Change or Die

Change or die

A quote that’s stayed with me:

“He knows not where he’s going, for the ocean will decide, it’s not the destination, it’s the glory of the ride.”

Recently, in fact always at the moment, everything seems to be shifting. In fact, I’d say since June, I’ve seen more change in my own and my loved ones lives than in the last 4 years combined. Perhaps this is because people are changing less, and so the environment around us steps up to keep the pace of change.

Whatever the reason, I know this much: these times they are a-changin’. They’re changing so much in fact it’s actually nauseating.

Three things I’ve learnt about change, both making it happen and dealing with it:

  1. Hustle
  2. Get it done
  3. Get uncomfortable


1. Hustle

I had a beer and a burger with a friend of mine a few months back. He’s working for a really cool, top VC backed start-up in Shoreditch (because he is sickeningly trendy).

He told me about how the single biggest thing he’d learnt at the start-up was hustle. Basically just make it happen.

This January, we found 50 companies we wanted to speak to. Then found who we needed to talk to. Then guessed their email and emailed them. Over half of them opened it, and we’ve got 2 deals on the table from it. That’s not bad for 0 cost and a few emails and that was just the start.

There are lots of reasons you can’t speak to someone, or why someone won’t listen to you. There are also very few risks in trying to speak to them.

In order to achieve the change you want, get hustling and make it happen.


2. Get it done

As the old adage goes, “a journey of a thousand miles, starts with a single step”.

To date, the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that sometimes thinking of the end goal is as gooder reason as any not to start, not to initiate change.

A lot of people I speak to mention things they want to do. These are often ‘large’ tasks and therefore the common follow on statement is “so in a few years…” “when I get around to it…” “I’d like to do X but where do I start?”.

Over the last 6 months I’ve learnt that (despite potentially questionable ethics), Nike is right – Just Do It. Or better yet, be able to say Just Done It (I’ll forgive the grammar here, please do the same).

DON’T be perfect. Be rough and ready. Get it wrong. Mess it up. Keep it simple. What’s the core of what you want to do? What’s the main essence of the change you’re trying to make? Then break it right down to the simplest possible step. Then do it. Then break it down to the next step. Then do it. Repeat until you achieve success or failure. Adjust. Try again.

We spent the first 6 months ‘getting it right’. But we’re now spending our time GETTING IT OUT. Ship it. Sell it. Give it away. Just get it moving!

It does not need to be perfect. Do you even remember what Google looked like when it started out?


The original Google


Sexy? No. Cool? Meh, perhaps if you’re into the 16-bit and stop motion video thing. Now worth $240+bn? Yes.

A good and very talented friend of mine told me at Christmas he was going to try a clothing company. He got some t-shirts, made some stencils of designs he did, made those t-shirts and now has them on a website. I know people are already asking if they can buy them. What he didn’t do was start by finding a supplier in China that can make custom labels and stitching if he does an order of 10,000 units.

Break it down. Get it done.


3. Get un-comfortable

Whether you choose to change, or change finds you (and it will), it’s almost always un-comfortable. Depending on the change this can be a pain in the arse un-comfortable, or a Jesus help me what the hell is happening kind of un-comfortable.

Either way, get used to being pretty un-comfortable because one thing I am certain of – the bigger the change, the more roadblocks you’ll face, the more shit that will start to fly your way and the more you’ll wish everything was back to normal. But keep at it; keep at it until you can’t anymore. Then keep going some more.

If you’re serious about change, get serious about getting un-comfortable. (It can suck but it’s also a lot of fun).


The change checklist

Not all change is the change you thought it may have been. Be sure you’re still being true to yourself with some from of checklist. My sanity checklist at the moment goes like this:

-       Am I healthy
-       Can I eat
-       Have I got somewhere to live
-       Can I afford a beer now and again
-       Do I still wake up wanting to do what I’m doing

Ticks all around, so I’ll carry on.


Change or die because no matter what happens, the same is boring.

If you’ve got a few minutes, I’d also recommend watching this:

Thanks for reading.


P.S. check out my friends new business I mentioned

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