What’s Your Takeaway From Startup Institute?

This article first appeared on alumnus Erik Nye's website, eriknye.com. Erik is pictured above with members of his cohort, second from the right.

I missed you. I’m sorry I was gone so long.

It’s been a long eight weeks since I began enrollment at Startup Institute. I learned a lot. Too much sometimes. I write shorter sentences now. Like this one.

That’s not to say I’ll never write long sentences again; some things—even simple things—require semicolons rather than periods, hyphens to keep the ideas being portrayed concise, commas for subject separation, and, as much as I don’t like them, parenthesis (but only if I really, truly need them; I like semicolons better).

But from now on, if I do that, it’s going to be just a one-sentence paragraph. No, Startup Institute didn’t teach me to be any less obnoxious.

Our cohort was comprised of over 50 individuals from vastly different backgrounds, ethnicities, classes, ideologies, social anxieties, and fears. Each of us came to Startup Institute with differing perspectives and expectations. Thankfully, so much was crammed into our brains that we each grew from it differently.

That means everyone is asking those of us who just finished it, “What’s your takeaway from Startup Institute?” The person asking that question usually says it in the same tone they’d ask “Is that a new haircut?”

The answer to both is “Yes.” Yes to the latter because, personally, my hair grows so fast that I never really reach the point in time where my haircut is too old. And yes to the former because we’re too exhausted to open that can of worms.

But for the purposes of this post, I will attempt to explain what I took away.

[bctt tweet="What's Your Takeaway from @StartupInst? by @ErikRNye #careerchange #newcareer" via="no"]

You can’t make everyone give a shit.

One of the first things we did as an entire group was to tell our entire cohort of over fifty people something we suck at. Then we discussed. For example, I shared a bit about my fear of failure and how paralyzing that can be; something I’ve talked about here.

Each individual did this. It immediately set the tone for a very honest environment. The level of ingenuity we operated with each other at was extremely high. Which was awesome.

Now that we were each aware of what everyone else sucked at, we were equipped with the ability to support our fellow students to grow in those regards.

But it definitely came with its own complications. When interacting with individuals outside of our cohort, some of us struggled with having the patience for anything less than the level of ingenuity we were used to.

Nobody likes to see someone verbally recoiling at the slightest bit of vulnerability being displayed. But you also can’t really expect everyone to be at that level all the time.[bctt tweet="When we're aware of teammates' limitations, we can help each other #grow, says @ErikRNye"]

Nobody knows exactly what they’re doing and that’s okay.

Startup Institute very much exists in the tech world. When we were doing research on companies we might be interested in, we’d stare at web pages for hours that said things like “Innovating your ROIs with pivotal solutions," “Be an organization that social medias," or “We are creators.”

What. The hell. Does this company do?! No, no. We checked the ‘about’ page. That’s what it said.

It became clearer after having more one-on-ones with individuals that not everyone knew exactly how their company did things. They weren’t necessarily hired to know the in's and out's, anyway. And as long as their jobs were getting done effectively, everything is fine.[bctt tweet="Nobody knows exactly what they're doing. Keep working + learning efficiently + that's OK— @ErikRNye"]

Everyone hits a wall.

As I’ve said before, the trick that helped me get over a paralyzing fear of failure was to stay busy. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be so busy you don’t have time to be afraid.

This was true doubly so during Startup Institute. Even during times that I was too exhausted to do anything, it was only because I was tired, not afraid. I couldn’t wait to get back to being busy. But I definitely became very aware of my limit.

Startup Institute students get asked another popular question once we’re somewhere in week four and onward: “Have you hit your wall yet?” This question typically comes from Startup Institute alumni.

Everyone hits their wall differently. Some have a nervous breakdown. Others isolate themselves. The important thing is to realize you’ve hit it, why you’ve hit it, how to get back up, and how to avoid it the next time around.[bctt tweet="I get beyond my fear of #failure by staying busy, says @ErikRNye"]

That’s it, that’s all I learned.

I’m grateful for having learned all of these things. But the most important takeaway for me has been connecting with people so strongly that our friendships will last forever.[bctt tweet="My most important takeaway from @StartupInst was the connections I made, says @ErikRNye" via="no"]

startup institute

I know how that sounds and I don’t care. A friendship with someone normally doesn’t start helping you grow as a person until the relationship ages a bit more than eight weeks. This is not the case at Startup Institute.

I’ve met people who have helped me grow far sooner and more profoundly than a lot of other friendships I’ve had. Even after (especially after) Startup Institute is over, we continue to be there for each other, look out for each other, and support one another. It’s seriously amazing.

There are, of course, plenty of other takeaways from Startup Institute. But as I’m sure you can imagine, this blog isn’t necessarily the place to broadcast them. They actually could benefit from their own individual posts which may come in the future.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my wife is playing Skyrim and she’s hilarious when she plays Skyrim.

Photo credit: Sam Moody Photography