The Misunderstood Entrepreneur

I think people misunderstand us entrepreneurs.

For that, let me clarify what makes me and pretty much every other entrepreneur in this world do what we do.

When people think about entrepreneurs, they think of people like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and the like. But, what they forget is that at one point these folks were in the same spot as you; sacrificing, staying up all night coding, spending every last dollar on their dream. Yeah, they didn’t have shit on their way to the top, but they were happy doing something they were passionate about.

You see, people get caught up in the public face and the hype about a company but forget about what’s going on under the hood and the time that’s being put in to get to the top.

They never seem to ask either or take the time to understand. Then….one day, we surprise the hell out of them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘To be great is to be misunderstood

Because I often feel misunderstood (Maybe you do too), I thought I would take a stab at helping others better understand us.

We have a method to our madness. We don’t sit around on our computers all day doing nothing. It may seem like the strangest thing, but every one of us have a process for thinking things through, strategizing, and making decisions. We are process oriented people and think like a builder. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are doing it just comes natural as it’s part of our fabric.

We trust our gut to the end. We’ve spent our lives absorbed in chasing our dreams and for this we are extremely confident when it comes to trusting our instincts and following whatever inspires us the time. We follow what we believe in, not what other people think is right or what society tells us we should do. We may listen to others, but it’s only a trusted few and in the end it’s still going to be our.

You won’t find a more passionate person. This is what we do. There is nothing else…it’s all we know and want. It could be writing code, coming up with the next great product, or changing an entire industry, we love it. It inspires us to go big or go home. It’s ultimately where we feel most comfortable. We feel at home and if you were to ask any of us, we would tell you that there is nothing else we’d rather be doing.

We are quick on our feet. We can process things, come to grips with a situation, and understand complexities very quickly. Stuff that might take you two hours to understand we can take care of in minutes.

Problems are our lifeblood. We enjoy nothing more than seeking out and solving problems. We see every problem as an opportunity worth solving. It’s like it’s a never-ending game or something. We actually get off on it. And once we fully understand the problem, we will bring everything we have to the table to come up with the right solution, business model, decision, whatever it takes.

We have something to prove. It’s not entirely clear as to who, but we have something to prove. Maybe it’s to ourselves, that we really can solve a certain problem and build something out of nothing. Who knows. Regardless, we are all on a pursuit to achieve greatness and we will let nothing stand in our way.

Hardass workers. You will find no one that works harder than us. Yeah, you may work with your hands, but you eventually come home and sit with your families. We lay awake at night thinking about our companies. We wake up in the middle of the night to start working on a thought or an idea. It never stops. It never ends. Our work is our life. It’s obvious really when you consider how passionate we are about what we do and how driven we are for accomplishment.

And just for the sake of knowing, If you ever end up working with one of us, the worst thing you can do is sit on your ass. We hate people who say yes all the time and we are impatient with folks who don’t add value. We surround ourselves with people who can make things happen. If this is you, great. If not, move along. We think this way. Come on board and get to work or get out of our way. Easy as that.

 

Build Cool Shit with Cool People

Make it your personal mission to build cool shit with cool people.

If you’re thinking about  starting a company don’t make it about it be about money, power, success, or the cool factor? These are the wrong reasons to start a company…and if this is all you got, you better be ready to fail.

Yes, you do need drivers as you do in anything, but don’t let these be the reasons why you start a company.

Starting a company is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It’s tougher than any Iron man, fight, school paper, exam, breakup, or fight you’ve ever been in. Starting a company is like getting in the ring with an MMA fighter just to get your ass beat over and over again – the key, getting right back up because anything worth doing is worth fighting for.

Don’t waste another day doing anything other than this. I’ve started several companies for the right reasons and I’ve started companies for the wrongs reasons. What I’ve learned is this simple statement: build cool shit with cool people.

Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made, get out there, find cool people, and get started building cool shit.

If you do this, it will change your life.

To be great at anything you need a set of rules to live by

What do you want to be great at? For me it’s a husband, father, and then entrepreneur.

After my family, I want to be great at starting companies, providing jobs, and changing the world. To do that, I felt that I needed a set of rules to live by.

I use this list for myself and for the startups that I decide to get involved with.

This is a short list of things I work hard to hold myself accountable for…and those that I decide to partner with.

1. Be disruptive and visionary.
2. Go big or go home
3. Build your network through relationships
4. Plan for the next 5 minutes and for the next five years
5. Be flexible
6. Persistence pays off
7. Get your product to market fast and early
8. Seek honesty in everything
9. Stay hungry and humble
10. Be everywhere all the time everyday
11. Culture is the lifeblood of everything you do
12. Break these rules

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What does your list look like? 

 

Startup Quotes

Some really good startup quotes.

“The challenge with most startups is just dealing with the emotional ups and downs, which can be huge.”

500 Startups’s Dave McClure

“You worry all of the time.”

Zendesk founder Mikkel Svane

“I hit this wall of fear when we were about 30 people.”

Julia Hartz of EventBrite

“I’ve had my share of failures. That’s kinda what makes a person ready for success.”

Scott Kveton of Urban Airship, who pitched VCs unsuccessfully 30 times before hitting pay dirt

“You’re gonna screw up.”

Dan Levin, COO of Box

“Not all of us can lead. But this is a special type of sport.”

Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network

“If we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes, we will never invest in things that are radical.”

Jeff Clavier, VC, Soft Tech

“Be brazen, but don’t be arrogant.”

Kate Rutter, cofounder of LUXr

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Out of these quotes, which ones connect with you?

 

Startups are not a job

Are you making startups a job? They’re not a job (At least they shouldn’t be) they are a lifestyle.

Everything comes down to what’s important to you. What do you really want to achieve? If it’s just money, then you fucked up somewhere. Startups shouldn’t be about making money, they should be about living out a love and passion to change the world. To execute on a vision.  To make a difference. If these are your priorities and reasons for starting companies then money, life, happiness, and all the gifts and joys of life will follow.

Lets be honest, startups are hard work, they take up much of your time and you have to sacrifice things. However, if you’re doing things for the right reasons, it wont feel like much of a sacrifice – it will feel like a gift.

Take a hard look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it – money, ego, fame, friends, and be honest with yourself. Figure it out. Ask hard questions. And even if the answer becomes a very hard reality…deal with it. Drop everything, shift your priorities, and live the life you were meant to live.

 

No one gives a shit: How to get heard in a noisy market

Are you struggling to get your message out into the market? Do you feel like no one gives a shit? What’s the problem? This is the easy part, right? F*** no, this is the toughest part and I will promise you that.

Illustration Courtesy of: Cruzine

Just about anyone can come up with an idea, put together a team, and launch a product, but then comes the hardest part…getting heard.

I mean, how do you compete with the millions of other startups out there working for the same attention? You don’t, you take a step back, gather your team, and agree that you’re going to put together a fluid plan, stick to it, and never, ever, give up.

When your success is dependent on you being heard, you better be tough enough to stick it out – most people will give up.

If you want to win in this game, you have to look at the long-term and have some balls. When you get punched in the face, you have to jump right back up and get in the ring. Pussies don’t win here – people with stamina and a can do attitude win this game.

Now, be disciple and stick to it. If you want to get heard in a noisy marketplace, you need to eat, sleep, and live out your message. Be obsessed. And never give up.

Go.

Monday morning motivation: Put in the work and make something out of yourself

No, I didn’t grow up in new York or silicon valley, I don’t have an MBA from Stanford or Harvard, and I didn’t come from any money.

My Mom and Dad had my sister when they were 17, my mom cleaned houses, and my dad poured concrete. We lived a simple life and my parents worked for every dollar they had.

What my parents have taught me over the years and I still carry with me today is that if I want something bad enough, I better get my ass out there and find a way to make it happen.

Oh, and don’t be a pussy (This is from Dad). Be tough, take risks, don’t let people push you around, and speak your mind.

Honestly, what my parents taught me at an early age is the foundation for anyone who wants to be happy and successful.

There is something to be said about hard work and some serious hustle.

Are my parents happy and successful today? Yes, but it didn’t come easy. It was the consistent get up work your ass off and hustle that has allowed my parents to be where they are today.

You are no different. If you want something bad enough, then you get out there, work for it, and find a way to make it happen. I don’t care if you have to live in van down by the river, eat ramen noodles for a year, or do the most random crap, there is a way, you just have to find it.

And, if you think you still need a degree from Harvard or come from money, you are full of shit. The truth is, you are lazy and you’re not willing to do what it takes.

Put in the work and make something out of yourself.

Happy Monday!

 

What gets me horny

I’m horny about a lot of things these days. Because of this, I thought I would put together a list and share it with you. I don’t know what makes you horny, but maybe this will motivate you to start thinking about it.

  1. Family: Family is first in my book. I’m trying to invest in my family, spend time, appreciate one another, and ultimately have a fun together.
  2. Quality Friendships: I have a few people who I try to pour into and I feel like in return they are pouring right back into me. You can’t pour into everyone, so pick a few good friends and build each other up.
  3. Exploring new things: I don’t care what it is, I want to explore it: canoe trip, hiking, marathons, smoking cigars…bring it on andlet’s try it out.
  4. Motivating people to do shit with their lives, take risks and live a little. I feel like this has always kind of been my thing, but today, more than ever you will hear me talking about this.
  5. Co-founder and entrepreneurial relationships: I can’t be more thankful for all my co-founders, equity partners, and people involved in my deals. For the last few years, I’ve been intentional about seeking out entrepreneurs who can see eye to eye beyond just, let’s make some money. We appreciate family, we take risks, we seek new experiences, and above all else, we are friends and there for one another.
  6. Startup communities: Now being involved with Startup America Partnership for almost a year, I am having the time of my life – It’s so cool to see all the different startup communities evolve and grow.
  7. Venture Capital: I’m talking with a few folks now about putting together a fund. I am no experienced VC, but I can put a team together that knows their shit. This is what I’m looking at right now – putting together a stellar team that can invest in startups and entrepreneurs that want to have fun, disrupt, and make some money along the way.
  8. Game changing startups: If you’re trying to do the same shit as someone else, I don’t care. If you think you got something cool and different, this gets me excited. Why put a ton a time into something that is the same as the next guys stuff?
  9. Accelerators: I think accelerators rock. I’m not involved in one myself, nor have I been involved in one. However, I sit back, watch, listen, and appreciate all the work that accelerators are doing. We need more of them. The best part about accelerators are the mentors and the community that forms.
  10. Crowd funding: I am a co-founder of a startup called Fundmypark. We are the Kickstarter for all things parks and recreation. Were already seeing some good success with this project. Beyond this, I’m just interested in all the crowdfunding activity going down.
  11. Branded entertainment: I’ve watched more and more young people change their content consuming behavior and this gets me horny. Hence the reason I’m a part of a new deal being put together in Hollywood to enter this space. We are still trying to figure stuff out, but we are close.
  12. Digital content and entertainment: The smartest thing people can do with content today is build in the brands. No, not product placement. I’m talking about unique branded integration that tells a story. Look at Nike, Redbull, and others – they get it.
  13. New retail and restaurant plays: I enjoy seeing people disrupt this industry. I see people tying mobile into the experience. I also have seen good uses of social. It’s all interesting to me. Just watch as more and more entrepreneurs come up with unique ways to mod this industry and integrate new forms of tech.
  14. Social Media: All forms, all uses, case studies, you name it, I’m following it and paying attention. It’s also important because if you’re not building social into everything you do today…you are an idiot.
  15. Social Commerce: Lots of people are toying with this (This includes me) and I think it’s awesome. Do I think this space is early still? Yes. Do I see it evolving and eventually becoming a very important part of our lives? Yes.
  16. Mobile: First off, I have two mobile startups I’m in right now. So, this means I’m paying attention to facts, statistics, apps, use cases…..I’m on top of it all.
  17. Fashion/Lifestyle apparel: I’m an advisor to a brand called Citizenshirt. We are gearing up right now to do some pretty grass roots, authentic projects. Watch us build this into a mainstream brand.
  18. Social Responsibility: If you’re not on top of this, don’t plan on being in business long – this is on top of the millennia’s priority list.
  19. Action sports: I’ve always been and always will love action sports – it’s in my blood.
  20. Any good example of strategy: social, analytical, marketing, management, etc.
  21. Furniture: I have a furniture startup that I’m in. The company is called Think Tables. Yes, we are starting out with writable tables, but we have big plans….stay tuned.
  22. Embedded software: Software is being embedded into everything. 5-10 years from now, it will be hard to find anything without tech embedded into it.
  23. Hardware companies: Hardware is something I’m looking at pretty hard. There are lots of startups and entrepreneurs out there today building hardware products. This excites me. I don’t know what I will do about it, but it will be something – I will ride this wave.
  24. Personal branding: With all that I do, it needs to come back and support my personal brand. What is my personal brand? Motivating startups and entrepreneurs to make stuff and things happen. If it doesn’t fit with my personal brand or the projects I’m involved with, I don’t do it.

———

How about you? 

What gets you horny today?

 

From the heart

Throwing out some love this morning.

1. Don’t go to college because you think this is the right thing to do. You have no idea what the hell you want to be anyways. If you’re going to do anything, I say travel the world and live out of a backpack meeting people and collecting experiences for a year or two. Work random ass jobs and have fun. Or start building a startup. I could careless, just do something.

2. Don’t try to meet a hot chick just because your friends have hot chicks. Wait for the right girl to come along. Yeah, you should play the field, but don’t settle down till you meet the right one. Find your warrior princess like I did.

3. Your goal shouldn’t be just to graduate. If you’re going to graduate, graduate with something you can use.

4. Don’t get a job find a passion. Jobs are for people who are depressed, divorced, and pissed off. Find a passion and live it out everyday in everything that you do.

5. Get married when your ready. Don’t get married because anyone is forcing you. If your friends are married great, this doesn’t mean you have to follow. Do it when your ready. Who knows, maybe there are some things you want to accomplish first.

6. Houses are a big responsibility and they will tie you down. You have to mow the lawn, take care of the things that breaks, and more importantly, you will feel stuck. It’s not the cool thing to do to own a home.

7. Dogs: Yeah they’re cute and fun to play with, but they are a big responsibility. Everytime you want to go somewhere or travel you have to find someone to watch them. Do you want this hassle and worry? I learned the hard way. I used to have dogs and they quickly became a pain – I no longer have dogs.

8. I have a little boy do any time. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I don’t even have the kid yet. However, don’t force it, let it happen on its own. God knows when your ready.

9. Divorce sucks ass. I don’t believe in it. You make a commitment and you figure the shit out. My wife and I have almost killed each other so many times I can’t even count. But today, she is my cheerleader and I love her with all my heart. Appreciate your wives and tell them how much you love them everyday.

Don’t live the same story everyone else lives and end up depressed and lonely. Game change this shit. Live different. Be different. And enjoy every second you have on this earth.

There it is, from the heart.