Finishing School

I once was asked to provide a reference on someone I knew and said it was my considered view, “He escaped charm school a semester early.”

The recipient of that bit of obscurity laughed and nodded his head knowingly. It was an effective communication.

He passed on the man and a couple of years later told me the guy had turned out to be a disaster, but somebody else’s disaster.

That comment makes me think about another kind of school — Finishing School.

I have some equally pithy and direct advice.

The Finish Line is Within Sight | College Admission at Loyola

The brilliant young idea man

A couple of years ago, a brilliant young man with a degree from a fine university approached me for some advice on an idea he felt needed to be brought to market and he was the man to do it. I thought the idea had merit, but there was a lot of work to be done.

I gave him my usual Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, and Culture shtick of advice on how to convert an idea into a company, a product, a market, funding, and success.

We chatted about the market, the addressable market, minimum viable product, pricing, go to market strategy, and how some of that stuff worked together.

All he really wanted to talk about was raising money for his idea. Going to see VCs and talking about his idea was very sexy – so he thought.

I told him his idea was a raw seedling and he needed to put some flesh on it to make it investable and that no VC would take him or his idea seriously until he did, but he’d gone to a great school and had some warm leads.

Then what happened, Big Red Car?

I didn’t hear from his brilliant self again for six months whereat he had “another idea.”

I gave him that same bit of advice.

Did not see him for another six months — you guessed it: another idea and the same advice.

He tried to chat me up yet again six months later and I said, “Listen, amigo, you need to take an idea and drive it to the finish line.”

So, here’s the problem — you can’t be an entrepreneur, particularly a successful one, if you aren’t facing the finish line and have a burning desire to finish the effort.

Another brick in the wall

No amount of strong foundations can take the place of putting the bricks in the wall. One at a time and steadily.

[Really good bricklayers can lay up to 500 bricks in a day.]

Said another way, once you have a credible idea, the world needs more bricklayers and fewer fuzzy headed idea people. You have to finish and finish strong.

If you are struggling with getting to the finish line, however you may define it, then take a step back, evaluate where you’ve been, where you want to go, and finish the damn thing.

Be a finisher. In everything you do. Get used to finishing.

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