Frontal Assault

Jan 22 2013

When I posted last week about Killer Blue Whales, and dumped some insight into my head and some of my fears and pressure I feel as an entrepreneur, this post was already ready to go in my mind.

At the risk of totally way overplaying an analogy* (but I just really wanted to use these pictures)…

and also the risk of mixing metaphors — but I am king of that: from animal kingdom last time to military this week; actually, those are analogies. Can you mix analogies? ;)

anyway, here we go….

You see, I am but a very small piece of a very big, complicated, and complex picture. I think last week, you saw how important your spouse is in your entrepreneur/startup world. Very true.

But as important as they are, there’s something that’s even more (sorry Amy!) critical.

As the “entrepreneur” in the equation, I am sort of like a Special
Reconnaissance Operative
. Yeah, I’m out in front of a lot of stuff. Trying to keep eyes in the back of my head. Putting my neck out there. And someone might just shoot your head off. It’s easy to feel like you’re solo (again, see my post last week). It’s damn frightening to be behind enemy lines. You’re the sharp tip of the spear. Sort of feels like this**:

(image source: Wallpapers Wala)

But startups are not recon missions. Startups are more like Frontal Assaults. Doesn’t this quote from that wikipedia link sound perfect when applied to startups?

The military tactic of frontal assault is a direct, hostile movement of forces toward the front of an enemy force (as compared to the flanks or rear of the enemy). By targeting the enemy’s front, the attackers are subjecting themselves to the maximum defensive power of the enemy. It is often a commander’s last resort when he has run out of tactical options….this procedure proved increasingly suicidal.

Not sure about you, but that dude, just above, with the spear and the shield? He’s not doing any frontal assaults.

He’s just recon. He’s just scouting. Probing the defenses. Gathering intel. But he’s got backup. More than backup, he’s got an Army. Well then, framed inside of entrepreneurship and startups, “subjecting yourself to the maximum defensive power of the enemy” sounds like a damn fine time to me.

So back to me and DropShip Commerce. My army? my team? Well, they all enlisted. They signed up for this. (and re-enlist every day, every week while the pressures and unknowns and directional changes and barely managed chaos play out real time). They all have made sacrifices and take risks and have fears. My little IM with Amy? Specifics are different, but that mental narrative applies to a lot of us. Seven of them quit their jobs and walked out the door from Doba with our whole spinoff, to go into the unknown and continue working with/for me, all my faults included (hard core special ops types). Two of them came back to work for/with me after many years of doing so previously and then living a utopian life without my ADHD for a good while (possibly the insane ones). Two of them picked up their families and careers and moved hundreds or thousands of miles. (that’s commitment akin to scuttling the ships) One of them dropped out of MBA school weeks before starting to dive into entrepreneur training (smartest of the entire bunch). Three of them left good companies/opportunities to work harder on things infinitely less defined. (no regrets!)

You want to talk about pressure? Intensity? Drive to blow things up? I can tell you, the sacrifices of my team and then living up to our potential we owe to each other as a startup/organization are 1,000X greater than whatever I might feel from investors. That’s only money. Startup compatriots? Well, that’s time. And energy. And careers. And geography. And stress. And family. And sacrifices. And we’re all in the thick of it. It’s not easy to build something from nothing.

I do get hit with a lot, and everything last week from my mind dump is completely true, but the honest truth is that when I hear: “Wow, look, you won the battle. You won the war.” for GearTrade, for Doba, and eventually for DropShip Commerce. My response is: Nah, I just scouted the enemy a bit, helped point that spear towards a weak spot, and then this amazing army, in something the overwhelming majority of the world would consider a suicide mission, full on frontal assaulted and steamrolled to victory, and I get to take credit for a bunch of other people’s work, who all have their own fighting to do for us to win:

Blaine, Clark, Ben, Mike, Dave, Todd, Jason W, Josh, Brad, Jonny, Jason C, Joel, Rachelle, Travis, Eric

Just hope…no, strike that: do more than hope, engineer and architect a team behind you that looks like this:

(image source:

That’s how I picture the other 15 DropShip Commerce Action Team members. Yeah, they’re that good.

Entrepreneur to Startup teams? Rock n Roll my friends. Rock. n. Roll.

* – I’ve never been in a real war. If you have, wow. I mean no disrespect with my analogies. You probably tire of them. People like me trying to prove a point. Startups truly aren’t at all like real battle. And just like last week, I have nothing but good intentions and karma with anything I say. I sent a similar message to the elephants, lions, and wildebeest that me and my fellow Killer Blue Whale entrepreneur friends so indiscriminately consume in Africa, but they don’t have reliable Interweb access, so you didn’t see it online.

** – And when I say it feels like this, I am TOTALLY referring to how I picture myself, all ripped to hell like this guy, able to hold a 100 lb solid metal shield and throw a massive spear like the length of 3 football fields.

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