The PivotDesk Blog

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BTDT: Boxing, Startups and the Kickoff of Founder Fights, Presented by FullContact

“All I wanna do is go the distance. And if I can go that distance…seeing that bell ring and I’m still standing, then I’ll know for the first time in my life, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.” – Rocky Balboa

What the hell am I doing? I’m a grown man. I have a family. I run a business. And I’m about to get into a boxing ring and actually fight someone else. How exactly did I get here?

To see David in the ring and help raise money for charity at Founder Fights, get tickets here

It all started innocently enough. I had a very bad back. I had been spending way too much time sitting at my desk or on airplanes. I was fairly overweight for me. I truly didn’t feel good about myself. I had been focusing most of my time on my business, and my body – and my outlook – were suffering as a result.

A good friend suggested that I see a therapist for my back and gave me a few choices of good people to check out. The last on the list was a bit different from the rest, she warned me. Her name was Carrie and she ran a local boxing gym here in Boulder called The Corner Boxing Club. I was up for something different so I made the call and dropped in to see what she was all about.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect – but whatever picture I had conjured in my mind about what a boxing gym was like — was entirely different from what I walked into that day. Carrie, along with her wife, Kirsten, immediately made me feel at home and comfortable. They were welcoming and supportive. No hard sell. No laughing at my ‘dad bod.’ No judgements.

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I have to admit, I never thought about boxing as a real possibility in my life. I’ve never been a fan of hitting anyone, and even less of a fan of getting hit. But, as it turns out, those are really very small aspects of what boxing is really about. Yes, it happens, but only if you want it to.

The workout is intense.

For those that think boxing is just about learning how to throw a punch, you couldn’t be more wrong. It works virtually every part of your body…hard. You are almost constantly moving.

Job number one?

Creating a solid base that can move, shift and adjust quickly — plus, developing a core that can keep you solid, take a hit and slip a punch from an opponent.

The more I did it, the more I realized how perfect the sport was for me – as well as many other founders I was friendly with here in Boulder.

Boxing rings true with the startup mindset on many different levels…

[bctt tweet=”Boxing rings true with the startup mindset on many different levels… — David Mandell “]”One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time.” – Rocky Balboa

For many, the startup game is about the end game. What’s your exit strategy? Do you believe this can be a $B company? When’s your IPO?

But for those of us that have been there, we know that to really build a successful business — yes, you need to keep the vision clear for all, but the real struggle is always about that next step.

Focusing on the end and not on what’s right in front of you, what’s next, is like running blind into a strong right hook. What do you absolutely have to accomplish over the next week? The next month? The next quarter? Those are the goals that get you to the end. It’s not a marathon, it’s an 8-10 year sprint.

In boxing (and in business), if you want to make it to the end of the round, what matters most, is the next punch.

[bctt tweet=”In boxing and in business if you want to make it to the end of the round what matters most is the next punch. — David Mandell “]

The next move that keeps you out of harm’s way, or sets you up for a solid point. Enough good moves and solid hits and you’ve got a chance to make it to the end. But take your mind off that next move and focus on that bell for even an instant and it could be game over.  

“It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”  – Rocky Balboa

As a CEO, if you can’t take a punch, then don’t get in the ring. Because you WILL get hit. Understanding why you got hit and adjusting, moving differently, and fighting forward again will win you the bout.

[bctt tweet=”As a CEO, if you can’t take a punch, then don’t get in the ring. Because you WILL get hit. — David Mandell”]

Again, it’s the same when building a business. Investors will say no. Customers will tell you your company sucks. Competitors will tell everyone why they are so much better than you. That’s how it works. Doing the hard work, keeping your head up, understanding why someone said no, how you can make customers happier and how you can out maneuver your competitors is what keeps you alive.

Look, listen, adjust and move. It works in boxing and it works in business.

Those are just a few of the many, many ways the two are similar. Personal goals. Measuring yourself against others. Learning something new. The list goes on.

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That’s why we started Founder Fights. To give a bunch of local entrepreneurs the chance to get in shape, get in the ring, and go the distance all for local charity. It should be a great event and we are super excited to have Bart Lorang and the team at FullContact as our title sponsor.

So if you’re in Boulder for Boulder Startup Week, make sure you come by the Boulder House,this Friday night at 7pm and cheer us on. And remember, whether it’s boxing or business, “You’re never out of the fight.”

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