Family Is First

Over a year ago my wife and I packed up our shit and moved to California from the mitten state – this is Michigan for those of you who don’t know it as the mitten. I was over MI. I couldn’t get out of the state fast enough. I was sick of the weather, the startup ecosystem, the capital, it just wasn’t what I was looking for – I learned this the hard way. Not that there aren’t great people doing awesome things in MI, it just didn’t fit and jive with me personally.

While in California, I traveled, I networked, and got super plugged into all the startup communities there. I spent time in San Diego, LA, San Francisco, the Valley, and a few other smaller communities like Santa Barbara, Carlsbad, Orange County, and a few others.

I was looking for more high growth startup stuff and an environment that was conducive to this. I wanted to plug into a system of badass entrepreneurs with vision, character, and a passion to make shit happen. Oh, and they value failure as a key driver to their community.

Moving away from MI was one of the best decisions I ever made. It brought me closer to my wife and my family, I became the one of the leaders of Startup California, which is a region of Startup America, It lead me to all the startups I’m involved with, I met some incredible people, and we found out that we were having Danny Beckett the third. What more could I ask for? Honestly, nothing. I am very, very thankful.

However, after we found out that we were having little guy there was something missing. Something just didn’t feel right. Something was keeping us up all night. What was it? It was family. Family has always been and always will be first in my life – if it’s not I hope someone steps up and slaps me. I say it in my bio, family is first, and after that, I’m all startups and business.

Because family is first, my wife moved back to MI about 3-4 months ago to be with our families during and after the pregnancy. I remained in Mountain View for just a little while longer until I couldn’t handle it any longer and I wanted to be with Sarah and my family too.

Today I spend 2-3 weeks in MI with my family and 2-3 weeks traveling back and forth to Mountain View, LA, SD, CA, New York, CO, and wherever else I need to be. It’s a little crazy at times, but it works for us and we are happier than we’ve ever been.

Here is what I’ve learned. Home is the place where your family is. You will journey out, you will try new things, and you will meet kickass people from around the world, but what will never change is that place you call home.

I leave you with this; move away, try new things, take risks, meet new people, discover the undiscovered, and don’t settle for anything less than awesome. But, while you’re out and about, just remember where home and family is.

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How about you? 

What’s your story?

 

Happy Monday: 5 things for you and your startup to consider

It’s Monday, you had a killer weekend, and now your ready jump into your week building cool shit. But, before you do, I have 5 things for you to consider:

Illustration courtesy of: Mile Square Studio

1. Can you summarize your startup on the back of a business card? People are busy. They don’t have much time. You need to be able to sell them quick. I don’t care if it’s a customer, a partner, a co-founder, or an employee, you need to sell them quick. Don’t complicate things. KISS.

2. Don’t waste time chasing after small markets. Why? Life is to damn short to work your ass off for something small. Disrupt. Be a game changer. Go after large existing markets poised for rapid growth.

3. Spend time understanding who your customers are. Build personas, ask questions, interview people. You ultimately want to figure out what customers will move fast and pay top dollar for a unique offering.

4. What is your focus? Figure it out. Don’t waste time trying to be everything to everyone – you will lose. Build a simple product with a singular value proposition and sell the shit out of it.

5. Delight. Delight. Delight. If your customers aren’t delighted with your product, you need to either pivot or start over. It sucks to lose all this time, energy, and money, but it will pay off in the end.

That’s what I have for today. Get after it and keep doing what you love.

 

Find a mentor that kicks your ass

Finding a mentor is hard, but finding a mentor that tells you what the fu** is up is even harder. You want someone who is going to tell you when an idea sucks, a team member needs to be kicked to the curb, or you’re just making stupid decisions based on emotion. A sissy mentor doesn’t do you any good, right? No. You need a mentor that scares you.

I think the notion of having a caring and supportive mentor who is always there to hold your hand blows. There is no better time then when you are a rookie to get punched in the face by a good mentor – these times will define you.

Honestly, I wished I had a good mentor that would have said, “Danny, what the fu** are you doing? Who is this worthless person you hired? What are you thinking? Pull it together you idiot.” Even though these things sound harsh, most of the time we need to hear them.

It’s better to face things now, than later when the stakes are a lot higher.

Here’s what you do, you go out and find the most qualified and talented mentor, coach, or manager you can, and ask them to not go easy on you. You tell them to be tougher than they have ever been. And, you don’t run away crying like a little bitch when things get tough – you run straight towards it.

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How about you? 

Do you have mentor that kicks your ass into shape?

 

Question for you today?

Here’s my question for you today. Are you taking actions each day to push your ideas forward? Or, are “you” holding back your ideas?

Ideas don’t hold back ideas – well, I guess then can, but not in this case. What holds back ideas are the people who push these ideas forward – believe me, several of my ideas have been held back because of me.

If you ever want to see your ideas move forward, you better get a grip on yourself. The worst thing you can do is not take the time necessary to develop self-awareness, discipline, and confidence – the things you need to push your ideas forward.

Please, do yourself a favor and not hold back your ideas.

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What else causes people to hold back their ideas and not push them forward? Add your comments below.

What are you working for?

My friend Matt Fulk at Citizenshirt has this sign up in his shop – it makes me think hard every time I’m there.

The question is, are you building your company around being the cheapest in town? Is that all you’ve got to offer is being the cheapest? And, what a sad thing to spend your days racing just to try to be the cheapest. Why not try to deliver some value like: design, quality, team, culture, happiness, etc?

In my mind, the person that is the cheapest is just the least creative – they can’t come up with anything better than cheap. These people will eventually die a lonely death – there will always be someone who is cheaper than you.

I have to agree with the sign. You have two choices. You either do stuff for free – this means that you are so passionate about what you do that you are willing to do it for free.

Or, you do it for full price – this means that you and others see value in what you have to offer.

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How about you? Add your comments below.

 

Are you testing and tuning your ideas?

Henry Ford said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

Failure is important if you ever want to achieve your ultimate goal. Even though its often not supported, it’s key. You have to test and tune. You have to take trial an error seriously. Just think, everything in life is pretty much trial and error: relationships, children, startups, careers.

You have to get out there and test and tune your ideas.

We use to test and tune our motorcycles for days, weeks, months even before we got them to a point where we were comfortable with them. You have to do the same thing with your ideas. Test and tune them out, pivot them – the goal is to get your idea to a point where you feel good and strong about it.

Share your ideas and get people’s feedback as soon as possible. The longer you work on an idea, the more attached you will become. Thus, you need to get feedback right away before you’re married to an idea that sucks – you don’t want to married to bad idea. It would be like being married to a crazy wife.

Testing and tuning ideas provides great information – whether they come to fruition or not. Actually, the failed ones teach you more than the ones that go on to work – you find the things that don’t work or that you don’t want to pursue. Nobody really wants to fail, but to find those nuggets and to get your idea tuned up and in shape you need to be willing to test and fail.

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Are you testing and tuning your ideas? What is your process for this?

 

 

Where are you in your priorities?

After God, who comes second in your life? Is it you? I sure hope so.

I know, this sounds selfish, but it’s the best advice and change I’ve ever put forth in my life.

The reality is, if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you tend to anyone else: your wife, children, company, team, startup, etc.

For me, if I take care of myself first it allows me to be mentally, emotionally, and physically available for others. It allows me to better serve and lead those around me.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • If you don’t take care of yourself mentally and participate in either prayer, meditation, or something of this nature, how can you have a clear mind to share with others.
  • If you don’t exercise and eat right, what would happen if you became very sick? You wouldn’t be much help to anyone around you now would you?
  • If you don’t get your rest, you won’t have the energy you need to get through your day.
  • If you don’t take the time to read and write, then you can’t have the intellect to contribute to others.
  • If you don’t take time to reflect and heal from your emotional wounds, you end up reacting and looking like a fool. It’s easy to make these mistakes. Instead, you should be in a position to teach, inspire and add value. How do you do this? I think counseling and therapy can be highly beneficial.

When you start taking care of yourself “first” then you can start taking care of those around you. I am know expert, nonetheless I am strive everyday to be better.

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What about you? 

Are you putting yourself first (after God)?

 

Where you invest your time will determine your destiny

Where are you investing all your time? Might be worth taking a hard look at because where you invest all your time could just be your destiny.

Where do you invest your time

In fact, it is your destiny and you might not even know it. Time is the most valuable asset you got so you better be using it wisely and paying attention to where you spend it.

Here are a few truths to follow: 

1. Whatever it is, if you work hard at it day in and day out you will eventually be good at it. It’s just how things work. Focus, work your tail off, and good things will happen.

2. If you suck at something it’s usually not all the fun, right? I mean, that is why I quit golfing…because I suck at it. I can ride a dirtbike, but Golf, yeah I suck. Now, if I played golf often, I would eventually get good and probably start to love it. It all comes down to where you spend your time.

3. Think of something you’re good at. Do you enjoy it? Well yeah, why wouldn’t you. The key is finding something you enjoy and overtime you will become more and more passionate about it.

4. So, if you are good at something, work hard at it. Invest time. Work harder than anyone else so that you can excel and be the best that you can be.

 

Building a startup ecosystem that could be a game changer

I believe that if we were to connect students, young adults, and great mentors/business leaders in an intergenerational capacity (where everyone is learning, stretching, and growing) we could change the game in terms of building startup ecosystems that have the potential to change the world.

Think about this. Could we build more great entrepreneurs if we were to expose them to startups at a younger age (I’m talking middle school and high school students)? And what if they had the opportunity to team up (In a mentoring capacity) and hear, learn, and be inspired by other great entrepreneurs? Do you think they would want a job after that? Some, but not all.

We wait too long today and by the time we reach them, they are gone. We lost them to a society where they teach you to go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have some kids, and buy a dog…and you will live happily ever after. Parents are teaching this shit, teachers are teaching this shit, I mean, the only one not teaching this is entrepreneurs.

I say NO, start a company, take some risks, fail, have fun, build and do something that you love. Start over again. Build a great story. Break away from the norm.

We need to expose the youth at an early stage to startups and mentors so that they can become inspired to build the next great startups.

When I say the word “intergenerational”, It essentially means “adults mentoring students and students mentoring adults.” Think of all the things we are NOT learning when we don’t engage a program like this. Incubators are doing this to build great companies right now. Why are we not starting earlier?

The reality is, our world is divided by age – like it or not. In business, leadership, church, etc.

For decades, people have talked about how to bridge the gap between the younger generation and the older generation. Lets quit talking and start doing. Why do we need to continue to have fruitless conversations that ends with no productivity, and where the conversation ends up being shelved.

We can build an ecosystem like never before if we can engage an idea like this.

If building more great startups and jobs for the future is highly dependent upon intergenerational entrepreneurship, this is a conversation that can’t be shelved. I think we need to dig deeper into this idea and see what could happen if we take this more seriously than ever before.

What do you think?