The day you gave up quitting

A tribute to the founders, startups and entrepreneurs who reset instead of resign

Don’t ever quit. That phrase, typed as a status update in the social media sphere, is something I’d been holding onto for weeks as entrepreneurs I respect shared similar pieces of broadsided advice.

Searching for inspiration after a somewhat uneventful day at work, my intention was to encourage countless startups living on the verge of a breakthrough. Feedback from Facebook friends led to delivering this post, which delves into reasons why acknowledging conflict and taking risk, as well as a willingness to leave things behind, are crucial elements of entrepreneurial success.

One response: “There are plenty of things worth quitting.”

Given that giving up and quitting are different subjects, one would think the editor in me would draw greater distinction between the two. Though my attempt at brevity may have failed, it’s allowing me to further reflect on these bold concepts, and to point out that the possibility of success derives from a deep understanding of our tendency to fail. It’s also worth noting that entrepreneurs don’t choose a profession and pursue it. They discover who they are and learn how to live it. I’ll return to those topics later. For now, let’s consider: Who are these people?

Most entrepreneurs typically don’t begin anywhere near the top. They are your neighbor, your teacher, your brother, your barista or the guy selling sunglasses at the mall. They’re the woman who’s been sitting in the cubicle next to your office for 10 years. They are your boss, your employee, your coworker and your friend. They keep pushing the pencil. Holding down the fort. Looking at the bottom line.

They punch a clock, take a salary or run the show. Each day is like another. They wait. They watch. They wrestle. Executives tell them each quarter that their department is the first line of defense, but their insights never made it to a boardroom, a whiteboard or training manual. They know their industry, their customers and their roles with the company, but never quite fit in. Valuable ideas and opinions may be misunderstood, undervalued or dismissed by supervisors or peers.

They go home from the office unfulfilled in their work, underutilized in their positions, and sick of the standard political fare. They keep their heads down, numbers up and resumes loaded in lieu of the next round of layoffs, cutbacks or uncanny decisions of some corporate giants.

Then something happens. Maybe they got bored. Maybe they got educated. Maybe they got fired. Maybe a conference, a seminar or a networking group blossomed into a new career. It could have been the recession. Perhaps an extended period of time off work. One day, they took a big step back. They sucked up everything society had taught them in terms of how to best employ their time, talents, gifts and abilities as those relate to stable, long-term employment and a weekly paycheck. They examined their accomplishments, failures and the time they’d put in. They did the math, inhaled a deep cleansing breath and took the biggest step of their professional lives.

They gave up on quitting. They started over.

Startups shoulder heavy burdens, but don’t lie still. They offer extraordinary value, and give much of it away. They lack experience, yet excel in leadership. They aren’t always the smartest, richest or fastest, yet stay in demand. They put dozens, even hundreds of hours into projects and campaigns with no guarantee of a payday. They stop for red lights, yet rarely stand down. Each moved from silent worker to decision-maker.  They took risk. They wanted something more.

They are the founders. The startups. The entrepreneurs.

Their motives are alternative. They stopped working for a promotion they didn’t want and started pursuing dreams that won’t die. They’ve exchanged fantastic, even once-in-a-lifetime deals for extraordinary growth. They finally figured out that once you start something innovative, it never stops. And despite the constant flow of unique challenges and lucrative opportunities in life, they gave up on quitting because it no longer applies.

10 things about everything


From the mind and desk of Todd Razor. 

1. The possibility of success derives from a deep understanding of our tendency to fail.

2. Children often know exactly what they want to do next. Lifetimes of opportunity make the choices more difficult.

3. Entrepreneurs don’t choose a profession and pursue it. They discover who they are and learn how to live it.

4. People who dislike their job can’t wait to turn it off. Those who love their work struggle to separate personal life from career.

5. Pure motives allow for the natural fulfillment of one’s full potential.

6. You can’t manufacture time. If we were given 25 hours then we would ask for 26. People prioritize the things most important to them.

7. Moderation is a fickle thing and the ability to practice it tends to wane with each over indulgence.

8. Pride and humility wax similar on the surface yet on the inside couldn’t reside further apart.

9. The closer we get to totally honesty, the more credibility we have in any given space. Once we cross the line, the conversation many times tends to be over.

10. Assumptions are like opinions and everyone has one.

Waiting to die in Iowa


Thanks Professor Bloom.  Your article pretty much summed up what everyone who has lived in Iowa and survived methamphetamine, Jesus and the Farm Crisis already knows about these forsaken lands.

You’ve actually lived almost 20 years in this backward-ass state?  Surprised you haven’t killed yourself, I mean with all those zealots saying “Happy Easter” once a year and everything. In fact, your nearly 6,000-word rant made me so sick – shouldn’t have chased that pork chop dinner with an anhydrous ammonia cocktail – that I don’t even have the will to pray for strength to publish a link to it.

But maybe, just maybe, one of those college-educated rural hicks who is running low on deer kills and has access to broadband – heck, the “legions of unemployed who have come to the realization that it makes no sense to look for work, since work pretty much no longer exists for them” still need something to do between hunting seasons – will figure out how to Google it. Got to give credit to my friend Shane Vander Hart for turning me on this crap.

“Those who stay in rural Iowa are often the elderly waiting to die, those too timid (or lacking in educated) to peer around the bend for better opportunities, an assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth, or those who quixotically believe, like Little Orphan Annie, that ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow.’” (Heh, I appreciated the journalism lecture, too, but has your publisher thought about hiring an educate, educated, education, er, skilled copywriter?)

By the way, I was born and raised here, so it probably comes as no surprise to you that I don’t get why most of your University of Iowa students choose not to stay after college? Forgive me for being so ignorant – those formative years I spent living with my parents in Madison County and a short stint in Carlisle must have did me in – but do your students choose to leave because “Iowa is a throwback to yesteryear and, at the same time, a cautionary tale of what lies around the corner” or is it really because you are kind of an ass?

Of course, I did appreciate the hard-nose facts in your article, especially the keen observations that were disguised as clichés and followed with assumptions. (“Iowa is not flat as a pancake, despite what most people think.”)

Perhaps my reaction is typical of others who have been forced to carry on their isolated, alienated and mundane existences in such a “schizophrenic, economically-depressed, and some say, culturally-challenged” place, eh?

Not that I should have a say, given that in the utopia of your mind there is “no way would Iowa ever be considered representative of America, or even a small part of it.” Even if I did have a voice, it doesn’t really matter because we all know that Iowa has “no sizable cities” and for more than 100 years has been “too hard to get to, too uninviting, or promised too little.”

Anyway, I’m just glad to finally realize that almost every Iowa household has a mudroom so we don’t track pig shit on the floor. At least we’ve got that going for us.

Quinoa: Small seeds, rich history, powerful nutrition

Peru, 2005

Steeped in history, the plant-based and protein-packed food was domesticated in South America and eaten in the northern hemisphere long before the maize craze

With a history as rich as its nutritional value, Quinoa is high-protein rice-substitute that pairs terrifically with vegetable medleys and serves as a primary staple of many-a-vegans’ diets.

Yet you don’t have to shun milk and meat to enjoy the simple, satisfying and colorful product that human beings have ingested for about 4,000 years, and may be prepared in as little as 20 minutes.

Called kinwa by the Quechua, an Amerindian group indigenous to the Peruvian Andes, Quinoa was also domesticated in North America before maize agriculture took hold. Of course – continuing my rant and sourcing Wikipedia like a mad man – the Spanish apparently dismissed Quinoa as “food for Indians.” The Incas, on the other hand, sacredly hailed Quinoa as the “mother of all grains.”

In September, The Seattle Times said this “fuel of armies” only a few years ago was largely known only in the huddled masses of the gluten-intolerant. Note: That was before you could purchase fresh Ghost Chiles at Hy-Vee Food Stores, and supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market were nothing more than a twinkle in the eyes of West Des Moines business leaders.

Soup House, 2011

I’ve been aware of Quinoa for about a year, but was only this summer turned on to the dish while continuing my exploration of healthy and alternative food choices, and the lifestyles of those whom embrace them.

Though I’m not a fan of tofu, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to offset my weekly intake of meats and cheeses with more green plants, whole grains and brown rice. I have no desire to go vegetarian or vegan – I love milk and don’t want to imagine a world without the occasional bacon cheeseburger – but it is hard to argue with the dietary benefits of consuming red, white, black or other hues of Quinoa, which some people like to mix with Tofurkey or other imitation meats.

Made up of approximately 16 percent protein, Quinoa is also high in iron, antioxidants, fiber and essential amino acids. It is from the spinach family. NASA looked into it. Need I say with more?

Here’s how I like to prepare it:

  • Cut and wash vegetables
  • Coat bottom of saucepan with olive oil
  • Add a 1 c. Quinoa
  • Add 2 to 2.5 c. water
  • In separate pan, heat olive oil and start vegetable sauté, stirring occasionally
  • Bring Quinoa to a boil and stir lightly
  • Reduce heat to medium
  • Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until seeds start to split open as liquid is absorbed
  •  Add cumin, garlic powder and salt to taste
  •  Pour vegetable sauté into saucepan
  •  Stir and serve

This is my new favorite and easy-to-prepare meal that may be served as an entrée or side dish. I use both red and yellow onions, fresh or canned mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers and jalapeños. You may also enjoy a bit of broccoli, carrots and red or green peppers. If you’re not a sissy, you’ll top it off with a little ground cayenne pepper.

“The thing is, despite all the health claims, it really tastes incredible,” wrote Seattle Times freelance writer Catherine M. Allchin, who offers her own recipe.

Bottom line: Quinoa is a diverse and protein-packed food that offers a healthful, tasty alternative to rice and meats. I can’t wait to try it with Spanish smoked paprika.

Traffic stop leads to arrest in Drake Park

A Drake University area resident was incarcerated following a traffic stop on Drake Park Avenue in Des Moines.

After being detained briefly in a squad car in his driveway, Justin Norman was released onto the front lawn of his residence as the driver of the vehicle he was riding in was cited for a trunk lid gone ajar, according to the driver. Later, Norman was placed in a Des Monies Police Department (DMPD) patty wagon for what appeared to be no more than turning on a video camera while standing on public property on the parking area of his residence.

Norman is not being held at the Des Moines Police Department downtown, yet may be detained in Ankeny, according to the DMPD.

Bosman handles Handsome Furs

Handsome Furs duo Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry showed up a day early to the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines.

The husband and wife, who following a 2011 European tour released last week their third album – Sound Kapital – sat down on July 2 for an exclusive interview with Capital 106.3 “The Capital Backyard” host Daniel Bosman.

Focused on an evolving sound and a tour mentality that brought Handsome Furs to the Midwest, Bosman handsomely handled the Canadian electric pop two-piece shortly after they flew into town.

Handsome Furs is scheduled to perform at 6:45 p.m. tonight on the 80/35 Kum & Go Stage in Western Gateway Park.

Each Monday, Bosman shines a spotlight on local artists from 7 to 10 p.m. during his Scented Vinyl show at Mars Cafe.