Don't forsake 1 for 1 million
There is an interesting duality in the world right now where many conversations are about scale, millions of users and exits. There are incredible people out there doing great work and organizations with important objectives. But at times the value of impacting one person feels trivialized or neglected altogether because it doesn’t scale.
Today I met with an entrepreneur new to the startup game and we sat down for what ended up being a thrilling conversation. He told me where he was with his product, who he had talked to and his plan for proceeding.
But what followed was something that isn’t permitted or happen willingly. With admirable humility and openness, he allowed me to challenge some of his assumptions and on the path he was taking to the market. Rather than chasing down patents and well-developed websites, I offered some thoughts and then asked him, “what would it take for you to be in business a week from now? Can this be done, or at least started, without filing for intellectual property? Do you need a well-built website in order to start?”
As we batted around these questions and talked about potential paths, he began to see he was "hiding from starting” (h/t Steven Pressfield) behind patents, websites and other boxes that you’re supposed to check rather than confronting that to be an entrepreneur merely means to sell something. What do you really need to in order to make your first sale in this case? As I felt his energy pick up and begin to contemplate a new accelerated path, the rest of the day aside, that conversation alone made my day.
Impacting a million people is a noble cause and people should pursue it. But there is also something noble about impacting one person. About changing the way they see themselves and the world. Empowering them to Go Forth Boldly and chase their dreams. To not wait for permission but to become the person they need to be, with humility of course, and charge forward learning along the way.
Today was a moment when I heard my regularly cited hero, Seth Godin saying during an interview, “everyone listening to this has more power than they think they do.”
We are the ones we've been waiting for.