I was in my early 20s in New York in my first business with Peter. Neither of us particularly liked doing recruiting. I grew to like it after a while but at that time I didn’t. We were trying to figure out what to do next together. We thought of buying the taxi medallion and hiring people to drive for us. It was the 1970s. It seemed like a good idea at that time. No software could have ever generated Uber then.
We thought of buying roof rights on Manhattan apartment buildings and building tennis courts under bubbles there. Great idea but couldn’t raise the money for it. I always wondered what would happen to our bubble if a hurricane struck.
Then came the big idea. It was the one that we thought couldn’t miss until it did and someone came up with a better idea.
We started working on a patent for a coffee lid that would allow you to keep the coffee hot with a little rip to the piece of plastic. We figured you could walk around with that little hole on the top from ripping it open and sip your coffee, too.
Ah, the trillion-dollar idea we missed.
But we tried and that is better than most people do.
I sometimes need to be reminded of the big mistake that we made.
We took too much time thinking that there was a lot of time.
We didn’t try hard enough were put in the effort.
We weren’t committed because we are afraid of failing.
As a result, we failed.
Don’t get me wrong. We were undercapitalized in our recruiting business and running out of cash much too often to dedicate full time to our ideas.
We didn’t even invest sweat into our efforts.
We met and talked a lot but did very little.
We didn’t even get to the point of patent protection on our idea for the with which, in retrospect, would’ve been a cash machine even though not long after a better product was created.
What can you do instead of making the mistakes that we did?
1. Yes, spend some time hashing out the idea. We were great at that. We talked. We talked. We talked. We bounced around ideas with one another. We looked at rooftop properties in midtown Manhattan to understand whether we could build rooftop tennis courts. We talked about coffee lids and the steps that will be necessary to create them. Unfortunately, that’s were always stopped. Talking.
2. Speak to trusted advisors about the ideas and what they see the problems are. We never did that. We trusted no one with our ideas and thus never got input from people who might’ve encouraged us, financed us, or introduced us to capital. We never learned what our blindspots were from others. We just you for stopped and did nothing, creating great excuses for what was indecisiveness and fear.
3. Once you do number two, it’s important to take the next step — Do something! Take an action. Take a small step every day or week or two weeks to move the idea forward. Just do something!
A lifetime is not a long time. We like to think of ourselves as immortal but life has a way of showing us how foolish we are to act as though we are.
I’m at the stage of life where have less time to do things yet all the time in the world.
So do you.
Too many people run out the clock, waiting for chance events to change things for them. Especially in today’s times where we are encouraged to baby ourselves, “take care of ourselves,” and not exert ourselves, we give ourselves excuses for our inaction.
The clock is running out of time for you as it is for me.
What are you waiting for?
What’s possible now?
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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