Work is always better when you do it with someone who will challenge you to be your best and teach you something new. Know of a company or individual who would fit in to a space like this? Send them our way!

For every company that you refer that signs up for an office with Thinkspace we will send you a $100 Amazon gift card! It’s a win-win.

I played poker with Martin Tobias for all the money that I had in my pocket. Take a guess how it ended up?!

“Play for everything in your pocket every now and then. Just to remind yourself your are alive. And your pockets can get refilled” – Martin Tobias

Like poker, entrepreneurship is an all-in effort and we’re definitely all-in again with the launch of the new Thinkspace Lake Union location. We’re looking for heads down entrepreneurs with enough grit + resilience and have the right mindset to go all-in too. If you know of someone that fits mold please introduce me! https://thinkspace.com/why

We are looking for the top 5 service providers for startups in Seattle to secure offices inside of our space on Lake Union. We are capping the number of service companies in order to maximize value for all members at thinkspace.

By vetting through and selecting the best, we know every startup in our space will be confident they are working with the best. No more being bombarded with an overflow of unneeded information. Entrepreneurs don’t have time to interview and select the best providers and that is why we will be doing it for them!

Are you a service provider in the Seattle area that can support our thinkspace community without fighting for the business with other service providers? Do you have a passion to support growing businesses and traction in the startup world? Join us and hold your office hours relaxed in your office or on our floating work lounge while knowing you have been selected to support our amazing members.

Examples of what we are looking for: IP Attorney, CPA/Bookkeeper, health benefits professional, business formation attorney, marketing professional, etc. If you think you have what it takes email katie@thinkspace.com or apply at thinkspace.com/why

peter-chee-training-ground

All I wanted was to push the edge out. A little margin is what I wanted. Marathon after marathon I kept running head on into my shadows. All of these challenges that I continue to throw in front of me are mirrors of my deepest darkness. Facing everything that feels unsolvable, entrepreneurial endeavors, relationships, everything I deeply care about I’m recognizing that I can’t brute force anything and have it turn out well. I do know the only thing I control is how I show up… and then put in the work.

The Seattle Lake Union Thinkspace is a culmination of everything we know and everything we are. Pouring everything out for this one. If you know any entrepreneur that is looking for a different kind of training ground and be around other like minded entrepreneurs, please see this space please send them my way.

Nine years ago today on May 1, 2008, I started Thinkspace. As I reflect back on my nine-year journey of running thinkspace, there are things that I wish I knew then that I know now. So I’m about to step back and look at some of the mistakes made it feels a little bit painful and embarrassing kind of like watching a recording of yourself on video. It’s uncomfortable, but, in a healthy way. I wrote this open letter to myself from the perspective of Old Me sharing with Young Me what to look out for, and thought I would share it with you too.

Dear Peter,

  • Young me: Bad advice has ramifications to you, your family, and your team. Find mentors, advisors, fellow entrepreneurs who have successfully done what you’re trying to do and get right sized advice. – Old me
  • Young me: There are six human needs. 1) Certainty 2) Uncertainty 3) Significance 4) Love and Connection 5) Growth 6) Contribution. Meet four of your customer needs at a high level and your customers will be addicted. – Old me
  • Young me: I wish I would have known how important it is to have alignment on the following levels: 1) personal 2) family 3) employees 4) customers. It would have saved me from a lot of pain. – Old me
  • Young me: When you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. – Old me
  • Young me: If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business. If you treat people at the end like you did in the beginning, there never would be an end. – Old me
  • Young me: Say what you actually believe and you will attract those that believe what you believe. – Old me
  • Young me: The social era will reward those organizations that realize they don’t create value all by themselves. – Old me
  • Young me: Customers are not loyal to cheap commodities, they crave the remarkable, the unique, and human. – Old me
  • Young me: Extend more grace and service to people. When someone is struggling, extend them more support and love, when you think you’ve given enough, dig down and give them more. – Old me
  • Young me: There is no weakness in forgiveness. – Old me
  • Young me: Always maintain a beginners mindset. There’s a lot to learn out there. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. – Old me
  • Young me: Read these books before you start your company: 1) The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank. 2) Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder. 3) Lean Startup by Eric Ries. 4) Linchpin by Seth Godin. 5) Drive by Daniel Pink. 6) Who by Geoff Smart. 7) The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. 8) Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! by Greg Crabtree. 9) The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna – Old me

Love,
Old me

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.

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

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

FullSizeRender (2)I’m stepping into a new executive role at work, and read the classic book by Peter Drucker – The Effective Executive.  In it, he argues against delegation saying that it makes little sense.

“‘Delegation’ as the term is customarily used, is a misunderstanding – is indeed misdirection.  But getting rid of anything that can be done by somebody else so that one does not have to delegate but can really get to one’s own work – that is a major improvement in effectiveness.” 

Here we discover the ugly truth behind delegation.  Often leaders spend time delegating their work to others, or feel pressured to be a better delegator.  But, should their work really be someone else’s work?

In regards to delegation, leaders should ask the question: “What things on my plate could actually be done by someone else just as well, if not better?”

Delegation isn’t just to get others to do your work.  It’s looking at the work you’re currently doing, knowing that you are bound by limits of time, and knowing that there are certain key tasks to focus on.  Delegating what others can do or do better than you helps you to target your focus by equipping the right people to do the right work (including yourself).

DO:

  • Delegate work that can be done by someone else just as well, if not better
  • Equip and train people with precision and detail
  • Communicate the “why” of the task at hand and how it contributes to the organization

DON’T:

  • Delegate work that only you can do
  • Delegate work that you’ll need to micromanage
  • Communicate criticism of how the task is being accomplished in public

 How do you handle delegation in your role?

We’re hunting for our next new thinkspace location and we need your help. Rather than take the “build it, they will come” approach, we believe that we need to ask the Seattle area startup community where would you like to see a new thinkspace location? It’s super important for us to know what you think!