CEO Sundays: Want To Succeed? Show Up

By December 11, 2011

This article was written by Ethan Austin, CEO of Give Forward

There’s a famous Woody Allen quotes that says,  “80% of success is showing up.”

I think this is true for everything in life

You know that  average looking dude with the really hot girlfriend?  You wonder how he pulled that off?   The answer is he showed up.  He asked her out when everyone else thought she was out of their league.

How about the revolutions in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia? Those revolutions didn’t happen because a few scholars argued from an ivory tower. They happened because people on the street decided to show up.

How about people like Chris Sacca or Gary Vaynerchuk or Arianna Huffington or Chris McCann who are all doing pretty awesome things with their lives?  All of these people are successful for the same reason — they decided they were going to show up.

The same rule can be applied to the startup world.  You want to be part of a startup?  Then go do it.  My friend, Marc Bertrand, is a good example.  Marc had been interested in startups for a few years and wanted to join one.  So what did he do? He began organizing startup events and meeting people in the startup community.  First, he organized a breakfast called Startup Waffles, and from there, he helped organize a Startup Weekend in Chicago.  One of the companies that emerged from the Startup Weekend was a company called Cloudbot.  When the two Cloudbot founders needed to fill out their founding team, who did they call up?  Duh!!! They called up the dude who already showed he could execute by organizing the event.  Marc showed up.  He put himself into a position to get lucky and now he is on the founding team for a great, VC-backed startup.

And Mark isn’t the exception.  He’s the rule.  All the people I know who are doing cool things with their lives didn’t get there because they were smarter than everyone else.  They got there simply because they decided they were going to do it.  That’s it.  End of story.

I’ve been in this startup game for three and half years and I can say without a doubt that deciding to take the leap has been the best and most rewarding decision I’ve ever made.  Now, I’m not going to lie and say everything has been a bowl of cherries. Often times, it’s actually a big bowl of SUCK. Startup life can be lonely at times and is often filled with self-doubt.  The work isn’t always glamourous, the pay usually blows and entrepreneurs sacrifice a lot time they could be spending with friends and loved ones in order to make their companies work. But at the same time, deciding to pursue this course provides an incredible opportunity to do GOOD in this world and leave a lasting impact on millions of people.  And that, without a doubt, more than makes up for all the SUCK.

So if you have an idea that you’re passionate about, my advice is to quit thinking about and just go after it.  If you’re still not convinced, here are my best two arguments.

(1) Do it because the world needs you to show up.

The world needs more innovators tackling big problems like poverty, healthcare, climate change and education.  The existing models are broken and need to be changed.  Innovation is the fastest path to solving these problems, and it’s entrepreneurs not governments, who are going to have to lead the way.

(2) Do it because life is too short to to do anything you are not absolutely passionate about.

You never know when you’re going to get hit by a bus.  So while you are alive on this beautiful blue planet that we inhabit, you should make it your mission to do cool shit.  The #1 regret people have on their death bed is failing to pursue their dreams.  Don’t be one of these people.  You choose your own path in life.  Why settle for a boring one?

 Ethan Austin is the Co-founder of GiveForward, a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money  online for their  friends and loved ones out-of-pocket medical expenses.  If you like this post, feel free to  connect with him  on Twitter @ethanaustin or on his blog Startups and Burritos