Lean Startup is not easy.Minimum Viable Product - Marshmallow toaster

It sounds easy when you hear Eric talk.

“Of course! I should build an MVP! I’ll put up a launchrock page! Now I’m a Lean Startup.”


… it doesn’t work like that.

There’s a difference between using a lean tactic like concierge testing, a smoke test, or a business model canvas and really living lean.

Living lean starts with one and only one key phrase - 'I don't know.' Share on X

There are lean CEOs with big bold visions, dreams for the future, talent, dedication, and yet still hang onto a surprising ability to step back and say, “I don’t know.”

'I don't know,' is a lean mantra. It's a phrase that should be followed by, '...so let's test it.' Share on X

If you think you know the right thing to build, you think you know the customer, you think you know the market, the price point, the future. Great!

Go build that thing and take as long as you want. There’s no edict that says you have to do lean and VCs aren’t going to give you brownie points for putting the word lean into your pitch deck. They don’t care. Go, “build it and they will come.”


Say, “I don’t know”

We must start with a recognition of our own ignorance. We must realize that we cannot even identify our own assumptions. Our dreams, the dreams of an entrepreneur, are too loud. We are too close to our dreams to tell them from reality.

We must be humble enough to say “I don’t know” until we’re not just giving lip service but truly recognize on a deep level that our ability to make an impact on the world is entirely dependent on factors outside ourselves.

Our success depends on our ability to admit ignorance and ask the right questions of our customers, our teammates, and the outside world in its entirety.

Living lean starts with the humility to say 'I don't know.' Share on X

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