A Map to Your Funeral

What would you want to be said at your funeral? Can you close your eyes and imagine your funeral? Who is speaking? What is being said? Most of us, in a rush to start a business and become successful, forget to actually define success. We shoot for more money, bigger houses and maybe even big impact.

Rarely do we stop long enough to map out a course to our own success.

But what if, just for a few minutes, we took the time and energy to determine what's important? What makes us happy and serves those around us?

Who are the people with whom you spend time - maybe not the specific names, but the quality and kind of people.

The words at the funeral are the endpoints on our own map of life.

On the way, there will be detours, prototypes, and iterations. The road will be winding with thousands of small decisions. Our definition of success is our true north as we are faced with those dilemmas.


Without a true north, we bounce around like a pinball. A definition of success helps us enjoy the journey.

Want to See the Future of Work? Look at TV and Film

Television shows and films have very short lifespans. A movie may take 1-2 years to make and play for only a couple of months. A television series will run for a couple of years if it ever even gets an audience. Only outliers last more than five years.

Product lifecycles and companies themselves are becoming more and more like TV and film. Products last a few years at best. Companies change so much and so fast that workers can't rely on staying at the same place for an entire career.

For better or worse, the gig economy is the future.

According to the Forbes article "The Rise of the Freelancer Economy," as of January 2016, there are 53 million freelancers in America. By 2020 it is expected that 50% of the US workforce will be self-employed.

Want to know how to plan your career when the economy consists of products and businesses with short lifecycles? Look to your friends in the film business. They've been doing this for years.

Do This One Thing to Have a Better Life

Our lives are made up of conversations. The quality of the people with whom we speak every day will significantly impact the quality of our lives. Jim Rohn said, "we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with."

If we spend our time with negative or disruptive people, we lose our mojo. If we spend our time with people that are moving forward on the kinds of projects and relationships that we love, we move forward.

There is nothing more critical than taking control of the people with whom you surround yourself. We become them.

To the extent that you can control who you speak to on a daily basis, be intentional and vigilant surrounding yourself with the right people.

The Man in the Arena

No one says it better than Teddy Roosevelt did back in 1910.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Putting yourself out there means potential financial and social risk. To strive forward doing work that matters involves getting hurt and being vulnerable; because honestly pushing boundaries means sometimes falling.

There is nothing wrong with opting to for invisibility. But being invisible has its price, paid by the soul.


What is Your Important Work?

Our most important work is passive. It won't show up if we don't intentionally carve out time to get it done. Whether it's career, relationships or physical health, it takes specific intent to get the most important (and almost never the most pressing) work done.

  • Showing up at the gym
  • Eating well
  • Going on a special outing with your partner
  • Writing a letter or email to a colleague relationship that needs nurturing

All of these require intentionally stopping the noise of email and facebook and twitter and the constant stream of work stuff that feels important at the moment but can almost always wait.

Getting the most important work done is a practice of living with intention; knowing what is important today and intentionally making time to do it.

Mind the Gap

Most of us feel like we have done the studying and the learning to know our craft, and it feels like that should be enough. But the only thing by which others can judge is the work we produce. The art, the article, the extra time spent meeting with a friend...

The world cannot see what's in your head and heart; they can only know what you produce.

Can you see the gaps in the things you care about and the what you've created?

Intention is not the same as action.

Get One

Passionate idea people are beautiful. The dreams and the excitement are contagious. And most of those dreams and visions go nowhere.

We can see the big end goal, the helping of thousands of underserved people. There's an image of our firm with people all across the world, or our software platform linking thousands of buyers and sellers, or shipping 1,000 units per month of our new cool gadget.

But what stands between the grand vision and today's current reality? More often than not it's one customer that's not your mother or your friend.

Once one customer comes in the door and they are delighted, a second and third come along. Now you've started a real entity. Money is coming in, money is going out, and most importantly people are being served.

You may be losing money every month, and that's OK. When you know how to find people that want your thing and people to pay for it (those that pay and those that use are not always the same), you can work out the details later.

For any of this to happen requires a first revenue generating user. Then a second and a third until a sustainable financial model is developed.

All of this is to say that we need to walk before we can run. Our vision may be helping thousands per year. To help thousands, someone has to be first, and second, and third...

There is simply no getting around this paradigm. To have something big, you have to start with a first user. To become an adult, you have to start as a child.

Can you get one user for your thing? If you can, do it and put all the rest of the noise on hold. The other issues will be there when you get back.