Comfort is the Enemy

Image result for the human mind once stretched by a new idea

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the HYPE Foundation in conjunction with Temple University and their Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute out in Philadelphia. One of my companies was selected as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world of Sports & Health and we had the opportunity to present and speak with a room full of other innovative startups, executives from Fortune 100 companies, thought leaders, business students, and department heads of the University. I really enjoy meeting new people, especially impressive people that I could learn from and that could inspire me, and so this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

It was a full-day event from 11AM – 9PM and it was nothing short of extraordinary. I was able to speak with startup founders doing innovation at the absolute forefront of sports technology. I spoke with executives from companies such as Intel, IBM, MasterCard, Under Armour, and the NFL. I also spoke to aspiring entrepreneurs that wanted some pointers on how to succeed in the field in the future. The biggest takeaways I got from the event after being exposed to so many impressive people is that:

  1. You have to always keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.
  2. Really, truly believe in yourself, because no one else will
  3. Think highly of yourself, but always stay humble and objectively seek areas where you can improve.
  4. Take criticism objectively, never personally. Take your ego out of it, and you can only benefit.
  5. Surround yourself with amazing people and you’ll feed off of their energy and enthusiasm
  6. Getting ahead in life is about making genuine connections with others. Meet new people, form new relationships/connections, and never start with the mindset of “getting something out of them.”
  7. Given enough time, your mind will always talk you out of something. It uses logic and avoidance of “change” as a survival instinct. If you make a decision, act before your mind has time to decide. The biggest regret is never being able to experience what could have been.

Life is a people game. Humans are collaborative, social, and emotional creatures and the ones that succeed in life are usually those that have created many, many genuine connections over a long period of time. Just being in an atmosphere of innovation, success, and entrepreneurship really motivated me to think big and do more, and I walked away having met titans in the industry and forming great connections and relationships with many others. Another great thing I realized about myself is that I’ve grown a lot from even just the start of the year. When the New Year turned around the corner, I assessed myself and looked at areas where I needed to improve to reach the goals I wanted to achieve. These areas included being more social/friendly/charismatic, speaking with more confidence, raising the bar of believing in what I could achieve, etc. I started the year lacking in these skills and yesterday I realized I was going up and speaking to directors at Intel, IBM, Under Armour and the NFL and having discussions as if we were equals. And that’s the thing – people will respond to how you carry yourself. If you go up to a powerful person and act like a timid, wide-eyed fan girl, they’ll naturally react and speak to you accordingly to what you believe about yourself. I believed I was a capable, driven, confident business leader and during these conversations, I realized I was having really engaging and interesting conversations with people that have probably made 10,000x and more of what I have. And I got a tingling feeling in my body when I started to think “I could definitely be where this person is some day.” Maybe it’s arrogance and/or ignorance, but to me, it’s an attitude of belief and certainty. Because the last greatest thing I learned from this event and from these people is that to achieve crazy things, you have to be crazy. You don’t achieve great things by accident. As the late Steve Jobs once said:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”