The One Thing That You Must Do to Build an Amazing Startup!
Answer: Do something.

Don't you love the titles of some articles?  I try to stay current on different blogs and thoughts about what new research and what thoughts and ideas are leading in business. My goal when I read an article and a book are to get one idea when I am done. There was a professor in graduate school that instilled this in me. He was a proponent of speed reading and of trying to intake a lot of material. In his course we had a huge reading list, I remember it was a book a week (around 250 pages each). 

He knew that we couldn't retain everything in a book (at 200 wpm average retention is 70%) so why not read quickly through skimming or meta guiding (and achieve 700 words per minute). His goal was that we would find a valuable idea by the end.

So a lot of reading I do today is trying to glean ideas and make connections. It is trying to piece together various thoughts, even across industries to better help me to understand. I follow several blogs and try to read a couple of books a month. I will go through phases where I am reading 3-4 books and other phases where I don't dedicate as much time (and money- because I like paper books and I like to own them).

I don't go to book stores very often anymore, because the selection is so poor, but I enjoyed browsing and picking up a book and skimming it to determine if there was something worth knowing. Often there was nothing new. Usually blogs and news sites' posts are designed to be helpful- but they have to be so oversold through the title to get people to click on them, that the ideas becomes useless. Or the idea is meant to express some universal truth, but all the idea is something that can work given certain situations. 

Let me give you two examples. 

First google the results: the one thing leader Wow! Isn't it amazing to know the one thing you have to do to be a great leader? It is so easy, there is a secret and if you knew that one thing, then you will always be a perfect leader. The idea is so oversold and it is useless. Just like the title at the beginning of the article, the one thing you need to do to start a successful company. You have to do something. Because, if you don't do something.... then you definitely will NOT build up a company. It is literally impossible.

Second, there was an article from an interview by Eric Reis about whether a startup should launch in the press or not. A friend sent this to me to check out. Reis' general philosophy is to have a small launch have some users and get feedback, work on the product until you have a good product market fit and then launch in the media.  But herein is the problem. Launch and get some users. But, don't tell anyone about it so you can modify before people know about it. But you need people to give you feedback to let you know what is important... kind of a circular logic.

Of course there are some cases where it will be disastrous to have a big media launch. There are some where the media will help. The advice contains truth. Contrary advice also contains truth, because people wouldn't seek PR if it wasn't helpful. Deciding what is best in any one specific instance takes experience, luck, judgement, and knowledge. That is what makes it hard.

So, I will continue to read and read and try to incorporate a lot of ideas, even conflicting ideas. But, the trick is knowing that nobody has all the answers. Let that sink in for a minute. NOBODY HAS ALL THE ANSWERS. Only pieces of it and never is anything always applicable to me. Nobody else completely understands me and my situation better than I do (or should). Therefore I need to acquire as much from everyone else and then interpret the information and apply it to my situation.


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