Mike Lewis from When to Jump for Lululemon

Lululemon is famous for their favours for their community. Even though this means clever marketing strategy, I can only enjoy bits of it. Sometimes they deliver the favour in form of a yoga class, or, as on a January Monday night, by bringing an amazing panel in front of an eager audience.

The actual community builder here was Mike Lewis – man I had never heard of one week ago, but whose book ‘When to jump’ was suddenly in front of me everywhere.

Lewis left his respected job as venture capitalist to play squash and travel the world. So, he jumped. Played, spent his money, and realised that actually, the story about a cyclist that inspired him to jump, could inspire many others. Social media shows only giantic leaps, the moments from people leaving their jobs to the moment their made it. But what happens inbetween, and where to receive support?

One  living at friend’s coach in Silicon Valley is not unemployed but an entrepreneur. This gave something like a backstory to give to his parents – and actually create a platform to reach millions. Lewis has managed not only to find an interesting pack of people to interview, but to convince Arianna Huffington to collaborate and Sheryl Sandberg to write foreword to his book.

Monday night, Lewis brought Anoopreet Rechny (investment banker gone fashion entrepreneur, Black + White story) and Charlie Turner (swimmer turned account director turned nutrition entrepreneur, Neat) to the stage. The discussion flowed from purpose to hardships, and there was a clearly visible spark of joy doing your own thing.

If in doubt about what to do for work: Turner stated, that actually you can do several careers – as he clearly had. He could be described as a serial jumper. He always wanted to do many things, and not have ‘what ifs’ later on.

Turner came to her business idea as friends and colleagues kept coming to him for a simple advise about nutrition. Loads of the groundwark was done before he actually quit the day job – something very advisable. Paycheck is nice, but according to him, there is no point to make a plan B. That could be even harmful.

Black and White story was born when Rechny wanted to leave her 16 hour workdays and do something more creative. Boyfriend, currently fiancee as her business partner, Rechny reached a certain level of break through when Beyoncee wore ‘Queen Bee’ sweater sent to her.

Rechny was more of a jumper: She quit his job on the day the bonus was paid. She started to figure out everything from the beginning.

Some of the most interesting conversations emerged at the end of the panel. Are you founding a company because you want to found it based of your passion? Or, are you actually just aiming to have more time with your passion? Or, do you want to found a company, where you can directly decide or influence everything from culture to brand and the product? In the end, passion might least only the first two weeks. After that it is simply about showing up and doing the job. It is nice to merge passion and your company, but not always needed.

If you still want to find your passion, you can always try to remember what you enjoyed doing when still at school. Or, how you spend your days nowadays – that pretty much shows your priorities.

Turner had three rules to live by, that are worth sharing:

  1. Ask for forgiveness, not permission
  2. Enjoy the uncertainty
  3. You can be all the things you want to be, but it is nice to be nice

Some more gold nuggets directly from the panel and inbetween the lines:

  • Think and tell why you are doing what you are doing
  • Not everything is for everyone and everything doesn’t need to be supported by everyone
  • Fo found an amazing company, you do not always need to find the next big thing or to be the first to do something. Neat nutrision is not the first in their field, but they make nourishment easier and give advise.
  • If you have an idea, try to go through it with your trusted ones – don’t only keep it in your head
  • Even if it is gonna fail, you are still adding, not substracting skills and experiences.
  • It is not gonna be pretty, but it is gonna be worth it. Or – there is no need for one big jump, you can start small, or just make small changes towards a happier life.
  • Quitting your job optional.

Thank you Mike, Anoopreet and Charlie – you definitely gave a lot to think about, and even better, to action.