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“Stabbing Moby Dick and Hanging on for Dear Life”

MB poster (2432×4320)I’ve been working on developing a brand-new business these past six months and I can confidently state that it is far more significant in terms of potential than anything I’ve seen in the past twenty years. This wonderful opportunity has made me grow, stretch, and develop muscles (and feel discomfort) that I have not experienced since I was a part of Corporate America some fifteen years ago.

My partners and I have been aggressively and effectively working the past few weeks to engage some of the largest names in our industry and sector for exposure for this technology. This effort was followed by four high-profile, well-know billionaires flying out in their Lear Jets to meet us for a day of discussion regarding investment in our new technology.

The thing that I have learned through the years is that quite frequently extremely successful individuals are extremely eccentric. I pride myself and at the same time hang my head a little at being sometimes guilty of this. I can wind up saying some of the darndest things. The day that these associates flew in for this discussion we toured the facility, exchanged some really positive dialogue, and felt exuberant. I was especially animated at the end and made the comment on how it felt like we were on top of the whale Moby Dick having shoved a pitchfork down the blowhole and were now hanging on for dear life.

At first everyone looked at me in complete shock and horror at the image of shoving a pitchfork in a whale. My business partners weren’t initially sure how this latest quip would go over and looked on nervously. Then all these eccentric billionaires chuckled, laughed, and smiled. My partners were able to relax and laugh too. That evening as we were discussing the day’s events I got harassed and harangued nonstop over the imagery us on the back of a large whale trying to hang on to a pitchfork. At first I was a little ashamed of the analogy but am now quite proud of it.

The next week as I was conducting our board meeting I got about twenty minutes into the discussion and happened to look up at a picture hanging on the library conference room wall. It was a picture of Moby Dick. Upon closer inspection there was someone standing on his back. I thought it was a strange and serendipitous event, until I noticed that the person on the whale’s back was holding onto a pitchfork! I realized at that moment that this was more than a mere coincidence. Come to find out, one of my business partners had commissioned a drawing of my analogy and put it up to memorialize the signing of a term sheet.

The conclusion, in addition to a fun story, is that we are all a little eccentric and we sometimes say crazy things whether we mean to or not. The first reaction that I had was to be a little ashamed, embarrassed, and tried to whitewash it away. The conclusion that I’ve come to after several days is to embrace it. If you do something quirky, if you do something weird, if you say something a little bit funny then own it. Stand up and live with it and be proud. Trying to be sterile and just like everyone else is boring and forgettable. You will find that those key little funny differences are what endear you to other people and I think actually they are what gets you noticed. Just like the successful new partners that we’ve engaged with you have to be a little unique and eccentric to actually stand out and make a difference.

So, yes. Be a Zigzagger, but don’t be afraid to be a little goofy. Go forward and prosper.

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