by Shane Barbanel
Yep I said it: The Martian (the movie staring Matt Damon) is the quintessential Entrepreneur Movie, why am I saying this?
Because its true, but also because to be an entrepreneur or single person startup is very much what happens in that film.
The log line in IMDB: “An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and just rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal Earth that he is alive.” Amazing!
Amazing because this is what happens to a lot of us. We are on a team, a group building a startup, something happens, perhaps is a disagreement in vision, or an argument on how the mechanics of something should work, or just the seemingly never ending infighting that happens, and before you know it Boom!
You are all alone, floating out there by yourself on Mars, a Starbucks, your mothers basement, or perhaps a coworking space, but you are out there all alone. You got no money, no resources, no team, and you are broken, broken to little pieces and feel like the lowest creature in creation… Lower then that really, lower than the amoeba that is sticking to the piece of gum stuck on your shoe. You’re feeling low my friend.
But you gotta move, you have got to get up and pay for that fucking chai latte, the rent, that app store purchase dammit! If you do not get up out of that pity pot, you will not build a thing, forget about changing the world with that talking widget.
And as Matt Damons character says: “In the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left only with one option… I’m going to have to science the shit out of this thing.”
Exactly! You have to come to that moment within yourself when you get up, turn yourself on and move forward towards your goals. You must internalize that declaration, sometimes thousands of times a day! Once you do, once you understand you are truly alone, that no-one will build that app thats living in your head for you, then you will know freedom. Because thats the first step to adulthood, the next step is doing it.
Where Matt is figuring out how many days he can stretch his rations to reach the time it takes for the next mission to Mars, he is doing it, he is no longer a grain of sand being blown about the universe. He is now the captain of his ship moving toward a solution to his problem, and in his case its something along the line of – staying alive long enough till help arrives, thats his Super Goal, the the objectives within that are oxygen, food, water, shelter and heat.
Then he will break those down even further. Whats important here is once we figure out our super goal, then we can have the objective, and break that down into smaller achievable parts – mini-goals, the steps that are doable to achieve.
Theres a new term, I’ve heard it bouncing around: Incrementalism – which is taking small steps to achieve a much larger and more grandiose goal. As an early stage startup entrepreneur you are faced with failure all the time, the only way out of it is to have a sober plan, take action based on that plan, and achieve. When faced with setbacks, improvise, adjust and continue to move forward! Life is not a movie, but movies can be sources of inspiration for us here on planet earth.