Today I completed my 99th consecutive rep of Sevwins, and here’s how it improved my life as a startup co-founder.
In full disclosure, I’m one of three co-founders of Sevwins. As any tech founder will appreciate, this started as an exercise of eating our own dog food to provide the initial load and QA testing as we work toward MVP launch.
While we created Sevwins to improve student-athlete lives through better coach-mentor relationships, we quickly realized there’s so much more potential the exercises can offer anyone. The Sevwins program is based on a weekly cadence of 9 mental skill commitments a week, so I just passed 11 weeks without missing a single rep. Enough about the app, this isn’t an advertisement. It’s about the things I learned and realized, over the past 11 weeks.
The Thrill of Getting Started, and the Reality of New Relationships
Entering into a co-founder agreement for the first time is a unique experience. It’s full of excitement and energy but is also tests productivity, concentration, prioritization, and especially relationship skills, primarily with your new co-founders. With any meaningful relationship, it takes work and grooming and is one of the critical success factors in the survival of your company.
Our Founder Commitment
Using the simple concepts that we implemented for our student-athlete and coach customers, the three of us practice the same weekly habits of goal setting, daily skills assessments, and weekly reflection. Instead of sharing with a coach, we share with each other.
Knowing Someone Through Their Goals
"The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move." — John Wooden
Since we already knew each other’s company goals, the goals we shared usually consist of personal or other non-work goals. The first thing I discovered is that you can learn a lot about someone through knowing what they are reading, how they are keeping their body and mind sharp, and how they elevate others.
I truly appreciated getting to know the personal lives of my co-founders and seeing what motivates them outside of work. Without any of us saying it, I’m sure we all agree that this gelled the co-founder relationship at an early stage, and with minimal effort.
Taking the Pulse of the Team
"There can only be one state of mind as you approach any profound test; total concentration, a spirit of togetherness, and strength." — Pat Riley
Every day we each provide a self-assessment rating our ability to concentrate, separate, and communicate. While we don’t monitor these daily, it is an interesting exercise to compare trends occasionally. I see the potential for using this in the future to understand the factors, activities, and events that make the team operate at peak efficiency.
The Key Element of Team Growth — Vulnerability
"We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experiences." — John Dewey
The weekly cadence concludes on Sunday night with two simple prompts for self-reflection.
What were your successes this week, and how will you leverage them in the future?
What were your challenges this week, and how will you address them in the future?
Whether these are work-related, family-related, or any other personal aspect reflecting on experiences is everyone’s best opportunity to maximize growth.
Sharing your insights with others builds trust and deepens relationships. Trust takes the connection to a magical level, one of being open and vulnerable.
When we started this co-founder exercise, reflections were pretty high-level and straightforward. They mostly consisted of one or two sentences describing what we did and how we plan to move forward next week. It was interesting, but there wasn’t much insight to deepen the relationship or increase trust through vulnerability.
The most significant change I’ve seen over the past couple of months of these reps is how much more open we all are with each other. In addition to building trust, the level of respect and confidence in each other has evolved rapidly.
Respect, trust, and vulnerability are essential traits for a founding team.
Advice to First-Time Founders
Being a founder is challenging and stressful. You and your co-founders are working closer than most work relationships ever will be. You all understand the wins, stress, exhilaration, and exhaustion that a startup can bring.
Understanding what else is going on in your co-founder’s head introduces much-needed empathy and respect into the equation. This can be extremely powerful and valuable to both the founders and the health of the business.
So whether it’s a quick check-in at the start of a weekly meeting, a shared spreadsheet, or any other technology, take a few extra minutes to get to know each other. You’ll never regret building a safe environment for everyone to be vulnerable.