Ask These Questions To Achieve Your Goals Faster
I always love stories where the seed of someone’s passion started sprouting in their childhood. Lightspeed Ventures Partner Nicole Quinn, who’s backed companies like Goop, Rothy’s and Daily Harvest, is a perfect embodiment of that.
As the daughter of an entrepreneur, Nicole started working at her family's pharmacy before she could even see above the cash register. She played an active role in the business growing up - helping her dad launch one of the first online homeopathic pharmacies - in addition to working at almost every shop in her hometown. The combination of witnessing her dad’s foresight and developing excellent people skills laid the foundation for her to be a successful investor, and more importantly, a true partner to her founders.
Today, one of Nicole’s highest priorities is being an active support system for her entrepreneurs, which always starts by asking thoughtful questions. We discussed those questions, as well as the questions she regularly asks herself, in our conversation. These are the ones I’ve personally been reflecting on.
— An exercise to help you achieve your goals: Self-inquiry is one of our most valuable tools to accelerate our personal and professional growth. Nicole shared a valuable exercise she did with her founders at the start of the year to help unearth the different elements that can amplify or undermine your success.
Imagine it’s the end of the year and ask yourself these questions. (You can also do this exercise with a partner.)
- What would make you think this year was a success?
- What would have caused you to miss your goals and why?
Now, compare these answers with your current reality:
- What negative things are happening that you might want to address?
- What are the yellow flags, that are consciously or subconsciously on your mind, that may be building up towards becoming a red flag? How can you mitigate them?
- What great things are happening that you can double down on?
- What actions/choices can make the greatest changes to your situation now and in the future?
I appreciate this exercise for the birds-eye view it gives us to design successful personal and professional outcomes. So often, these small undercurrents go unnoticed until they become pressing challenges or end up being missed opportunities. Committing to uncover and get ahead of them not only helps you eliminate future obstacles. It reveals existing ways you can accelerate your success.
Keep Nicole's insight in mind as you reflect on your responses: "The things you dedicate your time, attention, and focus to always have the greatest chance of success. Make sure you’re focusing on the right things.”
— Following your excitement: Doing a weekly priority-check-in has been one of the most valuable habits I’ve added to my routine. As it was inspired by the COO and President of one of Nicole’s portfolio companies, Rothy’s, it was special to hear about Nicole’s check-in and add one of her questions to my own: What are you most excited about?
Discerning the things that are currently energizing you allows you to dedicate more time to them, which often leads to new discoveries and greater fulfillment. It also enables you to do a mental recount of the things you’ve recently encountered, from articles to conversations, that were interesting in the moment, but you may not have remembered to explore otherwise.
— Default to positivity: Nicole’s optimism is what I appreciate most about her. There will always be reasons that things can go wrong (especially in early stage startups), but once considered, rather than dwell on them, she asks: How good could this be? How big could it be? If everything goes right, what could this really look like?
I value this mental framework for the way it helps us shift from a fear based mindset, which often leads to standing in our own way, to actively focusing on positive outcomes. As Nicole shares, shifting your perspective to focus on the best case scenario can help you see and create bigger possibilities for yourself.