Tag Archive for: fear

Leading with less: the benefits of executing with scarcity

Nobody wants to go through it, but when we’re forced to, it turns out to be for the better. The reality is that, for the venture world, most of the new generation of entrepreneurs and investors have been educated in a time of abundance, with easy access to capital.

Raising round after round within six to nine-month windows became the norm. When money is easily found, it is also easily spent. During times like these, offices became nicer, overhiring was a common practice, and there was little concern over customer acquisition costs. Incentives were used to retain customers, as we know from the large number of coupons offered by companies like Rappi and Uber. Have you heard of the term VC2C? Well, it stands for Venture Capital to Consumers, which reflects the scenario I just described.

Now, the tide has changed dramatically, and those who can adjust with speed and a positive attitude will benefit the most. If you’re starting afresh, it’s easier because you won’t have to change habits. If you’ve raised in 2019-21, it will require more effort, but it should pay off. It’s important to keep in mind that Venture Capital money only came into place in the 1960s in the US and became more popular in Latin America around 2010. Before then, companies were created out of founders’ capital and with a lot of sweat. Entrepreneurship has always been a reference to hardship, resilience, and resourcefulness. Today, I spoke with a founder who is going through this process, and in her words, “We now have the mindset we had prior to fundraising. We’re doing a lot with very little.” Now that she has a plan in place and has accepted that she will not raise any time soon, she is energized and driven to make her company happen (this was not the case when she was trying to fundraise unsuccessfully). So, let’s go to the quick list of benefits of executing with scarcity:

Resourcefulness and creativity: This means finding creative ways to stretch your budget and make the most out of every opportunity. You will have to learn how to prioritize your spending and focus on the areas that will generate the most significant return on investment. By doing so, you will develop a keen sense of resourcefulness that will serve you well throughout your business journey. My recommendation is always the same: for early-stage startups, the goal should be finding product-market fit, which stands for having growing customers who are consistently engaged and paying for a product or service.

Agility: When you don’t have the luxury of a large budget, you have to be nimble and adaptable. This means being able to pivot quickly when a product or service is not performing as expected or when the market shifts. This also means making adjustments to team size and profiles quickly. With limited capital, your decisions must be swift. This will create a culture of strong performance that, if well-managed, will retain and attract those who are willing to fight with you over the long run. Of course, always communicate candidly and warmly.

Focus: Running a startup with little capital can help you maintain focus on what is truly important. When you have limited resources, you must prioritize what is essential to the success of your business. This means focusing on your core business model and avoiding distractions that can lead you astray. Priorities should be discussed on a weekly basis with the leadership team and on a monthly basis with the company at large. I recommend following the funnel model: start with the purpose of the organization, go to values, dive into goals, and then highlight the priorities needed to achieve these goals. People need to be reminded again and again why they’re there, what they’re trying to accomplish, and how to do it.

Let’s end with an old and reassuring note:

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

Franklyn Roosevelt

A Theory on How Travel Makes You a More Authentic Leader (and Individual)

Traveling can provide a remarkable experience, building and transforming your story. Each step, each inquiry, each surprise is original and quality raw material for another chapter of his autobiography. So, time to turn the page and start the next one?

Saint Augustine already said “life is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”. In that spirit, I write here to expose the hypothesis that, yes, leadership and creativity can be developed and cultivated through the expansion and possible irreversible disruption of our microbubbles.
This reasoning is based mainly on the personal experience of the HIKE team, but it certainly draws on the literature produced by travelers, poets, philosophers and thinkers in the field of leadership.

I agree that the association between travel and leadership in academic books or articles is not obvious, but you see, all we need to do is piece together the evidence.

To begin with, there is a consensus among leadership thinkers and great leaders that there is a direct correlation between leadership and individual characteristics such as:
. intelligence
. flexibility and ability to adjust
. extroversion
. conscience
. openness to the new and experience
. self-sufficiency

Yes, there are those lucky enough to be born with all these attributes, but science believes that most of them are developed during life. Experiences that force adaptation to the new, open communication with strangers, the awakening of perceptions to a new world that reveals itself, and survival in the apparent chaos — even if for a short time-, bring a practical, visceral, and authentic. Out of the bread and butter of everyday life and “navigating” the unknown, we are uncomfortably pressured to act smartly and efficiently, quickly and sensitively to the challenging source.

You already got it, didn’t you? Connecting the dots, it is imperative to relate the development of all, absolutely all of these attributes, with the experiences that can be gained through a good independent getaway. Generally, the longer and further away than usual, the greater the shock and the better the result.

Traveling takes us away from the traditional way of thinking about our microbubble — work, friends, family, society, pains and loves. Facing the world — the big bubble — through another lens results in the rupture of that microbubble, possibly reaching very different spheres. The different can be bigger, smaller, worse, better… in short, the focus is on experiencing what was previously unknown.

When we stumble and life gives us a fright, seeing through a different perspective leads to an understanding beyond your current condition. The result? You become more self-confident when you realize that the situation is much less complex than it seems. Traveling also forces you to reconnect with yourself, renewing your spirituality and expanding your self-esteem. An extra dose of self-confidence is always welcome to lead indispensable changes, on a personal and professional level, in a world in constant transformation.

Convinced? Far be it from me to fill you with theory, so I suggest that you validate (or reconfirm) this hypothesis yourself. Put it into practice! Get away from your comfort zone for a few hours, days or weeks, embarking on a new experience where the most different is the most attractive. For those who do pack their bags and decide to leave, going solo potentially enriches the experience, as you’re likely to face surprises unusual for group travelers. Book your tickets and the first two nights of accommodation; for everything else, adapt according to demand. Ideally, the shock should be complete: inversion of time zones, language, culture and season. Your money will also be limited, forcing open communication with travelers in the same situation: which restaurant offers the best barbada? The best way to move from A to B? Does everything seem wrong to you on this side of the world too?

The destiny? The expansion of your micro-bubble, now perhaps a stretched-out mini-bubble through an intense workout centered on flexibility and adaptability, exercises you did without even realizing it. Oops, there’s more out there: being the author of your own story, bringing with you a dose of lifelong courage to experience creative possibilities in life that will make your autobiography increasingly rich and authentic.
Of course, traveling all the time is unrealistic, but experiences like these can be practiced easily in virtually any context. Exploring a new neighborhood, learning to play the guitar, becoming interested in the mysteries of the deep sea, trying a different cuisine, taking a circus class, studying macroeconomics, feeling the pleasures and (potential) frustrations of vegetarianism for a week: what What matters is leaving your comfort zone and exploring, immersing yourself in a new world. What happens next boils down to renewal: reconnection with your own values, goals, dreams, fears, and everything that relates to being human and being alive.

Start small: experiment small, and build a platform for bigger, more ambitious goals. Big changes are based on small steps towards a big idea. Be prepared to adapt to the unpredictable and see harmony in chaos.

The bottom line: breaking your micro-bubble, as daunting as it sounds at first, can become a tool capable of positively impacting every facet of your life: work, home, community, and individual, including mind, body, and spirit. Then, proportionally to the size of the expansion of your microbubble, self-confidence and self-esteem are inflated. To lead — be it your life, a business, a team, or a project — these elements are absolutely essential.

Finally, remember that we are today a reflection of yesterday. What we have seen, felt, tasted, heard, learned and experienced in the past shapes our behavior and attitudes today. So is it time to turn the page and start writing the next chapter?

On fear of failure

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears,” wrote Les Brown. Fear is a natural human emotion that helps us stay alert and protected in dangerous situations. However, when fear becomes excessive, it can prevent us from living our lives to the fullest. It can hold us back from pursuing our dreams, taking risks, and experiencing new things. In this self-serving article, I would like to explore strategies for conquering fear and living a more fulfilling life, particularly the fear of failure, which can impact our lives by preventing us from following our hearts and achieving our full potential.

Conquering fear has been a major theme in my own life. Leaving my hometown of Florianópolis, Brazil, to explore the world with no money, learning new languages despite ridicule, and leaving comfortable career paths to find what truly makes me come alive, are all examples of how conquering fear has stretched my possibilities in unimaginable ways.

The fear of failure is a common and powerful fear that can hold us back from pursuing our goals and dreams. I have met many overachievers who have put several ambitious personal and professional projects on hold due to the fear of not being able to deliver on these new paths. However, science shows us that with the right mindset and strategies, we can learn to overcome this fear and achieve our full potential.

A learning opportunity

One of the first steps in overcoming the fear of failure is to change our perspective on what failure means. Instead of viewing failure as a negative outcome, we can reframe it as a learning opportunity. Every failure is an opportunity to grow and improve, and by embracing this mindset, we can reduce the power of our fear of failure. It is important to remember that everything that has been created in this world was created by people similar to you and me, and they all had to go through a learning process with very few getting it right on the first attempt.

Set realistic goals

Another effective strategy for overcoming the fear of failure is to set realistic goals and break them down into smaller, achievable steps. By focusing on incremental progress rather than perfection, we can reduce the pressure we put on ourselves and increase our confidence in our ability to succeed. Perfectionism is a powerful enemy if we want to design and execute new projects; the best path is to get it done little by little and then iterate and improve it, like in the Design Thinking process.

Revisit your beliefs

It can also be helpful to identify and challenge the underlying beliefs that contribute to our fear of failure. For example, we might have a belief that success is only achieved by those who are naturally talented or lucky. By challenging this belief and recognizing that hard work and perseverance are also key factors in success, we can reduce the power of our fear of failure. As Angela Duckworth has shown, grit is a major determinant of professional success. It is a matter of trying, iterating, learning, and doing it again and again.

Be kind to yourself

Practicing self-compassion is also important when dealing with the fear of failure. Rather than being overly critical of ourselves when we experience setbacks or failures, we can practice self-kindness and remind ourselves that everyone experiences failure at some point in their lives. For type A overachievers (like myself), it’s much easier to be kind to others than to ourselves, as our bars are always set high. However, by talking to others, changing contexts, and expanding one’s life through multiple genuine relationships, we gain perspective on what we’re trying to accomplish, allowing us to detach from perfectionism.

Share where you are heading to

Seeking support and accountability from others can be a powerful tool in overcoming the fear of failure. By sharing our goals and progress with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor, I have gained encouragement, guidance, and motivation to keep pushing forward even in the face of obstacles. I have three people in my life that I call my personal board of advisors, folks who are present to me when I need them and who ask me the right questions at the right time, making me accountable for my decisions and actions while encouraging me to go further.

Accept that life is short and the others’ opinions don’t matter

Lastly, I would like to recall some of the lessons from Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich states that “without fear, we are able to see more clearly our connections to others. Without fear, we have more room for understanding and compassion. Without fear, we are truly free”. When reflecting that most of our fear of failure is based on how others will judge us, I found helpful to highlight the five remembrances from Buddhism that Thich elaborates on his book “Fear”:

  1. I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot escape growing old.
  2. I am of the nature to have ill health. I cannot escape having ill health.
  3. I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape death.
  4. All that is dear to me, and everyone I love, are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  5. I inherit the results of my acts of body, speech, and mind. My actions are my continuation.

Recognizing that life is short and that change is the only certainty, allows me to see life in perspective and to not care to how others will potentially judge me for a project that fails. Not caring about others’ opinions is a form of freedom, and the path to listen and be your authentic self.

In summary, conquering the fear of failure is essential to our evolution as human beings. Conquering fear is expanding our comfort zones, learning new things about ourselves, connecting to our authentic selves and allowing us to dream bigger and do more of what makes us unique. This, ultimately, is what the world needs: a community of people who are living their unique strengths, collaborating with each other and making the world a better place.