I love this new store. It’s called The Refinery. Amazing prices, awesome selection. And they have it all. Designer sunglasses, bags, tons of jeans, cocktail dresses, shoes, sweaters…everything! And super unique pieces. This is the place you go to get a new on point jacket to refresh your wardrobe. This is the place you go to find a unique dress for a black tie event. This is the place you go to buy jeans that are awesome and affordable! All sizes, all styles, all seasons. Buy stuff or sell stuff. Either way, check it out! Locally owned and operated (by a great husband and wife team).
We are at a cross country meet on Saturday. Sam had to be there at 7:30AM and was running at 9:00AM. Phillip had to be there at 9:30AM and was running at 10:30. But to simplify life, I had Phillip go at 7:30AM with Sam.
We felt like Phillip’s race was coming up…and none of his team mates where there yet.
“Text them,” I told him.
“They are on the way,” he reported.
Then, we found out his race was still about 45 minutes out. I told him to text his friends back and let them know it’s not an emergency. I didn’t want to have parents in unnecessary panic.
“It is an emergency,” he said. “I am bored.”
I just want to confess right here that I no longer sort laundry. Ever.
“How is long boarding going?” I asked Sam.
“Okay. It’s just not really my long board season” he said.
“I didn’t realize there was a season for it. So, what season is it now? Like BMX or something?” I asked. He has been riding his BMX bike a lot lately.
“No, I am sort of in between seasons. BMX is more like when the leaves change and the New Yorkers all come to Indiana to see the leaves.”
My startup is in the tech sector.
Tech is a man’s world. I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. Meetings are guys in jeans and local vintage screen tees. Events have local beer and cheap pizza . There is never anyone in the women’s restroom.
And, of all the creatures in the tech world, one of my least favorite is “The Exited Man.” This means, he has had a least one successful exit–sometimes more than one, but usually it’s less than three. Therefore, he has learned the way. Now, this guy can be anywhere from 25 to 65, but most often is mid to late 30s. Most often, he is “taking some time to feel out the next opportunity.” He is usually helping [insert some other prominent young male figure in the local tech scene] “conduct some due diligence” or “shift some critical tasks off his plate.”
He appears interested. He appears sincere. He appears to have awareness. And then, it starts, usually with something like:
“…what you really should be focusing on…”
“…the best approach is…”
and then sometimes there is
“…I am not sure who you are using for [insert legal, accounting, marketing, or any other professional service] but I would have recommended that you…”
Of course. Of course you would recommend that. Of course you think we should focus on whatever it is that we are currently not focusing on. Of course you would have done it different, started from a different place, talked to a different person, selected a different partner, sought input from different stakeholders than we did.
Now, it may sound like I don’t accept input and advise. But I do. And they are extremely important to me. And that’s what is interesting about this when I think about it. It’s who I accept input and advice from. While thinking about my response to the most recent call from “The Exited Man,” all I could think about what it’s just like having kids.
It’s like telling a pregnant stranger the worst birth story you have ever heard. It’s like listening to parenting advice from someone who you don’t really connect with as a friend–a trusted advisor.
I love talking about experiences, sharing and learning–but the missing piece with the average “Exited Man” is that it often feels like it’s more about them listening to themselves talk than really wanting to shape and guide my startup experience.
I do have trusted business advisors and many of them have had successful exits. But the discussions are different. The listen, they are contemplative, they encourage and engage in strategic thinking–not doling out advice and critical judgement of our progress so far.
One of the most important lessons that I have learned having kids–especially when they are babies–is that it is okay to do what you have to do to get through the moment. You can undo it later, but your sanity is critical and it often depends on successfully navigating a situation with difficult choices. My baby is sick and crying all night? I would pull him in bed with me. I can “undo” co-sleeping later, but for that moment, we all needed rest.
I have done the best I can at any given moment with the information presented. “The Exited Man” believes he knows better because he can judge my previous actions already knowing the outcome. For example, an issue over ownership structure. He is quick to point out we did it wrong in the beginning. But, we did it right at that moment–because we never would have seen this issue arise. It did. We made it through it and came out the other side–all while making the best choices we could in the moment.
It’s not about “right way” or “wrong way.” It’s all about getting through the moment, Exited Man.
Taking Sam to school this morning. Talking about his cross country running. His strategy is to start out slower and finish strong. We talked about how fun it is to pick people out and set a goal to pass them.
“Yeah, there is this one girl” he says, “who I just cannot stand it when she is running in front of me.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just see her and think–wait, I am faster than you; you should be behind me!”
“Who is it?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Just some 6th grade girl with D cups.”
I did. I parked in the spot for Mothers with Children…and I had no children.
But wait. I mean, it was like I had the kids with me, they just were not actually “with” me. Plus, I was there because of them anyway.
Jeff was out of town. We have had night after night of late nights due to Labor Day, sports and dinner guests which always makes for slightly challenging mornings.
I was determined to get everyone to bed early and enjoy popcorn by myself while watching my new obsession, “Extreme Parenting” on Bravo.
Finally got everyone settled down around 9:00, got the Stir Crazy popcorn maker out, reached for the salt, butter and finally the Orval Redenbachers…oh, shit. There was barely a third of a cup of popcorn in there. Those damn kids–AGAIN.
Fine. I put on a bra (you are welcome, Marsh customers at 9:00PM on 9/4/14) and changed out of my pajama pants (see people, pajama bottoms are not proper attire even for a late night run to the store. Stop. Wearing. Them. In. Public.) and drove like a bat out of hell to the store down the street.
And that’s when I screeched in to the spot (I mean, I really did screech; they just recently resurfaced the asphalt so my tires squealed loud enough to draw attention to my van). Hopped out, slammed the door and noticed two people in the parking lot looking at me, watching me, judging me.
Fine, I parked in the spot and have no kids with me. But dammit, that’s why I am here. The kids at all my popcorn. Kind of the same thing, right?
Me: Ranting and raving about how everyone needed to go to bed, listen when I ask them to do something, pick up after themselves, stop making new messes until the old messes are cleaned up…
Sam: Mom, tell the truth…are you just a little bit mad because you got your period?