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Grit and Resilience: Do You Have What it Takes?

grit-resilience-400-katie-walvatne-granite-mountainMy whole life, I’ve recognized that I’m not the smartest person in the room. There are always people that are smarter than me. I’ve had to work twice as hard as the other person in order to get the same results. When I was really young, I watched how a tennis player, Michael Chang, show tremendous grit and battled back through one of the most grueling matches against the number one player in the world. From that moment, my mind was made up that no matter what the challenge, I would find a way to out last it and if I’m going down, I’m going down swinging.

“Grit is passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals.” – Angela Duckworth

Between 2008 and 2011, I survived one of the most difficult and stressful times of my life. With a young family of three toddlers I put everything on the line. All-in, as defined by all my personal financial resources, all my emotional energy, heart and soul, everything at risk to start up my company and survive a startup company in a recession. On top of all that, I had a period of 770 consecutive days where the bank called my loan and asked me to repay a million dollars. For me, that’s not something I can find in between the sofa cushions. It was through massive struggle that I was able to solve that issue and actually not go bankrupt.

“Big smarts with medium grit tend to loose out to medium smarts with big grit.” – Martin Tobias

After surviving that, I knew that I wanted to increase my margins. Margin is the space between your load and your limits. I wanted to push the edge out further. I don’t want to ever feel like I’m about to fall off the edge. One thing I did to reduce my stress was start running, I ran a couple half marathons which helped me train to manage my stress and keep me from physically tipping over.

Push the Edge Further Out

Life hits hard. In a period of one year, three people I knew between the ages of 25 and 40 passed away from cancer. Life can hit you so hard and it will keep you down if you let it. I vividly remember the feeling as I walked step-by-step with Shonda, a friend and employee, as she battled through nine months of fighting cancer. After a few months of reflecting, I decided to run a marathon, which would help me push the edge out further so that I might have a fighting chance to get through what random things life throws my direction. I believe that most things in life you can figure out if you have enough time. Staying upright on your feet is part of the battle and that’s done by being physically strong so that your mind can figure out how to break through!

Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. – Merriam-Webster

Maybe I’ve seen too many Rocky Balboa movies and the picture of resilience is when Ivan Drago says to Rocky “I must break you” and they go on to exchange body blow after body blow. Resilience seems to be confused with grit, that the longer you can out last someone the more resilient you are. It’s like you have to be able to pick yourself off the turf for one more play. What if that’s not what resilience is at all?

The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again. – Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan

Upon reading the article “Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure”. I found a few quotes in there that talked about:

“If you spend too much time in the performance zone, you need more time in the recovery zone.”

“That if you want to build resilience, you start by strategically stopping. Give yourself the resources to be tough by creating internal and external recovery periods.”

When early on in my entrepreneurial journey, I read entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t. So that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. Parts of this are very true for me and other parts I’m still figuring out! I’m also still looking at the word resilience and trying to see how much of that I have.

If you’re looking for answers to know whether or not you have Grit and Resilience, register for our event at Seattle Startup Week. Space is limited as we deep dive into this topic:

Grit and Resilience: Do you have what it takes?
Date: November 17 @ 1PM
Location: Google Seattle

Before you attend the event you can also take Martin Tobias’ Grit Test to see where you land on the Grit Scale.

Speakers:
Martin Tobias, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, Founder, MGT Investments
Anne-Marie Faiola, Founder and CEO, Bramble Berry
Matt Williams, CEO of Pro.com
Peter Chee, Founder and CEO, thinkspace

Other sources:
If you’re looking for some good talks on Grit, watch Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk. Angela also did a talk at Google called “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” which I found to be even better as it relates tech companies and the startup mindset.

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The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship: What No One Is Talking About

dark-side-entrepreneurship-posterThere are a lot of positives of being an entrepreneur, but, we’re going to get raw and talk about the dark side of entrepreneurship.

Over the last couple years there’s been more transparency on the topic of what the “Darkness of Entrepreneurship” really is. Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz.com, describes what it can really look like in a epic blog post that he wrote: “A Long, Ugly Year of Depression That’s Finally Fading”.

As an entrepreneur you will face a lot of painful things like fear of missing payroll, not spending time with people you care about as you work 80 hours a week, the highs and lows within the same work day that make you look bi-polar, the stress eating or bad eating habits, and struggle raising money from investors. During Seattle Startup Week our event on The Dark Side starts here and goes beyond that.

The dark side is what’s on the other side of when your trajectory is going great, you’re hitting your revenue goals, and your company is being recognized as one of PSBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies for a couple years in a row as the company is growing at 90% year over year. But as you try to execute and fail to continue the growth you feel like you’re making bad decision after bad decision. You lose key employees and you question your ability to lead. Your key investor, points a finger at you and says to you, you made all these hiring decisions. You have no choice but to own it. It hits you that you’re no longer enjoying any of the work that you used to enjoy. You ask yourself questions like did I just make one of the biggest mistakes of my life and spend years investing all financial and emotional resources into something that is failing? These are the things that cause you to lose sleep, gives you shortness of breath, as you cry yourself to sleep. Maybe some of you know what I’m talking about?

This event is going to talk about some of these challenges and some of the things that entrepreneurs have done to cope, survive, and find clarity in these kinds of times.

Register here: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship: What No One is Talking About.
Date: November 16 at 12PM

Speakers:
Martin Tobias, Founder and Investor, MGT Investments
Jesse Proudman, Distinguished Engineer and CTO, IBM Blue Box
Jen Mueller, Founder, Talk Sporty to Me / Seahawks Reporter
Michelle Hollomon, Coach and Counselor, MA, LMHC, CPC

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The Intersection of Sports and Startups: Seattle Startup Week

Talk Sporty to MeSeattle Startup Week kicks off November 14th with an event focused on “The Intersection of Sports and Startups“. We have Jen Mueller, founder of Talk Sporty to Me and Seahawks Sideline Reporter moderating the event. Jen is also the author of the book “Talk Sporty to Me: Thinking Outside The Box Scores”. Here’s a little bit about the book:

Any book that starts with a paragraph about the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl against Denver is going to be a great book! The parts that I liked most about this book were quotes from various people in Seattle like Coach Pete Carroll and his philosophy to “Always compete”. I also really enjoyed the conversation that Jen had with John Nordstrom when he talked about three things 1) “Everyone is included” 2) “No one wants to take credit for any of the success” 3) “Pete (Carroll) understands the importance of the last three feet”. The last three feet, refers to the distance between you and the customer. In my mind it also refers to the last yard in a startup where you need to make sure the customer experience is great or it could also be the final yard that propels you forward in your startup.

Sports is a great way to get a conversation going and build rapport with people. This book is useful for anyone starting out in the business world or branching out into a new industry that wants to understand how sports can be one of the ways to create a connection with someone.

Space is limited at the Seattle Startup Week event, please be sure to register for “The Intersection of Sports and Startups“.

Moderator:
Jen Mueller, Founder of Talk Sporty to Me and Sideline Reporter for the Seahawks

Speaker Panel:
Chuck Frizelle, CEO of Coros
Jesse Smith, Manager of Analytics for the Seattle Mariners
Josh Decker, CEO of Tagboard
Steve Schwartz, Founder of ProInfluence

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Seattle Startup Week Sponsor Spotlight | Code Fellows

code-fellows-ssw-sponsor-logosCode Fellows, a Seattle Startup Week sponsor, is a code school training both mobile and web developers in industry practices, in-demand frameworks and technologies.

What makes you excited about Seattle Startup Week?

A chance to connect with all of the resources that happen over a year in one week.

What are you hoping to get out of the week of events?

Awareness of Code Fellows with a broader community of potential co-founders and future employers.

What do you love about being part of the Seattle startup culture?

It has changed a lot over the years.  It’s great that we now have an ecosystem that is helping new folks get connected with resources.

If Code Fellows was a food, what would it be and why?

Spicy Mexican.  It’s something you expect, but it has a bit of a kick to it.

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Seattle Startup Week Sponsor Spotlight | Hired

Hired LogoHired, a two-sided recruiting marketplace and a Seattle Startup Week sponsor, is on a mission to make both finding a job and finding quality employees easier.

What makes you excited about Seattle Startup Week?

We’re excited to support and participate in Seattle’s startup community.  In particular, we are excited to discover new companies, share ideas and meet interesting people.

What are you hoping to get out of the week of events?

We are hoping to be a resource for job seekers and to build partnerships with startups to help grow their teams.

What do you love about being part of the Seattle startup culture?

The Seattle startup culture is extremely welcoming and extremely innovative.  The people here are passionate about what they do and it shows in their enthusiasm to help others and give back to the community.

If Hired was a food, what would it be and why?

Hired would be a Vegas seafood buffet.  It serves and satisfies everyone and is a pleasure to experience.

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Seattle Startup Week | Fremont Run to Beat Breast Cancer

Fremont Run To Beat Breast Cancer LogoSeattle Startup Week is only two weeks away, and preparations are in full swing here at thinkspace!  October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  And you know we are always looking for ways to build and strengthen our ties within the community. If you’re a part of the startup community and we haven’t met you yet, we’re hoping to change that soon.  And if we have already met you, we’d love to see you, too!

We’d like to invite you to spend your morning with us on Wednesday, October 28th for a 5K Run to Beat Breast Cancer.  Run, walk, skip, jump and be merry with us.  The run begins at 8:30 am and will take us along the Burke-Gilman Trail and through Gasworks Park.  Stick around after the run concludes to eat some breakfast noms and jam out to some early morning disco tunes at our Fremont location.

The event is free, but we’d appreciate any donations you can put forth.  All proceeds will go to raise funds for Dr. V.K. Gadi’s research at Fred Hutchinson Medical Research Center.  5K t-shirts will also be available for $20, with all proceeds supporting Dr. Gadi and his team.

RSVP for the Fremont Run to Beat Breast Cancer here.

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Peter Chee, Ali Spain and Katie Walvatne at Brunch to End Breast Cancer October 11, 2015

Can’t make it on the 28th?  Running just isn’t your thing?  Not to worry!  We’ll be supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout Seattle Startup Week, with opportunities to make a donation to the Fred Hutch team at each of our events:

 

 

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Seattle Startup Week Sponsor Spotlight | Name.com

Name.com logoName.com is a domain name registrar, web hosting company and a Seattle Startup Week sponsor.  To get to know them a little better, we asked them a few questions.

What makes you excited about Seattle Startup Week?

We are excited to support Seattle Startup Week because we love the whole Startup Week movement.  We’ve supported Boulder and Portland this year too, but see a particular energy in Seattle’s startup scene that’s infectious; and we want to be a part of it.

What are you hoping to get out of the week of events?

We are hoping to spread the word that new alternatives to .com domains are now available.  Domain name extensions like .ninja, .social, .news, and 1,300 others are becoming available.  We love these names because they inspire people to come up with new ideas and discover new possibilities on the Internet.

What do you love about being part of the Seattle startup culture?

Our favorite part of the Seattle startup scene is the drive that people have.  There’s a unique sense of “anything is possible” in the Seattle area.

If Name.com was a food, what would it be and why?

We would probably be lasagne.  That’s because we are simple on the outside, but super complex on the inside.

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Seattle Startup Week Schedule

[sched sidebar=”yes” url=”http://seattlestartupweek2015.sched.org/”]Seattle Startup Week Schedule[/sched]

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Seattle Startup Week | Angel investor Andy Liu illustrates the importance of building rhythms

andy-presentingBy 1:00 pm on October 23, the day of his Seattle Startup Week presentation, Andy Liu, local dream investor and CEO of BuddyTV, had already been in contact with four prospective customers. According to Andy, his number one job is to sell.

“You know what? As CEO, sales is actually my number one job. Sales to customers, sales to employees, sales to investors…Sales to everybody else that may eventually come into contact with the company…I need to constantly be doing that.”

Getting in front of the customer is one of the best ways to learn about a business.

Andy also explained that businesses are built on rhythms. Therefore, it’s crucial that a company reevaluate the rhythms that are in place to be more effective on a day-to-day basis. To do this, Andy has implemented a number of rhythm-boosting practices. For example, every Monday morning he sends out an email to the entire team with BuddyTV’s latest happenings, team recognition, and any other relevant information for the upcoming week. Another tool he uses is a refined system of key performance indicators.

“It’s not 30 numbers that you need to track, it’s one or two.”

Andy wrapped up by highlighting the importance of celebrating.

“Even in the darkest days, there’s always something to celebrate…There’s always some reason to ring the bell.”

Andy follows his own advice quite literally. In BuddyTV’s office, one of the developers has a cash register linked up his computer speakers. Each time a sale comes in, the cash register dings.

What does your startup do to celebrate?

You can hear more about Andy’s rythmatic practices here:

Check out Andy’s SlideShare deck from his Seattle Startup Week presentation:

Or see the entirety of Andy’s talk here:

Check out our recaps of our other Startup Week events:

Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured
Matt Heinz explains why you have to fail in order to succeed
Russell Benaroya talks night runs and how to ease the loneliness of entrepreneurship

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Seattle Startup Week | Russell Benaroya talks night runs and how to ease the loneliness of entrepreneurship

russell-presentingLast week, thinkspace and Seattle Startup Week, with help from Russell Benaroya (co-founder and CEO of EveryMove) and Andy Liu (angel investor and CEO of BuddyTV), took over the incredible space that Graham & Dunn occupies on the Seattle downtown waterfront. For twenty three minutes, we had the opportunity to bounce around inside Russell’s mind.

Russell opened his presentation with a wonderfully vivid and intensely personal description of the 75 mile journey that he took on the Pacific Crest Trail, from Steven’s Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, called Section J. According to the Washington Trails Association, Section J “is not for the beginning backpacker. There is considerable elevation gain and loss—about 16,000 feet! Some places are impassable until well into August when the snow melts out.”

Russell did it in 24 hours. Yes, 75 miles of rough terrain in just 24 hours. Bearing in mind that this was a Herculean task, it was not surprising, then, when Russell said:

“We ran through the night, entirely self supported, and when I finished that run, I was…Broken.”

This story of course came full circle when Russell explained how this run, this fantastic personal accomplishment, translated into so many areas of his life, specifically entrepreneurship:

“This is the road of entrepreneurship, right? This very lonely road, in many ways, where we are.. Where it’s broken on so many levels, and it’s so painful, and it’s so emotional, but at the same time, we’re so alive, right? We’re stretching ourselves to do more than we thought possible and it’s emotional. And this rollercoaster of emotion is something that we can’t do alone.”

There’s a reason why shared offices and coworking spaces and organizations like the Entrepreneurs’ Organization exist—and not just exist, but thrive. Sure, you can start a business out of your basement, or your spare bedroom, or Starbucks. But the benefit of surrounding yourself with a support system, with like-minded people? Invaluable. Entrepreneurship may be a lonely road, but that doesn’t mean we actually have to walk it alone.

Like Russell said, “We’re all in this together.”

For those who were unable to attend the event, watch the full video here:

Check out our recaps of our other Startup Week events:

Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured
Matt Heinz explains why you have to fail in order to succeed
Angel investor Andy Liu illustrates the importance of building rhythms

 

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