The reason we shouldn’t pursue balance is that the magic never happens in the middle; magic happens at the extremes.
It’s so easy to lose sight of your mission, and the beliefs that birthed it in the first place. This applies to business as much as life.
Sometimes the daily minutiae puts a fog over everything and you lose sight of your mission. You can only see 10 feet in any direction, and you forget why you started and where you wanted to be.
Why does this happen? Probably for a lot of reasons.
For me, I noticed that over time things build up that aren’t serving you. Negative cultural norms at the office or home slowly establish themselves into daily routine. Bad habits form. Presumptuous and “it’s always been this way” thinking take hold.
The fog builds up and eventually begins to consume everything. Day by day, everything gets more dull.
You slam into a wall. The fog has blinded you.
Clear the fog. Connect with your why again. Challenge your assumptions. Step outside of your routine and see the world from a different angle. Take inventory of the things that are creating the fog and change them.
What entrepreneurship means to me… thus far
Getting Techcrunched. Seeing your iPhone app featured. Wearing hoodies to business meetings with people that cant wait to write you a cheque for $1MM. Waking up whenever you want. Being your own boss. Scaling to 1 million users. Scaling to 10 million users. In a week.
Those are just a handful of the romantic misconceptions associated with entrepreneurship. The reality is much less sexy, yet so much more rewarding than that.
Building a business from nothing can be painfully hard. It can be a very lonely endeavor. It is usually exhausting. It can rob you of work/life balance if you’re not careful. It can make you wonder if it’s all worth it.
But despite all of those things, I don’t think I could do anything else. I honestly could not see myself ever being a cog in someone else’s machine again.
To me, It’s worth it every time I hear our team laugh and celebrate together, all being strangers to one another just a couple of months previous. It’s worth it when I see something much bigger than myself emerge out of nothing but a vision to change a small part of the world just a little bit.
It’s so worth it every time I hear how our product helped a customer enjoy their day a little more, maybe even putting a smile on their face.
But what really inspires me is the rare and beautiful experience to go up against overwhelming odds, and constantly be winning little battles each and every day regardless of the outcome.
How I discover new music, then play the hell out of it
I have a pretty good music system now. A while back I discovered Last.fm and immediately fell in love with its discovery engine.
How it works
Type in an artist or song that you like, and Last.fm will play songs that the community at large has deemed similar. It does this by tags. You’re encouraged to tag songs with genres and similar artists. And it works remarkably well.
I discover new music that I think is awesome almost every day. And every once in a while I find a song that makes me stop in my tracks, listen intently and just get immersed in it.
But, then I usually want to listen to more of the artist that made the song that just got me all excited. Unfortunately, Last.fm is not the place to do that.
You see, Last.fm licenses its music similar to a how a radio station would (at least it’s how I understand it) and so you cannot listen to any specific song you want on demand (only a short preview), because that would be more similar to buying a CD or purchasing a song from iTunes.
They are essentially creating a radio station on demand for you, based on your search criteria (song, artist or genre).
So… that’s kind of a bummer. Downloading MP3’s is tedius. And expensive. More often than not I get bored of a song/artist after I obsess over their tracks for a few weeks to a month or two.
What is Rdio
Oddly enough, Rdio is less like a radio station than Last.fm is. Rdio can be compared to Spotify. But Rdio works in Canada while Spotify doesn’t. And from what I have seen, I like Rdio better.
How it works: Find music you like and listen to it. That’s it. They have a pretty huge catalog of albums for you to listen to all you want. You can even sync songs to your iPhone or iPad, so you can listen to them later while offline.
Rdio does have a sort of recommendation engine built in as well, but for me it doesn’t work nearly as well as Last.fm in terms of usability and the tracks it selects.
Last.fm is $3/month and Rdio is $10/month for unlimited web and mobile streaming + sync (listen offline). For me, $13/month for the ability to discover new music and listen to almost anything I want, when I want is well worth it.
These are the types of services that consumers want. I find it incredibly pathetic that record labels would rather keep trying to sell their plastic and lobbying to pass legislation to stifle innovation, than just change their model and offer something that consumers want and would willingly pay for.
Path is a beautiful iPhone app.