This past weekend I was fortunate enough to hear famed college football coach Lou Holtz speak at the US Lacrosse Convention while there representing HomeField.  He was both inspiring and hilarious.  If you have a chance to hear him speak, do take it.

In his speech, he laid out a few rules for life and told story after story from his coaching career.  While it largely focused on coaching athletics, his talk is applicable to life in general and from my seat - a startup founder trying to lead my team to success - I applied his thoughts to entrepreneurship.

Lou’s Rules of Life Entrepreneurship

1. “Do right.”

This is a classic.  It’s so simple.  In entrepreneurship, you’re spread thin trying to do a million things at once.  You’ve got to figure out what your users want.  You’ve got to figure out how to run a business.  You’ve got to make a lot of mistakes.  If you can have one guiding principle, “Do right.” is as good as it gets.  It’s similar to Google’s “Do no evil.”

I learned this one early.  My dad used to say “do the right thing.”  Even when you make a mistake, if you were trying to do the right thing you’ll be all right.

2. “Do everything to the very best of your ability.”

In a startup, you have to do this.  If you’re not working your hardest and doing your best work, someone else will come along and eat your lunch.  If you’re not at your best, then why should a customer use your product?  If you don’t prepare and bring your best to every meeting, then why should your co-founders?

Being “good” isn’t enough.  Being the “best” is the only thing that matters.

3. “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

This goes back to people - co-founders, employees, customers, partners, investors, competitors (yup, even them), and most importantly, your family/friends/loved ones (they’re a part of this roller-coaster ride, too and you can’t treat ‘em like crap because they have to like you).  You have to treat everyone well.  The world is too small and life is too short to be a grump.

It doesn’t matter if your customers gave bad feedback, if your meeting didn’t go well, or if your competitor launched a similar feature.  You can’t take it out on the people around you.  If anything, they’re the ones who are going to help you make the next play.

Tomorrow: “W.I.N. - What’s Important Now?”