Every so often, I like to take on new personal projects.

This year, I am trying out video blogging. Specifically, I am posting to YouTube about my experience going under the knife to treat a herniated disc — dubbed “Post-Op Stories“. I’ve been living with a lot of pain since July 2017, and chose surgery (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)) as the solution.

I found a lot of disparate feedback about the patients, their situations, their treatments, and their long-term results. So, I’ve decided to video blog about the whole undertaking – weeks leading up to surgery for preparation, and then (now), days, weeks, and months post-op. All this to help others understand treatment options, specifically the ACDF, and for me to experience video blogging on a regular basis. Plus, this will help keep me accountable to following specific regimens to maximize my recovery.
You can check out the episode with the link below. Follow along the story, or just pick specific topics/ episodes for what could be interesting. Let me know what you think! 

I met an entrepreneur recently who is approaching a similar market and product that I once did. Before meeting, he realized I had written a book, so read it beforehand. It resonated greatly for him. As we met, he had a few specific questions including: “if you could do it all over again, what would you change?”
There was a lot I would change as I’ve outlined on this blog and in Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success. There are always ways to improve. But one major lesson stuck out at me – start out smaller, more deliberate. Start out with a very specific product addressing a very specific pain.
This would invariably lead to quicker rollout of the product. This would lead to quicker feedback. This would lead to quicker iterations. This would lead to… success? I’m not sure, but I feel this approach would have been much smarter.
Success does not follow a formula. The most brilliant minds have failed. It’s critical to fail at times, too. But the approach to success can be tuned in to mitigate risk. I think my big take-aways after all these years also line up with being loved by customers (the product, at first) to create something wanted… needed. With that, I want to tackle opportunities with a focused effort and building something that enables my customers that also aligns with my vision in mind.
Looking back at your ventures, what would you do different?
Serial entrepreneur Gregg Oldring recently wrote a post about his recent startup that failed – “Afraid of failing at a startup? Let me tell you what it feels like.” Naturally, I wanted to dive into the title given my past.
There were a couple lines I really enjoyed. Sharing those here, and highlighting my own experience.
  • “When I frame the analysis as risk-reward instead of success-failure, we did well.”Maybe because I failed before with Body Boss, but this was incredibly resonating. Like Gregg highlighted, there was so much gained from the experience that isolating the outcome based on commercial success would be vain. In the end, we threw out risk to attempt something special. The reward beyond was worth it.
  • “One of the things that I hate about being an entrepreneur is that sharing the uncertainties I have about my business usually carries with it negative consequences that outweigh the benefit of transparency. When someone asks, ‘How’s business?’ the answer can seldom be, ‘It doesn’t look like it’s going to be sustainable.’” Geez, this ateat me towards the end of Body Boss. I felt like a fraud when I spoke to others – prospects, yes, but especially with my personal connections (friends and family). The weight of faking a smile was heavy. So heavy, in fact, that I avoided any discussion about the venture as much as possible.
  • “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed that Inkdit didn’t thrive. My friends, family and community haven’t made me feel that way. In fact, they’ve done quite the opposite. I’ve been reminded that I have many people who support me.” As the dust settled from shutting down Body Boss, friends and family came from everywhere pledging support. It was humbling. In many ways, too, I was proud. Many applauded our courage and how we built something from nothing.

Gregg’s experience from failure sounds a lot like mine. As I read the comments to his article, I’m reminded of the power of sharing unsuccessful stories and being vulnerable. Confidence in what we’ve achieved and where we’re heading gives us power to go again. Sharing our stories gives others the confidence and support they, too, can go for greatness.

By the way, you can read more about my experience from my book Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success. It’s a quick read so you can learn, apply, and go (e-book and paperback available).
I’ve talked to several people recently who have voiced their desires to strike out on their own and others who are toying with joining a large company. So, the question becomes of staying employed or being employed. I admit that I’ve struggled with this one, too, as I’ve now been an employee since early last year. Truth be told, I struggled with this a month-and-a-half into employment. (Yikes.)
Over the last several years I’ve spoken to many who jumped in both directions only to regret the jump only months in. Then, they’re looking to change again. No surprise many jumps occurred because not “feeling valued” – either in responsibility (/ growth) or pay – most commonly.
My advice (and yes, the same advice I give and take for myself) is to think about the bigger goal (the WHY) and realize what you (read: “I”) hope to achieve here and now, and the near-future. Yes, near-future – not necessarily long-term.
It’s easy to get enamored these days with something shinier… something that pays more… something that seemslike it’s more rewarding. However, there’s a beauty in the present struggle. Why do I feel the way I do today? How can I change this feeling? Why did I move here in the first place? What am I implicitly learning?
We fail to see the incredible lessons in today’s struggles. We gloss over them while focusing on the next thing that is supposed to be greater, better. There’s a lot to learn in struggles. Remember, I wrote a book on it (see Postmortem of a Failed Startup).
And to that, focusing too much on the long-term could mean losing focus on the boundless opportunities closer. When we stare out too far, we ignore what’s in our peripheries – the very things that have a more immediate impact that can change our trajectories altogether.
Don’t jump. Walk. Walk in your current shoes, and absorb all that you can. Realize the opportunities hidden in the struggle. Then, see if you can run where you are, or if you must jump onto a different track.
In a couple talks I’ve given this year, I talked about failure – promote the book! I talked about over-confidence/ hubris as one of the reasons I, at least, failed.
I spoke to and heard from a number of successful entrepreneurs who advised me on certain traps as a first-time entrepreneur. I ignored some of the advice thinking we were going to be successful despite these “red flags”. This confidence is an example of optimism bias.
From Wikipedia, “optimism bias is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing negative events compared to others”. There is optimism bias for both positive events – we will be more successful than others – and negative events – we will not succumb to the trappings of others who have failed.
Optimism bias is powerful and part and parcel of the confidence to succeed; however, it needs to be paired with a healthy dose of curiosity and adaptability. In our case, we should have heeded the cautions from entrepreneurs who have done it before and made similar mistakes such as full-time vs. part-time dedication, the importance of customer discovery, and even product and market focus.
Since we failed, I’ve talked about this “rite of passage” where entrepreneurs must make some mistakes to appreciate the lessons from others (and yes, part of entrepreneurship). However, that’s partially flawed. The rite of passage, instead, could be appreciating the difficulties of creating a viable business from nothing, not succumbing to mistakes others can teach you.
Beware of optimism bias. Be confident, not cocky. Practice more humility and greater curiosity. Realize everyone intrinsically has value and knowledge you don’t have.
Shout out to Carling, Stranger 22 from 100 Strangers, 100 Days for teaching me about optimism bias.
Today’s post… a plug for my book – Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success – is now in hardcopy! You can pick up the paperback on Amazon for $13.99 (or ebook for $5.99).
I originally published the book as an ebook in early January. Got a lot of great feedback including Amazon reviews like…

I want to start using the book to teach other entrepreneurs before meeting with me. One of the reasons why I wrote the book was because of how often entrepreneurs shared challenges described in the book.
If you’re looking to get your venture off the ground, your idea out of your head, or have a startup in-flight looking to grow, get the book on Amazon.