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What songs are in your personal soundtrack?

While fiddling around during the lockdown, I decided put together a Spotify playlist of songs I like, and that I found inspiring as a founder. Even though I have a reasonably eclectic taste in music, my roots will always be in rock. Rock and 80s hair metal were the audio backdrop to my mis-spent teenage years.

Just to call it out explicitly, I’m not really a fan of Gary Vaynerchuck “hustle” or Grant Cardone’s “massive action”. Being deliberate first matters (to me) a lot more, so you don’t fritter away lots of pointless energy. By nature, I’m more of a systematic strategist, which I think appeals to the deep tech founders I enjoy working with.

In my own case…

If there was a theme song for my own style of new product development, it would probably be “Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd.

Learning to Fly was released and massively popular right when I was still a pre-teen. You couldn’t not hear it on the radio for a period of a few months. It was the first time I was away from my parents for a few months, living abroad in Montreal with my family to pick up French. I had autonomy to explore and learn in a completely foreign environment. Safely.

Learning to fall in a safe environment, before going skydving

And I had no idea what I was in for. I had the hormonal excesses of teenager-dom ahead of me. But this song nonetheless just kept playing over and over in my head. That song is ultimately full of hope and possibilities and everything I feel when starting a new business.

This song nails the feeling of entrepreneurship for me, at least my style of it. Initially difficult, but slowly through consistent effort and system building, everything eventually works. And I take off.

Also, it articulates one of the Launch Tomorrow core messages: test and validate before you expand. Especially when working from first principles. And when you do expand, keep testing in your growth until it really takes off.

You need to learn how to fly, before you can try achieving escape velocity. In fact, going for escape velocity before you know how to fly is the fastest path to a crash. There’s lot’s of advice on the details, but premature scaling is a real thing, especially among venture funded startups.

The Montgolfiers’ balloon

Flight was one of those seemingly impossible tasks for humanity, until about 100 years ago. The best of us, including:

  • Da Vinci’s sketches during the Renaissance
  • the Montgolfiers launching a duck, a rooster, and a sheep to impress King Louis in 1783
  • Sir George Cayley building a manned glider in 1849 to fly his coachman down a hill
  • the Wright Brothers finally achieving manned flight in 1903 on the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

We needed all of this to happen first, before Robert Goddard could starting thinking about how to conquer escape velocity, and come up with the idea of a rocket.

Why manned flight is a good analogy for the early stage

Source: Wikipedia

Arguably, it was the Wright Brothers figured out where it mattered most: getting humans in the air. Through systematic experimentation, they pulled it all together. There were a lot of instruments, a wind tunnel, and lots of prototypes until they figured out how to use the shape of a wing to lift a much heavier plane (that happened to be carrying a person too).

You don’t want to just jump off a cliff without knowing what you are doing, and the only way to truly know is through systematic experimentation.

At least until the coronavirus pandemic, we largely took flying for granted. But it’s one of the most amazing discoveries every achieved. And spawned an entire industry as a side effect.

What song do you find motivating?

Feel free to check out the full playlist on Spotify, and give it a whirl. And let me know in the comments or via email about any songs or playlists you find motivating, powerful and helpful, as I am curious. And I might want to nab and add it to my own playlist. 

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