Two months ago I left home, and my young family (for 2 months) to join one of the highest regarded business accelerators in the world in a city a long way from home - a city that has the highest concentration of venture funding, tech businesses and billion dollar valuation companies than anywhere else.
It has been a wild ride with many ups, downs and learnings. I think a lot of what I’ve learned could be applied into lots of other businesses and so I decided to lay them out. I hope you get something out of this.
- When you work, you work, when you’re with your family, be present with your family.
Moving away from the distractions and love of my family has been the hardest part of being away, by far. This would have been easy if this was the case many years ago before I met Maria and just a few years ago, before we started our family.
It has taught me that spending time with your family is precious and to be cherished. Put down your phone (even if you have portrait mode on your new phone!) and be with the people you love. No one ever said they wish they’d spent less time with their kids. So be as efficient as you can when you’re working so you can be as present as you can when you’re not.
- Be ruthlessly efficient.
There’s nothing like the clarity of knowing what needs to be done, in what order and why. Once you’ve worked out how to be ruthlessly efficient with your priorities and your time, you won’t go back. You’ll feel more accomplished, less stressed and certainly less guilty when you’re off work for the day or week.
Some people put their day into 15 minute blocks. I’ve not gotten quite that far yet, but I scheduled 16 to do items yesterday and 15 today and will get them all done.
- People want to help.
San Francisco has its faults, but in a business sense, can be a beautifully collaborative place. There are so many incredibly smart people here and they’re open to helping you out. If you’re doing something interesting and are keen to learn, you can reach out and ask them for help. You might not hear back positively from everyone you ask, but you won’t be short of conversations with deeply qualified people if you want them
My number one tips? Be specific with your questions and conscious of their time (15/20 min meetings).Asking more questions of the most qualified people to answer them is something I encourage everyone to do more of (and be ready to help others too), wherever you live.
- You need to know the fundamentals.
I’ve used my time here to go back to basics on a lot of my work life. My time as a manager blunted a bunch of my skills, and I’m loving getting back in and learning the nuts and bolts of the essential parts of digital marketing (things have moved along quickly!).
- You get a lot of No’s before your Yes.
Raising venture capital is tough, there’s a million reasons people say no to you (and it feels like they’re saying they don’t believe in your or your dreams). Everyone gets a lot of rejections before they get funded. Airbnb, Uber and many others were walking the same streets getting rejections all over town for so many justified reasons.
The big lesson from this is that rejection isn’t so bad. Make a cold call, pitch something to someone and if you get a no, just go again.
I hope you can take something from one or two of those.
I can’t wait to get home to see the family for the holidays, then back out to San Francisco for another month in Jan.
Merry Christmas everyone!
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