“Shit,” I thought to myself.
I had just finished tearing though my suitcase for the third time and couldn’t believe what I saw: I didn’t have any pants.
I had flown to San Francisco to attend a pitch competition hosted by Plug and Play Tech Center, one of the largest startup incubators in the country without a single pair of suitable legwear.
You see, I’ve been traveling a lot lately. D.C., New York, Barcelona, and now San Francisco. On long trips, I like to wear sweatpants on the plane. They’re simple and comfortable. And when you travel as much as I do, simple and comfortable are key.
Sweatpants, however, do not make for appropriate presentation attire. And that’s all I had. So I improvised.
I requested an Uber to take me to the nearest Nordstrom and ran inside. “I have five minutes. I need pants before I present to 500 investors,” I told the rep.
He set me up with jeans so excessively baggy that I had to roll them up far past the point of ‘hipster cool’ to the level of ‘older cousin hand-me-downs’. I was still wearing the same shirt from the plane. On the whole, it was a tragedy of an ensemble. I thought I looked like a mess.
But I tried not to worry about it and went to the expo undaunted. I gave my pitch – a presentation I had reviewed briefly that morning between phone meetings – and retired to a private place to check in with our VP of AdOps Sam Tam over the phone.
Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, followed by an arm that reached around my neck and yanked. A voice yelled:
“Hurry up, you have to get on stage, you won!”
I was virtually dragged about thirty feet to the stage where I was greeted with applause and the flash of photography. To my relative surprise, we were named as one of the winners of the pitch competition. As I came off the stage, everyone from Forbes to the Silicon Valley Business Journal was ready for interviews. As the rush continued, strategic investors from General Motors, to State Farm, to Yahoo approached me, pitching ideas and asking about investing.
And I was still wearing those stupid, ridiculously baggy flood pants.
The thing is, no one seemed to care or notice.
I wasn’t particularly proud of my showing that day. I felt rushed. I didn’t look my best. I could have prepared better for my pitch. But in the end it didn’t matter. I wasn’t the focus, the accomplishments of our company were.
Experts all across the industry saw the problem our company is tackling and believed in our solution and our results. It’s an incredible testament to what our team at The Mobile Majority has built over the past twelve months. We didn’t win the event last year. Today, our work is speaking for itself.
Along the way, it’s fun to remember that this is what success looks like. It’s not just the final product. It’s the interim work, the relentless hustle, the “yeses” to impromptu meeting requests, the random introductions to people that you don’t think will turn into anything fruitful, all the craziness that happens along the way.
When you tackle big enough problems with a clear differentiated strategy, and you execute day in and day out, there is enough serendipity to make big things happen – even if you aren’t completely put together.
[tweetable alt=”The path to success isn’t pretty; it’s unkempt, disheveled and largely unspectacular. #startups “]The path to success isn’t pretty. Rather, it looks a bit like I did that day: unkempt, disheveled, and largely unspectacular.[/tweetable]
And that’s OK. At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is about focusing on the objectives, not the obstacles.
This post was written by founder and CEO of mobile ad platform, The Mobile Majority. If you’re an entrepreneur at heart with drive and a desire to help people, consider joining our already incredible team.