Learn To Duck

by Micah Baldwin

Sometimes the best way to learn to duck is to get punched in the face

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Heart is Where The Startup Is

The other day, I read Sarah Lacy’s post on Romotive (a Techstars Company!) moving to the bay area, More Bad News for Vegas Tech Fund and it stirred the same feelings I had when I moved Graphicly from Boulder to the Bay Area.

I think the sentence that got me was in Keller’s email to the Downtown Project:

It’s my responsibility to make sure that Romotive is located where we are most likely to achieve this vision.

Most people who haven’t started a company think that there are simple decision points in deciding where that company should reside:

  • Where do I want to live?
  • Where the money at?

But it’s not that simple. What Keller did was right, he listened to his business. His business told him where the best place was for them to achieve their goals, and unfortunately, it wasn’t Las Vegas.

Like dowsers, great CEO’s have the ability to intrinsically...

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Curing FOMO

Last night, I was sitting in my backyard listening to the kids playing softball up the street amid the raindrops.

As my phone likes to do, it was all abuzz with tweets and what not about folks enjoying SXSW.

The vibration of my phone has always been unwelcome during a large event that I wasn’t part of. I have had a classic case of FOMO for most of my life; much of which has been the cause of many an hour of being grounded as a kid.

My Fear Of Missing Out kept me out late, got me drunk, helped me evade the police and even got me a chance to kiss the girl of my dreams (and I was even awake!)

But, like any disease, over time it became the monster that I had to feed. I had to go out. I couldn’t miss that party. If I stayed for just one more drink the sucky-ass night would become wonderful.

I was a slave to my FOMO. And, FOMO is a bitch of a master.

I had to figure out how to...

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Your Passion is Fake

Your Passion is Fake

“There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.” - Anthony Robbins

In the entrepreneurial ecosystem we hold passionate people above all others. We exalt the passionate ones as the leaders who will change the world, who will disrupt the world, who will bring that passion to the masses and make the world a better place.

Yet, a truly passionate person is close-minded, unable to listen to others and blinded by that passion to drive only actions that feed that passion.

Which means, yes, your passion is fake.

Passion:

  1. Strong and barely controllable emotion.
  2. A state or outburst of such emotion.

Most people don’t feel true passion. They are not stuck in a state of barely controlled emotions. Yet, because we speak so strongly (perhaps...

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Smells Like Burning Out

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, and found it this am while looking for another post. Given the reaction to my post from yesterday, Just Stop, which I never expected, I thought it would be useful to repost.

To everyone that I spoke with, tweeted with or emailed me. Thank you. It is clear that there is a larger problem in our community around depression and all the darkness it brings. Let’s continue the conversation.


Over the past week or so, I have had two friends burn out.

Like most professions people choose, entrepreneurship isnt all play time and money. Startups arent filled with foosball and Mac Pros.

We read about layoffs and think to ourselves “Well, its a startup. They arent making any money. I have no idea why they employed so many people. Whiles its horrible, its probably for the best.”

Or we read about the latest funding and think to ourselves “What? They got...

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Just Stop

Last night, I turned my email off early and went to lay down. I pulled out my iPad to watch a bit of TV, in the midst of House of Lies, a push notification dinged.

I saw the words “Jody Sherman” and thought to myself, “what is that crazy dude up to now?”

He died.

Everything stopped. The world got quiet. My brain abuzz with activity about my day just froze.

How the fuck is this true? I didn’t care how it happened, or why, but just that it did. I just cared about my friend and that he must have felt such pain.

And as I read all the amazing responses to his life on Facebook, Twitter, and on blogs wrote amazing posts) it seemed that while we all knew there was sadness, we attributed it to the roller coaster of being a founder.

My friends Sarah and Mark wrote more eloquently about his life than I ever can. I will be in forever debt to Paige Craig for...

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Leaning Into Our Lever

About 8 months ago we shut down our offices in Boulder, CO.

I had moved out to California about a year prior, and as the lease came up in Boulder it was an easy decision to close the office.

But not for the reasons you think.

Graphicly has grown up over the past couple of years. We started as a company focused on building a marketplace for digital comics that allowed for sharing and discussion, and over the beginning of our life, as many startups do, we learned several hard lessons.

Yet, in the midst of that learning one truth continued to float to the top:

We wanted to change the world, and changing the world meant making decisions that hurt in the immediate but would lead to a clear path.

In building a marketplace of content there are inherent issues. Early on I explored if focusing on business model would bring us the lever to move the world. Sometimes in moving the world...

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Chasing The Gleam

Entrepreneurs have something in common with coal miners and gold prospectors.

We have all chosen occupations that are actively shortening our lifespans.

River miners crush fingers, toes and even teeth shoving aside huge boulders to reach the gleam beneath. “I’ve been buried under the water three times,” says Bernie McGrath, a prospector and former pipeline worker. “It’s a treacherous way to make money.” From: Smithsonian Magazine

We destroy our health, relationships and (some) sanity with an extremely small chance of success. We are chasing the gleam, and (some) are willing to almost die to get it.

Founders that work 24 hours a day, that outwork everyone, that put it all on the line for their companies are our heroes. We are taught that we should be living as close to the poverty line as possible (when Next Big Sound gave their Techstars Demo Day pitch, one of their lines that got...

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It’s All About Me

About a week ago, I wrote a post that decried the rampant overabundance of pithy posts and self-help quotes called Fuck You, Startup Yoda.

Yet here I am about to write a post that is specifically a self-help post. But here is the rub. It’s not about helping you.

It’s all about me.

Sound selfish? Well it is. I know, my inner mom voice is agreeing with you that it is wrong to be selfish.

But its not.

A entrepreneur is many things, and while it make not seem to be true, most often, selfish is not one of them. Founders put it all on the line to make sure that their visions become reality. And “it,” usually consists of their health, sanity and emotional well-being.

But thats ok you say. Once we win, it’s all good.

Yes, along with a lack of selfishness, most entrepreneurs are also overly optimistic.

The truth is that you are going to fail. In fact, the most...

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Fuck You, Startup Yoda

There is an explosion of Startup Yodas, with their 140 character silly, pithy Jack Handy deep thoughts, seeking the retweet over the truth driving an insanely inappropriate number of tumblr quote posts.

“Famous” founders comes out with post about how easy/hard/awesome/sucky being a founder is. A million others retweet/quote pieces of the post as if some deep truth has been exposed.

Or, even more common, is a person considered to be a “thought leader,” writes an article about how everyone is building startups wrong and how he has the answer. The perfect answer.

And the quotes on Tumblr explode.

The truth is that entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because we are in a constant state of search. We get excited when we read, or hear, or see someone that seems to have figured out something. We take that data, consume it, put it in our brains and let it sit there.

And...

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The Magical Moment

I was just reading on Facebook about the reaction a friend’s son had to learning that Santa Claus wasn’t real.

I felt my stomach twist, and my lips curl into a disappointed frown.

“Ugh.”

You see, I am a firm believer in magic. Not the David Blaine kind of illusion, or the Wiccan wilderness, but in the real, truthful magical moment.

I think it’s why I am an entrepreneur. Seeing that moment when the dream become reality because a team of engineers strung letters and numbers to make that magical box output a beautifully designed web service that betters millions of lives in just a small magical way.

When we were first pitching Graphicly, when asked about the tech, we would say, “it’s magic,” and by the time we were done explaining it, the investor seemed to believe us. “Magical.” they would whisper under their breath as we...

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