Let me give you some context. If I were in Austin and I met one of these mentors for an hour-and-a-half conversation, I would likely be riding high for a month. Imagine meeting 4-6 of these guys per week.
In one week's time I met with Tom Chi (Google X Project), Neal Baer (Writer and Producer of ER) and Pascal Finette (Mozilla Labs). My head was spinning after each of those meetings (in a good way).
Pitch, Pitch & Pitch
Picture this. When we're done with this six weeks, we will have the opportunity to tell 800 people about what we do at the Macky Auditorium at CU Boulder.
Eight hundred people. Only five minutes! I've often said that if I can spend an hour with someone, they will leave with a very clear understanding of what I do. They may even want to join the team and help out some way.
But 5 minutes? I can barely say my name in that amount of time.
I quickly learned that this is how the world works. The unknown masses, unfortunately, don't have the benefit of reading through resumes and checking references prior to listening to me. Fair enough.
We had a chance to give our 5-minute presentations to two amazing mentors - and - they gave some pretty direct feedback. But it was the most valuable feedback I had received since I've been here. A clear set of eyes (not clouded by our own kool-aid) is a great gift.
For the next four days we sat down with these two mentors - and they coached us on how to get right to the point. They showed us what mattered and what was inside baseball. Those practice sessions pretty much dominated last week.
And just the other day we had a chance to get the nerves out as six of us pitched and asked questions at Boulder's New Tech Meetup. I couldn't have been more inspired by the stories of the other five fellows that presented (ashley, paseka, tambe, cameron and lorna).
Our Inability to Predict the Future
Last week I wrote about a lesson I was reminded of:
Don’t calculate whether or not you think a conversation here or there can help you. It doesn’t matter.What I meant to say was, it seems that the universe is guiding us - if we are pursuing something it agrees with. I'm more convinced of that than ever. If that is the case, it makes no sense to try and manage things and to leave a little to faith (read: this doesn't mean slack off).
A month or two ago, my team applied to an incubator program that we were certain would be a long shot.
For those that are unaware, there's a wonderful organization called Code for America. Please check them out. They are crazy focused on improving the way government works in the United States. They have a fellowship program that matches bright young designers and programmers with City Governments. And they have done some amazing projects.
But this year, they decided to take the concept a step further and started a Civic Software Accelerator Program for software companies focused in this space. We found out last week that we were one of seven companies selected to join the program (it starts next month).
We'll have a chance to work with the best-of-the-best in our space and we couldn't be more excited.
Lesson From Week Three
Trying to fix a big problem is hard. At first, people think you're a bit nuts for even trying. Then, even you think you're a bit nuts for trying. But when we put our heads down and work (and work and work and work), and have a little faith in what we're doing, people notice.
I'm reminded of an affirmation I used to tell myself when I was selling books door-to-door during college: Don't think, just work. Almost fifteen years later, it really boils down to those four words.
Don't think, just work.
(let the universe take care of the rest)
Week 1 | Week 2