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America: The Ultimate Startup

Posted on May 28, 2007
Filed Under General Thoughts, History | 2 Comments

American FlagDuring this Memorial Day weekend I found myself thinking about our troops who have died in battle to protect our way of life over the life of this country. Before I go on with this post I’d like to thank all deceased and living troops for their service to the United States of America. I often think we don’t thank them enough.

That said, my thoughts drifted to the Revolutionary War - the first war for American soldiers. I am sure I ended up thinking of the Revolution because I happen to be reading David McCullough’s 1776 right now. That novel, while enriching my historical knowledge of the Revolution, has also shown me that the founding of this country was much like the founding and building of a company making America the ultimate startup.

Here are some key characteristics of both the Founding Fathers and citizens of America and the founders and employees of a startup:

Passion is very important: You must have a strong belief in what you do in order to make your goals a reality. Washington had no real experience leading an Army which technically put him at a disadvantage when fighting the world’s most elite force, the British Army. However, Washington and his troops had passion and time and time again even though they should have lost they won because they wanted it more.

Startups always have this same passion. It is a driving force within the company that keeps people going and sacrificing when needed to get things accomplished.  They want to change the world and will fight when needed to make sure they get their product out there.

Knowing your limitations is crucial: History shows that Washington knew his limitations as was not afraid to defer to others for help. He also was smart enough to surround himself with great people that he could count on to do the right thing and to advise him when needed.

This same type of behavior is shown in most of the great startup CEOs. They hire great people around them that they can trust.  Most importantly they aren’t afraid to admit when they don’t know the exact path they should take and to consult with their fellow company builders to find the best route.

Remaining calm under pressure is critical: Washington and his men were always under tremendous pressure. They were outgunned and outmanned at every turn and yet they stayed calm, formulated their plans and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history.

Startups do this every day. They are always up against bigger companies who have resources they don’t but yet they persevere and change the world just as Washington and his army did.

Adaptability and Innovation are essential: Things change (the only constant is change, right?) and being able to adapt is something that separates the winners from the losers. In the case of the Revolutionary War the U.S. Troops and their leaders were able to adapt to different battlefields, different situations and different styles of warfare quicker than the British. They were also innovating on war strategy and attacking in ways the British never would have imagined.

Startups are typically innovative by definition but they are also adaptive. Most if not all start-up founders and employees, at least early on, are jacks of all trades and can adapt on a dime to fulfill a need in the company.  This leaves them more nimble than the large companies they are up against and puts them at an advantage.

While there are many more similarities between America and startups I’ll leave them for another post. Perhaps you’ll see them next Memorial Day. I hope all of you American readers out there had a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend and I hope this post will get you excited to head back to work tomorrow and make things happen.  After all, this country is one big startup so get out there and follow in your forefathers footsteps.


New Show Premier: Lost Worlds

Posted on July 9, 2006
Filed Under General Thoughts, Archeology, History | Leave a Comment

History ChannelI am very excited about a new History Channel show premiering tomorrow (Monday July 10th) at 9 EST/8 CST. It is called Lost Worlds and the premise of the show is that they will recreate ancient sites using the latest computer graphics technology. This should prove to be a very interesting show.

For the premier the show will take a look at sites linked with the Knights Templar most recently made famous by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I am especially excited for this as I, along with many others, have been swept up with the themes of the Da Vinci Code. I have been reading a great book called Secrets of the Code in which Dan Burstein edits together all of the important scholarly writings and thoughts on the themes of the Da Vinci Code. It is an incredible read and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to know the “facts” behind the Da Vinci Code.

Here is what the History Channel has to say about the show tomorrow:

They defended the Holy Land through bloodshed and prayer. Founded in the 12th century, these Christian warrior monks reigned supreme for nearly 200 years before suffering a spectacular fall from grace. Tried for heresy, they were disbanded and their Grand Master burned at the stake. We’ll search behind the legend for their lost world. We recreate the city they knew as Tortosa–now hidden among modern homes in the Syrian city of Tartus. We reveal secrets of their headquarters at Temple Mount in Jerusalem, with magnificent underground vaults that could stable 1,000 horses. And we visit the circular church in London built to resemble the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the site of the Templar’s mysterious initiation rites. We bring to life the hilltop fortress that Lawrence of Arabia called “the finest castle in the world”, and return to the Mediterranean island where the Knights Templars made their last stand against Moslem enemies

Looking forward to hearing comments from anyone who watches the show or wants to discuss the Da Vinci Code.