I firmly believe in miracles, that David can emphatically slay Goliath, that startups can and will beat incumbents, that underdogs can win, that, ultimately, everyone has a chance of at the very least benefiting from a miracle.
Last month, in a span of four days, in a promise to myself and my family for an unplugged holiday week, I sprinted through Daniel James Brown’s hardcover version of The Boys in the Boat. It is a very well written account of a miraculous feat by some seemingly average Americans who achieved the unachievable in the midst of the Great Depression and the run up to WWII in Nazi Germany’s hosting of the 1936 Olympics.
Against all odds, with the only collegiate amateur boat, in a deplorable cross wind in the worst lane draw of the final heat, with a very sick but critical bowman, and an incredible example of teamwork and ‘swing’, the boys from the University of Washington pulled off the unthinkable in attaining the gold medal ahead of Italy, Germany, and the other three boats.
I was in high school when an unheard of bunch of American college hockey players beat the Russians in the semi-final round of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. This event and the team’s inevitable gold medal victory over Finland proved indelibly to me that hard work, unified passion, and some good luck could beat all odds — at least on the ice.
Considering business and startups, recall what happened to slow, lumbering corporate giants AOL, Blockbuster, Kodak, Motorola, RIM, Sony, and Sun. Do you know the disruptive stories of Napster, Square, Uber, Slack, Dropbox, Makerbot, Kickstarter, Netflix, and Tesla? Most of these stories are still unfolding. What is clear in these massive growth tales is that startups exist to produce the nimble, skilled Davids who induce massive innovation or disruption and attain miraculous results because the Goliaths are unable to do so.
So, here’s to 2016. May you find your inner ‘David’, may you be a part of something miraculous, or may you be witness to something that changes the world for the better.