“Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow a great sorrow
For it’s tomorrow I behold a great shame
For one year it has past since our au pair did arrive
Yet I go back to the drawing board from whence I came
See my childcare is now done but my startup did not bloom
A thousand and one ways I feel I have failed
But failure doth not exist while these breaths are in my lungs
For failure is not a guarantee for the travailed
It is only if I stop that failure is a must but hard work it has not served me so well
For it’s my thinking cap I forgot; my unused armor is not for naught
I indeed was afraid to begin at square one
To square one back I go to begin again my good show
As I remember why I started what I do
I shall ask far and wide with my lab coat by my side
For the reason I started is you”
“My Lab Coat, My Notebook, and You” – To pretty much anyone I know and hold dear -Melissa Strawn
During my last Founders Five session with Nick Hughes, he bravely told me what I desperately needed to hear: ‘you have become too emotionally attached to your startup to its own detriment.’
I had confessed during the call that I basically need to go back and do all five steps again because when it got to the week where Nick said we needed to talk to customers and validate to learn, I froze in my tracks. ‘I don’t want to talk to people though. Can’t I do this in a bubble? Isn’t there some other way? It’s going to hurt – be like torture – they’re going to tell me that my baby is ugly and they’re not coming to her birthday party.’
That’s when he brought up the lab coat and I paraphrase when I say that he told me I’ve been thinking about it all wrong. I’m not going out to get struck down and insulted – I’m going out to learn. I need to pretend I am wearing a lab coat of armor, that I am a scientist out to make a massive discovery. Why have I been so blind to this perspective?
Well for one, I have pretty extreme social anxiety. I think I am secretly an introvert and I have learned that social situations are emotionally draining for people like me. It’s not because we don’t like people – quite the opposite in my case. It’s that there’s this looming fear of rejection, of insult by just being myself, of not fitting in, having the spinach in my teeth all night but nobody saying anything – that kind of thing.
But for two, this is how most businesses operate – with their blinders on to the people they are trying to please, attract, and win money from. In fact, I have been muddling through the startup scene for a year and a half now and almost no one out of countless founders has asked me to sit down with them so they could learn from my perspective on what they were building, how it was working, how it needed changing, and what they could do to earn my business.
Out of all of these events we go to, why aren’t there customer validation speed dating events? You know, where we all sit down in a giant room and spend 5 minutes going from person to person spitting out our raw feedback on people’s mockups, UX designs, pricing structure, etc. Is it because we are all afraid of what people might say? Too proud; that what we have built only we could really understand? Afraid people might steal our genius? Or maybe people are doing all of these things already and I’m just the only one in the customer validation dark, haha.
I can get down with being a scientist. In fact, I bought a lab coat today. Yes, a real one – not a Halloween costume. I’ve spent the last year learning how not to build a startup. I will spend the next year learning how to be a scientist. Thanks, Nick 🙂