fake it till you break it

Insincere behavior can’t be hidden. Sooner or later, it will surface. Some people suffering from imposter syndrome aren’t suffering from imposter syndrome. They’re imposters. Not an attempt at delegitimizing imposter syndrome because it’s a real and debilitating limitation for some people.

Fake it till you make it sounds cool. Perhaps one of the reasons it’s an overly popular cliché. Again, ingenuine behavior bubbles are easy to burst. That’s why pretending to be someone who already made it is terrible advice.

Faking (power) poses and non-verbal communication is something else. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, PhD explains in her “Your body language may shape who you are” TED talk; there are ways for us to trick our minds into boosting our confidence. This idea is often summarized as fake it till you make it, but the risk of misinterpretation is substantial.

I prefer people around me behaving sincerely. However, at the very beginning of launching a new product or service, there is some room for faking.

Aiming for a billion users certainly shows ambition but won’t happen overnight. That’s why there is absolutely no use in replicating Facebook’s infrastructure to serve one billion customers. Still, the image of your company should exude that very same ambition even though it can only, temporarily, serve ten customers.

Fake it till you break it.

There is no need to over-engineer the infrastructure and (production) processes from the start. Keep your company as lean as possible up until the point it is about to break. However, a clear vision and some preparations should be in place to jump to the next level at the very moment it’s required.

availability cascade

The simpler an idea can be represented, the faster it will spread. Especially true for initially very complex ideas.

Collective beliefs gain popularity precisely because someone straightforwardly translated a particular complex process at some point in time.

Once the idea starts spreading, there is no stopping it. Network effects kick in. In the proverbial blink of an eye, the idea is now everywhere and became a collective belief, almost overnight. This phenomenon is often described as an “availability cascade.”

Fantastic if the idea is factually correct. Dangerous if it isn’t.

Water running down in cascading waterfalls can’t be physically made to flow the other way around. The concept of availability cascade, though, can, in theory, be reverse-engineered.

The easier you make a real-world problem, the bigger the likeliness you can leverage the availability cascade. Whether that problem is a concept that’s tough to grasp, a process that’s hard to guide, or a task that’s tough to perform.

Looking back at heroes who are walking or have walked this earth. Concepts like gravity and relativity are incredibly complex by nature yet have been made easy to understand for a broad audience.

Make things as easy as you possibly can for your customer.

not optimizable

A new business model can’t be optimized for success before launching. There are just too many unknown unknowns. While it’s possible to draw inspiration from other novel business models or adhere to general best practices, there is no playbook with steps to follow. Hence, strategical planning for success, for a business model that hasn’t been invented yet by replicating other success stories, is impossible.

On the other hand, a tried and true business model can definitely be optimized for success prior to launching. With enough insight into the market, the circumstances can be molded for success. It’s not easy, requires much hard work, but it’s possible.

When engaging in an entirely new business model, optimize your plans for not failing instead of success.

(un)missable

What’s the difference between an employee and a founder? One wants to be unmissable, while the other wants to be as missable as possible.

If employees make themselves unmissable, the company needs them more, so they’ll be harder to fire. This status will increase job security for the employee and help them climb the career ladder within that company.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have to make themselves super missable. If they fail to do so, they themselves become the business.

Scaling a human being is hard. Apart from some productivity tweaks, at the end of the day, there are but 24 hours. Scaling a business is difficult as well but significantly easier than scaling an actual person.

Chances are, the easier it is for an entrepreneur to move into the background, the easier it is to grow the company. For an entrepreneur to take a step down, every process, every piece of knowledge must be well documented, easily transferrable, and readily accessible.

If you are the business, you don’t have a business.

laziness supreme

Sometimes I want to get a snack, but I’m too lazy to get it, so I end up not eating a snack. Thank you, laziness.

Laziness doesn’t rhyme well with entrepreneurship. It doesn’t really fit the hustle and grind image. When you get down to business, nobody will do it for you. There won’t be any handouts. So laziness is bound to be a short-lived quality among entrepreneurs.

Or is it?

Laziness can be an excellent quality. Suppose you are reluctant to perform a (routine) task more than once. To make your life easier, you automate the task (partly). In that case, you’re already optimizing for growth.

What’s entrepreneurship if not a burning desire to constantly improve and optimize problems?

Laziness, if applied correctly, can be a great asset to entrepreneurs.

a little much

Forever running out of time. Literally. Overly self-disciplined people can be tough on themselves. Too tough even. Always pushing the envelope, trying to squeeze the lemon to the very last drop.

The feeling that coincides with running out of time is likely a result of biting off more than you can chew. Quick fix? Take smaller bites.

There are many frameworks and matrixes to organize professional work.
Take the ICE system, for instance, coined by Sean Ellis. Tasks that could accelerate growth for a company get scored. All three parameters, namely: impact, confidence, ease, are graded on a scale of zero to five. The tasks with the highest score out of fifteen are probably, from a strategic point of view, the ones to attend to first.

What about frameworks for people where business and leisure are heavily intertwined? Ideally, work can be switched on or off, at least in our minds. Still, for entrepreneurs, that’s often rather challenging to achieve.
An extra parameter is required. Joy. Does this task bring me any joy?

In an always-on world, reconsider if the task you think you have to do, is one that actually has to be done, or one that you are tricking yourself into thinking that it’s an absolute must?

For the remaining tasks, add joy to the impact confidence and ease mix for a kinder prioritization.

channel growth

One cargo ship getting stuck in a canal blocking global trade is a rather unfortunate event. Yet every business has similar events waiting to unfold. One mishap with the potential to block your entire sales pipeline. A disaster making your business come to a grinding halt.

There are two ways to go about this problem.

One way is to invest in growth. We could make the canal both wider and deeper. We could invest in technology to guide more vessels through in less time, thus increasing throughput. Translation; increase sales funnel capacity by increasing productivity. We can achieve this by having the right amount of people, using the right tools and processes to reach maximum efficiency.

These initiatives will surely pay for themselves as growth is certified. However, these actions don’t take a potential disaster into account.

Another way to go about this problem is to invest in conflict resolution. A procedure that describes what to do in case of emergency. The right people with the right skills and equipment with a clearance to respond to a call of distress.

Short-term growth is increasing bandwidth today. Long-term growth is eliminating bandwidth shrinkage tomorrow.

no shot no hit

It’s hard to hit the bull’s eye without taking a shot at it. Not sure about the math, but taking a shot in the general direction of the bull’s eye surely increases your chances a thousandfold. You can’t do anything wrong if you don’t do anything, to begin with. Does that imply that you can do right by inaction? Unlikely. However, in some (large) corporations, this seems to be the case.

Companies today need loyal employees who don’t shy away from controversy. Employees who have the guts to go against the grain deliberately.

Employers must create environments that encourage this type of behavior. A climate where it’s not only okay to fail, one where failures are forgiven promptly.

It’s the way forward. The path towards growth. If it weren’t for persisting through adversity, none of us would walk, after falling on our faces as babies, time after time.

manual override

Sometimes you have to ignore the warning signs. I imagine the instrument panel in an airplane performing a zero-gravity flight lights up like a Christmas tree. Yet, the pilots have to disregard the signals to perform the stunt.

Not for long, though. The warning signs are there for a reason.
Enabling a company for (hyper) growth is bound to make the dashboard light up. If you don’t have a dashboard, make one first where you track your KPI’s.

Growing is natural. Growing super fast isn’t. Ignoring the warning lights is allowed, but only temporary.

integrity in the end

Companies’ lifespans are becoming increasingly shorter. Beating this statistic is tough. Partly due to more and more companies being founded, and the battle for customers is rough.

Growth is a very long-term, never-ending process. If you’re in it for the long haul, working on — and investing in — growth is a daily activity.
Integrity is a crucial asset in this struggle. Not just a hollow word being carved into marble in your skyscraper lobby, actual, end-game integrity.

It starts with you, your first hire, your first team. Emphasize integrity from a company culture’s point of view. If not, growth and longevity will be compromised.