We don’t get to experience a lot of absolute truths in our lives, especially once we hit adulthood. But when I was a child, there were two absolute truths in my mind:
I must become a writer.
I must move to New York to become a writer. (I dreamt of California as well, but that had more to do with my love for warm weather and beaches than anything else.)
Even though I wanted these things for as long as I can remember, I let a lot of roadblocks and detours (all different shapes of fear) slow me down. But finally, at 25, I packed my bags and moved to New York.
Contrary to the stereotype of most “creatives,” I’m big on structure and plans. When I moved to New York, my plan was to obtain some sort of office job that only required me to work from 9-5 and then spend all of my nights and weekends writing. I would produce a novel, I would pitch that novel to agents and editors, and eventually I would become a full-time novelist. That was the plan.
Three and half years later, I wrote two novels (one of which I actually allowed people to read and pitched to agents) and paid off the consumer debt I accumulated prior to moving to New York. (Those student loans will live with me for another few years.) Things were on schedule! (I knew it could take many years and many rejections before I’d become a novelist.) But I was getting tired of my daytime situation.
I abhorred my day job. Theoretically, that was okay because it was only meant to pay the bills. But working for years at an unstimulating job you hate can take its toll – and that it did. That’s when my plan – and those absolute truths – started to change shape.
I still loved New York, but I couldn’t shake my curiosity about California. And I still wanted to be a writer, but I felt a strong need to have a fulfilling job during the day if or until I became a full-time novelist. In short, my priorities changed and I couldn’t keep living the way I was. I decided I wanted to work in the startup industry because I strived to have an impact in my work and to break out of the bureaucratic corporate chain of New York.
So my bags were packed again (this time with a boyfriend and eventual husband to come with me) and San Francisco became my new home. That’s when everything really changed.
My start in startups was serendipitous and lucky. My now husband introduced me to some of his connections and through that I was given a freelance writing opportunity and then an internship. While some may find it strange to take an internship in your late 20s, I was willing to do whatever it took to get my foot in the door.
My internship was at a startup called ReadyForZero, an app that helps people pay off debt. I’d already been writing for them and loved the team – and the app was perfect. It allowed me to work on something I truly believed in and on something that impacted my life in a huge way. I started out writing for the blog, heading up customer service, and working on digital marketing.
The first few months were terrifying and I wanted to quit a number of times. Coming from the stringent world of law – where everyone has their place and everything has structure – I didn’t know how to handle working in a startup with a more autonomous environment. I feared that my brain just wouldn’t allow me to succeed – I was a planner, after all! Give me a to-do list and I can accomplish it perfectly! Give me a blank slate and watch me sink.
My now husband talked me off the ledge every night until, finally, something changed. I hit my stride. I don’t remember when or how it happened. I just remember suddenly feeling comfortable being uncomfortable. I started to form my own processes and realized I liked that a lot better than being told what to do. I realized I could accomplish more than ever before when given the freedom to do so – and that I’d been holding myself back for years.
Thus, the startup transformation was complete.
The Reason for Create Measure Iterate
Once I went to the other side (from corporate life to startups, that is), everything changed, including my worldview. And that’s why I created this website. Here you’ll find a collection of learnings and musings from and on the startup world – done in a way that can be applied to anyone’s life. This blog is what I wish I could have read when I first graduated college, the nudge I needed to get started on my dreams way sooner than I did.
The name is derived from the startup way of doing things. Create something (a campaign, a process, a product, whatever), measure the results, and iterate as necessary. Rinse and repeat. Continue until you find success. In the process, fail. A lot. Double down on the successes. Focus on the bright spots rather than spending all of your time fixing the negative spots. Find something that works and go.
As for me, I’m still working on taking my novel from “good enough to read” to “good enough to publish” and sending those pitches out, while still working in the startup world I’ve grown to love and which enabled me to find myself. I don’t know how long it will take to fulfill my dream of becoming a novelist, but I do know I’ll actually get to enjoy my career and my life on the way!