Tennis and the Meaning of Startup Life

Robert Wallace
Robert WallacePartner & EVP, Marketing at Tallwave I Author on &
Tennis and the Meaning
of Startup Life
Robert Wallace, Tallwave
About Me
Partner, EVP Marketing,
Internet Venture Works
9 Lessons
#1 Belief
It’s on me.
#2 Control Your Emotions
#4 Conquering Fear
#5 Solitary Problem Solving
#6 Hit To The Open Court (Find Whitespace)
#7 Pivot
“I never lost a tennis match, I just ran
out of time.” - Jimmy Connors
#8 Winning Ugly Is OK
#9 Win The Last Point
Stay tuned...
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Tennis and the Meaning of Startup Life

Editor's Notes

  1. Belief Look, you’re trying to change the world. Or you should be. More people than not are going to tell you your idea will fail Its up to you to persevere. confidence, not arrogance you have to believe you can not only hang with, but beat, someone “better” than you
  2. Uber takes on the taxi industry Airbnb takes on the housing rental industry Apple takes on Walkmans and all of music BTW...people are going to think you’re crazy. Ignore them.
  3. Control your emotions It’s a roller coaster won...code breaks...investors push meetings… Or worse...all those things happen simultaneously. ups down, wins, losses stay focused AND DON”T carry losses into your next match - MOVE ON QUICKLY!
  4. You’ll get your teeth kicked in And youre seling something that doesnt exist You’ll hear in the startup world “Fake it ‘til you make it”. One of the truest phrases I’ve ever heard. I’ve sold vapor and black boxes for a living. Entrepreneurs jump out of a plane and assemble their parachute/plane on the way down. Look bigger than you are Convey confidence you don’t have The key is the belief that you have the ability to do what you just oversold
  5. Which hits on another emotion...fear. You have to conquer it. You MUST take controlled, calculated risks that require bold action. Fear will inhibit that. You’re down in a match. You want to take a safe serve, make sure you get it in. But the serve you’ve been practicing and can do in your sleep can change the game. You must clear your head and do it.
  6. Solitary problem-solving Tennis has no coaches in real time. And not even corner men like boxing. You’re on your own. Same with starting a company. You’ll have advisors...but you’re the’s on yourself, stay calm, lean on your instincts
  7. Hit to the open court No brainer right? Attack weakness. Or...where the heck aren’t companies looking? In other words attack the white space. This means market opportunity. Are you trying to beat an incumbent? How? Maybe disrupt a whole industry, like Uber? Where the heck are you aiming?
  8. Winning above all else. Winning for a startup means user adoption, revenue, etc. That very likely won’t manifest itself in the way you intend. You’ll move, pivot, adjust...the key is to keep finding a way. Mention big pivots Odeo was a podcast thing. IBM shifted from being a hardware company to a services company back when that was unheard of. They are the only company to ever have been in the Fortune 500 consistently for 50+ years or something like they attribute that to their pivot Pixar when it STOPPED selling its Pixar Computing Machine and focussed on storytelling through digital graphics Flickr was a video game thing (I think) before they became Flickr.
  9. Winning ugly Guess what....doing things that have never been done is messy. Making mistakes is normal You know what makes all the difference? Finding a way to win. Startups aren’t won on style points
  10. Finish the last point No matter how long it takes, know when you 3 days! 11 hours 5 minutes Staying power perseverance tenacity Don’t ever give up
  11. I haven’t played tennis in quite a few years I’ve taken to another individual where i get hit in the face… Stay tuned...