Some friends.

I love screenwriting.

If Dickens was paid by the word, Darabont was paid for the lack thereof in scenes like this:


"Red enters, sits."

"Just stares off."

The parsimony is divine, isn't it? All show, no tell.


To show anything, you first need a vision. Then you need to figure out which words to use to show that vision to others.

Easy, right?

No, you're right, it's super hard. But a lot of startups do get this far. With enough customer interviews, you've got something — a seed with a fighting chance. Maybe you raise some funding, maybe you don't ... maybe you can't.

But now what? What's the what after the what?


Screenwriting is a craft where mastery is revealed in restraint. And that's because the actor downstream of your words, in this case Morgan Freeman, doesn't need or want you to tell him how to do his job. He just needs you to concisely articulate the what — and then shut up. Morgan doesn't suffer fools.

And did you catch MAN #2? What kind of name is MAN #2?

Does it matter? Did Stephen King have a name in mind for this character when he wrote the pages of his novella? Maybe. Probably. But right now, all Brian Brophy needs is those 16 center-aligned words.

Succinctness is power, but for it to work, you need interpreters that know how to turn dense instructions packed with meaning into breathtaking demonstrations of that power.

Did you cast a team that knows how to breathe life into a handful of words?

Can you?


Alright, no small feat, you've got the what and the who ... what's left?

Well, now the actors do their jobs. And their jobs are to fill in all of the white space that's bursting at the seams with meaning. Their job is decompression: to unpack the script into a performance.

How? Exactly.

This is where you as founder take on the role of the actor that also directs the movie. As I like to joke, Summit has 12 positions at the moment, presently played by 3 people. That's the budget the studio gave us.

So we are a production consisting of 3 actors that know how to (context) switch between 12 roles, each with specific functions and goals.

Production, product. Roles, jobs.

Starting up is a performing art.

What Is The How

And I don't mean that as trickery, fakery, we-aren't-really-real acting sort of way. I mean it in the "I can't believe this team of 3 punches like a team of 12" sort of way. The way that makes billion dollar incumbents wonder:

Thanks Red.

Whether you're competing with a few giants — or running in race that's so crowded it looks like the first leg of the Boston marathon, as a startup your goal is make the market wonder at our performance.

How is this possible?

I suggest that it's not a miracle, though it looks like one. Unlike the silver screen, but like the theatre, the audience itself — your customers, are a part of that system.

Have you shaped your performance such that your customers are more than observers? Do they feel invested too? How deeply? Will they go home and tell everyone else what they saw? Is your fourth wall a permeable plane or a barricade?

How do you make them feel in the beats?

Are you performing?