Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone
Week 45 of Founding Typogram
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Greetings, friends! I hope you had a wonderful start to the week. As for me, I see a common thread in my past week’s work — stepping out of my comfort zones, and would like to share two stories with you.
Comfort Zone #1 — Scripted Speech
The first comfort zone is scripting videos. If you have been with me for a while, you may know that we applied to the Y Combinator accelerator last year. I shared our founders’ intro video in this newsletter and got a lot of feedback that it sounded too scripted and unnatural. I knew it was true but didn’t feel comfortable changing it at the time. I felt a scripted video was the best way to go, considering that I am not a native English speaker.
I knew scripted video was against Y Combinator’s guidelines — they even went as far as saying scripted video sounded stupid, but I decided to ignore them because I felt more comfortable knowing exactly what I was about to say. The first time I was invited to do public speaking at a meetup, I scripted the whole 5 minutes and was really glad I did. The “meetup” turned out to be an 800 people event hosted in a theater (NYU Skirball Center), with red curtains and everything. Without a script, my mind would have gone blank on stage. Ever since that, I scripted most of my public speaking, even against my speech coach’s advice. One of my scripted public speaking video got 340,000 views on Youtube which means I had success with that approach. I was good at memorizing things, a talent I had since I was little — I can recite a short essay after reading it 3 to 5 times. I thought, why not utilize my advantage (memorizing scripts) to make up for my disadvantage (speaking unscripted)?
I tell my history with scripted speech to emphasize how deep this comfort zone is for me — I have been living in it for literal years and firmly believed it was the best place for me. I went against my speech coach, Y Combinator’s application guide, and your feedback to live in that comfort zone. But since we didn’t get into Y Combinator last year, I decided to change things up and record the application video unscripted this time.
It went poorly in the beginning, as there were two of us, and we didn’t know who was supposed to say what and when to stop talking. However, with a little planning, we got better at it. All we need is to co-decide the bullet points that each of us should cover and come up with what exact words to say for these points on the spot. Each time we say it a little differently, and at one point, Hua had a blooper and said, “Typogram is made for non-founders.” when she meant “non-designers.” However, the spontaneousness of the blooper lightened up the mood and made us relaxed and sounded more lively and energetic on the next take, which is what we used in the end. We took more shots after that, but with us more and more formulated on what to say, we sounded more robotic and tired as we went.
The unscripted video turned out to be not that hard and took us less time to finish recording than last year! I haven’t uploaded the video yet, but as far as I can tell, we sounded better and more human this time. We are still working on the rest of the application, finger-crossed that we progress further in the application process this time!
Comfort Zone #2 — Front-end Development
Window.localStorage in the meantime to delay the backend work; however, I can’t avoid it forever!
I took on user account backend work in the last sprint, and it turned out to be easier than I thought! Storing data in
Window.localStorage made everything ready to go, and all I needed was to hook up a Firebase Authentication and Firestore database. It turned out that there wasn’t as big of a gap between my comfort zone and the destination. I was practically taking a break right near the finish line, all because I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone.
Hear from You
Did you have a comfort zone in your professional life? What was your story of stepping out or trying to step out of that comfort zone? I am keen to hear your story!
See you next week! If you have friends who are interested in founding startups, please consider sharing my newsletter with them!
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