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Experience is the Best Teacher

This post originally appeared in our Startup Growth Newsletter.

I love entrepreneurs. They are not experts at everything, but they learn from doing as they go. The best ones learn quickly from their mistakes and continue to improve. For me, experience has always been the best teacher. There is something about doing and feeling the real-world impact of that action that sears the lesson into my brain, and I truly learn from it.

For example, I have previously written about how difficult it is to properly communicate. No matter how many times you re-read your email, ad copy or press release, once you hit “send” or “publish” you can’t control how it is interpreted. While that is true, the more experience you have in doing something, the more variables you discover exist. Knowing that, you can better account for them.

I was reminded of this recently. As I wrote last week, my wife and I were sick with Covid. When my wife was sick and I was watching our kids, I needed to miss a meeting with a client. I emailed letting her know my wife was sick and would be unable to attend. The next week, I was sick so I needed to miss the meeting again. I have tremendous respect for this client and so I wrote her an email in advance of the meeting. The email started:

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make today’s sync. Mid week last week my wife passed the baton to me and I got covid. 

It was a thoughtful gesture on my part, communicating my situation. Of course, what I didn’t think about was how her email inbox was going to preview that note and where it would cut it off:

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make today’s sync. Mid week last week my wife passed

This is a VERY different message 😳. She said her heart stopped when she read it. This was not my intention! But now I know: Don’t write something that means something completely different if it is truncated.

This is a lesson I learned from experience and one I won’t soon forget!

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