My partners and I at Highway 12 Ventures are in a two day planning offsite, so in between big thoughts and bad jokes I have been catching up on a little reading. This morning I came across a recent TechStars blog that reminded me of a quote from a childhood idol of mine. His simple words of wisdom have become somewhat of a mantra of mine throughout my life and something I have tried to teach my children.
The TechStars blog is publishing excerpts from the book that David Cohen and Brad Feld authored, called Do More Faster. If you haven’t heard of it, check your pulse, because you may have passed away some time ago. In fact, I think David and Brad have a new book coming out soon called “How to Successfully Promote Your Book”. But, I digress……
This weeks excerpt was the chapter from the book titled – Have a Bias for Action, by Ben Casnocha, who happens to also be an entrepreneur and author (My Startup Life). Hey, I think I have an idea for a new investment theme — English Majors.
Anyway, I would summarize the key point of the chapter as – get off your ass and just do something! And that is what reminded me of one of my all time favorite quotes.
The quote is from tennis legend Arthur Ashe. When he was asked by a reporter – how do you become a champion? His reply was “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”. As an aspiring tennis player at the time, this statement spoke volumes to me. It still does.
The message is simple and clear, if you want to accomplish something, you can’t just think about it and talk about it. Most important, and the part that can be the hardest sometimes, is that you have to take that first step, which leads to a second step and a third, and so on. Start where you are, don’t wait for something or someone. Second, use the knowledge, talent and resources that you have right now, to get started. And finally, approach it as a journey, as a process of iteration – do what you can – now, which will lead to new insights and skills to do what you need to do next.
I have replayed the words of Arthur Ashe in my mind regularly over the years. I still find them inspirational and profound. They helped to shape my perspective about how to attain success and impacted both my tennis and my professional career. I think of them often when someone at a social event finds out that I am a VC and starts telling me their idea for a company. My best advice is usually “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”.