Preview Day taught me to be human

Preview Day is a private event here at 500 Startups that involves a bonanza of 30-second pitches from portfolio companies (including mine, Chewse). I’ve learned a lot from the preparation process — mainly the importance of being a lot more human and open to fuck-ups.

George Takei does not endorse this pitch.

Learning to be vulnerable for Preview Day
For the past 2 weeks, my 500 Startups batchmates and I launched into preparation for Demo Day – what I think of as “graduation from startup school.” 500 Startups does an incredible job of rounding up the tribe of mentors, LPs, and investors to drop into the space and offer us constructive feedback on our pitches.

Okay, that’s the nice way to put it.

It actually feels like a relentless barrage of heat-seeking missiles aimed at all your weaknesses. It feels like kryptonite condensed into cough syrup that is then less-than-lovingly shoved down your throat.

I embellish slightly, but only to illustrate how much the process wears on you personally as a founder. I heard a mentor tell a founder that he shouldn’t be the person to pitch his own company. I was personally told at one time that I wasn’t telling my best story. Can you imagine how all these criticisms about your pitch end up feeling like reflections of you?

So here’s the secret: As a founder, you must learn to open up instead of closing off.

At many points of the process of pitching and fundraising, you feel like a rag doll volleying between bits of advice. But ultimately, you have to embrace feedback, come to terms with your emotions, and be real. It makes you human. People like to work with humans, investors like to invest in humans, and being relatable is an important piece of building charisma.
Being brave means being human
I was blown away the first time I watched Brené Brown’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability — and I’m still learning things each time I watch it.

BIG takeway: Being vulnerable and being courageous are not mutually exclusive. In fact, being vulnerable is incredibly brave.

As entrepreneurs, we are vulnerable to risk, inexperience, and failure. I especially relish the story of the original Zappos founder walking into shoe stores and being laughed at for suggesting that he could sell off the majority of their inventory just by posting it online. Or how the Yelp crew took to the streets to sign people up by hand with a good old-fashioned clipboard. And how it took them 8 years to IPO.

Brown points out that the word “courage” is based on the Latin root cor — which means “heart.” Being courageous is not being the fearless leader who can charge into a room, hide all emotion, and lead stoically. In fact, it’s the person who can embrace the fear of being vulnerable and tell the story of who she is with her whole heart — that’s the brave one.
How an Argentine taught me to dance (of course!!!)
One moment in particular sort of zapped the human back into me. The other founders and I are backstage doing a dress rehearsal for Preview Day at the 500 offices. The views overlooking the South Bay were stunning, the event music bumping, and I’m sitting in the back…looking ready for an earthquake to hit. In all honesty, I looked pretty stern getting my game face on.

Enter Ricardo, the founder of Femeninas. He’s from Argentina, has a classic Latin accent, and he’ll tell you just what he knows about Spanish women (you have to see his pitch to understand). He doesn’t just look calm – his whole face is lit up. He’s certainly nervous, but you can tell he’s damn well going to have fun with it.

He notices my stonewall expression and tries to make me laugh. I’m trying to be the zenith of calm here, the Buddha of the Bay, and he’s trying to break my focus. But his smile was pretty damn infectious. And smiling is definitely worth it.

That’s when I realized I was making a desperate attempt to be stoic and emotionless – that’s not even human, it’s not even me! I woke up, popped up, hopped around. I just gave in. 
The end result? I didn’t just walk on stage for Preview Day, I danced onstage…with 100 investors watching.
Getting heated is hot
It’s okay to get a little nervous, it’s great to show passion, it’s ideal to embrace being human.

I share this story not *just* to be self-deprecating, but hopefully to give you the safety line of humanity to hold onto when things get rough. It’s a safety rope, people, not the third rail.
So the next time I pitch my startup or coach another, expect me to be a little heated, a little passionate, and thoroughly human.
Many thanks in the Preview Day pitch process to my two North Stars: Jeff, my co-founder, and Khailee, 500’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence. These two worked countless hours with me to quell my fears, challenge my assumptions, and offer a solid hug when the time came to go on-stage.


You can hack growth…can you hack happiness?

My community ain’t no hack
(my co-founder and I enjoying dinner with our families)

(I’ve taken the Everest Step a Day Challenge to be a more consistent blogger. It’s fitting that embarking on this journey of personal achievement begins with a post about happiness!)

As I dive into reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, one big theme that strikes a chord with me is the idea that happiness is not the destination. It’s not just the final scene of falling in love — rather, it’s the butterflies from the first date, the thrill of the proposal, and the eventual joy at the altar. The secret to sustainable, long-term happiness is building it incrementally.

Then Rubin quoted William Butler Yeats: “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that. But simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

I later met with Andy Johns, a 500 Mentor and Chief Officer of Growth at Quora (and formerly of Facebook). He dropped some knowledge: the key to user growth is to build it incrementally. If you can grow 3% week-over-week, you’ve got 5x growth in a year. Growth is built on small bits that are measurable and, eventually, create enormous impact.
That got me thinking — is true happiness much like true growth?
  1. They both involve community. 
    The best engines of high growth and high happiness involve community that feeds back into itself.

    One of the stories that weaves itself into the documentary “Happy” is about a Danish co-housing community. Multiple, unrelated families share one roof, they care for the children of others as though they were their own, and they help one another with domestic tasks. Although the prospect sounds crowded at first, the correlations are astonishing. It is the relationships from the community that bring every member happiness — and apparently this happiness of community is a part of Danish culture (they do enjoy the title of Happiest Country on Earth). Here’s a great overview of the documentary.

    Similarly, it is often the best startups that build community around their product, and build platforms for meaningful relationships. Path is the most striking cases of this (though community, arguably, is their product). The social network puts a cap on your friends you can follow: 150 people. That’s Dunbar’s number, with the theory that 150 is the maximum number of meaningful, stable relationships 1 person can sustain at any given time.

    I also love Grasshopper’s rebranding stunt of sending people chocolate grasshoppers and how they tied that into a community of influencers. You give to people, and they give back to you. Growth is certainly recursive.

  2. Beware the false highs.
    It’s not the big press releases (often followed by the infamous “Trough of Sorrow”) that will launch your startup to sustainable growth, although the temporary highs can be fun. And we all know that the short-term highs of heavy alcohol consumption can lead to the saddest of sorrows the morning after.

    “Happy,” the documentary, goes in-depth into the 3 things that people often mistake for happiness: money, status, and image. The scientists who’ve studied the subject put forward 3 real indicators for happiness: personal growth, the desire to help, and meaningful relationships. Note how the first bucket of indicators can be lost with the crash of the stock market; but, if you’ve truly put effort into the second category, these things are far less fleeting.

    We talk a lot about user growth at 500 Startups. Josh Elman came to speak about his experiences at Twitter, while Julie Zhou chatted about growth at Hipmunk. There’s been a new term thrown around called “growth hacking” — love or hate it, there are literally titles like “Growth Hacker” or 500’s very own “Growth-Hacker-In-Residence.”

    While hacking with limited resources is an important part of being a startup, growth hacking is a myopic and paradoxical term. You can certainly hack certain pieces of your business (ie. AirBnB hacking Craigslist listings to grow their rental supply) to kick things off. But to truly build growth, you’ll have to come back to your hack and bake it back into your long-term vision.

  3. It’s elusive, but once you’ve got it, you know it.
    Louis Armstrong (founding father of American jazz) croons, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”
    Marc Andreessen (founding father of Andreessen Horowitz VC) blogs, “You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening.

    Happiness and growth, untracked, are nebulous concepts to “achieve.” The journey aspect is probably a big reason why, but I think there’s a time when you can say you are truly happy at that moment, or that you are hitting satisfied growth benchmarks. Andreessen also argues that startups “can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it — or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers.”

    Growth and happiness may be elusive, but if you have it you’ll feel it. 

Can you hack happiness?
In short, no. Happiness certainly isn’t one-off. For those who haven’t read about the “hedonic treadmill,” it describes our tendency to get used to things that once spiked our happiness points. So while those first moments spent with your new iPhone 5 were beyond glorious, you eventually get used to the brilliant piece of technology in your pocket. Louis C.K. has a hilarious stand-up about how we’ve taken something as simple as flying for granted:

So here it is: happiness IS growth. Happiness flourishes when you push outwards and fight the treadmill of settling into complacency.

Happiness cannot exist without growth, and growth cannot feed itself without happiness. 
User growth, personal growth, community growth…it’s all in there. Perhaps it’s time to revisualize our happiness tendencies to go from a treadmill to a staircase — always pushing away from that last milestone, and moving ahead.

I challenge you not to settle into the mindset of small hacks, but create a sustainable environment of growth. Hopefully, that brings us all a little closer to being happy 🙂

Diversity Tastes Like Turkey

Thanksgiving Potluck @ 500
Some of our new friends at 500 Startups have never had the privilege of stuffing their faces with turkey, have never felt the honor of loosening their belt a notch after the seventh serving of pumpkin pie. It inspired me to write about why diversity is important, and how an off-the-cuff personality test can tell you if you’re more like Oprah or Bill Gates
Stop taking diversity for granted
I do this constantly. I grew up in Los Angeles, which has the largest population of Thai, Taiwanese, Armenians, and Koreans outside their home countries. I could essentially drive to any region of the world in 30 minutes or less. I could dine with my hands on an Ethiopian feast or pluck away with chopsticks at Chinese dim sum. Diversity was a given.
At 500 Startups, our international startup bootcamp, diversity is also a given. 32 companies represent 14 countries and 7 companies with at least one woman co-founder. And 500 is on the forefront of tackling every emerging market in the world. They are literally marrying companies into the 500 family from all over — reports of India and Mexico are next in this international matchmaking.
Outliers are a good thing
You sure as hell don’t become a big hit by being normal. 500 recognizes that by going to the farthest ends of the earth to diversify its portfolio of companies. The idea of following a playbook for success is absurd to me. In the right hands, a formula for success can certainly go far — but in my opinion that’s predicated upon the person, not the formula itself.
So why not build a team that’s different? That simply CANNOT be replicated?
I would do the same for my founding team (actually, I did just that). But what does diversity mean? Different genders? A CEO/CTO combo? I argue it’s about personality and how we view the world.
Why I use personality types every single day of my life
As a startup founder, I’d be the last person to willingly put myself into buckets. People run away from their corporate jobs to avoid the abyss of being put at the bottom of another bucket. They are tired of formal, thoughtless titles (Social Media Manager comes to mind). We’re looking for a refreshing opportunity to become a General Business Athlete or Chief Growth Officer. 
With that said, I’m looking for meaningful ways to evaluate my team. As CEO, the team is my product. In the interest of product managing, I have to look at building diversity and culture — the two meaningful pieces that create cohesion between the moving parts. Culture is a topic that deserves its own post, but diversity is incredibly important to my vision for Chewse.
While I don’t give a formal personality test to each hire, the key pieces of it loom in my head. I owe it to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, which has given me an innate trust in my ability to gut check or “thin slice” someone the moment you meet them. And that’s when I come up with their type.
MBTI in a nutshell
The Meyers Briggs Type Indicator is a trade-marked personality test developed by a mother-daughter duo. It actually has a fascinating history. It was created because the pair wanted to advance the cause of women finding jobs in the post WWII economy that they were comfortable with, as women moved from domestic lives to working lives outside the home.
It’s now a tool used by incredible companies like McKinsey (17,000 employees) and Bridgewater (world’s largest hedge fund, oddest culture ever). It assesses fundamental ways that you make decisions, view your world, and organize your tasks. There are 4 categories, with 2 options in each — with a total of 16 permutations of your personality type. You can take the unofficial free online test here, or take my off-the-cuff test below. 
  1. Intraversion vs Extraversion (I/E) – Where do you get your energy from? Others (E) or being by yourself (I)?
    • This isn’t about if you’re the life of the party. It’s about whether you have an internally-charged or externally-charged battery.
    • Another way to look at it – If it’s a Friday night at your friends drag you out, do you end up being more energized with people (E) than if you had spent a quiet evening at home (I)?
  2. Intuiting vs Sensing (N/S) – How do you frame your world? Big picture (N) or detail-oriented (S)?
    • Another way to look at it – Are you more in the moment (S) or in the future(N)?
  3. Thinker vs Feeler (T/F) – How do you make decisions? With the goal of rationality or harmony?
    • I used to think this was about heart vs. head. But it’s also intricately tied with your values of relationships as compared with the ultimate logic of a situation.
    • Another way to look at it – When you meet someone, are you more interested in their position in a company or their life story?
  4. Judging vs Perceiving (J/P) – How do you organize your life? With lists (J) or spontaneity (P)?
    • The word “judging” alone is a misnomer. It doesn’t mean you’re a judgmental person 😉
    • Another way to look at it – Do you care about what side the toilet paper roll (J) is or not (P)?


http://www.personalitydesk.com/page/myers-briggs-type-grid

I love how this grid personifies each of the types. Granted, it’s not a perfect system (similar to how you can’t lump all the personality traits of all women or all Californians together — that’s when you come up with dangerous generalizations like “valley girls”). The grid is a snapshot of the kind of leader you can become. 

I personally like the MBTI because it’s a simple, high-level view into a person and is a powerful tool to MAXIMIZE diversity. I’ve heard of others like Big Five, colors, power animals, etc. Whatever you use, I’d suggest being consistent and sharing with others on the team — and looking for those people that can fill your voids, and you can fill their blindspots. 
Besides, you don’t want a whole team of Oprahs if you’re an Oprah 😉
*NOTE: The MBTI test certainly allows for you to sit along a range of strong or weak characteristics, but it does force you to choose one or the other as a preference. While I’ve taken 3 classes (both at USC and ESADE), I am no means certified (you can become MBTI-certified to give assessments for recruiting or educational purposes).

Silicon Alley (NYC) Myths: Debunked

Batch 5 represents in NYC!
Andy Sparks (LaunchGram) + Yours Truly

I’m still flushed with the thrill of a visit to New York City — and a 500 Startups NYC event hosted by Shai Goldman, the newest addition to the 500 staff (thanks again, Shai!). I want to lay out just how new the city feels when as an entrepreneur meeting people from the startup ecosystem. I’m going to debunk my own preconceptions about kick-ass NYC startups, the weather, and Shake Shack.

Myth #1: NYC only produces media/adtech startups. 
While NYC is certainly known for its hot media companies like Tumblr and Foursquare, there’s a lot of talented startups that are outside this norm. I met with incredibly cool people from companies like:

  • David Bloom, Ordr.In | David’s built a powerful way for restaurants to craft their online presence. And he has an amazing understanding of just how big the foodtech industry is.
  • Dazhi Chen, Relevant | Dazhi knows the restaurant industry like no other, and has created a dashboard for restaurants to understand customer loyalty.
  • Michael Korn, CraftCoffee | Subscription coffee packages, curated by the coffee tastemakers — and Michael is definitely a tastemaker and super-generous guy.
  • Edlin Choi, Lean Startup Machine | I actually attended this workshop in LA and LOVED it. Based on Lean Startup methodology, it gets you going fast and mean. Edlin and their team of mentors are amazing. Plus, Edlin knows his NYC food and makes awesome recommendations.
  • Brian Wang, Fitocracy | Our new hire is obsessed with Fitocracy. Brian the founder is, of course, fit and #500strong.
  • Michael Ong, Skillshare | As a 500 mentor, Michael has been hosting office hours left and right (surprised I hadn’t connected with him until now). He’s building a marketplace like us, but doing it centered around classes.
  • Alexis Tryon, Artsicle | Although not an artist herself, Alexis has created a marketplace for artists to sell their wares. We spent a lot of the conversation discussing how being creative sometimes just means creating: startups, communities, change, etc.


Myth #2: New Yorkers don’t complain about the cold.
I thought locals would have some magically thick skin that helps them deal with the cold. Makes them impervious to the cold snaps that roll in every year. The ability to grow more chest hair just to keep warm.

Lies: New Yorkers hate and complain about the cold just as much as this Cali girl does — except they do it in this thick accent that makes them sound pissed at the weather.

I actually spent $0.25 to go to a public bathroom at Madison Square Park, and was delighted to enter a heated, sanitized place of near worship.

What $0.25 gets you in New York

Gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. And HEAT. Something about the frigid 50-degree temperature make a sauna-like public bathroom that much more enticing.

Myth #3: Shake Shack > In ‘N Out
Actually, it’s not a myth. I will say that for vegetarians, Shake Shack more than accomodates — they’ve created a whole other burger! In ‘N Out relegates us to a meatless version of their standard burger, and calls it a “grilled cheese.” THIS is a vegetarian burger:

The Shroom Stack – Vegetarian goodness

I took my shivering, California ass to Madison Square Park and the outdoor Shake Shack stand. The wait was brief, the air was chill, and I got a sample of their infamous frozen yogurt. Their special for the day, pumpkin pie, was creamy and deliciously spiced. But the focus was the burger I ravaged:

The melted cheese piled into the portobello stack was so gooey, I had to remove my gloves. Frostbite was a small price to pay for getting my hands on this.

A note on how to make traveling rock
I have officially become an evangelist for JetBlue. I had a red-eye flight, and they had these complimentary “Snooze Kits” on the seat, including an eye mask and earplugs. How delightful.

Now I’m soundly back in Mountain View with the team — and couldn’t be happier. I only gave NYC 3 days this trip. Next time, I’m digging in for a week.

Announcing the 500 Tribe

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Halloween isn’t the only cause for celebration and zombie-hunting — it’s time to officially unveil the companies of 500 Startups Batch 5! You can see legit coverage in TechCrunch and our amazing video on the 500 blog. This post and the whole crew has been under a press embargo since we got here. With the embargo lifted, bragging rights about this incredible group of people are now mine.

Kick-ass tea with the folks from Tealet


I want to begin focusing on the group of founders that I’ve already met in my first three weeks — and start meeting 3 new teams a week. Should take me 10 weeks to get through them all!

3 Bomb-diggity teams

  • Tealet  http://www.tealet.com/
    Marketplace that connects tea drinkers with tea growers.”
    Elyse Petersen is a fellow female co-founder, and she’s serious about tea. She’s got a tea station set-up at the Tealet desk, and we spent some time with the team sampling their new Taiwanese shipment. The team’s from Hawaii, and it’s no wonder I constantly have the urge to stroll over and sip some delicious warm tea — these guys really embody ohana.
  • LaunchGram http://www.launchgram.com/
    Revolutionizing Pre-Release Product News”
    Andy Sparks (who writes one hell of a blog) and I have initiated what I hope becomes a tradition: CEO Coffee Therapy. Okay, so I may not drink coffee, and it may not be licensed therapy, but it’s certainly dialogue between CEOs — and somewhat cathartic at that. The idea came from a Fireside Chat organized at 500 HQ with Yishan Wong, the new CEO of Reddit. 
  • Privy http://getprivy.com/
    Local Advertising Made Simple.”
    This team just gets me all warm and fuzzy. Ben, Jake, and Farrell are the ones I’ve met, and they actually are tackling a market of small medium businesses in a way similar to Chewse. I literally had parked myself in a random sunny spot at the office one day, we chatted in passing, and it turned into an hour-long conversation as we laid down tips, tricks, and intros. Boom, this is the beauty of being in an accelerator with brilliant people.
     
  • Amazeballs Moment of the Week

    Ben from Privy walking across the vast chasm of the 500 common area, kitchen, and conference rooms to give me some insight in person after I sent him an email requesting advice. Who does that anymore?!

Your batchmates define your experience
We were told from Day 1 that it isn’t the partners, mentors, or speakers that make the program valuable — it’s the other masochistic founders that you choose to hole up with that define your time here.

In such a short time, I’ve learned about Vegemite from Chris, Ed, and Diesel @ Kickfolio, gotten tips for finding cheap labor from Kevin @ WalletKit, and shared sales hustle experiences with Sean @ Dealflicks. The experience looks more like a mosaic than anything else — flecked with tons of tiny conversations and hallway chats that haven’t quite morphed into a cohesive story.

But maybe that’s the story of startups. We grind away and hustle forward; and sometimes, we emerge victorious without any cohesive logic for succes, but with a big grin in spite of it all.

The Lizard Brain

Dexter’s got some mad gut instincts

I’ve always thought the “gut” instinct was anatomically misplaced. My decisions tend to spawn from my brain, and the thought of clutching my stomach and drawing a decision from there seems all wrong to me. 
This might be why I tend to shy away from the idea of gut instincts.
It’s not gut, it’s the lizard brain
But here’s where the idea sits incredibly well with me. I was watching Dexter (a deliciously clever and twisted show), and I had an a-ha moment when he began explaining the feeling he has when he senses a killer. The process for Dexter’s maniacal ways goes something like this:
  1. He senses something in his lizard brain.
  2. He backs it up with hard evidence.
  3. He kills the bad guy.
Interestingly, I find this process often analogous for start-ups. We spend so much time trying to make our business a science of success, but what took us down the path in the first place? Why did we decide to do the industry we do?
  1. We felt something compelling in our lizard brain.
  2. We found data points and customers to support market opp, pain/solution, etc.
  3. We killed it (in the best way possible).

So, what is this lizard brain?
The classical “Triune Theory” from the 60’s claims that humans have three layers to their brains: the evolved mammal, the ancient ape, and the most basic of beings, the reptile. The reptile brain is this lizard brain.

It’s associated with the area of the brain that houses the amygdala. Go ahead: reach far back into those awkward days of high school, when you had braces and biology classes. Now remember that this region is associated with emotion, memory retention, and fun things like sexual orientation, social interactions, and drinking problems (the fun things being speculative studies that suggest assocations).

But the INTERESTING thing is that abnormally large amygdalas have been linked to heightened creativity. Think about it. At first glance, the suggestion is that more emotional people are more creative (though looking at actors and artists, this corollary seems to make sense). But I would argue that the more in touch we are with that deeper, almost volatile side of our instincts, the better we are at creation. The better we are at startups.

Look, startups are difficult. And not just because probabilities are stacked against you, resources escape you, and competition rises at every corner. It’s how we DEAL with those things. It’s how we RISE to the occasion, and get inspired to put our asses on the line everyday to move forward. This takes instinct, it takes thrill, and, occasionally, it takes embracing your fears.

While people like Seth Godin focus on quieting the fear that lives in the lizard brain, they also forget the creativity, inspiration, and instinct that are so essential to unlock creativity.

So go ahead, be yo badass lizard-brained self.



Startups are part art, part science
I certainly applaud efforts in the startup community to quantify the startup game to a science. To make a scientific method out of it. I myself agree with a lot of principles from Eric Ries’ Lean Startup, and think they are key to taking the passion and give it definition and life.

But it doesn’t say much about the actual conception of a startup. Forgive the birth metaphor, but it’s the best way to describe it. Pre-data, pre-customer interviews, we had a different kind of fuel that…lit our fire.

Let me ask you: What’s that initial feeling that drew you to your idea? Was it all data, or was there something more than that?

Clarity of the Run

Last week I spent some time laying out the 500 Startups mantra to give some context to my journey. I’d like to share with you what the rest of my NorCal life looks like.

Sadly, no — this isn’t me.

Why I lost weight working harder than ever
I’ll admit, I’m somewhat of a workout fanatic. Not in intensity, but certainly in frequency. I do 20-minute jogs daily, usually paired with 20 minutes of strength or yoga. Or Pop Pilates (pictured above). She is as close to organized workouts/religion as I get.
I recently read this rant on work-life balances, which essentially argues that balance is a highly individualized assessment. While some people need 9 hours of sleep, others can crank out with 6. Some people work their best in the morning, while others have 10 snoozes set on their alarms. Ultimately, I agree: your life’s balance is dependent on what gets your body revving.

Here’s how my routine has shaped up, and I’m embracing it:

  • 8am morning runs — Paul Singh, a kick-ass partner at 500, shared with me the secret of morning runs: they actually clear your mind. There’s science behind the chemicals that get released when running, and how they provide clarity. So clearing the day in the beginning vs. at the end seems to make solid business sense to me.
  • 10am work starts
  • Shit happens
  • 8pm dinner at home
  • More work happens

And I feel pretty nicely balanced. And stronger than ever. And more focused. Maybe this startup thing can actually be good for you?

Embracing the 10am – 8pm office times
I used to feel strange thinking of the workday starting at 10am. Perhaps it’s the residual influence of my corporate business education (or just too many episodes of The Office) but I was more a 9 – 6er. 
I’m certainly energetic in the morning. And this was before I read the Forbes article on The Secrets to Being a Power Woman, which not-so-subtly states that consistently rising at the armpit of dawn makes you successful. But I’m also just an energetic person period. And people energize me.
Suddenly, I’m pumped to shift my work schedule to a time when more people are in the office. And I’ve worked with more focus than ever before. 
Here’s what they don’t tell you about startups…
Starting a company with a co-founder in an apartment is a highly creative, incredibly freeing experience for sure. But if you’re not a programmer/designer (or even if you are), sitting in a living room with near silence is really draining. I’m an extravert in the Meyers Briggs sense, so having others around me definitely recharges my battery. 
500 Startups is absolutely the most energizing environment I’ve ever worked in. 

(Check in with me in 2 months. I might hate everyone then.)

Acceleration is Emo

There’s an acuteness of emotion here. An acute feeling that if you cannot survive this program, you cannot survive the real world. Sadly, the inverse isn’t true. Just because you survive, does not mean you will survive in the real world. All roads seemingly go towards the death of your company, and you must fight like hell to pave a new one. 

All this focus is pumping me full of energy. Odd thing, that this impending doom can be so incredibly motivating.