Before or after you read this post, it might be helpful to read this one to get some context about what Living for Monday was.
On Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014, I made the decision to shut down Living for Monday.
Why I made the decision does not matter, but know that many hours of careful thought and consideration went into it. We built an incredible vision for what Living for Monday could one day be, but in the end I believe Living for Monday might be better as an idea than a business.
A decision like shutting down a business can be tough for an entrepreneur. After all, the task at hand in getting a business to sustainability requires that you integrate your personal identity with the venture in many ways. Different people handle decisions like this in different ways.
This post could take many forms to announce the decision. I could go on an emotional journey, exploring all of the ways things could have been different. Or, I could blame everything on other people.
Instead, I choose to celebrate Living for Monday as a smashing success of a project that played out over the course of 2.5 years. I got to explore ideas, learn more than any institution could teach me in a classroom, work with incredible people, and understand what it takes to build a project from the ground up. Ultimately, I’m filing Living for Monday away as a great idea with powerful resonance that I explored to its fullest extent. A grand success.
Of course, in running a project over the course of 2+ years, it’s easy to learn alot. I figured I’d share as many of those lessons as possible with you and hope that you can benefit from them. It turned out that I came up with a round 50, for no particular reason than that I could think of no more lessons learned for now.
- Design matters.
- Content matters.
- Great design without great content lacks impact.
- Great content without great design loses part of its’ potential.
- The people you are surrounded by set the bar for what you expect to achieve.
- Being alone is not a permanent state of being. It is a temporary state that either beats us down or leads us to the sense of community we have been seeking all along.
- Servant leadership inspires others to serve as well.
- A great business does not a great idea make. Some ideas are better to remain as great ideas rather than be bastardized by turning them into business ventures.
- Leaving a great idea as an idea (in written, audio or video format) is sometimes, ironically, the best way for the idea to make money.
- Some of the best businesses are not brilliant ideas, but rather simple solutions to real problems as expressed by real people.
- Consistency builds trust, followership, and growth… Especially if you seek intentional growth through consistency.
- Any given project is just “one note in your song” as my friend Richard Boehmcke puts it. No one piece of work or art defines you. It is the body of work for which you will be remembered.
- You are not your work.
- Any person who evaluates your worth as a person should be shunned. There are too many people who will build you up to accept hurtful criticism from a person who himself is challenged with his own demons. Pray for him and move on.
- Any person who offers sincere and honest criticism of your work should be kept close.
- The number of people who are willing to offer sincere, honest, valuable criticism is small.
- Knowing when to quit is important.
- It’s easier to know when to quit by adequately defining a project to begin with. Establishing clear outcomes, timelines, and resources you’re willing to dedicate to a project will save much heartache.
- Decisions and deals made out of necessity are dangerous. Our immediate needs cloud our judgment, especially if those needs are financial.
- An investor is only valuable insomuch as she is aligned with the founder’s vision and complements the founder’s skills/knowledge/experience. A misaligned investor creates heartache, desperation, and disappointment. The corollary, of course, is that an aligned investor is an asset to be cherished and integrated into a project.
- Charisma and belief are necessary but not sufficient for execution. As a million people before have made clear, a great idea only matters in its execution.
- Metrics are meaningless unless they lead you closer to your vision and goals. A feel good metric is nothing but a distraction from the work at hand.
- If given the choice between recognition and doing more great work, do more great work. Whatever recognition that work deserves will come naturally. If you make the work the reward, you will be unstoppable.
- Earned media is more valuable than engineered media. The intersection of the two is best of all.
- The world (of business, of politics, of [insert anything here]) is unfair. The world is not a meritocracy. You can become cynical or you can learn the game. Learning the game can help you make your world more meritocratic.
- Nobody owes you anything. Not a sale, not a job, not anything. If you aren’t willing to work for the sale or deliver results in the job, you are expendable and should expect that you may find yourself without paying work at some point in life. This is harsh but true… But knowing the truth makes it actionable.
- People, even with big titles, often have no idea what they are doing. All people — people in the most important roles in the biggest organizations — are just trying to find their way just like you and I.
- Those same people are most concerned about the urgent tasks or activities that directly affect their selfish interests. Ask a business executive how they are thinking about population growth and its’ affects on our sustainable future and they will say population growth is good for business. Ask a scientist and they might disagree.
- Collective consciousness is a wonderful idea. I believe in it. I believe that community-driven decision making builds a sustainable future. I hope my generation will embrace that idea. But that idea does not drive decision making today.
- Nothing is a sure thing. Anyone who says they have a sure thing has simply not been exposed to the alternative possible outcomes. Confidence is key, but willful ignorance is dangerous.
- Reactionary decisions are often driven by poor reasoning. Starting a business because I was disillusioned with what I found in one small corner of corporate America does not make it a good decision to start a business.
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is felt on an individual level, everyday. If basic financial needs are not met, our minds are mastered by that reality. Only once we reach a basic level of sustenance are we able to focus on higher levels of self actualization.
- Beyond our basic sustenance, money is not a powerful motivator. In fact, once our basic needs are met, money is only valuable in the impact it allows us to make on the things we care about, not as an end in and of itself. Money is a tool not an end.
- Money is not real. It is simply a means of exchanging value. Ultimately, it is not “yours” and you cannot take it with you when you die. Money helps you achieve outcomes that matter while you are here. It also help you to help others achieve outcomes while you are here.
- Owning a successful business does not mean you are good at doing everything that goes into operating a high performing team or organization. It means you have found a pain in the market that people were willing to pay to solve. The effectiveness of your organization is something entirely different.
- Shared organizational culture creates organizational effectiveness. Organizational effectiveness creates performance.
- Brand perception is a reflection of internal culture. A conceived or aspirational brand will crumble under poor internal culture.
- Every service, website, and product you use makes money, even if it is free to you. Google is not free, it is paid for by advertisers. This blog is not free, I am only able to write this blog because I make money elsewhere. Wikipedia is not free, it is supported by generous donors.
- Firing clients can sometimes be the quickest path to success.
- People will say they would buy what you’ve made because they don’t want to say no, or “call your baby ugly.” The best way to know whether you have created or are creating something of value is to ask real people to pay real money. If you ask for money before you’ve even built the thing, even better. It will save you time, money, and energy.
- The significance of our work is motivating. People who consistently perform at high levels draw their motivation from alignment with personal goals, alignment with personal beliefs, or inherent interest in the work itself. Any other motivators are false motivators and are not sustainable over time.
- Many people quit their work because of bad bosses, not because of the work itself. When we are not led, when we do not believe in our boss, when a boss is not willing to grow and learn herself, then we feel no loyalty.
- Our lives can be broken into seven categories of well being. 1) Spiritual. 2) Relationship. 3) Mental. 4) Physical. 5) Financial. 6) Career. 7) Adventure.
- Autonomy, connectdness, and growth greatly affect our sense of fulfillment in life and work. To feel a sense of autonomy in the choices we make everyday. To feel a sense of connectedness to a community. To feel an alignment between what we believe to be true about the world and the actions we take. These are the things we seek.
- I can hand you a specific set of directions, or I can hand you a map. I could give you directions based on my own experiences, which could have very little to do with your own experiences or starting point. The results you achieve by making use of that map depend entirely on the starting point. Your ability to understand your starting point and then apply the map to your situation will directly dictate your outcomes. Maps are more uncomfortable than directions but often more fulfilling.
- People would rather you do the work for them then show them how to do it themselves. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime is true. However, teaching requires a willingness to learn. Many people do not have that willingness. Sometimes it is driven by fear, sometimes by past experience, sometimes by the combination of the two.
- Growth is scary. We reach our potential when we consistently make ourselves uncomfortable. Knowing this does not make it any easier to be uncomfortable, but rather it allows us to understand what we are feeling and its value to our future.
- Being in relationship with other people has implied risk. The value those people provide back into our lives is worth the risk, as long as we first apply the right filters to the people we allow to influence us.
- Much of the marketing, advertising, and messaging we see in the world is designed to build up a sense of fear and inadequacy within us. Fear drives us to make impulse decisions. Creating a filter for what messages we subject ourselves to allows us to create a more intentional reality for our lives.
- Avoiding the real work does not make failure any more or less likely, it just delays the inevitable. Do the real work first and fail or succeed early. Waiting to fail does not make failure less painful.
The inevitable response to a post like this is: “So, what’s next?” To be frank, I don’t know. I never gave myself the option of a Plan B while I was running Living for Monday, and I think that was the right move. Further, I put a requirement on myself that I would spend 4-5 days feeling the emotions of ending a project.
So, today I start looking for what’s next. I have many potential options in mind, and perhaps I will share some of the process on this blog. Ironically, I’ll be taking much of my own Living for Monday advice as I search for the next exciting opportunity on my path.
If you have ideas or want to have a conversation about opportunities to work together, please send me an email at Barrettallenbrooks@gmail.com
In the meantime, let me know what I can do for you.