Let’s play startup.

Stop trying so hard to play startup. Build a business. Get funding or bootstrap. But the real goal is to solve a problem people value enough to pay for. Creating a company should come after the product or service; not before.

Stop trying so hard to play agency. Build a team of people that drive results. Organize yourselves in a way that produces those results. Just because we all watched Mad Men and romanticized agency life doesn’t mean we need to call ourselves an agency or act as the agency of the past. Embrace the transformation.

Surface-level-going-through-the-motions is like feeling important versus being important. It’s like telling people you’re going to do something versus showing people.

Execution Improvement


I’ve been re-reading some books that are considered classics. One I’ve been slowly working my way through again is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. My dad gave me a copy when I was 14 years old and I’ve read a few times since then. Even if you haven’t read it, you’ll recognize a lot of the concepts.

The first habit is “Be Proactive” and one of my favorite parts is when he talks about Viktor Fankl (of Man’s Search for Meaning fame). Victor Frankl was imprisoned in Nazi Germany during WWII. From the book:

“One day, [Viktor Frankl] began to become aware of what he later called ‘the last of the human freedoms’ – the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted with his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose the response.”

He summarizes the section with this: “Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.”


He gives some examples of reactive language we use and a possible proactive response:

Reactive languageProactive Language
There’s nothing I can do.Let’s look at our alternatives.
That’s just the way I am.I can choose a different approach.
They won’t allow that.I can create an effective presentation.
I have to do that.I will choose an appropriate response.
I can’t.I choose.
I must.I prefer.
If only.I will.

This concept changed my view of the world. The ability to pause and choose is so empowering. Our “circle of concern” is usually bigger than our “circle of influence” but a positive approach to solving problems widens our influence beyond what we directly control and can create real and lasting change.


Tension for growth.

The seeds of growth are found in discontent.

However, if we’re too focused on dissatisfaction we can easily get frustrated with where we’re at and could find ourselves unhappy. Or even get fed up and quit.

So, how do you become dissatisfied enough to grow and do it patiently?

Here’s one thing that works for me:

“You’re better than you think you are and not as good as you could be.”




What if it’s true?

We like to think we’re open-minded and that we can take feedback. In reality, it’s difficult and we’re not good at it. We get defensive. If it’s a strongly held belief (or even loosely held in some cases), we immediately look for and identify reasons it’s not true. It can’t be true.

Sometimes it’s not true true. It could be true for the individual delivering the message. But maybe it’s not fact. But maybe it is. To be open-minded, you must form a habit of asking yourself “What if it’s true?” … and that’s where you start. You don’t attack the messenger. You don’t need to break down and cry. You have to detach yourself in the beginning. Once you assess, you’re welcome to release emotion. Emotion is vital. It needs a productive release, though. Not just release.

If it’s true then you now know. That’s the first step. Now you can improve. I have yet to meet someone who thinks they’re perfect. We all know we need to get better, but it seems we’re afraid to. Are we so harsh on ourselves that we’ve given up on improving? Maybe we’ve beaten up ourselves so much that when we get feedback from others we’re too raw to properly receive it?

Be kind to yourself. You’re doing better than you think. But not as great as you will. It’s a balance of gratitude for what you’ve become, but discontent that you still work hard enough to reach your potential.


Other Resources


Continuous improvement.

The goal is to increase the rate at which you and your team are able to execute the right ideas. If you can do that, you’ll not only catch up (if you’re behind) to the competition, but you will eventually surpass. Make sure your objective (direction) is sound and then your only major roadblock is ego. Overcome that and your team will fly.continuous-improvement-2018-aaron-edgell