My first Job Offer
I can remember the conversation with my grandfather, it was after the Sunday sermon at Saint Mary's, directly after Father Gully's handshake (and condescending pat on the head) and just before doughnuts, I was 11 years old and I knew this moment would change my life (even then). My grandfather was a WWII war hero (Silver Star for his heroics in Sicily), he was an Alderman for the local government (with his name on a plaque outside of the Public Safety Building), he was a father to nine children, a retiree with the Local A&P Butcher's Union and a elder for the Local Irish American Club off of Yoeman St., in Amsterdam NY. Amsterdam New York was a small city off of the Mohawk Corridor, stuck between a farm community and a never was, in 1990, you could still hear the old timers whispering the name "Rug City USA", as if the moniker represented a more prestigious past, a time when pride was something attached to the corner you lived in. My Grandfather (Joseph Michael Purtell) asked me "we need someone to clean up after 'stag' parties", to which I eagerly accepted.
"It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." ~ Elon Musk
Looking Back on that first Job Offer
I wish someone had taught me the art of negotiation, had I known now what I hadn't known then, a "stag" was a social pariah, a whispered moment of social gathering, held in the shadows and condemned by wives and girlfriends. Amsterdam New York in 1990 was not a haven for social deviance, but, it was a place where some people worked harder than others, and when a Friday night came around, it was commonplace to meet with your friends to enjoy what little semblance of wealth you had available in your pocket. The "stag" implied an introduction to cheap booze, and expensive entertainment - the morning after these gatherings, I was tasked with establishing a level of cleanliness that met the club's elders vision of social decency. With a broom, mop and a few dirty rags, I earned $20 dollars for my 6 hour shift and I was on my way to creating my own destiny. Though, I should have asked for $22 dollars, I guess hindsight is 20/20.
Creating your Brand
A "brand" requires a few things, first and foremost it requires research. Who is the audience you are looking to attract? What is your value? More so, what is your value proposition? But most important, who/what is your competition? For an eleven year old, a brand is quite simple, your "brand" simply represents your eagerness and the ability to work any job, without complaint, for a wage of $20. But, that "eagerness" is what will/can create an opportunity at something bigger, unfortunately, that "opportunity" is not something all people are willing to accept with gratis. At 11 years old, I knew that I wanted better than nothing, I knew that the world was bigger than my small valley, and I knew that I was able to create my own opportunities, I just didn't know how yet - I also understood that not everyone would understand why. It was obvious to me in 1990 that comfort was the most important thing in a small town, comfort in your wife/husbands ability to look the other way, comfort in a 40 hour work week with benefits, comfort in know your place. Years later I would learn a single word, that would change me, "Entrepreneurial", this same word would also prove to be one of the most uncomfortable words I've ever heard other people speak.
“I just want to be right—I don’t care if the right answer comes from me.” ~ Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work
Question, how many businesses have you failed? How many sleepless nights have you had due to anticipation for tomorrow? Worse yet, how many of those nights were due to anxiety? As a red shirt entrepreneur It's easier to get yourself wrapped up in trying at an idea than it is to think about failure, because failure is never an option - the reality is, that failure is a measurement from which we define our successes.
"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~ S. Jobs
A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a terminal liver disease (it's ironic that I chose a lifetime ago to forego the complications that could come from alcohol and drugs and I find out at 41 years old that I would eventually die from liver disease) that helped me to regain my focus on both my successes and my failures. When I was in University I was accepted to a coveted internship, the "competition" was considerable, and I was not, I just happened to answer the questions differently, ironically reasoning behind those answers would also have me saying "no" a short time later to full-time gainful employment with that same group. Simply put, there is a driving force behind (actually in front) some people, a force that provides general discomfort towards the comforts of health insurance, salaried positions, stock options and the knowing that failure is not possible when your employer will never fail. There will be bad jobs that make great money, and great jobs that pay in experience, but none will require your services for longer than your ability to realize a few hours have been wasted in a futile pursuit, that you are simply a steward on someone else's throne.
Stewardship to thought
You need to understand one thing when you are an entrepreneur, they do not know that you are a steward to their thought, a taker, a wolf in a logoed polo biding time.
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” ~ Ayn Rand
And because of these roles, people will become hurt by your inabilities to remain by their sides, your deceptions, your lack thereof. Some will understand, I suggest you look towards those persons as "mentors", there a give and take in mentoring, and it's a given that you will take as much as possible in order to better what they taught, or at least you will try. These "mentors" should become your higher council who you learn to trust. Either way, the people you surround yourself with, those relationships are a gambit, hopefully for both parties and you have to make sure that both groups understand their roles. Try to remember that in great partnerships, consideration and generosity are more important than money, but do not think they have no value.
"Your Higher Council is a group of people you nominate... in any and every area of your life" ~ Kari Kwinn (Better Boundaries)
Relationships should be based on Reciprocity
We (entrepreneurs) are often solitary beings...for the most part. We have endurance. We find warmth in the HUGE losses as well as the tiny WINS, its seems that the knowledge of tomorrow's sunrise gives us the courage to risk accordingly. Unfortunately, for most of us, that security does not always share well with the person sharing your space...but that is ok, as long as you both understand the roles you are supposed to be playing. Like a mentor and mentee alliance, there should be clearly defined rules in order to maintain the integrity of future challenges...and do not be fooled, every relationship faces challenges. There is a widely accepted paradigm, cooperation amongst animals resembles an iterated two-player Prisoner's Dilemma - the Prisoner's Dilemma is a game of strategy where two players have equivalent strategic options...perhaps reciprocity? In this symmetrical game the two players have equivalent strategic options and decisions are based on shared information, as well as past interactions with similar strategic positioning. Unfortunately, this model ignores the social organization within which cooperation occurs. And cooperation, by definition, demands alliance, and this is where the true conflict resides for an entrepreneur.
Winning isn't everything, Legacy is EVERYTHING
Let's be honest, what drives us to win is inside of us, but, we don't always win. We can't all possibly win, at least not every time, again, who is your competition? By definition, you have competitors, and if everyone always received that 1st Place Trophy, our ambitions would be monopolized and we are not SOCIALISTS, we're CAPITALISTS! We have to remember that Principles are fundamental truths, and they serve as the foundations for behavior that we learn, and these behaviors get us to what we want out of life, and that includes what we want to leave when we pass. Principles can be applied again and again in similar situations to help us in achieving our goals, but, we must first understand/realize that principles come from habits, the habits that have become maxims, maxims that provide us the courage of our convictions.
“I saw that to do exceptionally well you have to push your limits and that, if you push your limits, you will crash and it will hurt a lot. You will think you have failed—but that won’t be true unless you give up.” ― Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work