Busy Being Born
I took music very seriously when I was a teenager. I took everything too seriously, to be honest, and I probably still do. But I especially took music very seriously. I was undeterred by my inability to carry a tune, my slow and sluggish guitar fingers, and my general absence of any kind of talent for music whatsoever. I studied music and I played music and I was horrendous and I loved it.
There was a brief period of time back then when music videos were not just stylized choreography, but artistic expressions in their own right. And one of my favorite music videos as a kid was the video that accompanied the song No Rain by Blind Melon.
The video opens with a girl in a bumblebee costume performing a silly dance, for which she is immediately laughed at. She cries, runs off stage, and proceeds to wander around the city performing her bumblebee dance for people who just don’t get it.
And then, suddenly, she happens upon an open field full of other girls wearing similar silly bumblebee costumes, all doing their own silly dances. She runs inside and dances among them, loved, included, and happy.
The video, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. I’ll do my best to capture it’s essence in these stills:
Sometimes, it takes a little while for us to find our people.
John Armstrong spent over 20 years in Corporate America, and he was good at it. He was so good at it, in fact, that his success kept him from learning that he hadn’t yet found his people and purpose.
I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it once more. John had this idea about corporate governance and a grass-roots form of traditional activist investing, and it’s this itch he can’t scratch. He read a tweet of mine about entrepreneurship and reached out to share his idea. What did I think? Was he crazy?
And of course, I encouraged him to go for it, to chase his startup dream, because we only live once and he would never forgive himself if he didn’t try. And then we hung up the phone and I expected never to hear from him again.
Except I did hear from him again. We would end up talking every week ever since. He quit his job at Legg Mason and launched Civex. And because good people attract good people, Mike Mattera and Tim Keane joined him. And not long after came Joe and Corianne and Patrick and Lily and Jon and developers and advisors and a whole ecosystem of enthusiastic partners attracted to the people and the feeling that something special was happening.
Nobody was getting paid. You’ve got to keep that in mind, nobody was getting paid. There wasn’t yet any investors or revenue, all of that would come. Some of the team worked nights and weekends while spending their 9-5 at their paying jobs, others had to dip into savings and toss and turn all night worried about whether they being foolish and irresponsible. It ain’t easy.
But they pressed on and continued to build and iterate and lay the groundwork.
And then, suddenly, a breakthrough.
Startups. I love startups. I love startup people, I love the startup journey, I love everything about them. John had found his people, and by helping him I had found mine.
Being involved in startups is working with the best people with the biggest dreams and the most focused determination. It is working with the people who are the most alive.
Last week I attended a startup mixer sponsored by Michigan Founder’s Fund and met someone launching an Agritech VC Fund, a founder harnessing AI to optimize supply chains, a programmer working on autonomous driving software… just interesting people doing interesting things. And I want to be a part of it all.
Bob Dylan said that “he not busy being born is busy dying”, and you can apply that to careers as well. A career, a company, a skillset, a challenge not being born is instead slowly dying.
Entrepreneurs are busy being born. Let’s get busy. Let’s get busy being born.