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?

 

Becoming a better entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are insane, they take huge risks, put everything on the line – all for the sake of doing what they love – starting and building companies. To be an entrepreneur you have to be confident and know what it takes to make it happen – I love saying that! You can’t let anything stand in your way of getting things done…nothing.

And, these same traits that are necessary to be a great entrepreneur might also be holding you back from becoming even more than you thought you could be.

Let’s take a look at what might be holding you back and see what we can do to push you to be better.

You

You need to wake up each morning and look seriously in the mirror. The one who is going to hold you back is you. The first person you need to learn to lead is yourself. And, if you can’t lead yourself, how do you expect to cast vision and lead a team. You can’t. Look in the mirror every morning and get yourself in check.

A level entrepreneurs attract an A level team

If you think you are the shining star and you don’t need anyone else, then you suck. You deserve to have you ass beat and thrown out into the streets. Great entrepreneurs know that they need to surround themselves with the best and brightest team. The better the team the better the outcome.

Over the years I’ve built both A level teams and B and C level teams. Let’s just say the B and C level teams taught me a very valuable lesson: take the time to hire the best and don’t settle for anything less.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

A mentor use to tell me to always keep a high level of communication. He use to ream my ass everyday about communication to the point I finally learned. He beat it into me and I am so thankful he did.

If you want to piss people off, fail to communicate with them. This is no different at home with your wife or your kids. You need to communicate. Let your people know what’s going on, both good and bad – I’ve learned this lesson too.

Invest in creating a culture that communicates well and rewards for it too.

Built a family not just a team

Stop looking at your team as people who just make you money. Look at your team as if they were family. Care for them, love on them – not physically, and do what you can to always be there for them – that is what family does.

Always be understanding, put yourself in their shoes, and do what you can to help them pursue their goals and dreams. It’s not just a team that you should be building, you should be building a family.

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How about you? 

What can you do to be a better entrepreneur?

 

Why realistic optimism?

Over the years I’ve been an overly optimistic person not always looking at the reality of the situation – it got me into trouble more than once. If you know me personally, you can probably appreciate the above statement. This has since changed (In the last year or so) and it’s treating me very well.

I was the fired up dude drinking the Kool aid not willing to face and embrace that which was real. Why? I don’t know why, really. Maybe  the thought of failure scared the shit out of me. So, instead of focusing on that, I would just focus on being optimistic and hoping and wishing for the best.

I was also raised that way. My mom is probably one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet. And, she was the one making the Kool aid!!! Haha.

Looking back, I use to say things like this, “Everything is going to be fine, we just need to keep going!”. Not taking the time to analyze the problem or challenge and build “several” plans that could be executed. This was so stupid of me to say these kind of things. Idiotic. If I would have only been more realistic with a dash of optimism. Not to drown on that though. There is a fix.

I haven’t given up on optimism, I’ve just decided to lean on the side of realistic optimism where today I say things like, “We are up against some serious challenges and here is how we propose to overcome them. We are not sure any of this will work, these are just the plans we’ve come up with thus far to address them. And, I do believe that together, as a team, as passionate warriors, (You need to be a warrior if you want to be in business today) we will meet these obstacles and challenges and find a way over them. I don’t doubt it for a second.”

This is what it looks like to express realistic optimism. Feels just as good, and, it is realistic!

Have fun and keep it real friends!

 

SOCIAL TRENDS FOR 2012

Every year, people predict trends in social media for the upcoming year. Some people are dead on while others…let’s just say they don’t have a clue – not that I do either, really!

This year, I decided that I would take a stab at it and throw in my two cents – this is after spending about 2 hours a day for the last couple of years reading about social media.

So what do I got for you? Here are my top 7:

Collective Intelligence. Watch as more and more people realize that they are not near as smart as a large group of people on social media and they can be leveraged to solve business problems, think up innovation, and get more done…faster.

Crowdfunding. With entrepreneurship on the rise and more and more people trying to start companies and innovate, they need access to capital. You have already seen what Kickstarter‘s been able to do to fund cool projects and initiatives. Also, maybe you’ve seen the crowdsourcing platform called Quirky that lets the best product ideas rise to the top and then helps them get produced and sold while the “inventor” takes a cut. This will not stop here, brilliant people are already working on new ways to leverage the crowd and gain funding for great projects.

Social will further integrate with real world experiences. Think of Coca cola and what they did in 2010. They created an amusement park where participants could swipe their RFID wristbands at Kiosks, which then posted to their Facebook account – it said what they were doing and where. This will continue to grow with companies building fully integrated online and offline experiences that will continue to define social.

Social Influence is on the rise. Companies will continue to build reward systems for those who produce quality content and have the greatest social influence. One of the companies playing in this space is Klout and now a new company called Wahooly who allows you to invest in startup companies based around your influence. It will be cool to see all the creative ways people start to be rewarded for their social influence. For 2012, the influence will become less and less about consumer plays like Klout and more about the tools and techniques used to score digital influence and actually harness, scale and measure the results of it.

Game on baby. I’m not talking about video games, rather game-like qualities within a number of social apps that reside either in your browser or mobile device. You will see levels, leaderboards, badges (Ford is already jumping into this arena), points, rewards, and everything in between that are tied to participation and competition.

Social Media Sharing. People will continue to share everything and as people become more and more comfortable sharing, you will see them sharing everything; Ideas, opinions, media, status updates, etc. Companies and brands will further integrate sharing buttons in and around their content and the love will spread. Also, watch as social sharing is more closely aligned with e-commerce or web transactions.

TV Gets more and more social. TV is about to become more and more social in which every show will be tied to social media interaction. Watch as people will be able to tweet in, ask questions, vote, etc, making the overall TV watching experience much more engaged. Parts of this have already been integrated on a few shows like the X Factor and the Charlie Sheen Roast. Something else that is cool is a network called Get Glue. Get Glue allows people to check-in to their favorite shows, collect stickers, and tell the world what programs they care about.

This is what I have for you this morning. I’m sure there are more emerging trends that we will see – social media seems to change by the second.

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What social trends do you see for 2012? Go. 

 

LEADING A CREATIVE LIFE OR SUCKING AIR

Are you leading a creative life or just sucking air?

If someone looked at you from the outside what would they say, “wow that dudes life sucks?”.  Maybe, just maybe it’s time to ditch this life for a sweet creative one? Think about it. And until then, check out this awesome guide to making your inner genius your greatest asset on the job by Jason Fiefer of Fast Company. You can Follow Jason Feifer @heyfeifer and @fastcompany on Twitter too!

Click to enlarge

Now go and get your creative on!

 

ITS TIME TO PERSEVERE

It’s time to persevere, and there is no better time than now. Why? Well, let me quick tell you why. The new year is just around the corner and it’s time that we rid all challenges, difficulties, and any past failures and move forward with a positive attitude and outlook on the future.

Today, around the world there are thousands if not millions of innovative leaders that are struggling to do good, meaningful work in a time of overbearing bureaucracy, horrible leadership,  and non stop failing solutions.

If you look around, you will see that everyone is working harder, and in most cases, in greater isolation than ever before.

Between the fast pace of work and life, family, balance, and the fear and anxiety, it is becoming almost impossible to have the energy and enthusiasm to keep going. However, this also means that everyone must stand up, brush off the years of good efforts that have been taken away by events beyond our control, and lets continue our efforts to do and achieve great things despite all difficulties, and failures.

What do you say? Let’s go!

 

WHAT WILL YOU DO IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOUR STAR?

Is your company operating on a lone star model? Do you understand the consequences of building a company around this model?

This happens more often than you think – companies that are built around one person and when he or she leaves everything tends to slowly fall apart. Think Apple years ago – there are several others too. You do not want this. Take the time to discover and nurture talent in every area of your organization.

It doesn’t matter how good a strategy or value prop you have, at the end of the day, you will need a well crafted organization filled with talent if you want to execute and build a successful organization.

In today’s knowledge economy, team building is one of the most important risks you need to manage – building a strong team can be difficult too, but possible when made a priority. Are you making it a priority?

Note: A strong team is not one where a single person disproportionally influences the team’s results.

Everyone seems to cherish the company champ, but if you want constant business growth, you better have organizational structures in place to ensure that the other team members are ready to take the lead when something happens to the champ.

What about you?

How are you building your organization?

 

HOW ARE YOU STARTING YOUR DAY?

Are you one of those people who jump out of bed at the last-minute, rush to get ready, and then you’re out the door to a busy day of work? What effects does operating this way have on your life (Have you even thought about this)? Do you ever feel like you’re missing something and if you just slowed down a bit you just might find it?

For as long as I can remember, I would sleep till the last-minute, hurry up and get ready, and then run out the door on my way to where I needed to be. I would forget things, spill all over my shirt, run into something, the list goes on – you know what I’m talking about.

I did this for years (you might be living this way) until I realized that there was a better way to start off my day and the results were totally worth it!

Here is how I start off my day:

1. Pray and mediate: I Thank God for my faith, my family, my friends, and all the wonderful things he has blessed me with. I ask him for wisdom, understanding, and a servant heart.

2. Love: I tell my wife how much I love her and how blessed I am to spend the rest of my life with her.

3. Exercise: I take care of my health so that I can live a long life filled with great experiences. Each morning, I will either run, cycle, stretch or lift weights.

4. Eat: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and if you miss it you will feel it. For me, I try to eat a healthy breakfast that can give me the energy I need to get through my day.

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How are you starting off your day?