Thursday, June 30, 2011

Founder Institute Learning: Team Work and life

I was excited to enroll the Founder Institute Silicon Valley Summer semester. Only a couple of days into the program, I already feel learning a ton.

Everyone dies if the team die

Everyone knows the importance of a team, complementary skills and all that, but only when you experience a live or die situation do you realize what it truly means for a team to band together.

I was a few minutes late to show up at the second session, and looking forward to the next few hours of adventures, only to be greeted, "Why do you show up here? You dropped out!". I was stunned, "What the ...?" I realized later that, only 30 minutes earlier, some sophisticated issues triggered an email to Adeo indicating that a member on my founding team is dropping out, and that caused me to drop out as well immediately after. I hassled in the next hour or so trying reach my team with emails, phone calls, whatever communication channel I could get my hands on, and eventually we reached an agreement. This program is important for us and for the company, and we need to do whatever it takes together to stay in.

The environment is brutal out there. Unless everyone holds up, the whole team sinks. You may still die even if you had done everything right yourself.

Paying a price for screwing up

Life is unfair sometimes, but it's brutally fair in business. Whatever you screw up will come back and you have to make up for it. No short cuts. No second chance. Learn from mistakes but never repeat a mistake.

We were hoping to negociate our way back in, but it seems clear that we have to give a one-minute pitch on the spot. If the average score is 2.5 or above, we stay, otherwise, we're out. We'd better put our act together.

Live or die in one minute

You have to deliver under huge pressure. Just one minute, any mistake in execution and you die. That's life.

I delivered. Even nurvous as hell, I managed to cover the essential elements of a good business idea and convinced the three mentors that it's a 3+ pitch. We stay.

It turned out that a little bit of luck does strike, only when you expect it the least. At the Zuckerburg Bar after the session, my team member struck a genius idea, i.e. asking Adeo to credit the 3-score pitch to the team, even though I was not "officially in" the program when I delivered the pitch. Adeo decided to flip a coin, and I called Head, and it was Head. Cheers, team!

Only a beginning. More adventures to come.