The Founder and His Vision


This is part one of my ongoing Series on Getting from Zero to One.

You suspect you possess the Founder's Eye- that mythical Picassoan Eye referred to in the Prelude.

To put it another way, you don't laugh to yourself at the suggestion.

Why is this? 

You probably see the outlines of something immense in your mind's eye. 

And again, why is this?

It may not be something you can immediately explain- and is more likely something you just feel instinctively.

And why is this?

It's probably because you have encountered or witnessed a problem or obstacle or gap in your life at work or elsewhere that frustrated or perhaps even infuriated you. Something inside you told you there must be a better way to do this and now you believe you will be the agent of change- that you will build something that destroys this particular issue and perhaps goes far beyond it.

You feel a passion for this cause, for this arena- you are ready to fight for it at enormous cost. You feel something larger than yourself is at stake and you are consumed by this feeling.

But where do you begin? How do you harness this immense energy?

A thousand questions crowd your mind: How and where to begin? What to build? Who to call? Who to trust? Who to partner with? Do I need funding? If so how to raise funds? Who to help me with my model? It goes on and on. Some never make it past this first day, overwhelmed by the anxiety of it all- most just muddle through somehow in a perpetual state of nervous tension. It doesn't have to be like this.

If you’re going through this or are about to launch your first startup, this series of posts is for you. I was inspired to write it by the many young entrepreneurs I meet who are trying to make their way through this "blessed warm fog" (as Conrad put it).  It’s the beginning after all- and one of the most difficult and misunderstood phases of a startup’s lifecycle. It requires some of the most concrete tasks and yet some of your most creative thinking all at once.  

It's time to take the first steps, one at a time. I like to call this‘Going from Zero to One’.

This series is essentially going to be a Buddhist chant with a singular mantra, to be repeated in a steady, rhythmic tone, over and over again…. Zero to One, Zero to One, Zero to One.... I will explain, I promise.

For the next post in this Series on Getting From Zero to One, click here.

Map it Out!

This is part of my Series on Getting from Zero to One

No matter how world-changing you believe your startup may be, the most important thing you need to do at this preliminary juncture is to take things one step at a time. You are at “Zero” now and the goal is not “100”- it is actually “One”.

Remember- at some point in the not-too-distant future you actually need to build a product that people- (many people!) will want to use. That is the essence of what you need to achieve and don’t forget it. You must relentlessly focus on making this a reality. Everything you do now must be subsumed to that singular purpose.

One way to impose this discipline upon yourself is to break your company down into a diagram or two that you can paste on the wall above your desk so that you see them every day. Everyone’s different, so you need to use diagrams that work for you. Some people swear by Osterwalder's Startup Canvas, others use other tools. Nevertheless, at this preliminary stage I believe that it helps to have at least one that gives you an orchestral view of every aspect of the fledgling company’s operations. Here’s a primitive template I devised that I often recommend to entrepreneurs I’m mentoring:


As the company evolves, you are constantly refining this diagram, adding granularity with names, companies, action steps and the like within of all of the above categories.Grow new branches, add new categories, move things around to suit your eye- all this is very helpful to a Founder, who otherwise has to keep all this swimming around in his head.

So whereas your executive summary, business plan, google docs, Xcel spreadsheets, GANT charts, wireframes, use-cases and the like will all reside on your laptop or in the cloud somewhere- I’m suggesting you have at least one orchestral view on old-fashioned paper pasted front-row and center. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, simply glance up for a few moments and orient yourself. With that one glance and perhaps a tweak here or there you can quickly recalibrate things and get back into focus.

Are you beginning to hear the rhythmic chanting in the distance? … Zero to One… Zero to One… Zero to One…

 For the next post in this Series, (Mapping it Out Some More!) click HEre.