Tenured

Recognize, connect, and support those who consistently delight those they serve over a prolonged period of time. Rewarding such an initiative makes sense, but at what point does the comfort of a rewarded role devolve into a willingness to sail into the sunset?

When starters run into the aloof, misaligned energy can lead to a standoff. Time is the ultimate release, but what if progress is needed now? Every situation is different because of the complexity of an environment and the people/organizations involved, but here are tactics that seem to work no matter the circumstance.

The first uses social currency. It requires a change maker to set their ego aside, and instead, celebrate all that’s been achieved by the accomplished, yet tired gatekeeper. Use respect, kindness, and appreciation to form a bond. Relationships that feel less transactional often create leniency toward new ideas. When a crack in the wall of inactivity is created, be glue that maintains the integrity of the existing system. For example, “I’m too busy” is a common qualm, so lean into that pain by offering to execute on the idea that has sparked mutual interest. It’s important to be realistic in these moments, because when promises are made, credibility is on the line. As you not only light a path toward progress, but also champion change by evolving ideas into reality, trust is gained and your ability to continue making a ruckus increases. Want to extend your leash further? Take responsibility for failures, but give all the credit away when success is achieved.

If a larger organization is involved, another interesting tactic invites the tenured leader to level up the team by activating a colleague. This provides a new hire the chance to get involved within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, while the organization is seen as engaged within their community. It’s hard for some to understand that time spent in the wild is often more valuable than clocking time in the office, but if the organization allows this person to show up without limitation, everyone wins. The new community member feels the innovative energy and brings more intrapreneurial vibes into the organization, while the community benefits by having another trusted organization in the mix.

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“The way we make things better is by caring enough about those we serve to imagine the story that they need to hear.” -Seth Godin

If you’re reading this, you may be tenured, but it’s unlikely you’re tired. That said, we’ve all found ourselves in a motivational rut or lacking a clear sense of purpose. Along with a few solid sleeps, when I feel the urge to settle, it helps to have fun, build into other areas of your career portfolio, take a few days to rest if necessary, and then get back into the startup community. This creates opportunities to #GiveFirst, ask for help, or get extra curious about the creative work of others. Soon you’ll find new opportunities to collaborate.

New connections that emerge can bring you out of the motivational rut. They can boost your care meter and will add fresh personality to your work. Along with sparking fresh direction(s), you’ll be motivated by others and soon find new ways to be generous with your art. If you’re still thirsty for motivation after tapping into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, I’m here for you as well. Together, we can refuel the idea machine to avoid wasting any more time with being tenured, but tired. Sleep when you’re dead, my friends. Let’s keep building.

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“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” -Louis L’Amour

Bloop

Imagine yourself as a circle.

It’s tempting to suggest a sphere, but the added dimension is not necessary for this metaphor. Alright, with your circular self, take a tiny portion of the arc and “bloop”… push it beyond the circle’s circumference. Even the smallest nudge gives the entire circle space to expand.

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I had fun making all sorts of sounds as I considered the title for this reflection, but I’d love to hear how you’d describe the sound of such an expansion. Also, since I had to look up the terms to ensure this metaphor was translated correctly, here are the parts of a circle.

There’s plenty of research behind the idea of small improvements adding up. As we hear from inspired speakers and read about in Atomic Habits by James Clear, if you get one percent better each day, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the end of a year. It’s hard to define “better” and such steady progress would surely require sacrifice, but most will agree that small choices don’t make much of a difference, until they add up.

While establishing systems that support good habits and compiled improvements are great, this reflection is more about welcoming singular moments of exploration and growth, even when it seems unrelated, weird, or insignificant.

Perhaps it’s trying something new without preconceptions, saying yes when no is status quo, or being the initiator when movement is seen as risk? As we poke the box and invite a bit more bloop in our life, we give ourselves an opportunity to grow as our own circles expand.

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To thank those who have enjoyed brewing on these Roasted Reflections every week for almost two years AND to say hello to some new friends, here’s a free gift just for fun!

Linchpin

We are often told being extraordinary makes us special. We each write our own story in life, but as Neil deGrasse Tyson suggests, perhaps the sameness of our cosmic composition is what makes each of us fundamentally special from start to finish? This eliminates the need for permission and invites us all to be remarkable.

Our connected era has evolved society away from the industrial age. The factory (existing organizations that have an established system in place) and replaceable cogs that follow instructions to keep the vast machine churning has faded in favor of those who unite tribes, are champions of change, and willing to make a ruckus. Back in 2010, Seth Godin gave those who choose to be indispensable a name: Linchpins.

Linchpins are artists who consciously care enough to go beyond mediocre. Linchpins solve interesting problems and make judgement calls without a map. They welcome weird. They are scientists who stay curious. They are generous and passionate about the art of connection. Through an inclusive, positive-sum lens, linchpins lead and let others lead without seeking credit. They are fearless, in that they are unafraid of things they don’t need to be afraid of. Linchpins leave resumes behind with work that transcends time as they build at speed of trust and relentlessly #givefirst, knowing that accelerating others generates unmatched energy.

The skills of a linchpin are hard to quantify with tradition metrics, but a willingness to bring your true genius to work is an open invitation for us all. Over time, the linchpin’s art often becomes meaningful to many, which makes work less about trading time for money. In this centered state of career nirvana, nobody can compete with being you. Cogs in a machine are replaceable and can therefore be paid less. When you are a linchpin, you have leverage and there is no option but to reward you for work that is a creative expression rooted in lasting purpose.

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“Leaders don’t get a map or a set of rules. Living life without a map requires a different attitude. It requires you to be a linchpin.” -Seth Godin

If indispensability is so accessible, why doesn’t everyone accept the invitation to be a linchpin?

One primal reason is the indoctrination of an education system that was designed to produce factory workers. From an early age, we are brainwashed to pursue perfection, to color in the lines, to follow instructions, to care what others think, and to define success by worldly consumption. Educational transformations are all around us and great teachers willing to be linchpins are activating students to go beyond the system. Instead of molding obedient factory workers who’s only hoping to be taken care of by factories built on promises of the past, we can teach people to take initiative. To invite doubt. To passionately explore one’s superpowers. To solve interesting problems while leading us with reverse charisma and confident humility.

Another reason why some stay complaisant, is the outdated promise of an American Dream. Gone are the days of clocking in on time and keeping your head down just long enough to climb a ladder built to resist change. The factory worker’s willingness to play it safe may extend a sense of temporary security, but this is a choice that makes you easy to replace with cheaper labor, faster tools, and advancing technology. Whether it’s fueling innovative action as an intrapreneur at an organization that prefers linchpins over factory workers, diversifying your career portfolio with an inventive side hustle, or building pain-killing projects as an entrepreneur, we may only live once and life is too short not to enjoy your work.

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What makes you indispensable?

Launch

A successful launch rewards hard work.

No matter the audience or how heavy the news, introducing what’s next is your opportunity to spark energy. This milestone will soon be celebrated, but rocket ships do not launch without intention.

The excitement of sharing something you’re proud of can be intoxicating, but we can only be new once. Launching before you’re ready can lead to carnage. Limping into a launch without a connected cadence will also reduce excitement as attention becomes diluted.

Let’s first look at how to avoid launching before you’re ready. There’s value in shipping your art often, as this is the only way anything is set free to evolve toward product-market fit. This, however, does not give us permission to be careless. Research, internal planning, strategic development, thorough testing, and working with true fans is the easiest way to stress test whatever you’re building. When we normalize a nimble, but detailed-oriented approach, you’ll create confidence in what’s being launched while also allowing your art to connect within the market you seek to serve more often.

When the time is right, planning a strategic launch sequence can initiate a boost loud enough to create attention and also long enough to push through the thick atmosphere of endless distraction. Instead of a single celebration, think of your launch as a connected collection of memorable moments.

The most common misfire is overloading your audience too soon. This may be part of the strategy with a short launch sequence, but when a launch lingers, duplicative content will numb an audience before the intended culmination arrives. One tactic for staying patient is mapping the overall launch sequence. This helps sync development with the timing of communication. Such planning also provides internal clarity and connects valuable context to each transmission.

To map a launch sequence, start by creating intrigue with as little information as possible. Think of this subtle stage like a notice to save the date. Next, create excitement by leaning into the pain. Leak a little on why the audience should be excited for what’s to come. No need for too many details quite yet. Those will land next.

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As the countdown ticks toward zero, fortify the team to determine how you can effectively respond to every type of inquiry during launch. With internal operations ready to rock, release one final burst of hype before delivering the payload on launch day. As thrusters fire and liftoff occurs, you’re now set free to release your art into the universe. Congratulations!

Within the early moments of flight, keep messaging sharp. Deliver on the promise, include singular calls to action, and track analytics to stay strategic.

A thoughtful launch can create a flurry, but attention is hard to earn and it’s gone before you know it. As the loudness of a launch begins to fade, hit the free prize inside button to activate a few more extraordinary insights built to fuel lasting momentum. Once in orbit, maintain a smooth onboarding process for late arrivals and enjoy the view knowing elevation makes us all feel successful.

First in Line

There’s something special about being first in line.

Being at the front of a line means you’re committed. You’ve made some form of sacrifice to ensure you’re first to experience something you care about. The unknowns of arriving in time to secure this coveted spot requires a concerted effort, but a sense of pride materializes when everything goes to plan. When was the last time you where first in a long line? My hope is that the wait was worth it!

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FliteBrite is bringing our beer festival app out of hibernation. Here’s the line that inspired this week’s writing.

When I think about being first through the lens of innovation, first in line is not such a desired position. Being first gives entrepreneurs a chance to take an early lead, but early leaders don’t always win in the end. The headwind is strongest when you’re in front. When your art involves creating something the world has never seen before, enthusiasm from early adopters is often met with pernicious friction. One common source of friction is the almost endless time spent educating the prevailing market. This protracted process wears on even the most resilient and exhausts resources every step of the way. Along with frictions that come with being first, without any clues from past success/failures, it’s harder to avoid potential pitfalls as well.

There’s value in a head start, but the early market leader often falls behind the innovation curve. Please, never hesitate to forge into the unknown, but remember that when you lead, others will always be chasing you. If you’re building in front, stay ahead with epistemic humility, a challenge network that invites you to be wrong by avoiding groupthink, a genuine desire to accelerate others, and bold leadership that allows intrapreneurs to stay wild. If you’re the one chasing, which is far more common, you’ll need to be innovative to find product-market fit, but it’s nice knowing there’s an existing path with fresh opportunities to champion change in an existing environment.

Alright, let’s add some sugar.

What if we don’t have to be in the line at all?

The front of any line may be a traditional way of getting ahead, but this requires time with no guarantees and you’re still relying on some else to let you in. If this activity is something you really enjoy, be conscious of how business can sometimes kill your passion, but there’s usually a way to be less of a spectator by getting more involved. One way to do this is by combining your creative skills and an entrepreneurial spirit to wedge yourself into the experience itself. This requires initiative, but volunteering, building into a side hustle, or using content creation skills can quickly become your ticket to skip the line all together.