Shifting Gears

Can you hear a distant motorcycle bolting into the night?

Hearing the sound of speed puts that wind in my face, but twas the night before we kicked off the 2022 class for Techstars Iowa Accelerator. This had me reflecting on the gear shifting that occurs in any growth process.

That first gear of any manual transmission is dedicated to initiating motion. It won’t get you very far, but as the red line arrives, a shift bring you into the next gear that builds on the momentum. As that next gear tops out, yet another shifts moves you further, with higher gears that eventually brings you to full speed.

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I owned a fast motorcycle in college. I treated the danger with redeeming respect, but after pushing this Yamaha FZR600 to 150mph, it was time to sell it…on eBay. In addition to speeding up, shifting gears also helps us slow down. Now I’m more of a convertible guy, cruising toward that wonderful wind in my face.

Any journey is a dance, but your destination would not have been reached without an ability to temporarily lose power in exchange for more lasting capacity.  Whether it’s personal or business growth, intellectual humility and recognizing when you’ve reached a limit, provides awareness required to drop the clutch.

Ideaworks

As color pops in the night sky, let’s brew on how sparking innovative business ideas might be similar to how we experience a breathtaking fireworks show.

Alright, so you’ve got the chaos of life all around you, but this moment’s focus is first directed toward finding a place to park. This frenzy has me reflecting on how our daily lives gobble up so much mental bandwidth. If you’re interested in building a new business, interesting ideas may strike within the madness all around you, but innovation takes intention. Such intention can lead to momentary movement, but it’s unlikely that lighting strikes just because we decide to brainstorm in single servings. Instead, making creative day dreaming a habit will invite serendipity in the mind. As ideas emerge and connect over time, different combinations will help map out more valuable opportunities.

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You get what you repeat. I’ve enjoyed hearing readers share how the ideation exercise featured in YDNTB provided the practice they needed to become an idea machine.

Alright, so you’ve found a spot to enjoy the fireworks? The anticipation has the crowd excited and then… a bright light flashes, right before the unmistakable sound of the first explosion arrives. The show is underway!

Shifting this spectacle back into our metaphor for innovative ideation, I think about the fuse that starts it all. There must be a way to catch fire, eh. Perhaps a willingness to slow down while maintaining urgency, actively listening, being open-minded, allowing new experiences to shift your perspective, leaning into community, and always staying curious gives the idea machine more ways to continuously flip the switch?

As each fuse is lit, we hear that thump of a firework being shot into the sky. This sound of propulsion is like ideas darting into the limitless atmosphere of our mind.

With each idea sparked, there’s a thrilling hope that what’s about to pop is exactly what we’ve always wanted. Even if it’s not the show-stopper we wanted, each “ideawork” releases different colors, shapes, and sounds that inspire the sky and connect into the broader experience. Each blast is also seen in different ways based on the vantage point. This awakens the fact that every idea has value. Bad ideas lead to better ideas. This can spark great ideas that reverberate and when given the space to merge, different ideas combine into what can be evolved into a fantastic reality.

As individual ideas pop to create a tune over time, it’s like the grand finale everyone waits for. The audience may scurry in different directions after the show, but they’ll keep talking about the impact long after the floating smoke clears. When we consistently invite different ideas to form a melody, it nourishes a system geared to be remarkable when the fuel of habitual action is applied. Keep sparkling my friends.

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Don’t wait for next year.

Celebrate

Celebrate small wins, mini moments, and game-changing achievements. This reminds everyone how fun it is to be successful. Celebrating also recharges the intoxication that comes with building things that matter. This makes people more eager to tackle new challenges, so do it often. With a connected collection of diversified milestones to keep everyone united, accountable, and motivated, here are a few easy things to celebrate.

– New Hires
– Work Anniversaries
– Product Releases
– Fresh Features
– Customer Testimonials
– Record-Breaking Activities
– Community Gatherings
– Media Spotlights
– Industry Awards
– Event Highlights
– Holidays
– Failures

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Working to establish a few cool milestones and creative ways to celebrate them? Here’s an NFT to unlock some time together!

Most companies love to celebrate together, but too much of a good thing can lead to unnecessary drama. In contrast, when there aren’t enough good times, the team forgets how to have fun as a team. To stay equitable, listen and learn how different people respond to business breakthroughs. As you consider what and ways to celebrate, invite everyone into the activity planning process. Milestones may not change, but the way you celebrate them sure can. Connecting achievements with inclusive celebrations will motivate everyone, while also infusing a freshness into the mix.

As we celebrate in style, the entire team is supported by a performance-based culture where everyone feels included and has fun building as one.

Milestones

Big or small, internal or external, milestones help people identify with progress. They draw lines in the sand. This clarifies goals while supporting short-term accountability and long-term motivation.

Entrepreneurship is a community sport, but creative problem-solvers working to build a business are still competitive. Milestones tap into this competitive spirit by gamifying a performance-based culture. Recognizing milestone achievements can also boost morale and further unite a team. If you’re collaborating with mentors and/or an advisory team, milestones help keep everyone on the same page as well.

As milestones are established, be sensitive to the diversity of your team. Find creative ways to equitably encourage new and more experienced team members. One easy way to do this, is to establish a few tiered categories for different types of milestones. As you diversify milestones, we’re not creating so many that they become pointless. Instead, you’re curating a variety of dynamic signals that can activate different emotions along a connected and sustained timeline.

As milestones are completed, the culture is nourished with celebration, which we’ll sip on next week!

Maverick

“I don’t like that look…”
“It’s the only one I got.”

Entrepreneurs enjoy the ride on our highways to the danger zone. There’s a comfort in uncomfortable and the edge is where’s it at. Skills and tactics can be learned, but steady action, confidence, humility, and long-term persistence are just a few things required to embrace entrepreneurship as what it needs to be: a lifestyle.

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Everyone has a creative spirit. When an appetite for (calculated) risk is applied, the entrepreneurial spirit is unlocked. This can be nurtured by community and work that feels like play. This grows the entrepreneurial spirit until it becomes a way of life.

When building becomes a part of who you are, the result is not authenticity, it’s consistency. As open-mindedness and generosity lathers into long-term consistency, trust bubbles. Trusted community members who then invest toward understanding those they serve, will almost always find some form of success. This might be the side hustle they love talking about, the innovative role they build as a linchpin inside an existing organization, or that first hire that grows into a whole new business.

As Top Gun: Maverick reminds us, it takes commitment to feel your way through this mission. Don’t think. Make entrepreneurship a lifestyle to keep learning, building, and having fun on your way past hypersonic.

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Talk to me, Goose.” —Maverick