Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Action ain’t Pretty


Ugly BabyI need to provide a necessary contrast to yesterday’s post on excellence. Given how much I encourage others to take a leap, make a move, use your potential and make some kinetic energy, let’s talk about what action actually looks like.  Action ain’t pretty!

Many times I hear wannapreneuers talk about how they are waiting to start turning their idea into a company until they get XYX, or have enough to “do it right or don’t do it at all.”  While I appreciate and admire their commitment to excellence, I want them to know that the first steps in anything are not going to be the place where you realize excellence.  Actually, the first iterations of anything are usually going to suck pretty bad! That’s how we learn and get better.

I’m around guys and gals lately who have sold big successful companies and are out spooling up new ventures. It’s amazing to see the contrast between what they are leaving and what they are starting. The companies they’ve sold have been established with precision processes, beautiful marketing messages, incredible brand momentum, and well-defined products and services… but the output of their new ventures is not even close!  Non-entrepreneurs who I’ve talked to about some of these new ventures created by successful entrepreneurs have made comments to me like “I really expected his new baby to look a little sharper than this…” or “Maybe he just got lucky last time, because this one doesn’t look nearly as well thought out as the last one did.

My response:

What you are seeing is action. This is learning in progress. Watch how fast they will learn and ramp up.

This is the secret sauce… as the Lean Startup movement says, we build first, then measure, then learn.  But you have to realize that the thing that is built first is not going to be very impressive. It is a minimum viable product.

However, what you are also seeing is ACTION. You are seeing people who are willing to take the first step, throw an ugly baby out in front of the world, have no shame in failure, and are ready to learn.

The same applies to changes to existing organizations. You may be trying out a new weekly meeting format, strategic planning framework, or marketing strategy… the first time you implement, don’t expect perfection! This will drive you (and your team) crazy. Appreciate that you are making change and that the first phase of any change is not usually what you will ultimately end up with.

So if you are starting something new and are feeling down because you feel like “Excellence” is an unreachable destination, don’t be down on yourself. You have a product, a service, a company, a direction and you did what most people are too afraid to ever do: you took ACTION! You put one foot in front of the other! Now keep your head down, and keep learning!




Category: Action
  • David Wagoner says:

    Great post. Nike had it right with “just do it.”

    May 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm

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