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Micah April 1st

The Curse of Tomorrow

While April 1 is the day that the tech world fills the world with jokes, it was the day that I stopped being one.

Back in 2006, on the March 31, I was sitting in my living room in Denver, Colorado. My living room didn’t have much life in it. The blinds were closed, the tv always on. The trash was rarely emptied, and I rarely showered.

I was skinny (well as skinny as a fat man can be), and I had a pronounced limp. It was that limp that kept me on my couch for most of the day.

Well, maybe not the limp. It was more likely the piles of drugs and alcohol that covered my glass top coffee table.

I think about that day a lot because it was the day I decided to become normal. To be sober. It was the day that I broke the Curse that had chased me for most of my life. The Curse of Tomorrow.

And, on April 1, 2006, I chose life.

It was a conscious decision and not a forgone conclusion. But, I woke up on April 1, 2006 and realized that I wasn’t ready to be finished. That today had become more important than tomorrow.

As an entrepreneur, I love being consumed by the vision of what the future holds. I thrive on my ability to see how things should work and my drive to make it reality. But, that constant belief that tomorrow will be better than today doesn’t create the appropriate balance between our mental selves and our emotional selves.

We have short memories — the failures of yesterday fuel the successes of tomorrow. We have powerful drives — tomorrow must be better than yesterday. We have incredible fortitude — you may believe that what we are doing yesterday is adequate, but what you are doing tomorrow will amaze.

But we fear today.

For if today is ok, if today is full of magic, then there is no need for the dreamer. If today is fulfilling, there is no need for entrepreneurs.

So we fight against today. We look at it in disgust. We talk only about tomorrow. We dream only about tomorrow. We live in the future.

And by being under that curse, we break away from what is most important. Ourselves. We forget that we have the distinct need to just be; to just be in the world that surrounds us and helps us and supports us and lets us understand….us.

I understand that believing in tomorrow is easy for entrepreneurs. It’s like our brains are set a day, a week, a year in advance and we struggle to engage with the world around us, with “normals,” with our friends and families that just don’t understand our ways of thought. We default every conversation to our vision of the technology future by reductive discussion of the pedantic efforts of today.

It is no surprise that startups are full of hipsters riding the cutting edge.

Yet, in the midst of that mindset driven by the Curse of Tomorrow lives the beauty of today. Of the enormous force of taking a moment to look around and engage. To the simple pleasure of just sitting and absorbing the lights and sounds of today.

April First is a special day for me. It was the day that I learned that wanting to live–to live in the now–was the secret to making tomorrow perfect.

The other day, I read Sarah Lacy’s post on Romotive (a Techstars Company!) moving to the bay area, More Bad News for Vegas Tech Fund and it stirred the same feelings I had when I moved Graphicly from Boulder to the Bay Area.

I think the sentence that got me was in Keller‘s email to the Downtown Project:

It’s my responsibility to make sure that Romotive is located where we are most likely to achieve this vision.

Most people who haven’t started a company think that there are simple decision points in deciding where that company should reside:

  • Where do I want to live?
  • Where the money at?

But it’s not that simple. What Keller did was right, he listened to his business. His business told him where the best place was for them to achieve their goals, and unfortunately, it wasn’t Las Vegas.

Like dowsers, great CEO’s have the ability to intrinsically listen to their companies, putting aside their egos and desires to do what is right for the business.

Even as they bury themselves with metrics and analytics and report to boards and investors, they continue to listen to that ache in their stomachs that tells them what actions to follow through with.

It’s like porn; you know it when you see it.

Moving a company is hard. There are people that can’t/won’t move. The community you are leaving looks at you askance and wonders why. your investors often came onboard because of where you were located.

It’s not you; it’s me.

When I moved Graphicly to the Bay Area, I was pretty quiet about it. I didn’t think it was a big deal, and I still have people that ask me why I moved from Boulder, especially because Boulder is seen as such a startup mecca.

It honestly had nothing to do with Boulder, much like Romotive’s move has nothing to do with Las Vegas.

As founders, our only jobs are to put our companies in the best position to succeed. That means a focus on raising money, recruiting talent and articulating the vision of the business.

Mostly, it means listening to the business and doing what is best for it.

Kudos to Keller for listening, and more importantly, acting.

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Micah March 8th

Curing FOMO

Last night, I was sitting in my backyard listening to the kids playing softball up the street amid the raindrops.

As my phone likes to do, it was all abuzz with tweets and what not about folks enjoying SXSW.

The vibration of my phone has always been unwelcome during a large event that I wasn’t part of. I have had a classic case of FOMO for most of my life; much of which has been the cause of many an hour of being grounded as a kid.

My Fear Of Missing Out kept me out late, got me drunk, helped me evade the police and even got me a chance to kiss the girl of my dreams (and I was even awake!)

But, like any disease, over time it became the monster that I had to feed. I had to go out. I couldn’t miss that party. If I stayed for just one more drink the sucky-ass night would become wonderful.

I was a slave to my FOMO. And, FOMO is a bitch of a master.

I had to figure out how to conquer it. There is no FOMO-Anonymous. No Jenny Craig for FOMO. In fact, by definition, to cure FOMO, you have to do it alone. It has to be about you.

And if FOMO was about a fear of not doing something, then the only way to face that fear was to just not do something.

To master the art of doing nothing.

Doing nothing is the antithesis of the American Way. We are doers! Fuck Yeah ‘Murica!

As an entrepreneur it’s even worse. We not only do — We do all of the time. Fuck Yeah Changin’ the World!

Yet, as i started to explore the Optimization of Self, it became clear that success doesn’t come from doing more and more, faster and faster, but actually from doing less.

Maybe Tim Ferriss is right. Maybe four hours is enough. Maybe.

As one realizes that success is driven from the creation of acceleration and force, not from constant motion, you realize that doing nothing is actually a positive. (Yes, I am pretending to know something about physics. I watched Niel DeGrasse Tyson on The Daily Show. Fuck Yeah, Science!).

If the rule is that bodies that are in motion stay in motion, then it would seem that rule should also apply to energy. And, if it applies to energy, then it also applies to thought. If you have ever spent hours in the dark hoping your brain would stop so you could go to sleep, you know what I mean.

So we move. and move. We confuse action for achievement. And in our constant state of motion, we feel that if we stop moving, while others continue to move, that we will “miss out.” I think its physics or some shit.

But imagine doing the opposite. Imagine stopping. Imagine doing nothing, if even for just a minute. What happens?

Nothing.

The world continues to spin. You continue to live. Your dog continues to ignore your best efforts to get her to come. (Stupid Taylor.)

But in that exact moment of realization that nothing happened what do you feel?

Relief.

That’s right. Not hungover. Not disappointed in yourself for spending money or time. Not annoyed at the amount of work you have to do.

Just Relief.

And then a warmth that slowly builds from the recess of your chest, in and around your heart and explodes in a simple laugh deep in your throat as you realize that what you are feeling is happiness.

Happiness that you took a single moment to put yourself in front of everything. For one, goddamn moment, you were the most important thing in the whole friggin universe, because you did nothing but be.

FOMO gone.