Day 155 and Momentum

Startups don’t really operate on logic, plans or “objectives and key results” to name and shame. Founders and executive teams get really good at planning and strategies only to have it all blow up in their faces. Generating momentum in spite of startups being incredibly resistant to planning is part of the trick.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the emotions that go into that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” reality of startup life. The past two days Alex and I have been enjoying a victory lap after the 1.8B acquisition of his former startup Stack Overflow. It’s a process of mixed emotions and shared experiences with other families that lived it with us.

But one central theme is that nothing changed in our skills, planning, insight or capabilities after we got the market validation. We didn’t suddenly get better and got rewarded overnight. Our plans got exploded like everyone else in startup land, over and over and over again. Till one day it was worth a bunch of money. Now everyone involved looks like a genius. But the reality is that the momentum of startups live a life and logic unto themselves. No one set an OKR for “billions” nor did they plan out a straight line from day 1 on acquiring customers consistently. No one planned out a ten year roadmap for creating enough value or revenue for a substantial exit. No one micromanaged shit for a decade. The momentum just worked itself out eventually.

And yes I’m using the Royal We here but mostly to make a point. Startups and their teams and the entire ecosystem around them are team efforts. Together we turn nebulously ideas into sketchy plans and eventually great things. Don’t get so wrapped up into the need to manage everything so closely.

A graph showing a bell curve distribution. The two outlier “make stuff”

The momentum of making stuff can and should eventually pull you into your goals. So don’t kid yourself all your numbers or plans do shit. Be the Jedi.