During the Second Punic War, Hannibal and his men approached the Alps, which separated them from Italy. His generals informed him that it was impossible to cross by Elephant.
Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam.
I will either find a way or make one.
Find a way, he did. And the effort proved to be one of the great triumphs of Hannibal's illustrious career. A career for which we still acknowledge him as one of history's great military strategists.
This week’s newsletter is a little different.
I want to share a word of encouragement with those who are in a tough business environment. Many in B2B tech are.
When things go well, it’s easy to think that our work made it happen. Our smarts, our strategy, and our execution helped us get there.
Conversely, it's easy to think that when things are going poorly, our execution is the problem. Or that we are the problem.
I’m here to tell you neither is true.
As Lou Holtz once said,
You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose.
The outcomes we experience in business are not always a result of our execution.
Often, success is a result of the choices we make about what games to play, i.e., the industries and companies we choose to work in.
A surfer knows her next ride will only be as good as the wave she chooses to paddle into. The pros wait patiently and choose their waves carefully.
As an investor, an entrepreneur, an employee, or an advisor, I look for three things to determine whether an opportunity is worth spending my time and money on: 1) the market, 2) the product, and 3) the team.
All three matter.
All three must be present for the best outcome and the best experience along the way.
The order is important.
A great product and team in a poor or ill-timed market will struggle to gain traction.
Meanwhile, even a moderately skilled team with a mediocre product and good timing in a great market can win (especially if armed with capital).
But what do we do when we find ourselves in a market that's sputtering? Many in the tech world are in this situation today.
My advice, and advice I've received over and over again from my mentors, is to never give up.
Try new things.
Embrace your ecosystem. Forge new partnerships. Work harder to catch the wave you need to be on.
Whatever happens, don't sit still.
And, by God, don't take on a victim's mentality.
In his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz says the following:
When you are building a company you must believe there's an answer, and you cannot pay attention to your odds of finding it. You just have to find it. It matters not whether your chances are nine in ten or one in one thousand. Your task is the same.
I'd rather be riding the right technological wave, but fortunately, it's not the only way to win.
Industriousness, consistency, and perseverance still pay dividends.
It's a good thing because it's impossible to always be on the right wave. Sometimes you have to make one for yourself.
Whether running an entire company, leading a team or department, or managing a book of business, the trying times are the time to shine.
Our current difficulties won’t last forever, but they will forge leaders and careers.
It's up to you.
What's your posture?
How will you find a way or make one?