The Power of Experience — Your Generation Did NOT Invent Sex

Big Red Car here.  The Boss is back in town and he is back to business full steam ahead.  It is nice to see him so busy as he has been at the beach, in the mountains on the East coast and skiing for Christmas.  The last three months, he has been out of town a lot.

Now, he is back and I just might get a chance to blow out the cobwebs myself today if the rain holds off a bit.

This resurgence of activity got me thinking about the value and power of experience.

Experience

The Boss often says:  “Nobody has 25 years of experience anymore.  We all have one year of experience 25 times.”  WTF does that mean, asks you, eh?

Well, the world is moving very fast out there.  While I personally am 46 car years old — a lot of years in people years — The Boss has been in business over a third of a century.

The Boss was in business before the invention of the personal computer, the tablet computer, the smartphone.  The Boss tells a story of how he bought the first Apple IIe in Austin, Texas plus an impact printer plus a copy of Visicalc.  The Boss knows how to operate green and white accounting paper.  That was a long time ago.

How much did all that stuff cost?  $7,000?  Could that possibly be right?  Hell yes!

Changing Times

Today in the Age of the Internet folks cannot remember when they did not have technology harnessed head and toe to do their bidding and to enable them to communicate over great distances and to fashion and make huge numbers of decisions on a daily basis.

Seasoned business persons are just as oblivious to the overwhelming surge of technology.

It is this driving technology and the advantages it creates that now makes experience come with a “sell by” date.  You simply cannot operate today the way you did just a few years ago.  What is the shelf life of your personal experience?

As a Big Red Car, I can only chuckle when a mechanic opens my hood and says — “Where is the diagnostic computer?”  Not really because we go the ME Gene Johnson Garage on 51st in Austin and Tommy knows exactly how old school and simple I really am.  Haha.

But you get what I am saying, right?

Documenting Changing Attitudes

In the startup world, in particular, there is a sense of wonderment as the development of products drives the startup and creation of companies in a very fast paced ecosystem unique to the startup world.

The world is moving fast at its core but in this arena it is moving lightning fast as these are not just technology users, they are technology developers and innovators.  First adopters, eating their own dog food.

The process and speed of development has become the new norm — not for everyone but for this startup subculture.  A very important subculture when you consider its implications and its applications.

In this world, serial entrepreneurs who have more than a single notch on their startup pistols and who understand the malestrom that has been unleashed by this hyper accelerating and evolving body of experience are able to open their jackets and harness the winds of change to propel them to new heights.

The Written Word

What also happens and which is at times a bit funny is the notion that EVERYTHING is new, novel and recently discovered.  As in, [pullquote]”No, your generation did not invent sex.”[/pullquote]

Well, unfortunately, neither did my generation.

When one reads books like 37 Signals’ Rework or The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, there is a desire to introduce them to a gentleman named Peter Drucker, the business pied piper of another generation — which BTW also did not invent sex.

There is a charming naivete about these books but also a thick vein of wisdom to be mined and refined and used.

Experience is important and there is no substitute.

Good judgment, the product of experience.
Experience, the product of bad judgment.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know?  I’m just a Big Red Car.

  • I am new to the startup world but over the past year I have learned that the process is ever changing and to be wary of anyone who claims to be an expert. The key realization that one needs to make as you alluded to and as @wmoug:disqus mentioned is the process of “learning and unlearning”.

  • When I started out trying to build a successful startup, I knew nothing. Nothing! In fact, you even offered to meet with me in your offices in Austin once I revealed my lack of experience at avc.com and that I was a fellow Texan (not sure if you remember).

    “What gets measured, gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

    Well it’s been a little over a year and a half, and though I’ve built a team, raised a small round of funding, learned how to program (out of necessity), and even made some small waves in my industry (multifamily), I’ve had to constantly relearn the above quote.

    Drucker had it right because one of the tricks of running a startup is to understand what should be measured, what ultimately doesn’t matter, and to stay laser focused on the former. It only took me 6 years to learn that the first time.

    Now I just have to relearn that every year (along with the fact that I did not invent sex)!

    • JLM

      .
      Of course I remember and I recall speaking with you at some length on the phone.

      What you are living is the American Dream. Better live it before it gets completely outlawed.

      I find that re-reading a bit of Drucker is like reading Kipling — I always find some new lesson hidden by my haste or lack of attention.

      Keep up the great work and feel free to buzz me or drop by from time to time. I have met and enjoyed meeting lots of AVCers and others.

      I wonder — who did invent sex? Now that was a great startup and the breadth and depth of the platform was awesome. Did Fred Wilson invest in that deal?

      Here’s hoping that Mike Ivey has a great 2013. Sounds like you deserve it.

      Jeff

      • “The first fossilized evidence of sexual reproduction in organisms such as eukaryotes is in the Stenian period, about 1 to 1.2 billion years ago”

        There’s no first mover advantage though, it was reinvented and executed properly much later on.

        • JLM

          .
          From now on I will have to say: “Your generation did NOT invent sex, it was invented back in the Stenian Period by the eukaryotes about 1 to 1.2 billion years ago.”

          Well played, Mark. Great get.
          .

          • “Your generation did NOT invent sex, it was invented back in the Stenian Period by the eukaryotes about 1 to 1.2 billion years ago.”

            Less pithy, but more informative. I guess it’s a trade off :).

        • nice one! Bringing the Stenian period into the conversation.

      • Thank you sir. I will definitely reach out, if for nothing else than to at least express my thanks for sharing your wisdom throughout the blogosphere!

    • That reminds me of a classic quote by Alvin Toffler (who I had to pleasure to meet and know):

      “The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. Unlearning to relearn is as important as learning.

      • JLM

        .
        Great insight. We all have a lot or unlearning to relearning to do.
        .

        • When it comes to unlearning, I’m a professional.

      • Brilliant!