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Day 1 Startup Institute Journal

Today was my first day as an associate at the Startup Institute in Boston. I’ve been looking forward to seeing exactly what is going on over there. I’m happy to report that I’m very pleased and excited to be a part of it all.

Right off the bat during orientation the CEO and co-founder Aaron OHearn announced the name change from Boston Startup School to The Startup Institute because they are opening another in  New York.  I got the feeling I was witnessing history in the making.

The mood in the room was edgy and fun. In 8 hours I saw a four person panel of a few local startup all stars answering questions, adults making towers out of marshmallows and spaghetti, friends being made, skills being learned, and everyone breaking down what they suck most at.

There were a lot of talented people packed into one room, all well educated and looking to add to their skill set every day for the next 8 weeks. The students themselves were full of knowledge and to see all of them together so eager to learn and share was incredibly inspiring.

The staff was awesome. I was impressed with the product they have put together for the students. They kept the energy up all day long and did not stop throwing out top quality content and kept everyone excited for more. I learned a lot from the team and realized I have a lot more to learn still.

I’m very happy with where I am right now and so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of what I’m seeing happen in front of me. There was so much sharing and growth. If every day is half as great as today, this is going to be a great 8 weeks.

When I’m not passed out on my keyboard I’m planning on blogging about my experiences as an associate at the Startup Institute in Boston during the Spring 2013 class. I think what they do is amazing I hope I can do it justice here so that others can get some perspective.

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Focus Your Mind

Your mind has a jockey and a horse.

The jockey is small and focused.

The horse is strong and wild.

Without the horse, the jockey has no force.

Without the jockey, the horse could not run the course.

Together they can win or wind up crushed and broken in a heap.

Another example in a more fun direction would be Cyclops from X-Men.

When Scott Summer’s eyes opened without special lens to focus them an uncontrollable beam of destruction shoots out.

Only when he learned to focus that beam with a lens did he start to cut through things with laser accuracy.

Without this focus, he would be blinded by his inability to trust his own eyes open.

Without finding that lens of focus, you may leave your prospects of productivity destroyed and melted on the floor by your wildly uncontrolled brain.

Without learning control your jockey will be thrown from the horse, who will then run wherever it pleases unchecked.

It’s about balance. It’s about harnessing this great power and focusing it.

You will be thrown from the horse at times. Do not let this get you down.

You are dealing with something very powerful and it takes time to learn how to use it effectively. Always respect it and you will learn to work with it.

Insecure about blogging? Read this.

I put together a short list of some of the fears I had and some of the potential fears I thought others might have and tried to address them here. If you have been scared to start up on blogging, or anything else really, maybe you can find some encouragement in these words. 

1. What if I fail? 

Haven’t you already? What do you call being too scared to do what you want?

2. What if my writing sucks? How do I find my voice? 

It will never get better if you just sit there and do nothing. A new painter paints. A new violinist can’t even play row, row, row, your boat without picking up the instrument and making plenty of mistakes. Go FIND your voice. Go write sucky posts. Edit them, look through them, find out what parts really say what it is you want to convey.

3.What if I mess up on formatting or spelling?

Let me tell you what will really happen if you make these rookie mistakes. Armageddon. You will end the world as we know it with a formatting error. Definitely don’t be an asshole and start blogging. I have tickets to a concert in a few weeks. Step away from the keyboard.

4. What makes a good blog?

Good content. What makes good content? Practice, knowledge, timing, and context. How do you get those things? Check #2.

5. Where do I find a good theme? What about a good logo? How will I market myself?

Worry about that later. Get some content up there. Then get some more. Then some more. Then worry about hammering out the extra special details.  Simple is fine. You can always update these things later, usually very easily. You can’t always go back in time and create tons of great content.

6. I’m not a tech geek, I couldn’t handle all that HTML code and stuff.

This isn’t even close to a problem any longer. There are plenty of websites that will help you put your content up without needing to know any code or anything. If you can use Facebook or Twitter, you can use WordPress or Tumblr.

7.  What if people think what I have to say is stupid, or that I am stupid?

They will do both no matter what you do. Are you going to let that stop you? Maybe I think you are stupid right now for letting this excuse get in your way. What are you going to do about that? People are always going to try and tear you down. Don’t use them as an excuse not to bring yourself up.

8. I AM stupid!

I can’t argue with that. Maybe you are. You still have this urge inside of you though, so why not educate yourself and write about what you are learning? Some people love a coming of age tale. You could be that person who learned how to do that thing that taught all those other people. Want to know what we call that person at the end of all that? Smart.

9. Why would anyone care what I have to say?

There are 7.5 billion people in the world. Some people will care what you have to say. You won’t meet them or hear what they think until you try. We all crave connection to other human beings and the internet is the best tool we have ever had to connect us. I assure you, someone cares. Most famous bloggers started as someone that no one knew about.

10. Aren’t I just stroking my ego? Isn’t it self centered to have a blog?

Maybe sometimes, but who doesn’t love a good ego stroke? Many people who accomplished great things were rubbing their ego like a genie lamp until magic popped out. Do what you do and make it matter and it’s OK if you get a little bit of validation from getting it done. It’s better than OK, it’s awesome.

You might have a reason you are afraid to write and put it on the net, or even to accomplish some other goal.  Maybe you don’t even know you are afraid. If you wish to explore your fear or discuss some of the ones I have laid out here, feel free to do so in the comments.


– Featured photo provided by University YMCA