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Over the last year, I’ve made at least 150 people watch this Apollo 13 clip.

No matter the size of your project or organization, ignore its three admonitions at your peril.

1. Understand your constraint.

Whoa, whoa, guys. Power is everything… We gotta turn everything off. Now.

That’s the deal?
That’s the deal.
Ok, John.

Find, acknowledge, and study your constraint. Accept reality.

2. Imaginatively and totally engage.

Well, we’re gonna have to figure it out. I want people in our simulators, working re-entry scenarios. I want you guys to find every engineer who designed every switch, every circuit, every transistor, and every light bulb that’s up there, then I want you to talk to the guy on the assembly line who actually built the thing. Find out how to squeeze every amp out of both these g****** machines... Failure is not an option.

Apply maximum effort and imagination. Squeeze every amp.

3. Focus like a maniac.

Well, it’s all in the sequencing, John,
If we can skip whatever we don’t absolutely need and turn things on in the right order…

Annihilate distraction, and destroy waste. Prioritize the essential.

Consider these anecdotal snippets:

  • A friend left his post leading a CPG startup because they could not raise funds at an anticipated valuation so he led the charge to “turn everything off now,” starting with his own position. As a result, the founders will survive to re-entry, but it’s likely feeling pretty cold in the cabin at the moment.
  • Another friend lost his company when a funding provider suddenly demanded repayment of all loaned capital. Imagine this happened to your business because of other exposures of your lender and not because of your business.
  • Amplifier just signed up a new account and took them from first conversation to a special-pricing long-term agreement + 300 SKUs and 18 pallets of product received and ready to go + ecommerce integrated + fully live just six weeks from first call, including inventory transit time from Utah to Austin. This new client is a Shark-Tank-veteran brand that failed, sold, and is now restarting under new owners looking to move fast, a need Amplifier can readily accommodate well given our technology and team. We are having a number of these conversations with brands in new hands, a definite deep trend.
  • In the merch management space, we have seen Fanjoy and SCP hit the wall.
  • Four local friends have separately each raised funds to acquire and turn around distressed or permanently plateaued companies in different sectors.
  • Layoffs and other deep cuts fill the news: in tech; in media; all over.
  • These conditions also affect the VCs.

In short, the prior playbook no longer succeeds, bankruptcy pressures are rising everywhere, and sadly not all will “make it to reentry.”

While the above provocations apply in all weather, now especially represents a critical moment to heed this call:

  1. Understand your constraint.
  2. Imaginatively and totally engage.
  3. Focus like a maniac.

Miss these warnings in chapter 1, and your book likely ends with chapters 7 or 11.