighted article this week. Which talks about the vicious cycle that causes burn out among entrepreneurs. This causes them to throw in the towel before they ever get to a finish line. While motivation is a big component of avoiding burnout, I believe there is a larger force at play.

Another article shared this week talks about the company Foursquare. Since the year 2000 the founder of the company has been working on the problem of local discovery. The ability for anyone to discover cool places based on their interests around them. Foursquare is actually his second attempt at solving this problem. Companies have come and left the space unable to create a viable business. Yet, Dennis the founder of the Foursquare just keeps at it. I believe within this story lies the secret of what it takes to reach the finish line. When we care about something that is larger than ourselves, we have this bottomless pit of energy. Regardless of setbacks and failures, we get up every morning and do our best to break through the brick wall.

When we have a ‘why’ behind ‘what’ we do, reaching the finish line is only a matter of ‘when’.

The Finish Line Theory This was the best article I read this week. It talks about the theory of what it takes for us to reach the finish line. The author challenges the conventional wisdom that we should treat life like a marathon and not a sprint. He introduces a clever deviation from the original to show a better way to look at the problem of motivation and avoiding burnout.

The days are long but the decades are short Sam Altman manages the prestigious Y-Combinator accelerator. The one program that every startup in the world wants to have a shot at joining. He turned 30 last week and wrote down 36 life lessons learned. It is a great list and one I enjoyed reading. The best lesson is the heading of the article. I do think we severely overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate our long term potential.

Subtle Mid-Stage Startup Pitfalls Jessica Livingston co-founded Y Combinator and wrote this great post. Having seeing thousands of startups work their way from a kernel of an idea to becoming some of the largest companies in the world gives you perspective. It gives us the ability to recognize patterns. This article is full of great advice for companies of all stages. My favorite one is “It never gets easier”. Far too often we think that if we clear just one more hurdle, things will become easier. However that is never the case. There will be a new set of challenges and more hurdles to clear. This is the path we have chosen for ourselves.

3 Steps to Finding Product/Market Fit All of us are searching for the elusive product/market fit. The stage where our business will stumble across the exact opportunity where it solves a key need in the world that a lot of people want to pay for. Finding this fit is something very few startups are able to do successfully. The author provides a set of comprehensive steps from customer discovery to specifically the questions you can ask during this journey. A great resource for an entrepreneur who is just getting started.

Dennis Crowley Takes Another Stab at Explaining Foursquare Foursquare has been a startup that I have been watching closely from the sidelines. It is not what they do that interests me, rather it is the persistence of the founder that is inspiring to watch. Dennis Crowley has had the idea of Foursquare since the year 2000. Ever since he has been working on solving the problem, continually making advances as technology catches up to his vision. In this article he talks about the journey so far and how the latest technology advances has brought him closer to achieving his dreams than ever before.

How to learn from mentors As entrepreneurs we dream about the perfect mentor. The person who has already traveled the path we are on. We do our best to seek out these people. Hoping their wisdom will enable us to avoid mistakes and get to our destination faster. Anyone who doesn’t fit our image of who this person needs to be, gets left by the wayside. In our search for this elusive person, we often forget to pay attention to the people around us. The ones who are wanting to help us the most. Often it is the people who we least expect, to have the greatest impact on our lives. This article does a great job of pointing this out.

Stop Making Users Explore As a user experience enthusiast and someone who designs system, this article was fascinating. Often as designers we get blindsided by our own needs and wants that we discount what the customer actually wants to achieve. The author does a great job of pointing out how to overcome this problem and the miracles it can do for your products uptake.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!