Everyone Must Wear Sunscreen - Startups & Success

Sunscreen, Startups & Success

If you have met me in real life, I must have told you the sunscreen story, if I have not here it is. In 1999 Baz Luhrmann converted a hypothetical commencement speech written by columnnist Mary Schmich titled Wear Sunscreen, to a song. This song has made a great impact on me both personally and professionally. In a meeting last evening with a startup that was on a tour of SproutBox, we were discussing this song again and how Startups, Success and Sunscreen get co-related.

There are times in our life, when we loose hope, we don’t know if we will succeed, we doubt ourselves – the song is a great upliftment at that time, trust yourself, compliment yourself or as the words say “Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much. Or berate yourself either, Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s”

Listen to the advice of people who offer it, you may not like what they are saying, but respect the advice. Make sure when you are down and low, high and above – you don’t forget your siblings, you don’t forget your friends, you don’t forget to know your parents better – before you know it, time will be done – you will be old and you would only want to look back at your youth to realise what you missed.

The journey of a startup is harsh and yet fun, each day is a challenge “Do one thing every day that scares you” whether that is picking up the phone and making that sales call, or saying no to a client that may not help you build value in a company, to going against your gut feeling.

Be ready for trouble, real trouble “Remember there could be real trouble that will blind side you on an idle Tuesday evening”

In the song there is a line “Don’t read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel fat” – I believe a lot of us get in a rush of why we are not getting private equity, why are the angels missing from my business – my idea and my implantation is great – stop reading the news – it will only make you feel bad. Build your product, resolve a problem, build your team, grow – the money will follow.

To me and Rajeev ji, Wear Sunscreen words are our mantra at SproutBox.

At SproutBox we believe that a community of like minded people, a network of startups, coworking with them, spending time with them allows you to get advice, run your ideas with others – collaborate, create and grow. It also gets you friends you will look back in 20 years and say you had fun with, some will stay with you, some will be memory, but an experience of working with diverse set of individuals can never be replaced by working from your own office.

To me as I said, I can go on and on about the song, and if there is a mantra for growth that I can give any startup, this song it is. So read the lyrics, see the video, build a product, a service, a company just like the sunscreen – that is relevant to all dark or light, black or white – and yes do trust me on it.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99
Wear sunscreen

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
Until they’ve faded but trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back
At photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked
You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future
Or know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing every day that scares you

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours


Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults, if you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t

Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to your knees
You’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the ‘Funky Chicken’
On your 75th wedding anniversary

Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they’re your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future

Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, who should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young
Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you soft


Accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you, too, will get old

And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders

Respect your elders

Don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you never know when either one might run out

Don’t mess too much with your hair
Or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85

Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past
From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
And recycling it for more than it’s worth

But trust me on the sunscreen

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