Lessons of Greatness: How to Defeat “We’re F*cked, It’s Over” (WFIO) Moments | Starting Greatness with Mike Maples, Jr.

Key Takeaways

  • WFIO – startup acronym standing for “We’re f*cked it’s over”
    • The horrible moment when your startup is dead and when all seems lost
  • “If you are building a sufficiently ambitious startup with an intended massive impact, you will have WFIO moments.” – Mike Maples, Jr.
  • Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. You can’t help your team if you are unable to function
  • 5 key practices to take control of your psychology:
    • Get it out of your head and onto paper; writing is the best way to calm your “monkey mind
    • Share your worries with trusted friends from outside the company, especially if they have experience with WFIO moments in their startups
    • Create victory psychology for your team
    • Focus on the path through the obstacles instead of the obstacles themselves
    • Face the pain head-on

Intro

  • Starting Greatness podcast shares startup lessons from the super performers
    • “The podcast is dedicated to ambitious founders who want to go from nothing to awesome, super fast.” Mike Maples, Jr.
  • The path to success is paved by multiple “WFIO” moments
    • Mike Maples, Jr. (@m2jr) illuminates the uncharted territory of WFIO moments and illustrates how to use these horrible situations to show everyone that your startup is destined to defeat the impossible
      • In this episode, Mike discusses how to prepare, cope, and ask for help when your company is face-to-face with the inevitable WFIO moments
  • Host: Mike Maples, Jr. (@m2jr)

Your Startup Will Face Multiple WFIO Moments…COUNT ON IT

  • WFIO – startup acronym standing for “We’re f*cked it’s over”
    • The horrible moment when your startup is dead and when all seems lost
  • There are many ways this can happen:
    • A legal ruling goes against you
    • Apple refuses to approve your application unless you remove your best feature
    • Big tech company launches the same as or substantially similar product
    • Your most strategic customers stop doing business all at the same time
  • Before co-founding his first startup, nobody warned Mike about WFIO
    • “If you are building a sufficiently ambitious startup with an intended massive impact, you will have WFIO moments.” – Mike Maples, Jr.
  • Since they are inevitable, what can you do about them?

It’s Rarely as Bad as It Seems

  • WFIO moments feel like dying, but your startup can always move forward
    • With ingenuity and grit, you will find a way out of it
  • Ben Horowitz’s WFIO moment
    • In September 1999, Horowitz co-founded Loudcloud
    • After the dot-com bubble, the company ran out of money in 2002
    • No private investors would touch them, they couldn’t raise money from anybody
    • They decided to go public, which was insane at the time
    • The move felt like cutting your limbs but they found a way through
    • The company ultimately raised money from public markets and survived
  • Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. You can’t help your team if you are unable to function
    • The hard truth about being a CEO – it’s lonely and scary at times, not for the faint-hearted

5 Key Practices to Take Control of Your Psychology

  • Get it out of your head and onto paper; writing is the best way to calm your “monkey mind
    • Writing forces you to stress test the clarity of thinking of what truly matters and what doesn’t
    • For more info on how writing can help you deal with negative emotions check out these Podcast Notes with Daniel H. Pink
  • Share your worries with trusted friends from outside the company, especially if they have experience with WFIO moments in their startups
    • Don’t make all decisions by yourself, WFIO puts you in a bad mental and physical state
    • Think about this from day 1 one of your startup “…so you always have your go-to friends available when the WFIO moments hit you by surprise.”Mike Maples, Jr.
  • Create victory psychology for your team
    • Leadership in WFIO moments is vital; everyone will look to you 
    • Creating victory psychology is about getting all of the most innovative people in the same room to work with the angle of the problem
    • Even though some problems might freak out your team and cause them to panic, trusting your team in crisis brings the company together in powerful ways
    • Their contributions can save your company
    • Focus everyone’s mind on what you can control, eliminate distractions
    • Break down big tasks into rapidly achievable chunks
    • Find quick data-driven approaches to research your concerns
    • “Speed desire and unique insights are why startups win.”Mike Maples, Jr.
  • Focus on the path through the obstacles instead of obstacles themselves
    • Visualize your way through, don’t focus on failure
  • Face the pain head-on
    • Sometimes, it really is over but until then you have a decent shot
    • Grit in the face of WFIO; sometimes you need to believe when it doesn’t make sense
    • Refusing to quit in horrible moments
  • “It’s only over when you decide to quit.”Mike Maples, Jr. quoting one of his mentors
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