Lessons Learned: Week Six

Can you create change even when you’re comfortable?

It is human nature to enjoy structure and to remain in a set routine. Routines, such as the same route you take to work every morning or going to your favorite sandwich shop for lunch, help us stay grounded. Consistency is sometimes the key to success and it is normal to remain comfortable in a reliable routine.

Creating change requires a series of uncomfortable moments that push you outside your comfort zone, regardless of whether you are developing a new business idea or creating changes within your own life. Week 6 of our accelerator program has proven to be uncomfortable and filled with change and development.

72% of people find public speaking the most stressful aspect of their career. The feeling within the pit of your stomach, the sweaty hands or the rapid heartbeat are all aspects we are familiar with. We have felt these nerves at some point in our lives. Practice and preparation can help ease the nerves, and this is something our startups learned. Our amazing pitch coach arrived this week to help the startups remain focused on their storytelling. He also trained our group on how to ease their mind and body on stage so that they may appear relaxed, regardless of the nerves that may be building. Based on research, an effective presentation is 38% based on your voice, 55% based on non-verbal communication and 7% is based on the content of the presentation. These percentages are a reminder as to why we have our startups practice their pitches each week. Our pitch coach helped our startups improve their pitches, and we’re excited for you to hear them on April 26th at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center.

If public speaking is something you wish to improve upon, what steps have you taken to make the improvement? How uncomfortable have you felt? Change, and improvement is meant to be uncomfortable.


During our partner visits this week, we heard about our partner’s active decision to lean into the space of innovation, regardless of how uncomfortable that may be. Generating innovation inside a large organization requires courage, determination and a vision for the future. Executives at Aetna, Travelers, and Capgemini have a variety of internal methods and strategies to do so. Our partners have created methods to deviate from the ‘easy’ solution so that they may implement experiments and create conversations that may challenge typical corporate methods.


If you’re comfortable with where your company is today, you may need to reflect on how being comfortable may impact your ability to change and move into the future. Many corporations feel that their companies are not ready for new ideas and that their companies don’t have an infrastructure to work with startups. The best way is to jump in and just do it! Don’t hesitate, just embrace the change.

Exciting news this week revolved around how A.M. Best is planning on creating and implementing, an innovation score. Best has announced that it “plans to ‘explicitly’ consider whether a company’s innovation efforts, or lack thereof, have had a demonstrable positive or negative impact on its long-term financial strength, and expects that all rated companies eventually will be scored and assigned a published innovation assessment”. We’re excited to see how this rating process affects innovation levels and ideas.

When jumping in and following your passion, and sometimes creating a startup, it is normal to constantly worry about where the next check is coming from. You’re always caught in the unknown space, which is the complete opposite when having a stable career, and collecting a stable paycheck! This feeling, combined with the sales process, may sometimes result in a startup thinking “I’d rather be doing anything else” or “I’ll make the call after I finish these other tasks”.

Our own Sabine VanderLinden traveled from London to Hartford this week to help our startups with this exact thought. She conducted a detailed sales training program, which broke the cycle down into components. This process will equip the startups with the little things they need to know, the best approaches to reach the people who will be making decisions and how to prepare for each sales meeting. They are now better equipped for success. Sabine had them conduct some practice sales calls with each other to better prepare them for upcoming sales calls. If you are mentoring one of the startups in our cohort, please volunteer to be the person on the receiving end of a sales meeting to see what they might have learned and to provide feedback. They will take each step one by one, hear many NO’s, but ultimately experience success, which makes getting uncomfortable well worth it!

Take some time today to identify one thing that makes you feel REALLY uncomfortable, and then work through a plan of action for future success. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about something, and are resisting taking the next steps go chat with a trusted colleague or someone you feel can mentor you. Let them talk through the struggles you’re feeling, and (of course) all of the possible success you could experience by taking the necessary steps.

Taking action is one of THE best ways to earn your success. Don’t let fear or being uncomfortable stop you from JUMPING towards huge success!