A little root, a destructive path.

This weekend my son and I were working in the yard when we uncovered a massive root that appeared to grow between the bricks of our planter and under the back section of the patio. We were both surprised at how big it was as it snaked its way through layers of brick and concrete, Jameson was sure the root had to get smaller as it went on below the concrete. So we kept digging, and in fact, it was just as big.

I explained to him that at one point it was tiny, and that allowed it to spread out and grow in all directions making its way through the cracks and crevices. Once there, it grew and expanded pushing everything else aside. By starting small it grew along a path, becoming quite destructive.

It was a perfect opportunity for us to talk about how anger and hatred grow similarly in our hearts. It starts small and subtle, but it stretches out in all directions and if left unchecked it will only increase and cause great destruction.

We went on in our work discussing the importance of keeping short accounts; that is to say, the importance of talking often and honestly when someone hurts or upsets us. Not allowing destructive bitterness or anger to grow.

I love my son and want the very best for him, and I know life will give him a lot of difficult times and broken relationships. And it is important for him to learn, for us all to remember that it is never about avoiding pain. But rather dealing with it as it comes, quickly — and never alone.

To build, or not to build… that is the question.

As an entrepreneur, I have a lot of ideas. Some might be the next “great” thing and yet most, well they are probably just crap. And as an investor, I sit in a lot of meetings with early-stage companies who want to be convincing.

And yet, when it comes to informing the product roadmap or determining which half of the marketing budget is working, we are often at a loss. At least initially. And we are left making educated guesses.

And all of this while burning cash and time.

Of course, we’ve read the right books, and we have our Lean processes, but in practice, we have to decide quickly and iterate often. And getting a team to agree which version of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and which user/market inputs we start with can be a challenge. The same goes for our Business Model Canvas, as initial assumptions and iterations matter. A lot.

The real opportunity may just be in getting a group of unbiased users at scale. Yesterday.

So, to quote one of my old professors with crazy hair (mumbling over and over again), “what to do? … what to do? …” Continue reading “To build, or not to build… that is the question.”

Look right, go right. But be sure to steer left.

I have been riding motorcycles most of my life. And one of the early lessons I learned (painfully, I might add) was the idea that if you look right, you’ll go right. And if you look left, well you guessed it; you’ll go left.

Especially at highway speeds and around sharp corners.

What made this confusing at first was the idea of countersteering. A concept you’ll learn early in a motorcycle safety course if you are smart enough to take one.

Simply put, that’s the idea “to initiate a turn toward a given direction by momentarily steering counter to the desired direction (“steer left to turn right”). Thus, to negotiate a turn successfully, the combined center of mass of the rider and the single-track vehicle must first be leaned in the direction of the turn, and steering briefly in the opposite direction causes that lean.

Simple, right?

The first nickname my fellow riders gave me was “Kickstand”. However, shortly after that I became known by my club as “Road Rash” — Don’t ask.

I have often used these concepts in leadership and business because we go in the direction we look, and most often balance best and execute less painfully when we do so counterintuitively.

Simple examples include; “The way up, is the way down” (to quote Heraclitus as well as much of Jesus’ own teaching on humility vs. pride and the Kingdom of Heaven etc).

So, in life, in business, and in leadership; you’ll go in the direction you look. And it might just be a counterintuitive move to get there.

Let’s ride.

This post first published at medium.com/@mrjamesmartin

Intro to The Journey in Coronado CA

Last year I finished my two year Journey with The Leadership Institute (TLI). This process was absolutely amazing. It was exactly what I needed in this season of my life. When I initially enrolled at the recommendation of a close friend, I had no idea what I was getting into or how valuable and timely it would prove to be. Here is a quote I wrote them for a recent brochure:

God has used the Journey in a powerful way to teach and equip me in abiding, pulling back to “be” before I rush in and “do”.  As a Christian leader and business executive I am most concerned with the spiritual and personal development of my team and the purposeful growth and sustainability of the corporation.  The Journey has given me the instruction, tools and support I needed in developing a posture of communion, intentional and prayerful planning, and ultimately complete dependence.  In my years of leadership and business coaching I have not experienced anything like it.”

If you are interested in learning more, check out their upcoming (May 30, 2015) Intro to the Journey Day Retreat in Coronado, CA. or download this flyer. And of course feel free to reach out to me directly and I’ll be glad to share more about my experience.