100th

I’ve written into Roasted Reflections every week for almost two years and this is the 100th entry!

I put a lot of thought and energy into every one of these friendly jolts, each brewed to keep you building in different ways. Whether it’s taking the time to read, sharing a quick reply, crafting a caffeinated contribution, or just paying the good vibes forward, I want to thank everyone who starts your Wednesdays with me. As I reflect on this literary journey, here are things I’ve appreciated along with way.

Writing helps us understand ourselves.

– Translating ideas into words is easier the more you do it.

– Verbal dictation can produce a base, then a round of editing brings things together.

– Having a home to organize your writings is more lasting and easier to share anywhere.

– It’s challenging to keep writings concise, but this makes more impact in less time.

– Attention is hard to earn, let alone keep. Stay curious, listen to those you seek to serve, and diversify content creation to stay interesting.

– If you’ve written a book, a complimenting library of shorter entries make it easy to connect ideas back to the book while sharing organized thoughts based on the context of any conversation.

– The thesaurus is a fun tool thats helps us learn new ways to express ideas with fresh vocabulary.

– Publicly publishing your art creates connection.

– I enjoy encouraging others to write.

– Writing is not free. It costs time.

– Without much financial capital involved, the ROI of this type of initiative comes in the form of intellectual, human, cultural, and network capital that churns evolving layers of satisfying value.

– Even so, doubt creeps in. I find myself wondering if I’ll run out of meaningful things to write about every week. Would anyone care if I quit sharing these reflections? If I do decide to quit or reduce the frequency, what’s my why and how might I change the way I ship this art? Would I miss the sense of connection or somehow lose momentum? Perhaps there’s peace knowing the impact can continue being made without weekly additions? I plan to push through these dips as long as I continue to enjoy the challenge, but it can be lonely when we give our best, so please know that I always welcome support from those who have walked this path before.

– Consistency requires sacrifice.

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Extra Credit

I have always loved listening to stories. 

At home, my parents used to tell me stories whenever I’d go to sleep. In school, I enjoy listening to friend’s and telling my own stories as well. Lately, my growing interest in entrepreneurship has me listening to people discuss their entrepreneurial journeys. These stories of solving problems and building a business have captured my attention, but I had to go beyond the status quo to find them.

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This caffeinated contribution was written by Ani Soni. Anirudh is a student who is becoming indispensable as he explores entrepreneurship within a startup community.

As a student in high school, there are a few classes, programs, and clubs that hint at what entrepreneurship is all about, but they lack heart, let alone the realities that come from actually building a startup or small business. I enjoy hanging out with my friends, but they don’t share the same interest I have in building my own company. My family is supportive too, but I really haven’t had a way to consistently share stories about building a business.

To fill this storytelling gap, I started looking for ways to meet other entrepreneurs. While it took a little research, I found many ways to meet people who own their own business. I’m eager to continue exploring “entrepreneurial ecosystems”, but I feel lucky to have chosen to first attend a weekly program called 1 Million Cups. Attending 1MC has allowed me to listen and learn from the stories of entrepreneurs, but showing up wasn’t easy.

I was so nervous at first! As a high schooler, I wasn’t sure if or how to show up. I assumed everyone was more qualified and successful. I didn’t think I would be able to understand, let alone contribute to the conversations. In my own mind, I didn’t belong and it was like I didn’t deserve to be there. It would have been easier to say, “maybe someday”, but I’m glad I decided to take the training wheels off.

When I arrived that first Wednesday morning, everybody was welcoming, kind, and incredibly interesting! I was thirsty to return after experiencing the generous energy this room of fellow students, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and community builders exuded. Attending 1 Million Cups week after week, I now realize that people of all ages enjoy sharing stories just like me. Entrepreneurs sure like helping one another as well!

It’s only been a few months, but I already feel connected to this community of entrepreneurs. In fact, I’ve offered to join the volunteer 1MC organizing team, because I’ve seen how stories create a bond, and perhaps that’s what it’s all about. No matter where you’re at within your own journey, I’ve learned we are not alone. Everybody helps everyone grow. Now I’m on a mission to learn from more entrepreneurs, to build into my own ideas, to ask for help, and to accelerate others however I can within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Training Wheels

When training wheels come off a child’s bike, it’s a breakthrough moment.

Learning to ride a bicycle was not as easy as it looked. The early excitement of that new bike was bolstered by the comfort of training wheels. These little stabilizers provided balance, but eventually became self-limiting. Whether you remember learning to ride a bike or have helped a little one figure it out, the urge to remove such limitation forms fast.

Removing training wheels only takes a minute, but then fear sets in. The challenge of staying upright, maintaining speed, avoiding obstacles, and falling without getting hurt feels overwhelming. Even with the support of others, success seems out of reach, until it clicks. Like magic, trepidation transforms into gliding independence.

Moving beyond the comfort zone that training wheels provide children, reminders us how wonderful it feels to overcome hardships. Considering how easy it can be to leave training wheels on too long, also awakens thoughts of how contentment can lead to complacency.

Being content without becoming complacent is a constant test. One moment you’re grateful for all that is, then soon you’re wondering why you feel oddly stuck. Perhaps this is because the more complacent we become, the more rigid we get. This rigidity often devolves into a stronger fear of change. When the movement that comes with change becomes associated with risk, it’s common to feel stuck, stagnant, or even irrelevant.

If training wheels are holding you back, initiative can set you free and persistence will keep you moving. When movement is gratifying, even when it’s hard, you’re set free to keep shifting gears as you ride toward what’s next.

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It was energizing to see so many friends at #TSDemoDay! This was a community celebration and milestone moment for entrepreneurs pushing beyond their own comfort zones, as this 2022 class emerged from the Techstars experience.

Birding

Bird watching is a peaceful place.

I enjoy the variety of flying colors, the sounds, the squabbles, and if you watch long enough, you’ll see a symphony of movement unfold. My local favorites are the goldfinch and blue jay. Birding is a simple pleasure, but that’s the point, eh. Quiet appreciation for the small things invites us to settle into each moment.

The world is wild and endless distractions make us feel frantic when there’s so much to do. Birding, or appreciating whatever the understated beauty may be, can help us stay centered. As this layer of mindfulness becomes part of your practice, it gets easier to slow things down just enough to ensure we don’t miss life along the way.

Reluctance

There’s an art to keeping the right people engaged, for the right amount of time. When things feel stale, it’s often a signal of disinclination. One way to infuse new energy into a group, is to create space by releasing the reluctant.

Life happens, so it’s natural for interest and commitment levels to change over time. While engagement may expand, anyone’s ability to contribute can just as easily be reduced as a mission evolves and roles transform.

The spiral of someone’s reluctance will soon create stress between others who are still devoted. The longer this misalignment lingers, the more tension it creates. Even so, people hold on too long and the group fears confrontation. This extends the pain for everyone. The reluctant feel guilty for not contributing, while the zealous begin to resent the perceived lack of integrity. Along with internal toxicity, those being served experience less dependably, which devolves into reduced trust, enthusiasm, and engagement.

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“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” -Seth Godin

Keeping an eye on our personal bandwidth adds clarity for what and when to quit. This self awareness helps us stay centered and motivated by the way we spend our time. It also helps maintain good relationships by avoiding the unnecessary roughness of dramatic encounters, even when it’s time to explore a new direction. When bridges don’t get burned, we can make a ruckus, move on, and actually expand our impact while still staying connected.

For leaders dealing with lingering reluctance, let’s finish with a few friendly tactics to keep the group vibrant, while maintaining lasting loyalty from the departed.

An easy way to start, is by respectfully inviting individuals who have written their story, to graduate gracefully. Sometimes, good people simply don’t want to quit on the people/program they care about. When given a polite opportunity to exit with elegance, appreciation leads to a smooth transition. Another approach is to invite everyone to do more. Inviting initiative often provokes less committed members to bail. Lastly, know the end will always come. Be clear with expectations, transparent as things evolve, and keep succession apart of ongoing planning. Compliment the internal clarity with external celebration. Make a habit of recognizing individuals who made a difference in the past and praising those who are being generous now. This nurtures an environment where people are inspired to do their best when they’re involved, without feeling a sense of loss when it’s time to let go.