Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

It seems so simple: persist and persevere. Perhaps nobody said it better than Jim Valvano in his 1993 ESPY speech when, as he stood on stage teetering on the brink of death, he said “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” This was the motto for his newly minted foundation, the Jimmy V foundation for cancer research, which has since raised $115 million and counting for cancer research. He knew it wouldn’t save his life, but he hoped that one day the research his foundation enabled might save one of his kids or grandkids lives. If you haven’t ever seen this speech, you should really check it out right here.

Jimmy V refused to give up. Whatever challenges we may face in the start-up world are more than likely trivial in comparison to the fight Jim Valvano and so many others have refused to give in to. Many say that we learn about who people truly are not in times of prosperity and success, but in times of adversity. In the start-up world, much like life in general, I truly believe that one must be a passionate fighter.

Perhaps just as important as persistence is the ability to problem solve and wisdom to know when to utilize these important skills. If you continue to run into an impenetrable wall that’s not persistence and dedication, it’s ineffective and dumb. Sometimes it’s necessary to switch to plan b or plan c or plan z.

Start-ups can sometimes be rough, and some things may be out of your control. But the thing that draws so many people to these noble endeavors is that so many things are within their control. However, they must know that they’re going to have to be willing to persist and persevere all the way to the end. In the words of Jimmy V, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”


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