Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

The Run, Not the Route – Serial Entrepreneurs and Focused Energy


TeaminTrainingI’m training for my first half marathon.   Next week I’ll be in San Diego to run the Rock and Roll Half with a group of entrepreneurs from EO.  Our efforts are for Team in Training: we are fundraising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and I appreciate your donations to the cause here. (One week to go!)

As I’ve built up my weekly long runs to cover more mileage (now right at 13 miles!#$%), since I prefer to run alone, one of the most interesting aspects has been planning the course and finding routes that will get me the distance needed in my training plan.

I’ve known routes for a 3 mile loop, 4 miles, 5 miles, 10k, and even a 7 miler, but I have no desire to do any of these routes two or three times in a row. I need more variety than that!   So I’ve found some new routes and combinations of known routes to get in nice long runs.

When I’m running a route for the first time, I’m often more focused on the scenery and making the right turns than I am on the run itself.  Without fail, I run slower on unexplored portions of the route in my long runs. So I’ve figured out to always start the long runs with the unfamiliar routes and end with the routes I can run without thinking.

The reason?   When I’m not thinking about which way to go, I’m thinking about what’s really important. My pace. My energy level. My actual run. Besides, that’s the point, isn’t it? The run. Not the route.

It’s incredible how directly this translates to entrepreneurship. Serial entrepreneurs, in their later career companies, are able focused on the run not the route in each additional startup. They can spot issues so much earlier than first-time entrepreneurs. They get their rhythm. They know how to meter their energy, ideas, and cash.  It’s really awesome to watch them work.

Some of my favorite observations of entrepreneurs who are focused on the run:

  • Team and culture friction issues are spotted earlier, and addressed easily with the right amount of TLC. This doesn’t usually include throwing more office benefits in (like buying a pool table, or adding beer to the fridge)… it is quickly getting to the root of stress, discussing it, and finding solutions to the causes.
  • Unnecessary partnerships and other distractions are ignored. Serial entrepreneurs know that they’ve picked the route– aka business model– and taking turns off that business model by exploring often sill strategic partnerships are a waste of time and energy.
  • Investments are made on the right people.   Serial entrepreneurs have been through the broken promises routines before. They know how to spot the candidate that looks amazing on paper but doesn’t work out in the culture of the startup. They waste less money on these mistakes.
  • Cash is handled smarter.  This is the equivalent of energy management on a run. “Go slower than you think you should” is what my coach always tells me. Whether you’ve raised money or are bootstrapping, the not-so-silent killers of cash burn rate and big overhead are aggressively managed.

Last point: I believe the ability to focus on the right things also comes with age and wisdom. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says that few people become successful in their 20’s and 30’s because our ability to effectively focus our energy doesn’t come until late 30’s and early 40’s.  No doubt this plays a big part in the success of serial entrepreneurs as well.

Whatever your stage or age, I hope you will work hard to eliminate the noise. Ignore distractions and focus on your pace.  Happy running!


Category: Efficiency
  • Joseph Schum says:

    Great thoughts here Johnson. Having been through a startup recently, I could relate to each point specifically. With that said, it is nice to enjoy the journey too, regardless of it being your first or favorite run.

    May 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm
    • Johnson Cook says:

      Great point! In my experience, I sure didn’t know how to enjoy the journey until the second or third time around. Thanks Joe- hope you are well.

      May 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm

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