Airport Foot Massage

I’m not a huge fan of scripted ice breakers, but one that caught my attention, invites people to share something that others in the group may not know about you.

There are many ways to approach such a prompt, but a fun response I once threw in the mix, was my unassuming indulgence of foot massages in airports. There’s something luxurious about having your tired feet rubbed while endless strangers pass by, lol! Along with a very public layer of mental relation, the tightness of your body is basically fixed after a conference, golfcation, snowboarding, or any time you had fun while being away on travel.

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Now that you’re smiling, and also secretly planning to try this next time you fly, follow along to reflect on how we approach our endless transitions.

The thought of “transition” came to mind when a recent airport masseuse was melting my feet into mashed potatoes. The subtle tension of this mini moment arrived as the artisan prepared to switch from one foot to the next. There was an undercurrent of disappointment in that one foot’s rub was coming to end, yet this feeling disappeared when the next foot received its first touch of attention. This is quite a stretch, haha, but this tiny transition made me want to explore these kaleidoscopic moments.

Unconscious transitions are constantly happening all around us, yet some transitions bring forth extra weight or take more time than expected. The path for a smooth transition will be different for every situation, but here’s one tactic to try as you navigate your next transition: Acknowledge the past, then use the present to concentrate energy toward what’s next.

This seems obvious, but such centering can be challenging, as the ego often tries to pull us back to what we may be leaving behind. To surpass these ornery moments, take immediate action toward your forthcoming future.

For example, I think back to when we were first building the Regional Rep role for 1 Million Cups. I remember how hard it was transitioning out of my role as a lead 1MC organizer within the local startup community I care so much about. I had loved organizing 1MC in Des Moines for so many years, and every Wednesday morning felt like a ritual that never got old. As I transitioned into my expanded responsibility, whenever a sense of lose or thoughts of “what if” arose, I took abrupt action. Instead of dwelling on the comfort of what I was stepping away from, I twisted toward my own next. In these moments of uncertainty, I left a sense of lose behind by brewing new connections with more 1MC organizers I was excited to support/connect in the new Regional Rep role. This progressive action helped build relationships and a lot of constructive momentum. Over time, what first felt transitional, soon became my practice. This clarified my new role while also providing space to evolve for the new 1MC organizing team in Des Moines.

Wow. That was over four years ago! I’ll always be a 1MC organizer in Des Moines, but that progressive action helped me move forward and released personal bandwidth needed to help build my new role with the Kauffman Foundation. Fast forward to now. I’m still an active 1MC attendee here in Iowa, but I’m also blessed to collaborate with hundreds of remarkable community builders, ecosystem builders, and 1MC organizers throughout all 12 states that make up @1MCMidwest. Even more, after years of complex work with 1MCHQ and the other four Regional Reps, #1MCNation is now more aligned and supported within it’s connected era. As with most ventures, there will always be more to do and everything will continue to evolve, but it’s such a gift knowing so many lifelong friends are enjoying coffee every Wednesday morning, in over a hundred 1MC communities nationwide.

Hopefully the lighthearted ice breaker, followed by that oddly connected reflection, inspires you to stay energized as you grow from within your next transition.

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To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here’s a telepathic gift. Think back to when you enjoyed a relaxing massage, yoga, workout, or meditation. Alright, in that peaceful state of mind, close your eyes and enjoy five deep breaths. Ahhh…alright, get back to building.

Hybridize

Think back to when you were a kid. Remember that feeling of waking up to a winter wonderland? It’s a snow day! Fresh powder may cause mayhem for some, but all that mattered back then, was how quickly we could get outside to enjoy the day’s frosty gift.

This week we received a few feet of fresh snow. I love the feeling of a blank canvas this provides. I also like to think that one signal for success as an adult, is found in those who have not lost their childhood spirit, so when our little one gets excited about playing in the snow, I make it a priority as well.

After a rushed breakfast, we spent much of the day on a sledding hill. I found myself reflecting on the interactions of this momentary community. The actors are always different people, yet often play the same roles. You have the first-time sledders who are curious, excited, and afraid. In contrast, the action junkies are pushing to always go faster and higher. The adults are on snow patrol, but the personality that I find most interesting, are the hybrids. These are the kids who appreciate the exhilarating activity, but unite others by creating space to ensure newcomers are safe and also having fun. There’s an empathetic maturity in their welcoming enthusiasm.

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The original title was Snow Days.

Fast forward and these hybrids continues to bring things together. We see them in technology, translating nerd to normal, then back from normal to nerd. They are the teachers who inspire our next generation and encouraging children to think differently. Community builders are often hybrids too, as it takes a metaphoric spider to weave, explore, and tighten a collaborative web of actors, factors, and instigators together.

There are many other examples of hybrids connecting dots in almost any environment and they’re all valuable connectors that play important roles. When we think through the lens of complex adaptive systems, hybrids are those who can inclusively identify all that may be possible. They appreciate the entire spectrum of different parts within the system, as well as, the interactions between everything. Almost like chameleons, hybrids have the ability to take different shapes in order to facilitate positive interactions between different perspectives. When this skill is applied through a holistic, positive-sum lens, the effect can be surprisingly wonderful.

For those already hybridizing, thank you, stay curious, and don’t underestimate the limitless value you bring. For those who may not feel such a blended spirit, continue to lead the tribes you trust, but allow intellectual humility to welcome doubt. Such empathy paired with a genuine interest in collaboration, will inevitably unlock fresh ways for those you care about to achieve even more.

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This year-end Tweetstorm was epic and left behind some updates to my website, including a linked library to explore all my Roasted Reflections – https://BenMcDougal.com/Roasted-Reflections

As we reach the end of this wintry ride, I’m grateful for snow days that provide an unexpected chance to slow down. These cozy times provide us a chance to rest and have some fun, while also reflecting on all that’s good. Cheers to these mini moments chilled in our memories, but also to allowing the freeze to melt as we let thoughts pass and stay open to next.

Die Empty

Graveyards are full of good intentions, untold ideas, disconnections, and missed opportunities.

As we celebrate year-end holidays and look to 2022, it’s easy to make audacious plans for what’s next, but perhaps it’s wise to pair big ideas with small actions?

This obviously means something different for everyone. For example, there are times in our lives when we seek to do so much more. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when cool ideas, good intentions, and even positive action doesn’t lead to the anticipated outcome. For those who face this mental mountain, first give yourself grace by remembering that we either succeed or learn. This will help you find closure with past failure(s). As you push through this self-limiting mindset, lean back into your community of fellow founders. It’s even harder to show up when you’re experiencing a dip, but movement activates motivation and leaning into the prosperity of others will percolate helpful conversations. Pair this curiosity with a pinch of vulnerability and you’ll be reminded how generosity builds trust and helps you solve new problems.

In contrast, there are other times when a profound sense of accomplishment leaves us wondering what more can be done? This would seemingly be a privileged state, but our sense of purpose can waver when goals have been met. This can cause even the most ambitious spirit to feel lazy. A sense of achievement dysmorphia can also set in, which downplays our accomplishments in an effort to create space for more. Perhaps one way to counter this type of mental moment is to pair celebration with relaxation, creativity, and humility. Rejuvenation often emerges from self-care rooted in gratitude. This form of vulnerability brings peace, which often provides clarity on prolific ways to make a deeper impact on familiar fronts, or energy to explore brand new ways to fuel positive change.

The nudge you need will be dynamic based on the complexity of your ever-shifting environment, but a willingness to persist allows us all to keep building.

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The YDNTB audiobook was just released and listeners love it! It is now available as a direct download (with bonus features) in this special Holiday Bundle. It can also be found on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.

It’s impossible to measure the amount of time and effort it took to narrate, edit, and professionally publish this 5-hour audiobook (here’s how I did it), but that’s not what matters. What matters is that I have a remarkable relic to be proud of forever. Enjoy the show my friends!

Along with what you’re able to undertake, appreciate all that you cannot. When idea machines have an opportunity surplus, it’s easy to over commit. It’s much harder to stay cognizant of our personal bandwidth when our connected era is always introducing new ways to spend your time. These are crossroads where you’re invited to be honest about your own purpose, by allowing the superpowers of others to activate something you can/should not. As you share the love, deliver ideas, resources, connections, and opportunities without hidden agendas. You can’t take such things with you, so boldly give them away with a sense of abundance and find renewing joy in helping others bring more good things to life.

My hope is that after reading this year-end reflection, you observe the blunt title less around loneliness, and more as positive encouragement for doing all that we can with our precious time in this life.

A sustainable cadence leads to longevity, but a profound legacy awaits those who exhaust all their love, intelligence, connectivity, and energy to leave satisfied in the end.

Bookmarks

Anticipation, fear, and excitement. These are healthy sensations that emerge as we create bookmarks in life by experiencing new things.

It’s easy to forgot for those who often look forward, but we are blessed by many renewing moments throughout life. The start of a new day, first dates, holidays, weddings, vacations, the arrival of a child, birthdays, the first day of school, a new job, the launch of your own company, and perhaps when you fully accept that we may only have one life to live.

This reflection on fresh beginnings and how we’re invited to create bookmarks in life spawned as I embark on my expanded role with Techstars. As a tech founder and entrepreneurial ecosystem builder, Techstars is an iconic organization I’ve always admired. They support entrepreneurs with education, resources, and mentoring that is exponentially compounded by a global network. What started as exploratory ecosystem building, quickly transcended into a more involved role with the Techstars Iowa Accelerator.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to be the entrepreneur in residence focused on ecosystem development. As you hear me often say, the energy of accelerating others is unmatched. Supporting more inspired founders while connecting a community of remarkable mentors is such a gift and yet another bookmark I’ll always appreciate.

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Visualizing your career portfolio as a dynamic pie chart is something I write about in YDNTB. Along with this healthy exercise to reflect on your own personal bandwidth, having this graphic on your phone adds a quick reference for introductory conversations as well. Here’s a peek at my current career portfolio.

As you marinate on your own state of now, be thankful for the bookmarks in life that you’ve established by exploring something new. Think about what you started and how’s it’s evolved. Remember everything can change so if it’s time to create a new bookmark in life, avoid the natural temptation to wait.

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Someday is dangerous. Today is all you have. Start.

Lone Wolves

A common misconception is that you must have a team to be successful. There is a limit to your own capacity, but it is possible to build rewarding endeavors all by yourself. Solving complex problems may require co-founders and a larger team, but your passionate dedication is all you need to get started.

Lasting energy is required to forge this path, but without the need to answer to anyone, you can stay nimble and be more efficient by eliminating internal delays. To avoid burnout, you must stay mindful of your personal bandwidth. Self-awareness will help you avoid market disconnects, The Headline Trap, and relationship problems as well.

To coordinate new initiatives into your career portfolio, consider how the project connects to your current work. Clear overlaps can be good, but can also cause unwanted tension. A project less related to your existing work actually makes everything easier to shuffle. Even when projects affect different industries, it’s still you making things happen. The option to build into what motivates you in different ways will energize your work on all fronts. Action on one project will provide fresh momentum for others. Learn when to say yes and no, then wisely activate your time on each front.

As a lone wolf, it’s easy to go hard toward your own dream, but know when you need help. The freedom of working alone is within reach, but execution still requires collaboration. The world is full of friends, community allies, and contractors eager to help. Outside assistance may slow you down, but it won’t dilute equity, and it may be the key to a new reality.

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Need someone to bounce ideas off of? Let’s have coffee.

If you venture out alone, prepare for intoxicating highs and crushing loneliness. The consuming nature of building by yourself will incite grit, but don’t let it blind you. It’s easy to build too far into the wrong direction without a team. This is why community and customer discovery are even more important for lone wolves.