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5 Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned from Coming Face-to-Face with an Intruder at 4AM


Scene from the “Walking Dead”. (Source: http://cosplayclaire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/rick.jpg)
Excited for it to be June now. May just couldn’t end fast enough. Given my run-in with a ninja cat that left me bloody like I was attacked by Wolverine earlier in the month, the end of the month somehow trumped that story with… a break-in to my house at 4AM. It’s quite the experience when you wake-up in the middle of the night to find someone in your dining room you don’t know going through your house. I’ll step back just for a second to give you a backdrop because I know you’re going to be wondering…
Last Wednesday night, I went to bed a little early, and forgot to not only lock my door (to my house and car) but also forgot to set the alarm. During the night, my alarm chime went off signaling a door was just opened. In my daze, I think I thought it was a dream, so went back to sleep. However, I woke up a few minutes later realizing that that’d be a strange thing to have in a dream. From my room, I can see through the house, and that’s when I saw a figure at the dining room table. Wanting to ensure it was not just a friend, but also being cautious, I followed the figure into the kitchen. Not more than 5 feet away, I was staring at the back of someone I definitely didn’t know. 
After about 5-10 seconds of running a highlight reel of every scenario possible (including “is this the moment I go ape-shit-crazy on someone while I have the element of surprise?”). After careful and QUICK consideration, decided it’s probably best to notify 9-1-1 in case I got in a fight and lost. Slowly crept back into my bedroom with ninja-stealth at which point I dialed 9-1-1, and waited for the police to arrive. Long story short, police flooded the house, and caught the intruder hiding on the other side.
Not in my house… (Source: http://www.resto.be/static/images/11/0/117360_1126.jpg)
So like my run-in with the ninja cat, this obviously gives me yet another great story to share with people, but also to somehow draw some entrepreneurial lessons out of this. Yes, I’m that crazy. I’m drawing parallels in the oddest of places/ situations. Ready to hear me out?
  1. Protect your house. When it comes to today’s technology startups and the loads of data available we all put online, it’s paramount to have safeguards as a company. The most important “things” in the house are the people. In your company, it’s your employees, customers, users, etc. Ensure you have the right mechanisms in place to protect user data as it could have painful/ costly repercussions.
  2. Be diligent in security and safety. It’s funny (now anyways) to think how I have locks and an alarm system. However, if you don’t USE the safeguards you put in place, you kind of defeat yourself. Make sure your security procedures are up-to-date and running. Use monitoring tools to check the status of security, the server, etc. You only need one lapse in judgment, one moment of negligence to have the greatest regret of your [company’s] life.
  3. Redundancy is a good thing! In my prior life as a consultant, business continuity was commonly an area of weakness for organizations big or small. That is, if the server farm goes down what’s the back-up plan? When I was on the phone with 9-1-1, I had 3 dominant thoughts in my head if this situation went south (too dramatic?): 1) how do I tell my loved ones I love them and to pursue their passions? 2) Is this going to hurt my leg work out in a couple hours? And 3) do my business partners have all they need from the presentation and financials I was working on? At least in the 3rd concern, my partners have access to all my work vis-à-vis the Cloud.
  4. Calling for back-up is smart. I think I’m right to say probably every man in the world has dreamt of the situation I was in, and like me, had envisioned pummeling the intruder, and emerging as a hero. In the situation, though, I decided that if things went south, people may not find me for days… That, and I don’t know if there are more guys outside, if he’s got a weapon, or if I’m a bad fighter/ he’s a good fighter. At the end of the day, best to call in someone who can handle the situation. As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely have so much belief in your way of marketing, selling, etc., that you will rely on your judgment alone, but there may be someone on your team you can delegate to who is better equipped, or can complement your “genius”.
  5. Don’t panic. It’s about damage limitation/ mitigation now. In my head, I was pretty darn calm to be just a couple steps from a potentially dangerous person. Hopefully, the 9-1-1 tape doesn’t go public portraying me otherwise. Being calm about this situation or any negative situation in a startup is perhaps redundant advice. However, it’s worth reiterating that having a calm-functioning head as a leader in a company goes a long way in keeping your employees, investors, and customers' morales up, while presenting a solid face (even if you’re going crazy in your head). Check out what Walt Disney said to his brother when Walt just learned he lost his employees, his product/ idea, had no income, etc. in Inc.com.
We all dream of being a hero, right?! (Source: http://184.168.230.109/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/hero.jpg)
So like my run-in with a ninja cat, there are some lessons to be learned in coming face-to-face with an intruder that can be ported to entrepreneurship and startups. It’s already a great story that draws the attention of people at Starbucks (it’s not a pick-up line, but somehow, I’m getting introduced this way by others in just a week since – Monica, this is your shout out). No doubt this will be a fun story to share and to use in drawing some sort of attention when I start running some sales and biz dev efforts (trust in relationships is built on personal connections, not actual work – think “water cooler”).

What are some other take-aways/ lessons you think you’d get out of running into an intruder? How do you think you would react in my situation?

And of course, out of the 40 t-shirts I grab from my closet, I grab the one about a donut race to go to the police department… They got a kick out of it, though. Shout out to the quick Brookhaven PD!

Comments

  1. Great article and suggestions, Dr. Lu.

    "Hopefully, the 9-1-1 tape doesn’t go public portraying me otherwise."

    I would pay so much money to get a copy of that tape.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to counter your offer to keep it quiet!

      Delete
  2. Kind of weak to not go after the guy yourself

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps. Though, Jerry was never the "strong" one, but always outwitted Tom.

      At the end of the day, I contend I'd rather be smarter and prepared and alive, than risk my life or his through overconfidence and hubris.

      Delete

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