When You Give a Mouse a Cookie

All of you can relate at some point when I say, 'This has been a WEEK.' In my last post, I laid out the details of my chaotic and less-than-enviable itinerary, promising to share what came of it. But first, let me paint a bit of background on my natural personality. For reasons only my therapist understands, I identify as an extroverted introvert. In a nutshell, it means, 'If I'm comfortable, I can own a room; if not, find me in the corner with the dog.' Now, this trait doesn't exactly align seamlessly with this CEO-in-training gig I have, making this year one of the most monumental learning curves of my career.


Walking into the meeting I flew back to PHX for, was surreal. It was well outside my comfort zone (which seems to be my brand lately), and so nerve-wracking. I had flown two thousand miles to be in that room - talk. about. PRESSURE. I was giving myself a literal pep-talk in the parking lot just to calm my nerves. I do this often and it usually goes a little something like this: 

 “Deep breath. Feel the nerves kicking in, it’s completely normal. It means this matters to you”
 “You are knowledgeable, capable, and worthy of being here.”
 “This isn’t the hardest thing you’ve done - nor will it be the hardest you ever do”
 “Imagine the key to your success is in that room - It just takes one person” 
 “Even if it doesn’t go how you planned - you have to give it your best shot.”
 “Show up and do the damn thing

The last time I used this, was right before I walked in solo to the Forbes 30 under 30 Summit in Cleveland. It worked then, so I had no reason to believe this would be any different. So I walked in, self-hyped and ready to network, slapped on a name tag, and started shaking hands. I was witness to the first networking event this company had ever hosted, and it was a smashing success for everyone. For me, this was exactly what I needed, introducing me to precisely WHO I needed. Instantly making the PHX-NOLA pinball worth every mile. 

Back to my week of a week, I landed four 1:1 coffee dates with people I either met at that event or relationships that blossomed there. I was suddenly a networking machine, a feat I've never been able to claim without a glass of wine or five.

The benefit of these meetings was two-fold. Not only was I single handedly building these relationships from the ground up, but I’m also learning one on one from the brilliance that sat across the table each time. 

Here’s the quick TL;DR of Plan Voyage updates and key takeaways from these early AM meetings:

* We’re seeking an internal tech partner. To this point we’ve outsourced all of our development, and while I have no regrets in that decision, it’s become loudly clear how crucial a Tech Founder is for building a startup. I've got a handful of promising leads but I’m open to introductions if you know someone who may be a good fit. 

* We’re finalizing our current round of fundraising that will allow us to deploy our platform to our most trusted industry partners and get real-use feedback.

* We’re immersing ourselves in the nitty gritty research. I knew PV inside and out, but transparently, I realized I hadn’t spent enough time learning the behaviors of our competitors or consumers. I knew what their pain-points were, and what they were looking for in a product, but when it comes down to adopting (and implementing) technology into a business, what was the barrier? Why is there a gap in Market Size vs Revenue of the current market players? I was asked this within 10 minutes of meeting #2, and it was humbling how quiet I was. 

When I set my New Years’ resolutions eleven months ago, all I wanted was the ability to articulate my thoughts out loud as they are in my head. After this week, I can proudly say I've done just that. By no means have I mastered it, but doing it once is the first step to doing it twice. I’m dressed in newfound confidence in expressing my thoughts, asking transparent questions, and recognizing my value even at this stage, now all I want to do is sit down with people and ask questions.

Trust me, I promise it's not as dehumanizing as it sounds! I think the true superpower of a successful founder is to view every human as a single puzzle piece to the big picture. To pioneer any industry, you need a damn good village behind you, and how would we know who to recruit if we aren't talking to people outside our network? Each person I met with this past week offered 1-20 nuggets of information - fuel I'm using to literally ‘level up’ with. They didn’t tell me exactly what to do, but they sure did give me thoughts to mull over, and direction on where to spend my energy. So if you’re feeling stuck, have a conversation with a stranger; you might be surprised what comes of it. 

Thankful and grateful,