Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Fundraising turns you into the Crazy Girlfriend

Over the last year, the Hornet team has taken literally dozens of meetings in the ongoing efforts to wrap up funding for the project.  We leave every meeting enthused, hopeful, optimistic - we dine out for weeks on a single compliment or hint of commitment.  Every coincidence is a mystical message that it's meant to be.

And then we wait.  Should we call them?  Are they thinking about us?  I hope they liked us.  What if they didn't?  I thought we really had something there...

The process turns us into the crazy, over-attached girlfriend meme, one meeting at a time.

Like the stereotypical crazy over-attached girlfriend, our psychosis stems from insecurity.  The Hornet team is comprised of some very talented and well-respected professionals from fields like commercial real estate finance banking, international brand development, global communications, and of course Navy and commercial maritime officers.  But the idea of "building a fully-functional replica" tends to sound more like a hobby than a viable business.  Since one of our team mentioned that in a recent pitch-prep, I've been haunted by the image of a kid in a basement cobbling together a model kit every time I hear those words.  And there's usually some sort of expression staring back from the receiving end that says "wow, I wouldn't have expected that from you.  Shouldn't you know better?"

Of course, I personally imagine standing up in front of an unenthusiastic support group:
"My name is Will and I want to build a ship."
(group, in unison, drone together) "Hi, Will."

It may in fact be easier to broach the subject as if it were a vice or disability than it is to pitch without sounding like a snake oil salesman.  Sort of like the door-to-door magazine salesman in Office Space.

In all seriousness, overcoming the initial revulsion of building "an old wooden ship" has been our biggest challenge.  What if it sinks?  Somebody gets hurt?  My personal favorite is "It's just too hard."

What if we have viable answers to your toughest questions?  First, you have to get past your perception of our lunacy.  Or maybe we have to tear it down - and overcome our own insecurities.  After all, ships are still built in this country to serve viable business models.  And most great concepts start as a "completely idiotic idea" - so was apparently said of Edison's electric light bulb.

In moments of real reflection I have to remember that even the most successful people met failure several times before they succeeded.  And if I think back to college days (without retching at the memory of a 26 credit semester), I remember one quote that was hammered by blunt force trauma into the memory of everyone passing through:

The sea is selective - slow at recognition of effort and aptitude, but fast in sinking the unfit.
  - Felix Reisenberg

The misty cold stoicism always has a way of snapping back the self-righteousness in the worst of us.

In those zen-like moments of post-snap clarity I tend to drift to the grandiose majesty of the sailing ship - that marriage of art and science, strength and grace, human ingenuity and the power of nature.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't have held in here so long as I have, so resolutely, for anything less inspiring.

Love you, man. *Tear*

Freshly resolved, you dust yourself off and get back out there.  And repeat the process all over again.
I laugh every time - that crazy girlfriend meme always seems to make its way onto my phone when I'm headed to a new meeting.  F-in' jerks.  Ha!


No comments: