I enjoy building cool shit and it’s not just because of money

A true entrepreneur who loves building stuff is not in it for the money – this is definitely a by product of building cool stuff, but money is not the primary driver. If it is, then you are not a true entrepreneur.

Every great entrepreneur I know wants several things and making money is not number one.

So, why do we as entrepreneurs do what we do; travel the world, spend time away from our families, sacrifice pretty much everything, and take the risks that others are unwilling to take?

It’s simple really. I’ll give you 8 reasons to start:  

1. We love building cool stuff and watching it turn into something – think of a house starting out as an idea and then becoming a place where a family is built.

2. We love working with other entrepreneurs who share our same passions. There is nothing like a couple of entrepreneurs coming together to brainstorm how they can disrupt an industry or take a crappy product and make it better.

3. We enjoy solving a problem that makes the world a better place.

4. We appreciate the freedom to be creative with no restraints. Everything is a go.

5. We hate when people tell us what to do. Our lives are not conventional.

6. We get fired up when we hit key milestones and make progress against an idea.

7. We want to be challenged or we lose interest and want to move onto other things.

8. We want to constantly be learning new things that stretch our minds and make us grow.

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How about you? 

Why do you as an entrepreneur do what you do?

 

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?

 

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?

 

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.

 

What we can all learn from Jenna Marbles

Jenna Marbles is the most subscribed chic on YouTube after just a couple of years. If you haven’t heard of her, go watch some of her videos. She is hilarious. Jenna has nearly 3 million people following her weekly videos and she’s built a pretty incredible brand from her bedroom.

Photo Courtesy of: akurepki2 on DeviantART

At first this sounds shocking. Then, you watch the interview and you realize why she’s so successful.

I think there are some great takeaways from this that we can all apply to our lives:

  • She say’s the shit other people think about, but their to afraid to say – they don’t want to be judged.
  • She’s as real, authentic, and transparent as it gets.
  • She doesn’t take herself to seriously.
  • She keeps things fun.
  • She makes people feel like they are a part of her journey.
  • She doesn’t care what people think about her
  • She doesn’t try to impress people
  • She makes people feel like it’s okay to be weird or awkward

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What do you think about Jenna Marbles? 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?

 

 

Entrepreneurs Need to be Mentally And Emotionally Tough

Entrepreneurs are a different breed – they sacrifice everything, eat ramen noodles, and live in a van if they have to just to pursue their ideas – I’ve done this. Sounds pretty crazy right? Not if you are purebred entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs need to be mentally and emotionally tough

In spite of all this, being an entrepreneur and starting companies is very challenging and it requires more than just hardwork, sacrifice, and all the other stuff you read in business/self-help books – it requires serious mental and emotional toughness.

Putting in the time, working your ass off, and sacrificing everything isn’t enough. Sorry for the bad news, but this will help you.

When you’re under pressure dealing with the day-to-day challenges of starting or building a company, you have to be mentally tough. You have to train yourself mentally so that when you need to step up, you have the confidence and total mental toughness to do so.

Back in my racing days (I realize this more now), being mentally tough was far more important than my physical conditioning, my equipment, and my sheer talent – it was having the mental toughness to be able to perform under intense pressures and come out on top.

It took me thinking and processing my thoughts, lots of visualization, and performing routine self talk – talking to myself about where I wanted to be, not where I was today.

You have to see yourself winning in business before you can actually win. You have to tell yourself that you are tough as nails and you will do anything it takes to build your company. The stronger you prepare yourself mentally, the more wins you can start adding to your belt.

90% of what you do as an entrepreneur is emotional toughness. Sounds like a big number, right? No. 

Emotional toughness will be one of the best things you ever learn as an entrepreneur – yes you can learn to be emotionally tough.

It requires you to shift your thinking from, I need an MBA from Harvard, to I need to be emotionally tough. And, until you can get yourself emotionally tough, your performance will always be poor no matter what degree, experience, or work ethic you have.

Emotional toughness comes from being able to conquer any doubt, eliminate hesitation, and see things as just another day in the life of an entrepreneur. You need to be able to take big hits and bounce right back. You need to be able to take a punch right in the face out of nowhere and not react.

I’ve learned to be emotionally tough by putting myself through failure, after failure, and I just keep getting back up for more. Some people think I’m crazy, I just think I’m getting tougher and more educated. Ben Parr said it perfectly, ” Startups are like the worst breakup you ever had relived over and over again.”

This is true, if you can’t wake up everyday with the possibility of reliving the worst breakup of your life, then you need to either work on getting emotionally tougher or get out the kitchen.

No wimps allowed. Entrepreneurship isn’t for sissies. Get mentally and emotionally tough and step up poised, balanced, confident, and ready to kick some ass.

No wimps allowed. Entrepreneurship isn’t for sissies. Get mentally and emotionally tough and step up poised, balanced, confident, and ready to kick some ass.

 

Find and Connect with Influential Twitter Users in New Markets

You want to find and connect with influential twitter users in different markets or communities? Whether you are a startup or an established company, here are a few tips to get you started:

Photo Courtesy Of: Web Designer Depot

Use a tool called wefollow.com 

Wefollow.com searches twitter for specific tags, cities, etc and returns a list of users who are the most influential, and who have the most followers. It’s a great tool especially if you’re a company trying to enter new markets and you want to reach the key influencers.

Follow Their Blog

You can’t just spam people on twitter or they will pretty much tell you to F-off. You have to follow their blog, read their stuff, and do more than just expect that they are going to open up their network to you. Remember, it’s about building relationships…and it takes time.

Many people on twitter are also bloggers. Follow their blog, comment, and interact with them. It’s also good to retweet their posts – the ones you think add value to your following and be sure to include their twitter handle in the tweet so they see you’re interested in their content.

Connect With Them On Other Networks

Not only are these users on twitter, but they’re also on networks like Linkedin, twitter, Facebook and others. Don’t think that these users just sit around tweeting all day, they are typically successful entrepreneurs, executives, or leaders in their field. Don’t be too aggressive, but nicely reach out and see if you can’t help one another out.

Answer Their Questions

Twitter and social media are about engagement. People are there to engage, start conversations and build relationships. Take some time to monitor the influential users you are targeting and see what they have to say. Try to jump in and see if you can’t make some conversation. And, be real. If you’re fake, people will call you out.

Show Appreciation

Thank people for the work that they do. Appreciate them. You would be surprised at how hard some of these people work to build and sustain their networks. If you want to connect with them, I would first research the user and learn their story: see where they came from, what they working on today, and what they’re goals and passions are. The time you take to do this will show.

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What are your thoughts on Finding Influential Twitter users? 

What other tips would you suggest?

 

The Do’s and Don’ts to Making Stuff and Things Happen

1. Don’t make it so difficult to brainstorm a good idea. It’s not that hard. Simply.

2. Stop forming boards and committees that wreck ideas and projects. If your board or committee is not adding value and challenging you to draw outside the lines and take risks, then get rid of it.

3. Make your team lean and mean so that you can actually get shit done. The more people, the more time, the less stuff and things you will be able to get done.

4. Don’t make products that suck. Make products that knock people’s socks off. Make stuff people really want. Make stuff that changes people lives.

5. Get stuff done…..on time. If you have to work around the clock to get it done, then that is just what you have to do. It is what it is. Deal with it.

6. Put time pressure on yourself and your team. Put in place deadlines. Sometimes make it urgent. All of these things will drive you to get more done.

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What would you add? What is on your list of do’s and don’ts? 

 

Things to Ponder Before Starting a Company

Startups are my life. Literally, family is first and after that I’m all startups and business. After racing I found my new thrill in starting and building companies. It’s a blast, I almost hate to say it, but I get more out of it than I did racing. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said that, but it’s just that awesome!

Photo Courtesy of: Striatic

Anyways, when I moved from racing to startups it was an eye-opener. I made a ton of mistakes (I’m still making them) I fell on my face, and I just keep getting right back up, learning and asking for more.

If you are thinking about staring a company, here are a few things you need to ponder before you launch out of the gate.

1) What are my goals, and how hard do I really want to work. There’s a huge difference between a startup that allows you to make a good living versus one that has a $100M payout. You need to decide and commit either way.

2) What am I truly passionate about? What is something I would be willing to work my ass off day in and day out?  If it isn’t something that gets you super horny from the start, then it’s probably not worth pursuing. Startups are a rough and long road – you need to be sure you are in love with whatever you are starting.

3) Build a short and long-term plan. Think about the future. Find a nice place (Alone or with your founders) and sit down with some financial spreadsheets, a business model canvas, and build a model for your startup. Take into account revenue, expenses, financing rounds, location, space, customer segments, value propositions, etc. If you haven’t done this before, get some help from a mentor or read Business Model Generation!

4) Do you have customers lined up or do you know people who would buy your product? If you can line people up from the beginning, it’s gonna add value to your startup. And If you can’t convince at least a handful of people to agree to try and ultimately pay for your product once it’s ready, then you should think about whether you have the right product and model. Too many companies have failed because the founders put their sweat, blood and tears into a business model that was flawed from the start.

5) The best one of all. You have to start damn it. Sitting around isn’t going to build your company. Prioritize, and get going. If you’re doing it right, there will always be more to do then you can carry out. The hardest part is deciding what NOT to do while making progress and creating momentum.

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How about you? 

Are you starting a company? Thinking about it? What are you pondering?