Lesson 1: Do the Best You Can, Right Now, With What You’ve Got #swtc4
It’s Saturday afternoon at 2 pm. All we’ve done up to this point is talk about how to focus the business. Trying to solve the criminal justice problem in the US was harder than I thought it would be. Tensions were high as each discussion seemed to mess with our focus more and more. I just wanted to sit and work to try to knock something out. I felt like I was missing out on a great opportunity. I hated just sitting around an talking.
After taking a phone call, I walked back into the main hall where we worked. I could tell the other three team members had something on their minds. Brandon suggested we think about disbanding. Kendra said we might want to think about working with other teams. Flavio sat in silence.
I breathed a sigh of relief. “You’re right,” I said. We all agreed that too much time passed without any real direction. It felt good to speak honestly. We realized we were all on the same page after all.
After our break up, I constantly asked myself how I could be of value to other teams. Thompson, Kendra, and I walked to local businesses to evangelize for Brravo. It gave us each a chance to practice pitching even more. I was able to pull on my business connections in the area to get a discount from the Jewel of India for anyone who sent a Brravo (it’s good till the end of the week!).
My help paled in comparison to what the amazing developers did over the weekend to build Brravo. Shivani did an amazing job leading the team. Sam worked very hard to make sure the software worked, often visiting team after team to get reliable information. I wish I had talked to more of the team. They’re good people.
Seeing Brravo putting in so much, I worried that I didn’t have enough skills to be of value to them or others. As I worried, I remembered a TED talk I had seen by coach John Wooden. He talked on the difference between winning and success. He talked about how success meant doing the best we can, right now, with what we’ve got. Remembering his lesson, I threw myself out there.
I made sure to let everyone I could know I was available for help. Even though I couldn’t code, I had plenty of experience to be valuable in my own way. Through challenging myself by doing, I learned what those ways were.
The Best I’ve Got:
#1: I first helped write up a survey for Brravo with Kendra. Shavani Saturday night I blasted my networks. Since I put up the link, it got 63 clicks, with 40 people tooking the survey. Not a huge click-through rate, but I did what I could. It helped that one of the organizers emailed it out. Contribution #1.
#2: Eric approached me with a question from Donate Right. They wondered what Paypal’s End User Agreement said and how it applied. The thing is, it was a couple dozen pages of legal BS. Perfect for me, since all I do in law school is read complex material and try to simplify it. I spent 2 hours reading through the most relevant parts, then broke it down for Eric in 10 minutes. Contribution #2.
#3: Every time I approached the Brravo team, I noticed that each member was often focused in their work. I remembered Scott’s (a mentor and team member of Qonqr) presentation telling us about the Maker v. Manager’s schedule. Basically, a maker needs time to focus on doing the work without interruption. A manager hold multiple meetings with regular interruptions. They’re incompatible. The article is a great read. Check it out yourself.
Anyway, I noticed most of the Brravo team keyed-in to the maker’s schedule. I really didn’t want to bother them with endless questions. So I asked Shivani a few questions, then got to work. I biked back over to Jewel of India and got them to extend the discount for a week (it was previously for 1 day). As I exited, I thought I might as well promote Brravo to other businesses. I walked in to Town Hall. I found and engaged the manager, Dave. I asked him about his recognition process for his employees. Then I told him about Brravo. He loved the idea. I explained that Brravo could build a permanent recognition base for his servers where tips are one-and-done deals. He talked about how much servers needed to know why they got tipped. He also mentioned that it’s so important for them to know why a customer felt the need to tip less so they could improve. Customer validation, market research, and a possible partnership moving forward. Boom.
I did the same thing at the Hilton hotel. I got the contact for the HR department, with similar excitement. My fam at Chipotle also backed us up. Contribution #3.
What I Learned:
I learned a lot from throwing myself out there. The first lesson was that often we might think that we’re not ready to contribute or add value to the lives of others. Rather than worry about whether I did or not, I started worrying about how. I got out there and did what I could, learning along the way. I thought about what might be valuable to the teams I met with. Whenever someone told me what they needed (like reading a lot of legal BS), I made sure to deliver the best I could.
In this way, remember to do the best you can, right now, with what you’ve got.