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The Next Best Thing to Having a Time Machine

All of us that are old (even those of us that are not Dinosaur level old), often wish we could give advice to our younger selves. Without a time machine that is difficult.

The next best thing can be advice from someone who has gone through the same things and come out the other side. Someone who can still remember the experience.

Gabriela Bell has participated in a half dozen of the better accelerator programs and is actively engaged with people she met in each cohort. She is a military spouse who started OrganizedQ to hire military spouses and veterans to be “virtual assistants” to businesses and non-profit organizations. Her virtual assistants can do more than routine tasks like data entry. They often become essential parts of growing enterprises.

Gabriela had a long set of valuable thoughts to share with her early self (and our present selves). She has been kind enough to be our time machine today. Of her thoughts, a few stood out to me as being both important and not frequently spoken.

First and foremost is that we should become comfortable thinking and talking about money. This includes having concrete financial goals for our companies. Everything is harder without financial resources. Without financial resources, it is easy to feel trapped.

Second, when something bad happens, rather than feeling hurt, focus on the possibility of a learning experience. Use that learning experience to prevent bad things from happening again and be grateful for that opportunity.

Third, don’t ignore red flags. Don’t pretend they are only pink. Don’t ignore them. Fire fast. Hire slowly. No matter what the pressures are for growth, hire slowly. Fire fast.

Fourth, generally, people want to help, and no matter how much they want to help, the responsibility for success or failure is still your own.

There are another dozen pieces of sage wisdom that she offers to us, but each of those others was offered to me many times over. I can’t claim to have had the good sense to have absorbed many of those others. Perhaps with Gabriela’s message from the future, I’d have been less foolish.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals

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