Content Creation: Organization

Think of the last time you moved into a new home. A clean slate is easy to work with, but can quickly become cluttered as you make it your own. As entrepreneurs develop more creative content, organization is a habit that helps you scale.

The best way to do this is on the front end. Take the time to name and organize your growing collection of files in a way that’s easy to navigate. This sounds simple, but cluttered folders with unrelated files form fast. Need proof? Take a look at your recent downloads or the mess that is a “My Documents” folder.

To boost efficiency, be quick to start new folders and subfolders. Such organizational diligence adds value now and later. You’ll build faster with quick access to what you need. You’ll also be able to more effectively return to past projects. Organization is hard on your own computer. It’s much harder with more people adding all their own materials into a library of files. If the team uses the same library, establish naming conventions and organizational standards.

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Thanks to all who made this YDNTB audiobook release party so special!

Another good organizational habit is to maintain external storage. This supports unlimited growth and ensures everything you build is backed up. It takes a bit of time, but storage space has become basically free. Throw that external hard drive in your bag and treat it like it’s part of your computer. Cloud storage is another good backup method, but online connectivity may be required. For added security, store one more external hard drive outside your home or office. A safety deposit box is a good off-site option. Don’t let data lose spark interest in a better backup plan.

Data management is important, but organization plays a role in other areas as well. Nobody likes working with people who miss deadlines or go silent without reason. Stay organized with your calendar, email, phone, social media landscape, and workspace. This reduces the distraction of clutter and creates a healthy space to do your best work.

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This concludes our 6-week skill building series. To see how everything fits into the broader marketing discussion, pop over and snag You Don’t Need This Book.

As your multimedia marketing skills evolve, merge them to generate all the feels. Learn how to write so it’s easy to read. Snap photos that tell stories. Shoot contrasting collections of video that are enjoyable to watch. Bring narratives to life with captivating graphic design. Get creative and stitch it together with sharp organization. This concoction of multimedia marketing skills is a potent formula for endless stories that sell.

Slow & Fast

Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” -Kerty Levy

This tweetable thought randomly emerged over coffee today. It’s interesting how philosophies on life, wealth, and happiness evolve from entrepreneurial endeavors.

Perhaps it’s the personal nature of building your own business that causes such reflections? It might be the transformative skill of verbalizing your thoughts and ideas with others? Maybe it’s less about business and more like a beautiful side effect of mindfully aging?

The reason(s) and frequency at which you allow yourself to explore big ideas surely depends on the environment, people you interact with, and knowledge you pursue.

This makes me thankful for my own entrepreneurial experiences, but more important, the immeasurable blessing it can be to expand our minds by plugging into startup communities and entrepreneurial ecosystems. A willingness to show up and the trust built through such generosity has allowed me to become apart of so many other founder stories. As I mention throughout YDNTB, consistent action over the long run is required, but the remarkable insight we pick up along the way can provide a path toward true understanding for anyone, on almost any front. As we support entrepreneurs through the art of connection, the invitation to have more diverse discussions is unlocked more often. Whether it’s strategic, tactical or philosophical, what a gift this can become.

Along with stimulating conversations with agreeable people in a support network, it’s important to weave in perspectives from a challenge network. This is a group of disagreeable people we trust to point out blind spots, which helps us overcome our weaknesses with critical feedback we may not want, but need. Curious interactions within a challenge network also unlocks humbling opportunities to be wrong. This helps us avoid misguided confidence through intellectual humility, and brings us closer to the truth.

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Smart people change their mind all the time. Find joy in discovering you were wrong. You’re now less wrong than before, and when we admit it, we’re not less competent, we’re being honest and displaying a willingness to learn.

#GiveFirst

The energy of accelerating others is unmatched.

When talking with others, forget potential transactions. Instead start by focusing on how you can help. People gravitate toward those who choose genuine selflessness over their own interests.

Showing you care can be as easy as a quick thought to help someone else take their next step. Perhaps there’s a helpful introduction you can make? It can even be as simple as showing you care enough to listen.

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Early in my career I was told that everything felt like a one-way street with me. From then on, I made an effort to listen first and talk less. This is difficult when all you want to do is invite people to your next event or sell whatever it may be. Be willing to show up, stand out, and follow up to seal the deal, but pave two-way streets that allow your relationships to flourish by pulling as much as you push.

However you choose to contribute, the trick is not expecting anything in return. This benevolent attitude has been encapsulated in the hashtag #GiveFirst. Here is a Techstars podcast that explores this mindset. Brad Feld also wrote this book to highlight the #GiveFirst philosophy.

Maintaining a #GiveFirst mentality will spawn meaningful discussions faster and more often. This happens because without ulterior motives, you’re able to explore anything without remorse. Over time, this allows more meaningful connections to evolve, versus contacts without context. When you play the long game of investing in the success of others, the real fun begins.

Concerned you’ll never achieve your goals if you’re always trying to help others? Don’t be. If you relentlessly #GiveFirst, you will earn the attention of people eager to return the favor. You’ll also get asked about your own work more often. That’s when you spark intrigue by saying it’s a secret, before shifting the discussion back to them. They’ll laugh, love it, and come back for more.

39

It’s my 39th birthday!

I love using birthdays to reflect on what was learned, trying something new, or appreciating memorable moments from the past year. I also like to craft recaps (e.g. 33rd birthday / 2014 recap) for my future self to read. This year, YDNTB is quite the relic to always remember this moment in my life so instead of a personal narrative highlighting the past, let’s lean into the future by exploring the idea of retirement.

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“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow.” –Naval

I always told myself I wanted to retire in my thirties. Financial advisors are quick to remind us that the golden years of middle class leisure will require around $1 million in savings, but perhaps there’s more to this story.

Yes, the traditional path to retirement is all about earning enough money to cover the burn rate of your life. A second option to realizing financial freedom is to reduce your burn rate to zero, but not many people are cut out to be a monk.

I prefer early retirement in the form of leveraging what you love to do. Similar to what I describe as Career Nirvana, peaceful satisfaction can be achieved when you do something you love so much that it’s not about the money anymore. This doesn’t mean the work stops or that the responsibilities of life fade away. It’s quite the opposite, as more opportunities tend to present themselves when you figure out what you’re best at and map that to what society wants. This forges an abundance of innovative energy you can’t buy. As you collaborate with those who feed off this energy, you soon realize that nobody can compete with being you.

As you build towards such transcendence and realize that a neon future awaits us all, I’ll close with a toast. May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows. Cheers!

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Good, better, best;
Never let it rest,
‘Til your good is better,
And your better is best.

Champions of Change

Intrapreneurs are starters who champion change inside established companies.

These skilled and determined people are often salaried employees who want to enjoy their job more. They do this by reinventing how they work at a company they trust. While intrapreneurs shake things up in more controlled environments, they share a similar innovative spirit with entrepreneurs building their own company. They challenge the status quo for larger companies smart enough to listen.

Companies that recognize the value of intrapreneurship stay ahead of the market. They do so by not falling too far behind the innovation curve. Smart companies go further by emboldening intrapreneurs. They do so with trust, resources, and a culture that encourages their passionate employees to get weird.

This sounds cool, but there’s a lot of moving parts when steering a cruise ship (large companies) compared to a little speed boat (startups). Add the fact that no matter how big a company is, change is hard, everyone fears it, and advocating for change is more difficult with more branches on the decision tree. As if it’s not complex enough, new ideas will always feel risky to those in power as well. This makes climbing the ladder of progress painfully slow and poses a quagmire for intrapreneurs: constant oversight and a lack of action can lead to burnout.

Intrapreneurial burnout usually translates into employees leaving the company or choosing to play it safe. When conformity sets in, intrapreneurs lose their edge and misinterpret the market. To avoid this hazard, intrapreneurs must keep making a ruckus and companies must help preserve innovative vibes by motivating intrapreneurs with action.

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Big, small, old, and new businesses can all do more when the people they trust find fresh ways to collaborate throughout the community.

Shifting the perspective, it’s good for entrepreneurs when more inspired intrapreneurs are connected throughout an ecosystem, but collaboration with intrapreneurs requires a long-term approach.

One reason is that intrapreneurs can be hard to identify within a startup community. Many intrapreneurs are also quick to say they’re not entrepreneurial, which makes it even harder to uncover these hidden leaders. If you’re a founder able to connect with these unicorns in the balloon factory, be quick to encourage their fresh ideas. Show interest in their latest innovation and invite them to where other entrepreneurs are gathering. Everyone is entrepreneurial to some degree, so the more intrapreneurs feel innovative energy, the more they’ll participate within the community.

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Are you an intrapreneur? If you shake things up and fuel positive change in an existing organization, You Don’t Need This Book is as much for you as it is for students, side hustle enthusiasts, or entrepreneurs building new companies. Another interesting read is Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin. There’s an entire section focused on championing new ideas into existing companies.

Entrepreneurs need intrapreneurs, and intrapreneurs need entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs stay innovative by learning from entrepreneurs who are building what’s next. In exchange, intrapreneurs offer entrepreneurs established wisdom and access to customers. Intrapreneurs may not always be the decision makers, but they can still share resources, feedback, and meaningful introductions. This elevates entrepreneurs and fuels more profitable initiatives led by intrapreneurs.

Such shared momentum translates into existing companies getting more excited by profitable progress and often converts to an increase in their company’s community involvement. Companies become more willing to reinvest in intrapreneurship and ongoing innovation is liberated by an entrepreneurial mindset. As more existing companies thicken their connectivity within the startup community and entrepreneurial ecosystem, more ways to collaborate will emerge. Over time, the rising tide of intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial activity compounds into community-driven partnerships that raises all ships through layered economic growth.