I said this quote to myself every morning in 2015. During the last year as an independent company there was a lot of complexity and uncertainty in the Next Big Sound business. Our last direct competitor was acquired by Apple in January (the deal was done at the end of 2014 but it was leaked in January). In February we were named The Most Innovative Company in the Music Industry by Fast Company and upstreamed to their Top 50 Most Innovative Companies list overall. We had a growing book analytics business and a brand business but I was closing most of the deals myself and it was still not predictable or scalable. We hadn’t raised capital in over 3 years, we had a high Series A valuation we were just growing into, we had offers of equity or debt financing but no surefire place to spend the money to accelerate things and a management team who had worked together for years but was hungry for growth and new challenges.
Each morning I took a deep breath and said the above quote. I realized that in the face of complexity and uncertainty we each have a choice. The default response is to waiver, hedge bets, and be overwhelmed at the myriad potential outcomes (most of them not good as a venture-backed startup). Or you can choose to maintain your composure. Your co-founders are looking at you, the whole team is watching, the investors are looking at you - should we be afraid? Double-down? Is it time to panic and scramble again like we’ve done so many times before? What is going to happen?
The type of confidence I’m talking about here is not one of defiance, rose-colored self-delusion, or bull-headedness. It’s the supreme confidence that we will figure things out, no matter the circumstances.
No one has any idea what is going to happen. While fear, uncertainty, and doubt is extremely contagious (and certain strains are fatal) - calmness, confidence, and composure is less contagious but the most powerful antidote.