a competitive som bitch

I absolutely hate to lose.  Hate it.  Its one of those things that I know can be a fault of mine.  That doesn’t stop me from letting it drive me nuts especially when I know I could’ve done more or been better.  I don’t pout when I lose; being a sore loser is for wusses.  I’ve skinned my knee more times than most.  Figuring out how to get back up, come-back and win is the best revenge.

I hate not knowing.  If someone tells me an answer I generally want to know how they got to the answer.  I don’t need to know every last detail, and I’m not questioning their aptitude, commitment, or intellect, I’m learning for myself.  I have to experience something in order to authentically know it.

Appreciation of anything increases by trying to do it.  Ever try to play the guitar?  If not, its nearly impossible for you to truly appreciate how good someone is that knows how to play.  Part of the reason I write this blog is that I wanted to understand what it felt like to write and publish in front of everyone.

I went to France this past summer and rode some of the most legendary mountain roads in the Tour de France.  I did it in part because as a cycling fan I had to deep down appreciate through my own experience what those professional riders contend with during the race.  It was un – f’ing  – believable what those guys (and their support crews) go through day after day.  I live in Colorado and have ridden some big mountains and spent my share of long days in the saddle, but nothing prepared me for the twisty, steep and incredibly beautiful climbs in the Alps.

I respect well considered analysis.  When someone comes forward with thoughtful insights that are supported with data I’m always impressed.  Recently two young guys at Lijit spent some of their down time between Christmas and New Years doing a detailed market analysis and SWOT analysis of our competitive market position.  I love that!  The thought they put into the analysis was first rate and while I didn’t agree with everything they presented, it was a fantastic piece of work and showed real entrepreneurial drive.

Experiencing, competing, thoughtful analysis and drive to win is a culture, an attitude, and in many ways a lifestyle.  When I was at Novell I “stuck my finger in the light socket” more than a few times.  Novell was the case of a company that had forgotten how to win and I chaffed against it until I couldn’t stand it any longer.  Interesting that I get the exact same vibe when I’ve been in business meetings at Yahoo.  Both companies have plenty of well-intentioned smart people and both companies lost their cultural desire to compete and win.  Experiences like these have made me allergic to mediocrity.  Its probably what makes me a difficult person to work for at times.  I expect a tremendous amount from people, sometimes more than they may expect from themselves.

Every successful (entrepreneurial) person has a deep and internal drive that makes them thrive on challenge, and look for personal experience to better understand.  They love the chase, love to find a gap or niche, love to deconstruct the norm and love to create something others value.  I don’t think entrepreneurship can be taught.  In fact I think the notion of teaching someone to be entrepreneurial is bullshit.  Its something you’re born with.  The gnawing desire to constantly improve, constantly learn, constantly understand. constantly experience. 

What happens when your feet hit the floor in the morning?