Why Innovators Love Constraints
While dreaming and disrupting has unfettered me in many ways, it has shackled me in others. One of the most unexpected was losing a part of my identity. Once the rush of leaving a name-brand corporation wore off, it began to seep in that I could no longer call someone and say "Whitney Johnson, Merrill Lynch." It was just Whitney Johnson. I also became reacquainted with the immediate concern of putting food on the table whilst on an entrepreneurial thrill ride to zero cash flow.
There's a good dose of cosmic payback in all this. For years I pontificated about the importance of bootstrapping a business without having any firsthand notion of belt-tightening. Nearly a decade later, I find myself almost a fan of constraints. If you, like me, are a foot-dragging devotee, consider the following:
Fewer resources produce proximity; proximity drives innovation. When I worked for a bulge bracket Wall Street firm, our family lived in a very large home; had we chosen to, we could literally have lived separate lives and rarely interacted. When I quit my job to become an entrepreneur, we downsized, moving into a home with ¼ of our former living space. No longer having a beautiful space to entertain sometimes makes me wistful. But most days I love our closer quarters. We bump up against one another, negotiate who sits where, who washes the dishes when and who watches what. Proximity can lead to friction, and friction can rub people raw. But it can also light a fire, one that warms and binds us into a family. Read complete Harvard Business Review blog post.