You know when you're reading and you instantly self-identify with something that the author narrates? That happened to me with this article based on an interview with Foursquare's hugely successful and entrepreneurial co-founder, Dennis Crowley. In it, Crowley engagingly shares a wealth of insights and learnings from his own experiences of starting up, scaling up, achieving real success... and what comes next. It's humorous, endearing, and very insightful.
Despite the general tenor of the article and an implicit audience in the startup community, to be honest, the guidance is just as relevant for many business development managers and intrapreneurs in more established businesses.
Right from the outset, Crowley emphasises the need for founders to both think and be audacious: if you have a great idea, don't wait for someone else to build it, go and build it yourself, he counsels.
"If after several turns in your career and life, you return to the same idea, pursue it. Your creation is as much an act of self-expression at that point."
Often, it's as much about proving to yourself that it can be done, so that you can finally stop obsessing about it...
That's definitely a sentiment to which I can relate. Both my last and current ventures can be wholly attributable to a passion to create something that for a long while I've felt is missing and would really like to use myself. For a long time, I assumed that someone else would build it - that I shouldn't kid myself that I knew the answers or had the right idea.
And yet, when that idea never got built by anyone else, and similar propositions never got close enough, my need to see it done became a bit of a burning distraction from everything else that I was doing.
Crowley labels this 'tenacity as identity'. He recounts his own experiences of it and recalls how it became a strength in his own pursuit of a great business.
In addition to 'tenacity as identity', Crowley identifies a further 5 facts of tenacity that he considers essential for anyone serious about building something enduringly relevant and good.
Within these 6 facets, Crowley covers everything from achieving cultural and team motivation for the long haul (including how to 'seed a culture of ingenuity'), to how to stay focused in the face of distractions (especially when it comes to scaling up) and how to handle investors.
His observations and advice are all set against a well-narrated back-drop of his and Foursquare's own highly engaging journeys to 50 million customer success.
Another excellent read from the First Round Review team.
“These different facets of tenacity are important insofar as invoking them keeps your legs moving and charging forward. Growing a company is an impossibly hard endeavor — many wouldn’t start if they knew just how difficult it is,” Crowley says. “But the early stories of most successful companies are often those in which no one thought it could be done. In fact, if you asked them, those founders probably didn’t know if they could do it either. But if you can get there — if you stick to what you set out to do — it can put you in an amazingly powerful and defensible position.”