Terry Lee

The story we tell ourselves is the same story we tell the world | COO @MeUndies | @NotreDame | for Him, through Him

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Cruise Ship or Backpack?

In March of 2013, I made the decision to leave Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and join CoachUp, an fast-growing tech startup. So far, it has been the best decision of my professional career.

However, the decision being the “best” of my career had nothing to do with CoachUp being a better anything when compared to J&J. Rather than the decision being rooted in right or wrong, better or worse, I’ve concluded that it’s all about fit. At this stage in my career, working at a smaller, fast-growing company is simply a better fit — both for personal growth and for my ability to contribute significantly to a company’s growth.

Before I made my decision to resign from J&J, I reached out to family, friends, mentors, and anyone I could get in contact with who was in the entrepreneurial/startup community. I was curious what it was like on the other side of the fence — whether the grass was really greener...

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Focus and Leadership

One quality I admire in all great leaders is their ability to focus. I’ve found that great leaders focus on three things, and these three things only:

1. Articulate the vision for their team.

2. Empower their team to successfully execute that vision.

3. Build a world class team by getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus).

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Passion vs. Desire

“It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It’s the desire.”

-Thomas Keller, Renowed Chef

It’s easy to get excited and passionate about something for a short period of time. It’s easy to stay positive and motivated during the best of times. But, it’s the great ones that continue to...

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Performance Amnesia

When I played soccer, my biggest shortcoming as a player was that I dwelled on mistakes that I made on the field. By dwelling on mistakes made earlier in practice or in a game, I compounded my mistakes by making more mistakes or even worse, missing an opportunity to make a positive impact. Unknowingly, I would allow my attention to be diverted toward regretting the mistake I had just made, rather than using the mistake as an opportunity to lean in and focus more intently.

I’ve noticed that all elite performers possess what I call “performance amnesia,” or an ability to forget past mistakes and maintain intense focus on the present. They forget and focus.

As my career has transitioned from a student-athlete to a professional in the business world, “performance amnesia” has become a central framework from which my mind operates. Here’s how it manifests itself:

I’m motivated by the...

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Mount Everest

Imagine two mountain expedition teams that are training for the same goal. This is no ordinary goal as both teams aspire to reach the peak of Mount Everest. These two teams are identical in most ways: they complete the same training regimen, the team members are of equal athletic and technical skill level, their mountain guides possess similar knowledge of the landscape and terrain. Yet, as we will come to find out, the differences between Team A and Team B couldn’t be more apparent.

After months of preparation, game day arrives. Team A leaves base camp to begin their ascent. But shortly thereafter, the challenges of the climb become ever so clear. Team A’s members start complaining about all the challenges that lie between them and their goal: the weather conditions aren’t ideal, their climbing equipment isn’t fitting properly, the language barrier with their mountain guide makes it...

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A Winning Culture

“Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap. Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.[1]”

Have you ever been part of an amazing team - one with great teammates that shared similar values, a compelling vision, and a laser-like focus toward accomplishing that vision? Now think back to when you...

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The Evolution of Advertising

“Advertising matters because it works. It works on nerds, and it works on you. You may think that you’re an exception; that your preferences are authentic, and advertising only works on other people. It’s easy to resist the most obvious sales pitches, so we entertain a false confidence in our own independence of mind. But advertising doesn’t exist to make you buy a product right away; it exists to embed subtle impressions that will drive sales later. Anyone who can’t acknowledge its likely effect on himself is doubly deceived.[1]”

Advertising is now omnipresent in every facet of our lives: out-of-home advertising, TV, internet, social media. It now represents a $500B industry worldwide and is growing at a 3-5% clip annually. While I’ll cover the evolution of advertising from a macro-level, I want to focus specifically on the internet, which has surpassed newspaper as the nation’s...

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Views from the Zero

I wanted to capture three key lessons that I learned during my time at CoachUp and in Boston. Here they are:

1. What are you the best in the world at? What is your hustle?

Focus on that and forget everything else.

2. What drives you?

This includes what you’re passionate about, but passion can be a dangerous thing because it’s sparked by emotion. This is more than emotion. Dig deep, do some serious self-reflection, and uncover what really drives you.

Write it down. Let it soak in. Because you’ll be relying on it many times along the journey. Those 3am nights, those days where you’ve been rejected 9 times and need to conjure up the courage to give it a go the 10th time, those times where you lay in bed wide awake wondering why you chose this path. Yes - it comes in handy at these times.

3. Where is the economic opportunity?

I like to think of opportunities as waves. Can you get...

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The Art of Storytelling

“The story we tell ourselves manifests into reality because this story is the same story we tell the world. Your internal story drives your external performance.”

In the comic book series, Superman, there exists a radioactive element called Kryptonite, which is the one and only weakness of an otherwise invulnerable superhero. While I’m not under the imagination that we are infallible superheroes like Superman, I do believe that there are trials in life that serve as our Kryptonite. I also believe that Kryptonite is unique to the individual and as such, challenges that may seem easy for some prove to be the most difficult to overcome for others. My Kryptonite (among many lesser ones) was my struggle with severe acne.

It’s hard to recall the exact date it began. Maybe it’s because too much time has passed, making it difficult to recollect the details. Or maybe it’s because I’ve tried my...

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Stay the Course

After reflecting on a post-WWII era in which the U.S. had emerged victorious from the war and positioned itself as a global superpower, Winston Churchill issues a simple, yet poignant challenge:

“America, it is a great and strong country, like a workhorse pulling the rest of the world out of despond and despair. But will it stay the course?”

Churchill issues this challenge knowing full well that staying the course is the key to sustained excellence. Anybody can set out to achieve a goal, but only the few are willing to do what it takes to accomplish the task at hand.

Stay the course: Accomplishing the original goal, regardless of how difficult it is or how long it takes. Staying the course requires:

  1. Doing things the right way — day in, day out.
  2. Doing things the right way 100% of the time.

To provide context, studies show that 44% of Americans make a new year’s resolution. Of those...

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