February 25, 2016

Portugal, I'm a jester.

I spent the fall in Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated cities in the entire world. Now, I’m in Aveiro, Portugal: a city less than 77 sq. miles in area that looks like a ghost town when students go to their homes in neighboring cities on the weekend.

My role has transformed from progressive millennial-venture capitalist to a more traditional function in business. Tools like a competitive matrix, SWOT analysis, and lean canvas are becoming parts of my arsenal. I’m helping designers realize market opportunities and revenue streams—giving their products viability. (This is all happening at Pedro Gomes Design.)

Before this role, I had never employed tools like these, so there is a learning curve. I noticed that a fear of this curve keeps a lot of people from taking the initial dive into something they do not know how to do. Naturally, we compare ourselves to others (I certainly do) and worry someone can do it better; we’re doing it wrong; or we’ll look stupid.

This is where the jester part comes in.

During Ei’s first meetup, I refused to accept my results during Eric Staples’ archetype personality workshop: I got jester as my primary archetype. Rooted in feeling, biased to action, the jester is an instinctual archetype. He brings joy to others, adds levity to situations, and doesn’t take anything too seriously. I’ve tried hard to fight it, but Portugal has made me see it. I’m a jester. And thank god I am.

Over the past weeks, I’ve had to trash numerous excel docs, first drafts of business plans, and it’s so much easier to do so when I realize the humor in failure. Does America’s Funniest Home Videos show people successfully clearing the ramp over their cousin's pool deck? Nope. They fail, and they laugh (unless they need a paramedic).

Give something new a shot, and when you fail (because you’re human), take a second to find the humor in it, and embrace it.

In my room here in Portugal, I bang my head every morning. (I basically live in an attic, and cannot stand up straight.) I have a choice before the day starts, will I smile or frown now that I’ve smacked my head in my Harry Potter-like quarters?

The jester in me has realized that failure can be funny. Unless you want to live your life under the guise of security and safety, guess what, your attic is coming and you’re going to hit your head. You get to make the decision to smile or grimace.

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