How It Seams

It’s impossible to see the finer details after only a quick glance. Great work isn’t designed to be viewed; it serves to be analyzed.

On the other hand, mediocre work passes the smoke test more often than not when those observing it don’t allocate the time necessary to understand it.

So there we sit - stuck in the middle between quality and quantity.

Me? I choose to slow down and take the time to assess the seams. Someone put a lot of hard work into the quality that I prefer. I’ve consciously decided to never take that for granted.

The Tree Rings of Competition

I’m fascinating by the evolution of mature markets and how competitors engage in said market to obtain mind share.

Many people question why Founders choose to enter certain markets. Onlookers tend to see juggernauts and feel as if the space is off limits. In my experience, the opposite is true. It’s very rewarding to carve out a niche inside a much larger market than it is to be the high-pressured innovator that is forced to make things up as they go. For one, the market has been validated by someone else, and you may have an advantage having observed what hasn’t worked for those that came before you.

Competition is healthy. And according to a recent article I read about market shifts over the past two decades, it’s the brands that come in later on that end up taking over the market. As proof, consider this list of market shifts from one leader to another juggernaut:

  • Coca Cola (1886) - Pepsi (1893)

  • Yahoo Mail (1997) - Gmail (2004)

  • MSN Messenger (1999) - Skype (2003)

  • Basecamp (1999) - Asana (2008)

  • Myspace (2003) - Facebook (2004)

  • Todoist (2007) - Wunderlist (2011)

  • GitHub (2008) - GitLab (2011)

  • HipChat (2009) - Slack (2013)

The lesson here is don’t be afraid to enter a market to compete for your own subset of customers inside a saturated vertical. Sometimes that’s where the best businesses change the world.

100 Episodes of Ask Logan Lenz

This week, I published the 100th issue of my Q&A series on LinkedIn. 

What started a few years ago as an experimental way to assist others on their ventures has turned into something much more. 

Who knows how long I will continue doing this format, but for now, I'm receiving great feedback and far too many questions to want to stop. 

ask-100.jpg

If you have any questions that you would want published in a future issue, you can either email me directly or reach out to me on any of my social profiles. 

Thanks for being a part of the journey! 

Ray Dalio's Principles.com

Here are three reasons why Ray Dalio's new Principles.com series of videos is fantastic and worth checking out right now:

  • Visual learning
  • Short and sweet (30 minutes)
  • Not a single element of greed

Seriously, go check them out now. Here's a taste:

“By engaging them in thoughtful disagreement, I’d be able to understand their reasoning and have them stress-test mine. That way, we can all raise our probability of being right.”

Raising More Funding Than You're Worth

I've come across a handful of ambitious entrepreneurs that are still in the idea or vision stage of their startup. Even if they're the only ones in the "company," they tell me they're taking meetings with investors to try to raise 1 million dollars (or more). 

To those that are in that boat, here is a recent response I shared via email:

Lowering the implied valuation and/or elevating the amount of equity you are offering is what will make the opportunity more compelling to an investor.

Think of it all as just a simple math problem. 

The amount you're asking for + the perceived business opportunity = current valuation

With the above formula, the amount you ask for is your future working capital, which you use to build (more) value into the company. But since you don't have any products or revenue yet, the amount you ask for is much more expensive than it would be if it were a post-revenue or post-user raise. 

For example, in order for an investor to get interested in something this early, they'd want at least 51% equity. That way, at least they'll have control of your great idea. For that, though, they won't even know how to evaluate your company without any financials, so they'll round up to some relatively low whole number like $50,000 and call it a day.  

Therefore, if you need $1 million, you better be worth at least that already. Otherwise, you either won't find an investor, or if you do, they'll be treating it more like a controlling acquisition of your idea/opportunity. 

If you are unwilling to accept such a low number, you need to PROVE how and why you're currently worth more than that. It's virtually impossible to raise any sum of money when you haven't built anything yet. No savvy investor will put more money into something than the entire company is worth. It would be considered a gift at that point. 

So my advice has always been to go out and create that value yourself. Now. 

  • Embody the brand you want to build everywhere you go.
  • Acquire a customer by forging a personal relationship with them. Repeat.
  • Learn to code (or build the product yourself).

Ultimately, there are plenty of better things to do today than to passively ask for capital. 

Your Own Version of Enough

Enough is designed to be relative. It's an imaginary line that tells us we're about to be overwhelmed with too much of something.

Enough should be made finite in your life. It can be based on what you think you need to survive.

  • How many pieces of furniture do you need in your home?
  • How much money do you require to live? 
  • How many close friends do you need to socialize with?

When these numbers match a real world value, you'll find great relief in life's simplicity. 

Having enough.... Now that's true success. 

Forever the Student, Forever the Teacher

Think back to that influential teacher during grade school. I bet you remember them clearly. 

Think about the mentor that welcomed you into the professional world. You'll never forget them. 

There's something always connecting our brains with those that impact us the most. We may look at our teachers as just that - someone that helps us learn, but an educational transaction is far more than that. 

Ask these inspirational teachers and mentors if they love what they do. I'd venture to guess that more than 95% (of the good memorable ones) will respond with a resounding "yes." 

Why is that?

Because they can trace their impact throughout eternity. They're making a mark on the world through human empowerment. They're leaving a legacy by proxy. 

It's a magical thing when inspired students feel this fulfillment by helping their peers. Once you experience the delightful overwhelm that is equipping others with tools to succeed, you will find more joy in your life and a purpose in your work. 

Compassion Before Action

With love comes empathy for others.

The path from empathy leads you to compassion.

Compassion is empathy in action.

If we don't allow the compassion to influence our thinking, our actions may be guided without enough context. Misinformed emotion is what triggers a potentially dangerous knee-jerk reaction. 

We could all use a little more compassion in our lives. 

How Much is Left?

Rather than...

We've lost everything.

How about...?

What do we have left?


Rather than...

We're moving too slowly.

How about...?

What's one thing we can do to pick up the tempo?


Rather than...

This isn't going to work.

How about...?

How can we increase the probability that this is a success?


Positive questions in the face of doubt, lead to the more detailed answers that get you back onto the correct path toward success. 

March 2018

What's in store in March? Here's what I have on my calendar for the month right now:

  • March 4th: Fleet Foxes at the Fillmore
  • March 5th: Daughtry at Parker Playhouse
  • March 10th: Steve Martin & Martin Short at Broward Center
  • March 11th: Spoon at Revolution
  • March 24th: Dear Hunter at Revolution
  • March 29th: MLB Season Starts

I greatly look forward to a few other special family events that will be taking place in March. We may also be traveling somewhere in the middle of the month, but we're just keeping the option open for now. Finally, my local baseball league's season will be starting back up by the end of the month as well. 

What do you have planned in March?

march-gif.gif

When Going Off-Road

1. Buckle Up

Thie ride is bound to get bumpy.

2. Expect the Unexpected

It's alright if you didn't prepare enough. It will make you more alert. 

3. Use Caution

Don't overdo it. Save your energy for the entire journey.

4. Don't get lost

You should keep the destination within your view.

5. Leave Breadcrumbs

Be the one that paves the road for future off-roaders. 

off-road.gif

 

 

Making the Bed

After a great rest, it's natural to not want to immediately go out of your way to make the bed look pretty. 

The most common excuse is "I'm just going to be in it again tonight."

It's not about the bed looking nice, though.

It's about the routine. It's about sticking with a regimen that works.

When you don't make your bed when you know you should, you aren't following your own rules. You're letting yourself down without even knowing it.

This type of inaction is akin to landing a large client, receiving the first check, and overlooking the fact that you have a lot of work to do to make the project a success. 

Your bed is the client in this example. Don't let your bed down. 

make-bed.gif

My New Content Tri-Fold

I operate much better under a strict regimen. Where another person might incubate their best ideas without constraints and routine, I like to know that I can get something accomplished when I expect to do so.

That's why you see so many episodic assets from me. I may not have kept up with all of them, but they're still exist. They thrive because I am able to establish the cadence and set an item on my calendar for it. 

You may already know about Ask Logan Lenz on LinkedIn, but I am hereby announcing that I will not only be revitalizing the Through the Lenz Podcast, but will also be publishing more video tricks for my LinkedIn audience. I'm calling the video series "Logan & Logout" due to its quick nature.

Here are the 3 rebranded designs that will be launching next week.

ask-ll.png
Through the Lenz Podcast.png
logan-logout.png

It Happens... Eventually

I've talked about life being a series of countdowns in the past. Anticipation can be both good and bad. 

When we are afraid of something happening, stress and nervousness overcomes us, crippling us in fear.

When we look forward to something happening, we become excited and we constantly think about "how great it will be when...".

I realized something this week, though. It's so simple, but I never actually thought about it this way. 

The thing will always happen.

This lesson became tangible for me when driving on a long road trip. The thing was embodied between positive and negative. The negative was how far we'd have to drive, but the positive, the thing we were all looking forward to, was getting to our destination. 

No matter the emotion, regardless of the "thing" in question, it will happen.

Just give it time. 

happening.gif

Entropy

I've become very interested in entropy. I know that sounds vague, but once I heard someone say this, I began to do a lot of research:

"Life is reverse entropy."

To think that we are cells moving unpredictably throughout ourselves and the Earth is a deep way to inspire yourself to get out there and make something happen. 

Let's not create chaos. Instead, let's create mechanical work we can all be proud of. 

entropy.jpg

The Noun and the Verb

It's one thing to want to become a successful entrepreneur, but it's another to live through the process to get there. We are constantly being shown the excitement of freedom, choice, wealth, and success as an entrepreneur. Those messages, however, aren't accompanied by the realization that only hard work gets you to that point.

Thus, we want to be the noun without doing the verbs. 

While the success and freedom should be goals that become cherished privileges when obtained, let us not overlook that no one else is around to do the work. When you start out, you're the everyman. You're responsible for every single task. It's far from easy. It's not even fun most times.

As long as the work gets done, and you can outsource what you aren't good at if you have the funds to do so, you'll be primed for the success you've dreamed of. Just don't overlook the fact that all of that work still funnels back to you for review.

verb-gif.gif

 

 

Accept or Ignore?

When you disagree with something, it's very difficult to not get passionate about it. 

We take pride in debates and arguing our perspectives.

Try to resist the temptation. What is the worst that will happen?

I am able to remain calm most of the time because of one simple question I remind myself constantly:

What if I didn't hear that?

This reminder puts the bigger picture in the frame. If one person thinks this thought, then surely others do elsewhere. Knowing this, how will exhausting energy against one accomplish anything?

I'd much rather keep thinking about the next thing others will eventually disagree with. 

That's just a part of the process. 

ignore.gif

 

 

Totality

When two bodies of mass move with such velocity, there is only one perfect moment when their paths cross. 

If you move as expected and remain the same as always, magic will happen in that moment. 

There are plenty of these moments out there. You just have to be looking ahead toward the next body of mass moving toward you. 

Take each one in stride. 

Why is it So Hard?

There are usually two honest answers to this question:

  1. Because it's worth it.
  2. Because you care too much.

These two concepts juxtapose one another when it comes to taking action.

You'll almost always push through the pain or back down. Deciding to do neither is the only form of failure.

Frustration is a temporary pain that makes future decisions easier.

Just as long as you do something. 

frustration.gif

The Dream Isn't Enough

A young first-time entrepreneur emailed me the following...

"I'm having trouble finding investors. Am I asking for too much money?"

After reviewing the pitchbook, I responded with a simple question...

"Why don't you include pictures of the product you're selling?"

Her response was...

"I don't have enough money to create the prototypes, but my passion for what I am trying to do should replace that."

This is usually where I'd simply wish her the best of luck and move on. 

But for the sake of other entrepreneurs in a similar position, here's my message to you...

"If you don't have experience, a reputation as a founder, or traction in a market, you better have the most innovative idea and strategy to execute it on it in the world. Otherwise, you're too much of a risk. It's scary enough that you have no experience, but when you tell me you have no product and haven't made a single dollar, I can't help but cringe. That's simply not an investable scenario.

All businesses can be minimized to a 1-to-1 service model. This means, with a little additional hustle, anyone can obtain customers directly and service them. It sounds silly, but if your idea is the next Spotify music streaming app, offer to curate everyone you know's playlists for free. Guess what? - doing that just landed you your first customers.

There's way too much competition out there for anyone else to want to risk that much on you and your venture. Prove you're worth it. Do the work. Look passed the dream and start making things happen."

dreaming.gif