Posted by: OurKudos | May 26, 2011

Face-to-face meetings are really important!

When you’re in the early days of a startup, you tend to be on an emotional roller-coaster. Great successes one day, abject failure the next. If you don’t have extreme resiliency and passion for what you’re doing, you’ll just say ‘screw it’ and give up.

This past week was the roughest ride of the OurKudos startup. I had been getting pressure from a number of people inside and outside the company, as well as the little voice in my head because we still didn’t have anything visible to show after quite a few months of development. Sure, I had made prototypes in the first few weeks after the initial idea, but we didn’t have any REAL working prototypes or website. So when the PR company, once again asked “when are you going to launch? Don’t you have a site up yet?” followed by my most trusted technical cohort suggesting that we might want to go back to the drawing board, I really snapped!

What followed wasn’t pretty, and I’m not going to air my laundry here, but it ended up with me having to apologize for behaving really badly. it wasn’t a few days I’m proud of and I wish I could erase them. However, it was valuable and I think it helped my friend better understand where I was coming from, and perhaps the type of stresses my wife/partner and I have been feeling. But, I really shouldn’t have lost it! It was a humbling experience.

Fortunately, the following day, we had our first “boot-camp” – a gathering of most of the great people in our group meeting for the first time. I’m really not used to geographically dispersed teams, so it’s been an adjustment to do so. But it wasn’t until we all got together these last two days that I truly realized how much we were missing by not having a central office. I am so grateful that we did get together like this because it took me from a state where I was so upset I couldn’t sleep at night back to the cheerful optimism where I am ready to be productive and do whatever it takes to make this happen.

Why was this such a transformational meeting?

Fundamentally, because we could interact as a full group in real time and the group’s chemistry was great. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to discuss the fate of our startup. In two days, and one dinner, we had to get to know each other, flesh out our marketing plan, discuss and demonstrate key areas of our R&D, shape our products and work out how to more effectively work together from afar! And we did it. Everybody left with (relatively) clear objectives and we put to bed some issues that had been dogging us for a long time. It was a smashing success.

Just as important as the concrete things we accomplished were the psychic rewards. I believe everybody on the team gained a newfound respect for the others as well as an understanding that simply wasn’t possible through periodic emails and Basecamp postings. It literally made everybody three-dimensional.

While we still have daunting tasks ahead of us, we are now a much more cohesive team. These two days of face-to-face time did things that no amount of remote time accomplished. I think I will sleep well again tonight…

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