Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

CATEGORY: Careers

I’m Joining UTU Full Time!

I’ve been consulting for UTU for about seven months now, but I am excited to announce that I’ll be joining the team full-time as Chief Commercial Officer!

UTU’s mission is to become the trust infrastructure of the entire internet, replacing anonymous star ratings, reviews, and scores as the de facto trust mechanisms of our digital lives. We’re pioneering new models of online trust to make the internet a safer, more trustworthy place to work and transact.

I’ve been a startup founder and independent consultant for nearly a decade, and this will be my first full-time job since 2012. While it’ll be an interesting transition to full-time employee, I couldn’t be more excited.

Here’s why.

UTU’s vision is massive

If you think about it, trust is involved in nearly every decision that we make. Trust impacts our choices of what products to buy, which handyman to help fix our home, which babysitter to watch our kids, and so much more.

The way we typically make these decisions in the real world is that we ask our family, friends, and neighbors – people we trust – which service providers or products they would recommend.

Now think about how we make these choices online. We are forced to trust based on ratings and reviews, many of which can be fake. And the concept of recommendations from people and connections we trust doesn’t really exist at all online.

At UTU, we are building systems that leverage this real-world trust system to increase trust across the entire internet, for every industry where risk is prevalent and trust is paramount. This can include but is not limited to finance, peer-to-peer services, eCommerce, and so many more.

We’re doing so in a really unique way – leveraging artificial intelligence and blockchain to incentivize trustworthy behavior and punish untrustworthy acts.

We are solving a massive problem that cuts across almost every industry.

If that’s not a huge vision, I don’t know what is.

The challenge is also huge, and I’m ready for it

With a massive vision comes a big challenge. And I’m always up for a challenge.

First of all, trust is a bit of a nebulous concept. Sure, we all know that we trust certain people, companies, or apps, but we can’t always clearly define why we trust who we trust. There’s no standard way to define this, but we believe we’ve cracked the code of bringing real-world, relationship-based trust online.

Another challenge the fact that we have many different audiences to address.

We have products like our Trust Engine that businesses can incorporate into their applications to provide their users with personalized, contextual recommendations for products and services. We are also building many products, like our Fintech API that provides better analysis of creditworthiness, the DeFi Portal, MPESA parser, and many more, all of which have different value propositions.

Being a crypto company, we also need to cater to our investors, whether institutional or retail, who have purchased our token or provided equity investment into our company. We need to continuously communicate our progress, ensure our token is accessible and liquid enough, and work to increase its value.

Finally, we have the end users of the UTU protocol who are providing accurate ratings and reviews. We need to be able to communicate how our protocol works, why it’s worth using, and what they get out of it.

And all of these businesses, users, investors and other community members are spread across the world, speaking many different languages and coming from very different cultures.

Lots to say to lots of different people, and increasing trust across the entire internet is going to be a long journey.

Regardless, I’m ready for and excited about these challenges.

Perfect fit for my skill set

As Chief Commercial Officer, I’m responsible for Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and crypto growth initiatives, with input on Product, Operations, and many other aspects of the business.

This is a really broad role that will be challenging but fits my skill set perfectly.

There will be times where I’ll be selling our products to business customers, communicating with our B2C end users and investors, digging through website analytics, helping to design marketing collateral, or working on improving our products – and all of this can happen on any given day. I love doing a mix of engaging, selling, analyzing, designing, and more.

It’s very similar to my past roles as startup founder, where you’re involved in pretty much every aspect of the business.

And even though I’m not an UTU Co-Founder, I am going to dedicate myself as if I was.

The team is amazing

It’s been great to work with the UTU team over the last seven months.

Co-Founders CEO Jason and CTO Bastian have great approaches to building the company and technology, and we work really well together.

And we’ve recently hired more rockstars in key roles, and whom I already jive with off the bat.

Another great aspect is how supportive and dedicated our board members and advisors have been.

These are titans of industry – successful investors with billions of assets under management; founders who have started, grown, and sold companies; and others who have achieved great wealth and influence – and they’ll immediately make themselves available when we need them. Pretty amazing.

Conclusion

It’s going to be invigorating, challenging, stressful rewarding, you name it. I’m really excited for my role in helping increase trust across the entire internet, and can’t wait to achieve this lofty mission!

P.S. I’ve been also working with Meter, another company in the crypto space, as their CMO. I’m stepping back there but will stay on as a Marketing Advisor. Check them out, they are doing big things as well!

Beeple’s $69M NFT Sale – A Story of Consistency

Beeple’s massive NFT sale is a lesson in consistency and getting better everyday.

The graphic artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, just sold an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) for $69,000,000 dollars at a Christie’s auction.

An NFT is a piece of digital artwork that is minted on a blockchain to prove ownership. Google the term and you’ll find a ton of information about NFTs because they are super hot right now.

As a crypto guy, I can go into a diatribe about why NFTs are valuable and how they are changing the game for artists and creators. I won’t.

I think there’s another lesson to be learned here – one about consistency and getting better everyday.

The NFT that Beeple sold is called “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” and is a compilation of all of the digital art pieces he has created over 5,000 consecutive days of work. That’s nearly 14 years of working every single day!

Beeple’s “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS”

This resurfaced a lingering suspicion I’ve been thinking about – that the path to success isn’t necessarily dependent on talent, skill, or smarts.

I think success is much more about consistency and practice.

Certainly, having some natural talent plays a role.

But you can have a high level of talent and poor work ethic, and your skills would be wasted without consistent practice.

You can read all the books, go to school for years and years, watch YouTube videos, and get wicked smart on some topic. But if you don’t put all of this knowledge to use, and do so frequently and consistently, you’re just not going to realize your potential.

Quality comes from quantity.

Now, do as I say, not as I do. I have a long way to go to achieve consistency.

Take a look at this sad, sorry blog. My last post was in May 2020, almost one year ago.

And take a look at my Twitter feed. I struggle to tweet just once a day.

Granted, I have been very busy with my crypto consulting clients, my family, and other projects. I am learning and getting better everyday, just not necessarily via posting to my personal blog or Twitter.

There was one time where I blogged for 40 days straight. I wasn’t writing anything ridiculously substantial or high-quality (I rarely do, ha). I was just spitballing about my startup, family, and anything else that crossed my mind. Within those 40 days, I was motivated, excited to write, and probably got more blog traffic than any other period of time I’ve been blogging.

Consistency compounds on itself. You get into a rhythm, and eventually you don’t want to disappoint yourself by breaking the streak. I really felt that motivation when I blogged for 40 days straight.

Now back to Beeple.

I had never heard of Beeple before this recent NFT craze. He has done a lot of work for musicians and big brands, so I’m sure he was doing just fine financially before his big NFT scores. But not $69M fine.

My guess is that at some point during his EVERYDAYS streak, it became second nature for Beeple to create everyday. There may have been days where he was lazy and unmotivated, but powered through to keep the streak alive.

That consistency has paid off for him in a big way.

The fact that Beeple’s biggest win was not a new piece of work, but a culmination of all his work from producing and getting better every day, is an amazing lesson in how important consistency is to success.

Maybe in another 14 years, he’ll create “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 10000 DAYS” and sell it for much more. I certainly hope so.

Would you choose Yale over a full-ride to a state school?

I recently tweeted this question out to my followers:

And I’ve been asking this question a lot to friends and fellow parents.

Assuming the world goes back to normal, a college education is still highly valued, and you’re in your current financial situation, how much is it worth to you for your child to have Yale (or any other top-tier school) on their resume?

Do you believe that the Yale brand is valuable enough to bypass a full-ride scholarship to a very good but not elite state university?

Twitter Responses

The responses were certainly varied. 

On one end of the spectrum, some people were completely against taking on debt. 

On the other end, some believed that the Yale brand sets up the student for long-term success.

Another respondent considered the quality of the student body:

And one person took into account the many options available in addition to just doing four years at one institution. 

Of course, the college selection process is very nuanced. There are many important factors to consider such as major, size of the student body, campus environment, and many others. 

As Karen Rands replied above, you can always attend community college or a state university then transfer to a more prestigious school later. 

There are certainly a lot of factors that aren’t accounted for in my question. But what I wanted to get feedback on was how much people valued the brand of a university. 

What is a University’s Brand Worth?

To many, the name brand of a university is extremely important because it reflects the quality of education, the student’s intelligence, and their ability to learn and succeed.

On one hand, your child having Yale on their resume is a stamp of approval that reflects extremely positively on your child. 

If a future hiring manager sees Yale on a resume, that candidate will always garner some consideration and likely will at least get a first interview. I don’t think that can be said for state schools ranked outside of the top 3 or 4. 

On the other hand, $300,000 is a hefty price to pay for that stamp.

And if your child got accepted to Yale, it’s likely that they’re smart and will be successful no matter what college they attend. 

Let’s take a look at some salary data from Payscale. Many of the Ivy League and other top-tier schools rank in the top 15 for early-career and mid-career salaries. 

Many state schools that I’ve posed in the question, such as University of Florida, Wisconsin, and others in that range, rank in the 200s. 

So it’s pretty clear that attending a top-tier school, generally, will increase your lifetime earnings by a significant amount. 

My Opinion

I would choose Yale over a full-ride to a state school for my daughter, Maya.

I believe that the Yale brand carries so much weight and will open many doors for Maya. And the experience of being around thousands of smart, ambitious students and having this network for life will absolutely help my daughter succeed.

Yes, $300,000 is a hefty price tag. But I think it would be worth it.

For the Twitter respondents who chose Yale, I asked a follow-up question:

If Maya got a full-ride scholarship to Berkeley (historically ranked #1), I’d definitely choose that over Yale.

I’d likely also go with UCLA, Michigan, and UVA.

When we get to the 5th-ranked schools (typically UNC and one of my alma maters, Georgia Tech), I’m not so sure.

I’m not knocking on state schools at all. Heck, I attended one (albeit for grad school), and it was a great experience. Many undergraduate state schools are just as good as some of the country’s elite universities at a much more reasonable price. And many exceed elite universities in certain factors, such as quality of specific majors, diversity of the student body, access to better sports events, and many more. 

I just believe that, all other things equal, graduating from an elite university brings many benefits that can open many doors and help one succeed in life. 

And that’s worth a good deal of money to me. 

The Importance of Brand, Generalized

More generalized, the question basically boils down to “How much does brand mean to you?”

The brands of the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the phone you use, and other products you own reflect you as a person. These brands provide signals about what you value and represent.

Personally, I am not all that concerned about the brands of my products. I just look for good products that work well and last. 

I wear clothes that I bought off Amazon, drive a Subaru Forester, and use an Android phone (which I do think is better than an iPhone, but that’s a debate for another day). 

But I do highly value education, especially if it helps my daughter succeed. Thus, brand in education is very important to me, and a brand like Yale is as good as you can get.

Conclusion

Not everyone agrees with me, and that’s perfectly fine. Everyone’s situation is different, and everyone values things differently. 

There are so many factors that goes into selecting a college, and it doesn’t just come down to brand. But I wanted to gauge the value that others put on a university’s brand.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this. Click this link to share this article and include your choice in the tweet. Or comment below.

Thanks for reading!

A look back at the 2010s, and forward to 2020

The 2010s was probably the most impactful decade of my life, both on a personal and professional level.

The decade was filled with ups (mostly personal) and downs (mostly professional). A lot of change happened, and I learned a ton, both in terms of new skills and knowledge, and about myself.

Recap of the 2010s

Here are some of the things that happened last decade. 

On the personal side, all great:

  • I married my best friend in the world (3 times in fact – in DC, Mexico, and Queens!)
  • I had an amazing, wonderful daughter
  • I bought a beautiful house
  • I traveled to Greece, Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, Colombia, and many other great locations around the world

On the professional side, so-so:

  • I left my dream job in the sports industry to become a tech startup founder (and maybe F’d up career in the process)
  • I launched 3 startups that failed
  • I discovered crypto/blockchain and am working on transitioning to this industry for my career
  • I learned so much about technology, marketing, product, and what it takes to create a company

There’s not much more to say about the things that happened in my personal life. That side of life is amazing and I can’t be more grateful.

Regarding my career, I have no regrets, but hindsight is 2020 (pun intended!) and there are some things I would do differently. More on this in a future post!

Looking ahead to 2020

2020 is going to be another year full of change.

On the personal side, my resolutions are to:

  • Hit 160 pounds at some point (equates to losing 8 pounds from today)
  • Work on my poker game (I have a couple leaks I need to plug)
  • Be the best dad and husband I can be

On the professional side:

  • I aim to work in crypto full-time, whether it’s a full-time gig with one company or multiple consulting projects. I should have some positive announcements soon about this!
  • Get better at coding. I’ve been “learning to code” for over 6 years now. I just need to focus on come up with a plan to get much better at it and build some apps from scratch. 

Conclusion

The 2010s was a bit of a roller coaster ride, but overall it was an amazing decade. I can’t wait to see what the 2020s bring!

How was last decade to you? I’d love to hear what happened!  

Process > Results

I recently listened to the book titled Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by poker champion Annie Duke. 

Being a poker player, I was naturally compelled to read this book. And being an entrepreneur, I totally understand the difficulty of making decisions with little information. And Thinking in Bets crystallized this concept really well. 

The premise of the story is that in poker (and life) you have to make decisions with imperfect or very little information, and due to luck, the right decision may result in a negative outcome. 

For instance, before the flop comes, pocket Aces is the best hand in poker. So it’s always the right decision to raise pre-flop. But against another pocket pair, there is an 18% chance you will lose. So if your Aces get beat by another pocket pair, were you wrong for playing your Aces the way you did? 

On the flip side, you can make a terrible decision and play your hand like crap, and still win.

Here’s another example. In Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Seahawks had a 2nd down at the New England Patriots’ 1-yard line with 26 seconds left on the clock and a chance to win the game. They had one of the best goal-line running backs in Marshawn Lynch. But head coach Pete Carroll decided to call a pass play, and Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw an interception to end the game 

Many have called this the worst decision in football history. 

But what if Russell Wilson threw a touchdown? What would people have thought about Carroll’s decision? They would have likely said that it was “gutsy”, “brave”, and “fearless”.

In reality, the decision actually made sense, primarily due to clock management and the defensive formation the Patriots ran. I won’t get into it here, but you can check out this Slate article and this SBNation article for more info. 

We all make decisions with imperfect information.

Maybe it’s a decision to hire someone for your team at work, and that person doesn’t perform as expected. 

Maybe you decide to buy a new house in a great neighborhood, but a black swan event happens and the house’s value goes under water. 

In both cases, you could have done all of your research correctly, checked off all of the boxes, dotted your T’s and crossed your I’s. But sometimes things happen that you have no control over. 

If this happens, do you doubt your decision-making abilities? Do you not trust your process anymore? 

Certainly, you should try to find the holes in your thought process. Did you not see something you should have seen? Did you not do enough research? 

But if you’re confident you did all you can do, you shouldn’t doubt yourself just because the outcome wasn’t positive. 

If the outcome turned out the way you expected, I’d bet that you would think you’re a genius, right? Right. 

So the point of this all is to separate the outcome from the process. Whether you were right or wrong, you can’t let the result of your decision cast doubt on the work you did to get there. 

I think this is a really important mindset to have. Process over results!

Have you been in any situations where you thought you made a correct decision that turned out negatively? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Where do you go to do your best work?

I was chatting with a fellow startup buddy who primarily works out of coffee shops around DC. I asked him the question, “What’s your algorithm for selecting which coffee shop you’re going to work at each day?”

He said that it depends on the type of work that he needs to get done that day. If he needs to write, he’ll go to Coffee Shop #1. If he needs to get in a design frame of mind, he prefers Coffee Shop #2. For most other tasks, he’ll go to Coffee Shop #3.

I thought this was so interesting.

I work in an office two days a week and split the rest of my work week between home, a co-working space, and (less frequently) coffee shops.

These are vastly different environments with varying levels of noise, distractions, and comfort. So if I need to take calls on specific days, I’ll avoid coffee shops because they are too noisy. Or if I’m a bit tired, I’ll avoid working from home (that couch is soooo tempting) and will go to a co-working space or coffee shop so I can be surrounded by more energy.

But I never thought about which environment would be better for specific types of work, especially not to the granularity of different coffee shops (which are all pretty similar) for different skills.

There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of work environments, much of it surrounding the controversy of whether open offices are good or bad for productivity. For example, see these articles from The Washington Post, The Ladders, and David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH is the founder of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails and has very strong opinions on the workplace).

Open offices promote collaboration, teamwork, and ideation. Open offices are noisy, lower morale, and increase interruptions.

The fact of the matter is that everyone works differently, and this can change with the day of the week. Or the type of work that needs to be done.

Many corporations force their employees to work from the office full-time. But I think that many companies are finally seeing the benefits of a more flexible work schedule for their employees.

Entrepreneurs often have the flexibility to experiment and find their ideal workspace for the type of work that they need to do or the mood that they’re in.

So my question is, do you know where you do your best, most productive work? Does the location vary by the type of work that you do, the mood that you’re in, or other factors? I’d love to hear more about your story in the comments, or tweet at me at @mikewchan.

Thanks for reading!

What I love and hate about learning to code

Since I became an entrepreneur nearly six years ago, I’ve attempted to learn to code a few times but never really stuck with it. I took some online courses learning Ruby on Rails and Javascript (Meteor and Node), but all that knowledge just faded away over time because I failed to continue to work at it.

I think it was because I wasn’t building projects that were that interesting or helpful to me. Now I’m learning Python and have stuck with it longer than anytime in the past because I’m working on things that directly impact my life.

I’ve written a small script that automates some of the reporting that I do for my day job (and I continue to improve it) and am working on a program that syncs my Amazon Alexa shopping list to Trello, which my wife and I use to organize our shopping list. You can read more about these projects in this Quora answer.

There are great and terrible things about learning to code. Here are my thoughts on what I love and hate about my journey.

What I love about learning to code

Thinking deeply

I enjoy thinking deeply through the problems that I face when learning to code.

When I’m learning something new, especially something as difficult as software development, I have to really concentrate to understand what I’m doing and what’s happening.

Still, most of the time I have no idea what’s going on.

But I do enjoy getting really deep in thought and pretending that I understand what I’m learning. 🙂

Logical thinking

Regardless of the programming language that you’re learning, you have to apply a lot of logic. I really enjoy thinking through what is the best logic I should use.

For loops, if/then statements, different ways to format your data – you have to be able to apply these techniques, and many more, in various situations. There’s always more than one way to do something with code, and the logic you apply will determine what’s the best solution.

Researching

I truly enjoy researching solutions to specific problems that I’m facing. I spend A LOT of time on Stack Overflow searching for solutions, and I really enjoy doing this research. I obviously don’t always know what I’m researching, but I like the process of researching and implementing a solution.

It’s an amazing feeling when something works

It’s an amazing feeling when, after a lot of thinking deeply, applying logic, and researching, the script you wrote actually does what you want it to do.

It’s actually my third favorite feeling in the world (the top two are bodily functions that I won’t get into, haha).

The Challenge

Learning to code is hard. And I like the challenge that it offers. It’s invigorating.

What I hate about learning to code

It’s really time consuming and fucking hard

I like the feeling of getting things done. And often I’m not getting anything done when I code.

There are times I just sit there and stare at the blinking cursor with no idea what to type next.

It takes FOREVER for me to write code. I’ve been working on some of these scripts for months and sometimes it seems like I’m going backwards.

It’s literally like learning a new language.

I do enjoy the challenge…most of the time. But there are times when learning to code just seems too hard.

I feel like I’ll never amount to anything

I don’t think I want to become a full-time software developer, but even if I did, I can’t imagine getting good enough at programming to become one.

I feel so far behind and don’t believe that I can really ever catch up to developers who have years or decades more experience.

When I get stuck on a problem and can’t figure it out, feelings of inability and stupidity pop up. It’s tough.

Conclusion

Learning to code is fun and shitty at the same time.

One minute I’m pumping my fist because something worked, the next minute I’m smashing my head against my desk because I broke something and have no idea what.

Hopefully the pros will outweigh the cons and I’ll just keep cranking away at it.

 

What if things went right?

Prospect Theory graph

Most people believe losses hurt more than gains help.

When presented with a difficult or speculative decision, many people’s first thoughts would be about what could go wrong.

But what if things went right?

I’ve invested some money into Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies and frequently have conversations with others about this. Some of the negative things I hear are:

  • Have fun losing your money!
  • I’d never invest in anything not backed by a real asset
  • Crypto has no intrinsic value – I’ll pass

I’m not saying that you should invest in things you don’t understand. I totally get if crypto is too speculative for many, and I’m prepared to lose the amount I invested; it’s not enough to break my bank if things go to shit.

But what if some cryptocurrencies actually panned out? What if the underlying technology is the future of the internet (which I believe it is), adoption rose over the years, and thus the value of these cryptocurrencies increased in lockstep? A lot of money can be made.

There were so many things that could have stopped Uber or AirBNB from becoming a reality. Local regulations did not allow for ride- or home-sharing. Riders or travelers would certainly think sitting in someone else’s car or sleeping in another person’s home would be sketchy. And who the hell would want someone else in their car or home?

If the founding teams of Uber or AirBNB actually allowed these hurdles to stop them from creating these products, the world would be a very different place right now. We’d still be waving down cabs on the street and staying in overpriced hotel rooms.

But Travis Kalanick, Brian Chesky, and the companies’ investors thought about what could go right, instead of wrong. And these companies have changed the world.

Humans are naturally loss and risk averse, and according to prospect theory, losses have more emotional impact compared to an equivalent amount of winnings.

It’s difficult to go against human nature. It’s natural to think about what could go wrong, especially if you have a lot to lose and people depend on you.

But what if things went right?

What I Learned from Indra Nooyi on Freakonomics Radio

Indra Nooyi

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I recently listened to an episode of Freakonomics Radio with Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo. It was an amazing listen, I highly recommend it.

While Indra talked about so many interesting things she has experienced during her tenure at PepsiCo and her life in general, I took away three main points from the interview:

  1. How getting close to the customer is all that matters
  2. The importance of a STEM education, even for someone in the food business
  3. Developing “adaptation strategies”

Let’s dig deeper.

How getting close to the customer is all that matters

Around 13:50 of the interview, Indra talks about how men and women eat snacks differently. Men will loudly crunch on their chips, lick their fingers, and tip the bag to pour the remaining crumbs into their mouths. Women won’t crunch out loud, won’t lick their fingers, won’t pour crumbs into their mouths, and like to store snacks in their purses.

Indra has institutionalized the importance of deeply understanding customers into PepsiCo and uses that knowledge to design all aspects of their products – from packaging, shelving, storage, all the way to consumption. She frequently scans supermarket shelves to see how products are displayed, and sometimes visits customers’ homes to see how they’re storing and consuming the product.

All of this research and knowledge goes into a bag of Doritos. Seriously.

No matter what industry you work in – food, construction, technology, or any other – if you truly understand everything about your customer, you’ll be successful. You need to figure out how they select products or services, how they consume them in different scenarios, what their pain points are, and much more to add as much value as possible.

Importance of a STEM education

Around 16:40, Indra stresses the importance of having a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

How does the CEO of a global food and beverage company benefit from having a background in science?

Her education helps her better understand the science behind the research, development, and marketing of new, healthier snacks and foods.

Because nutritious foods are more highly scrutinized, PepsiCo has to back up these products with scientific facts. And the CEO needs to fully understand and communicate these facts to customers.

Additionally, knowledge of science helps her better grasp and communicate to her staff and Board of Directors why she is funding these scientific R&D initiatives and how they will get the company to a better place.

Indra mentioned that science is much harder to learn when you’re older, and if you have that foundation in STEM, you can easily learn anything else along your career journey. So true.

Development of adaptation strategies

Finally, around 31:30, Indra talks about developing “adaptation strategies” to deal with the things that life throws at you.

Indra talked about how her mother told her to “leave the crown in the garage”, meaning that even though she’s the CEO in her career, she shouldn’t act that way when she gets home. If she did, she wouldn’t be a good mother, wife, or daughter.

I think development of these adaptation strategies is really powerful. If you don’t adapt to your surroundings, you’re going hate life. If you act the same way in every situation, you’re going to alienate a lot of people, or be alienated by a lot of people. If you don’t adjust to the environment around you, you might have difficulty moving forward.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself. But there’s a lot of value in recognizing the situation you’re in and adapting to the environment.

Conclusion

Being the CEO of a massive international organization is a tough job. And Indra Nooyi basically laid out a blueprint on how to excel at it.

Regardless of what industry or function you’re in, I would highly recommend giving the episode a listen. Let me know what you think of it.

I saw a therapist today for the first time

Yup, I went to a therapist today. First time ever.

Psychotherapy

No, I did not lie down on a couch. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been having very odd dreams where certain scenes and scenarios repeat themselves.

There are certain buildings that I’ve never seen in real life popping up in dreams over and over again. I sometimes find myself in a vehicle on a car lift about 50 feet above the ground, scared shitless. I’m often running away from or toward something. Weird, right?

So I decided to see a therapist to discuss my dreams.

Years ago, the alpha-male version of myself would have looked at someone who went to therapy as weak and fragile, and the thought of going to therapy would have never crossed my mind.

I’m a different person now, and I think it’s because I’m an entrepreneur. For better or for worse.

My therapist said that dreams are the mind’s way of processing everything around you. Your environment, everything that you do and deal with on a daily basis, and all your fears and anxieties can be manifested in your dreams.

And that’s probably what’s happening with my dreams. The stress and uncertainty of being a startup founder is the likely cause of my weird dreams. What these dreams mean is TBD.

Whenever I speak with people interested in startups and entrepreneurship, I say that managing your psychology is the hardest part.

Many of these budding entrepreneurs and founders are really smart people who have seen nothing but success in their careers. They’ve climbed the corporate ladder, obtained raises and promotions, and haven’t failed at all.

I’ve been in their shoes before. So I warn them about how it feels when things aren’t working. And things will not work a lot. Things haven’t worked for me for five years.

I also tell them how good things feel when things do work, and how you have to celebrate little wins, as insignificant as they may be. This keeps you sane.

There’s a great post titled “The case against entrepreneurship“, where the Co-founder and former CEO of the mobile game Dots, Paul Murphy, describes how difficult entrepreneurship is. Paul describes a lonely and expensive existence full of problems, fear, and greed.

One of my favorite startup writers is Nate Kontny, CEO of CRM software Highrise. He wrote a recent piece titled “Making it personal” where he describes why he puts so much of his personal life into his content and talks about the lows as well as the highs.

This kind of content – real, raw pieces that highlight the tough parts of entrepreneurship – really resonates with me and my journey. Sure, the “how I grew my business 100% in 30 minutes” or “25 things you need to do before 5AM to be successful” articles are inspiring, but that shit gets old quickly. To the writers of these articles – I’m happy for your success, I really am. Maybe even a little envious. And you are inspiring. But I don’t just want to hear about your success, I want to learn about everything you went through, even the tough times, to achieve it.

Anyway, back to therapy.

Entrepreneurship is hard. Tech startups are even harder. I knew that going into it.

Managing your psychology is one of the most important and difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. It’s not helpful to keep everything inside and having it build up until you explode.

I’m not at any risk of hurting myself or anyone around me. Many might say that I don’t truly need therapy. Maybe they’re right. But I think talking to an objective, professionally-trained third party can help get my mind right, and I’ve chosen to do that.

Let’s see how this goes.