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.

Extra Shot

“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.

Extra Shot

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

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.

Extra Shot

“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.

Extra Shot

What makes you indispensable?

Ship It

We are all artists. No matter what you create, there’s a distinction between creating art and shipping it.

Extra Shot

Here’s a useful definition of art. How does (re)defining art this way change the way you think about your own contributions? What is your art?

My favorite author, Seth Godin, often writes about going beyond the status quo by creating remarkable art. As we explore and expand our creative practice, Godin also suggests that if we don’t ship our art (i.e. send it out into the world), that it is all for naught. He leans on how art is all is about connection, and if nothing is shipped, there cannot be connection.

Entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, side hustlers, students, and community builders willing to ship, fuel positive change with their art. Unfortunately, the ego often fears external evaluation. This fear is compounded when a lack of success may occur, which is always possible. As apprehension calcifies over time, it becomes tough to resit the temptation of hiding our thoughts, emotions, and activities within the safety of solitude.

Creating art to enjoy by yourself can build skills and provides internal layers of sentimental value, but to go beyond the status quo, push past the fear of feedback.

Extra Shot

Failure is an illusion. We either succeed or learn.

The world is loud, so avoid wasting time shouting just to make noise, but know that we need you to ship your art. This encouragement is not an excuse to rush into bad ideas, ship something that hasn’t received proper attention, or not deliver on a promise. It is however, a friendly reminder that pursuing perfection can devolve into an enemy of progress.

We’ve all heard inspiration like that before, but listen to those you admire. Perfection is rarely required when all you need is enough success to continue creating art. Let such liberation fuel confidence. Translate expanding confidence into fresh curiosity. Augment this curiosity with creative action. Rinse and repeat.

As belief in oneself grows, one interesting hesitation is disguised by good intention. We tell ourselves it’s not wise to be too self-serving. This is virtuous, but sometimes endless humility makes silence feel safe. As we protect ourselves by staying quiet, a self-limiting restraint develops. For example, many people find writing into journal to be therapeutic, but are quick to dismiss the idea of sharing these beautifully raw writings with others. Of course it’s good to internalize some things, but as you learn more about yourself through writing, know your art can make an expanded impact when it ships.

Ready to ship your art? Think about your own super powers and the people you care about. How might connecting these two things provide value? Experiment with small actions and as this develops into a practice, expand the connected nature of your creativity. As your art connects with those who care, find a cadence that allows you to be consistent. Seth Godin suggests that we all ship something daily, but one size does not fit all and the right tempo depends on the art you’re planning to ship. To find your own signal, consider your personal bandwidth and the audience you seek to serve. Talk with others and experiment, then tweak your timing to find the right rhythm.

If you’re shipping art, I’d love to hear what makes it remarkable and how you stay consistent. If you’re looking for new ways to make a ruckus, the Roasted Reflections library and my curated Resources page will help spark fresh movement.

No matter your current state of now, thank you for continuing to create art. More important, thank you for being courageous enough to ship it.

Recording an Audiobook

I’m often asked about my journey as a first-time author.

How I Wrote YDNTB is a link I’m quick to share with those curiously navigating the fog of writing their own book. I’ve also began speaking with groups about how Pour Over Publishing was established to support this project.

With the audiobook for You Don’t Need This Book about to hit your ears, a similar rumination on how I planned, recorded, produced, and distributed my own audiobook is in order. Enjoy!

Planning

As Seth Godin mentions in his Advice For Authors, the cadence for an important project starts long before everyone first hears about it. Planning slows down early progress, but vision, preparation, and a willingness to rethink along the way provide value as pieces of a larger puzzle come together over time.

Extra Shot

Audiobooks unlocked my interest reading.

Establishing a strategic cadence for YDNTB was something I’m glad I thought about early on. I wasn’t sure how they were produced, but an audiobook was always going to be part of the YDNTB experience. The sturdy softcover and convenient eBook were launched first, but the time-release effect of a staggered distribution provides a fresh promotional boost, while inviting a wider audience of audiophiles into this exploration of entrepreneurship in the connected era.

Along with a thoughtful timeline, a planned cadence has allowed me to organize each of the individual variables into the overall equation. For example, the ISBN numbers, pricing, and distribution methods are different for each item, but work together at the same time.

Recording

When it was time to hit record, I wish it was as easy as grabbing the book, a cup of coffee, and just reading my heart out. There’s a lot you can do in “post”, which is jargon that describes all the work done to bring original media into a finished state, but quality audio is easier to work with. I thought about renting time in a professional studio. I also considered quiet booths at a local coworking space, but knowing the audiobook recording process was going to take longer than I thought, I decided to craft my own quiet place.

As seen in this YDNTB audiobook preview video, I found solace in the lower layer of my home and with a simple setup, I created a comfortable environment to narrate every word of my book.

Any decent microphone can work, but I used the Zoom H4N Pro Audio Recorder mounted in front of a small isolation shield with sound absorbent foam. A pop filter was then placed in front of the microphone to reduce the peaks as I spoke. To monitor the sound, I used a nice headset from my friends at Astro Gaming. This helped me stay in the zone, but also made sure unwanted noise didn’t sneak into the recording. This attention to detail led to the basement fridge getting unplugged, the HVAC being turned off, clock batteries being removed, and momentary pauses when planes flew overhead. Knowing I wanted to stand to project my voice as I narrated the book, I sat my laptop at eye level and used a silent mouse to scroll through the eBook. The result was a rich sound that listeners will appreciate without distraction.

Extra Shot

Brad Feld read his contribution for the YDNTB audiobook, so you’ll hear his voice within the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems section of the Community chapter!

One big surprise, was how exhausting it was to record an audiobook. I was naive to think I could stand up and read the entire thing in just a few settings. Audiobooks must be read word-for-word for whisper syncing and proper transcription. This meant misread words had to be identified (I clapped to create a spike in the audio waves) and re-read to perfection.

Along with eliminating audio-flavored typos, the inflections from the author are one of the best parts of audiobooks, so I wanted listeners to experience a similar satisfaction with the YDNTB audiobook. This translated the narration into more like an artistic performance! With BENergy poured into every word, a single chapter was usually the longest I’d last before my mind was mushy, my voice became scratchy, and my legs started to tremble. In an effort to make the entire audiobook sound even, I knew I wanted to capture everything within a short window of time, but recording all 37,456 words still took over a month to complete. Even with the extra time this process required, I had a lot of fun narrating my own book.

Production

With hours of recorded audio in place, the real work began.

To provide the most engaging experience for listeners, every sentence received treatment. This was painstaking, but the extra effort allowed me to remove outtakes and the distracting sound of me gasping for air. I also spent time listening to how everything sounded together. This often meant listening to the same sentence many times, which allowed me to optimize the flow felt between each syllable, word, sentence, paragraph, and section.

Attentively starring at audio waves and stitching what felt like endless audio into a polished audiobook was the definition of tedious. I have no idea how many hours were spent and if I have to do it again, I’ll probably hire out this production process. That said, I’m glad I took on the challenge. Like much of the YDNTB story, this was a test of skill, will, and endurance, but resulted in a relic I can be proud of for life.

As each word merged into sentences, paragraphs became sections. Sections connected into chapters and I eventually had the entire audiobook stitched together. I brought every element of the audiobook into a final round of editing to reduce any remaining echoes, peaks, and audible flaws. The complete audiobook clocks in at 5 hours, 30 minutes, and 13 seconds.

Distribution

With a piece of art ready to hear, it was important to make sure my audiobook was easy to find. Along with direct (pre)orders from the YDNTB page, I used the Amazon ACX platform to make sure this audiobook was optimized and available to download on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

I love how the audiobook fits into the YDNTB universe and I’m proud of how it turned out. I’d invite you to listen to the audiobook while holding a signed softcover for the ultimate experience. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

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.

Extra Shot

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.

Extra Shot

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.