Ignore the Facebook distraction … focus on customers (and profits)

So the Facebook IPO is tomorrow and is expected to raise $16 billion for the company and create a handful of billionaires and hundreds of millionaires. And it all was soooooooo easy …. NOT.

Facebook and Google and all the other mega-billion IPO stories are great for selling newspapers (oh, wait a minute, they are all going under right now and are probably supremely jealous of these high-flying Web startups) and for deifying the great American Dream, but let’s be real. These are one-in-a-million shots, winning lottery tickets that ended up in the hands of people like Zuckerberg and Page and Brin. Not that these guys aren’t smart and didn’t work hard, but there are millions of us who are smart and work hard, and for some reason the stars never quite align in the same way.

But that’s okay, because the rest of us live in the real world. The world where customers aren’t so easy to come by. Where profits are how we are measured by. Where there’s no exponential growth and there are no easy answers (although Facebook is now going to have to answer to lots of investors and doesn’t necessarily have a foolproof business strategy yet as described in this insightful post by Chris Dixon).

Instead, we all need to take a deep breath while the markets go bananas tomorrow and focus on the basics. Offering customers products and services that make their lives better. Taking risks and putting ourselves on the line to work on things we believe in. Failing, trying, failing again, trying again … every time picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off to take another crack at it. And never taking the easy way out, because if this shit were easy, everyone would be doing it and everyone would be a millionaire (which would devalue our currency in some fashion, but I’m no economist, so don’t take my word for it).

Put it this way … if Facebook disappeared tomorrow, the world would still revolve and people would still be born, die, eat, sleep, have sex and go to baseball games and soccer matches (side note: if Man City would have blown that game this past Sunday and lost the Premier League title on the last day to their arch rivals Man United, then the world would possibly have stopped revolving for those poor fans … and if you didn’t see the last 10 minutes of that game, watch it here).

We are all replaceable, and in the end money can’t buy us more time. So use that most precious of commodities (time) doing what you love to do and putting all of your passion into it. You may not become a billionaire or a millionaire, but you won’t have regrets, and in the end you can say that you gave it everything you had. And that’s a life well lived.