Yesterday I applied for YCombinator which is an accelerator program for tech startups. Basically they have some cash, a network of experienced people from a range of industry that can help mentor these startups and they mix it all together to build a community of like minded people.
The result? A forceful reputation for being a place where innovation and innovators are ‘incubated’ producing extra-ordinary results.
It’s no wonder that many people apply to join because it’s synonymous with success. However, perhaps many don’t realise that it’s just the beginning. The leg up so to speak but you still have the big wall to climb.
It’s one thing to win in the application, it’s another to win the marathon that comes right after the selection process.
As part of the application process, I had to record a video introducing myself and what I’m about etcetera. I looked at the examples they had on their website and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed. Sure, they specifically requested the videos to not be ‘fancy’ but surely I could do better than looking like an awkward engineer sweating in front of a webcam.
So I wrote a song, then performed that song, then sent them the video of it. And it only took me an hour all up – probably less than most people would take to shower and get ready in the morning. I figured being a single non-technical founder (which means my application is already left of field), why not just swing big and see what happens. I might miss and look like a silly-head in front of everyone or I might hit a home-run.
They might laugh and think it’s awesome. They might laugh and think I didn’t read the rules. They might sit there awkwardly and thank the heavens for their electronic application process that weeds out the people like me.
But I did it my way. I didn’t hide a thing and I slept well last night knowing that. It’s funny how we always feel better when we own up to something or we hit it off with a new friend or we have a meeting where we were able to be 100% ourselves and now they want a second meeting. It’s congruence with ourselves and the world arounds us.
It’s not a coincidence that plants always grow toward the sunlight and that water flows downhill. No matter how hard you try (unless you kill them entirely), you won’t prevent the natural path of least resistance. You have this same path that is wired into your soul so why are you fighting it? Do you realise the minute you back off the resistance and the fighting, you’re going to end up doing it your natural way anyway?
My friend Jay Jay is looking to get sponsored as an entertainer in LA and was asking my advice this morning as to how to strategically make this happen.
Jay is a talented illusionist, performer, actor and thought leader. He’s taught self confidence to bumbling guys, entertained 1000’s of people, done stand up comedy and created hours of content to help others build confidence.
To say he has a unique style, brand and ‘way’ would be an understatement.
So as much as my logical and ‘sensible’ mind was wanting to advise him to ‘do x, y and z’, I knew for him it would be forced, un-natural and as a result it would appear unauthentic. A fatal ingredient to being a performer.
If he did it the way others wanted, he’d please them at the personal cost to himself. If he did it his way then he’d please himself and it wouldn’t be at the cost of anyone else. In fact it would help him find those who appreciate the way he sees the world.
Imagine knowing Stefani Germanotta before she became Lady Gaga and one night over some pizza she confided in you that the way she wanted to take on the world was take her brilliant singing ability and showcase it in a dress made of meat.
Most people – in fact I’m going to say 99.9% of the world – would have laughed at her, told her to be ‘realistic’ and given her some safe, common advice because it’s what they would do. I’m glad she didn’t listen to these people and a I know a billion girls and some secretive guys who feel the same way.
Always do it your way. Today you’re a weirdo freak who people cross the street to avoid. Tomorrow you’re a visionary genius who is a role model for self confidence and the world. And what’s best is that you didn’t have to change a thing.
It’s not an easy road at first because we’re taught to worry about what others think of us. But I promise you that in time you’ll be happier than you can possibly imagine.