She likes chasing squirrels and birds that trespass her yard, vacuuming up cheerios from my daughter’s playroom, sitting in the sun, and snoozing in her cozy cave (Google it). She’s our first child and we treat her like any other quirky member of our family.
I often find that, with keen observation and an open mind, we can learn from anything we see or experience. Gemma’s no exception. Here’s what I’ve learned from her.
Relentlessly communicate your message.
Gemma eats breakfast at 5:00am and eats dinner at 5:00pm. In the morning, my alarm goes off at 5:00am. Often, Gemma will be right there at the side of my bed, upright, alert, and looking me in the eye, at 4:57am – waiting to interrupt me before I can hit the snooze button. When I come home from work at 5:00pm, after a frantic and excited hello at the door, she retreats to the staircase just outside the kitchen. She’ll sit there on the first step and cry, and cry, and cry until she gets dinner. She knows my routine well enough to also know when and where to interrupt me. Gemma is also consistent with her message (feed me), which further reinforces the routine. As her target, I know exactly what to do and when.
For entrepreneurs, we’re competing for time and attention. We need messages that are sticky, but that’s not enough. We need those messages to land with our target audience when and where it’s most relevant to them. Otherwise, we’re just noise. Our consumers need to see the value we provide to them in their moment of need.
Maintain laser-like focus.
As a bird dog, vizslas instinctively point when they see birds, squirrels, and rabbits. What’s truly hysterical every time I see it, is that Gemma, the laziest vizsla I’ve ever met, a dog who does absolutely zero hunting, still instinctively points. When she points, she focuses like a laser on what’s in front of her. Slowly walking toward her prey (and by prey, I mean a fuzzy friend who she’d like to play with, Gemma wouldn’t hurt a fly and she wouldn’t know what to do with it if she caught it). She also blocks out distractions and won’t respond to being called until after she has the opportunity to pounce (don’t worry, they always get away).
For entrepreneurs, distraction is a huge challenge. There’s a million things you could be spending your time and attention on. Focusing on what’s most important is a skill we all need to develop. We need to be able to block out the noise and stay on target, getting closer to our long term, prioritized goals and objectives.
Take time to rejuvenate.
Vizslas are a high-energy breed – they run, and run, and run…until they crash. Every day, Gemma needs to walk around the park, run around like a hooligan at the dog park, and wrestle with squeaky toys in the basement. And sometimes that’s still not enough. Still, she takes time to relax and recenter. She’ll lounge out in the sun, plastered on the deck like a melted popsicle. She gets a ton of joy and energy through, seemingly, a snoozy solar charge outside. You can see it in her demeanor. She’s calmer, more collected, and more patient. When she doesn’t get her time in the sun, she’s frenetic, undisciplined, and sloppy.
As entrepreneurs, we need to be imaginative and innovative. That’s pretty difficult with no sleep and no down-time. Our flow of ideas and inspiration can dry up quickly if we don’t take care of ourselves. Think of your body as a system. For it to produce output (ideas, products, strategy, etc.), we need to constantly feed it input (nutrition, recharge time, sleep, reading, etc.). Self care is a must on the entrepreneurial road.
Look around you. Learning often hides in plain sight. What can you learn from what’s in front of you?
ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line. It can feel messy. It zigs and zags. It starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok. It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself. And, that’s why it’s worth it.