The Struggle — Talent & Character

Big Red Car here, y’all. Well, it’s winter here in the ATX.

Of course that means it’s 39F right now but it’ll be 62F this afternoon. Oh, well, it’s still winter. Sunny, too.

So, The Boss is talking to a couple of his brilliant CEOs and they get on the subject of “The Struggle.”

Sayeth The Boss, “The essence of starting a new business is The Struggle.”

So, the Big Red Car is going to ‘splain it to y’all. Listen up and pay attention cause I’m going to go fast today.

The Struggle

Creating a new company around a product is a difficult undertaking and many folks who are doing it for the first time are decidedly on their training wheels. No harm there. Nobody was born knowing how to do this stuff.

It’s a little easier if you’ve gone to the trouble of articulating your Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, and Culture in WRITING but let’s get real here — you have NOT done that, have you?

Do you have a business engine canvas, a business process graphic, a dollar weighted org chart, an elevator/taxi cab (Uber is OK)/boardroom pitch with a clean deck of eight slides?

So, you have made it a little harder on yourself. So what?

[Pro tip: One day you will look back on this and understand The Struggle was the fun part of it all. You learned. You grew. You were introduced to the real you. Turns out you like that son of a bitch. You struggled and you won. Remember who told you this. It was a Big Red Car. You’re welcome.]


Talent will take you a certain distance in The Struggle. You might be a great planner by nature. How about a software impresario? A natural marketing gal?

Talent will take you a certain distance but not all the way.


Character is discovered right below the surface of our lives but it takes a bit of friction to reveal it.

I like to say that we all have character if only we will go to the trouble of allowing it to be revealed which means we have to expose ourselves to some friction to reveal it. Take some risk? Take off the training wheels and go for it.

Good news, y’all! The Struggle will provide all the friction an entrepreneur could ever wish for.

[Observation: The United States has just about killed off all the traditional sources of character development we used to rely upon. Back in the day there was a stay at home Mom, a teacher, a coach, Boys Scouts, the Army, church, a rabbi, your Uncle Ned. Today, not so much. Still, it can be done.]

Character will take you a certain distance but it, too, will not take you all the way.

Talent & Character

As you struggle and work The Struggle, you will alternate between mashing the talent and character buttons. Sometimes, you will say, “Talent, this is going to take talent.”

Other days, “Character, this is a test of my character.”

The combination will take you a lot further than you imagined. Some days you call on your talent and some days you call on your character. And they will respond to the call until they don’t.

One day they will not be enough and you will say, “Awww shit!”

But you will remember what a Big Red Car told you and you will smile.


And here, grasshopper, is the big payoff. The Struggle will develop your talent and your character. It will multiply it.

When you have exhausted the supply of talent and character you had in your backpack, The Struggle itself will grow them. You will learn and that learning will grow your talent and your character.

If you engage, your company and your people will learn what you learn. You will teach them.

If you have a spot of success, you will naturally reinforce what works and reject what doesn’t, you Pavlovian beastie.

There is value in The Struggle

The Struggle will tap out your talent and your character and then it will develop them, make them stronger, return a dividend to you.

You will learn that leaders lead their teams through The Struggle and that they are watching. They are evaluating you. They are picking sides and they want to be led through The Struggle by a person just like you.

Will it be easy? No, it will be like calculus. [More English majors became English majors because of calculus than Shakespeare. No?]

You will learn to RUN TOWARD THE STRUGGLE — just like the US Marines Corps runs to the sound of the gunfire. You will do the same thing.

Because you are unafraid, you are brave, and you are an entrepreneur. And because a Big Red Car told you to.

And, yes, do not be afraid to do this at home. Do this everywhere. Do this today.

The Struggle? You own that bitch. Now, get out there and bite the ass off a grizzly bear! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Is this a great time to be alive or what?

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. [Hey, y’all start bugging The Boss about my getting a paint job. It’s been 25 years already.]



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