20 Seconds of Courage

Posted August 4, 2015 by

By Dan Baer, Camp Operations Director

Rachel P SurveyingNine of ten startups fail within the first 3 years of their inception.  Of those, 42% fail because the market doesn’t desire the product or service that they are providing.1  The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  In tech accelerators, incredibly, the number of companies that succeed jumps from 10% to 50%.

Today, the Camp Inc. teams had the opportunity to spread the word about their idea and ask real people their opinions face-to-face in downtown Steamboat and Boulder.  It’s a lot to ask of a camper to walk up to a complete stranger, introduce yourself and your company, and ask them their opinion.  Opinions will usually be honest, and sometimes a harsh reality.  The core question they are trying to answer is whether there is room in the market for the product and if people would pay money for it.  It’s tough, it’s brutal, and it’s the step in the process that most companies skip.

What does it take to meet someone new? Make a new friend? Find a special someone? Go up to a random stranger and ask them questions about your 1-week old company? Answer: 20 Seconds of Courage (click link for short video from We Bought a Zoo).

Each of us has regrets, missteps, and lost opportunities.  Think back to your most recent one.  When is the last time you could have made a difference to yourself to others, but chose the easy road? At Camp Inc., we encourage our campers to take risks and chances.  We encourage our campers to try new things, both in their activities and in their businesses.  We encourage campers to have 20 seconds of courage.  We want them to say “yes” to one questions or request they would ordinarily say “no” to.  We teach them how to get over their greatest fears.  We put them on a stage in front of hundreds of people in Steamboat and via live stream and ask them to perform.  We offer them the stage at camp for them to show the camp their personal talents.  Our campers excel at each.

Each moment of courage has 2 parts: The Commitment and The Act.  We take a deep breath and say to ourselves “OK, I’m going to do it.” We then, usually, question why we decided we are going to do it, but we are committed.  There is usually a bit of time between The Commitment and The Act, which is filled with pure, carnal fear.  We question and run through the gamut of “what-if” questions and don’t like the answers to any of them.  We exhaust every thought before returning to The Commitment.  Overcome by a sigh of relief, and a reiteration of the same words, “OK, I’m going to do it,” we go.

It can be the moment we press send on an email that we’ve written, or the time we walk across the room to introduce yourself to a celebrity, but all it takes is 20 Seconds of Courage to live regret free.  Take the chance you’ve never taken.  “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds if insane courage.  Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come of it.” –Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo
1 http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/