Sunday, April 28, 2019

What if There are Bears?




Lonely nighttime walks 

Thinking of all we might build 
What if there are bears


A few years ago I wrote a short blog post about the bears that lived near my home in Truckee, CA and overcoming my fear of the dark and unknown. Last year I gave a talk to more than 200 people at a customer event and used the wonderful and funny video "What if there are Bears?" to highlight the important value of lifelong learning in increasingly long careers. I love the wild and unknown that bears can represent. 

Last week, walking the dogs in the early morning near my home in Park City I came across this wonderful bear statue. It wasn't so much scary as inspiring, though the lack of fear may have had more to do with the lighting than the bear itself. It's a great statue of a stern-looking bear. It is also a great reminder that there might be bears. In our careers, in our personal lives, there might be big and scary unknowns that we need to confront. There might be a big and scary unknowns that we are forced to confront. 

This week I have been thinking a lot about startup life and the big ideas that inspire individuals and teams to do great things. Having spent the last 15 years leading in startups I have come to appreciate that there are many unknowns on the startup journey. There are always bears. The best teams I have been a part of are consistently confronting those unknowns, they understand that they are out there and they try to plan for them. They embrace the potential fear and uncertainty and use that to improve. I think that is a part of what makes the startup journey worth taking, confronting the scary and unknown. It's not what if there are bears, it's what if there aren't? 



About David Verhaag 

David has spent his career building and scaling teams at some of the leading HR technology companies. He was most recently the Chief Customer Officer at Degreed, the lifelong learning platform. Prior to Degreed, he held leadership positions at Kahuna, HireVue, and SuccessFactors. David lives in Park City, Utah.

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