Always Be Learning

Posted: Dec 12, 2011 12:01 AM

There is an old adage in business, ABC, always be closing. I think that in order to follow ABC, you have to ABL. Always be learning, or always be listening.

It’s been a whirlwind week for me. Each day I listened and learned.

On Monday I had lunch with an acquaintance that taught me the history and ins and outs of tech transfer at universities. Since I am an angel, it’s pretty important that I understand the logistics and niceties of tech transfer. I have barely scratched the surface on what I need to know, but I have some great mentors that can usher me through and get me to the flat part of my learning curve.

On December 6, I went to an angel conference. Heard a million business plans about things I didn’t know. Met some great people and listened to what they had to say, I learned a lot. Might have even created an opportunity for a company I am invested in.

December 7 was Pearl Harbor Day. I learned that the US really blew it by not listening. I hadn’t realized US intelligence had cracked Japanese code and knew they were massing for an attack. They didn’t listen. It cost us several thousand lives. I also had Ohours on December 7. I met with some local entrepreneurs and listened. Some really cool ideas brewing out there. Hope I was able to help them. This was my second experience with setting up office hours, and I am going to try and set up a lot more in the future.

December 8 I went to Illinois Launch, heard some business plans and connected an entrepreneur to someone that might be able to help them. Then I went to our HPA meeting and heard about three more companies. Listening to the debate of our angels was really interesting. I learned a lot.

The next day, I flew to New Orleans to the National World War Two Museum‘s conference on the first two years of war in the Pacific. They videoed it so you can email the museum and they can send you a link to purchase the lectures, the stories and learn from them. I was lucky to meet 4/5 of the last living Doolittle Raiders. There were compelling accounts of the battle for Guadalcanal, and author James Hornfischer gave a reasoned argument why he believes that Guadalcanal was the turning point of the Pacific war, and not the Battle of Midway. My whole life, I had been taught that it was Midway.

When you read the things that the Doolittle Raiders did to prepare, and then execute the April 1942 raid on Japan, you see that although it was a military operation, the plan resembled all the characteristics of starting up a company. They formed hypotheses and tested them right away. They pivoted. Even during the raid, things changed and they changed tactics. Did you know that for many of the Doolittle Raiders, that mission was their first time ever jumping out of a plane? That may have been the ultimate entrepreneurial leap of faith!

This week was a massive brain dump of learning for me. But it was stimulating and I will be able to take what I learned and put disparate pieces together to create value for someone somewhere.

Listening and learning helps you close.

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