I've been thinking a lot about what it means to Pay It Forward. What's funny, though, is that I've never seen the movie itself, so I went and added it to my Netflix queue -- I expect that it'll be a sappy two hours, but sometimes that's just what I need. But I digress...
Anyway, for the last several years, I've been trying to spend a little bit of time each week helping younger (or less experienced) entrepreneurs avoid some of the mistakes I've made, or at least be aware of the avalanche heading their way, as they start their own business. Last week, I gave a talk at Seattle's TechStars For a Day that became pretty emotional for me -- the topic was "What a Business Person Does in a Startup", but it turned into a bit of a heartfelt talk about why it's so fantastic working in a startup, or in your own business. Yes, tears were involved. I'm not sure why, really -- yes, the emotions got cranked up, but it could also have been impacted by several days of non-stop cross-country travel!
In the end, it's about giving it your all to create something new and wonderful. And surrounding yourself with a great team, and participating in their growth as well. And making mistakes. And, hopefully, being able to participate in the success of the next wave of explorers. I've found it very meaningful and enjoyable to give back, where I can, and I can't wait to have more time, someday, to do even more.
For now, I'm just trying to encourage experienced entrepreneurs to take a little bit of time each week to try to help somebody out -- it could be a quick conversation over coffee, an on-campus speech, or just attending an extra event every few weeks, to make yourself available to someone who has an eager question. And, reminding those I'm helping now (when they say thank you, and make me feel so great), that in a few months, or years, that I expect them to do the same.
Of course, I'm just Paying It Forward from folks who helped me along the way when my ideas were in nascent stages (and took my coffee, lunch and other brain-picking requests); folks like Andy Sack, Bill Bryant, Mike Mathieu, David Geller, Daryn Nakhuda, Todd Sawicki, Dave McClure, and many, many more (not to mention all the crazy angels who ponied up cash... those people are the TRUE psychos of the Pay It Forward Universe :-) )
Paying it Forward -- it really does feel good to help your friends and community.