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.

 

Success: 9 things you can do daily

As a leader you must break down barriers, climb over walls, and press forward….all the time. It’s not easy, and if it were, everyone would be doing it.

If success is something you desire, here are 9 things you can do daily: 

1. Put the pedal to the metal

Everyday you wake up, it’s up to you push it as hard as you can. Don’t let up or someone will sneak right by. You have to be aggressive and you can’t play around. People who put the pedal to the metal always cross the finish line first.

2. Be aware of yourself

The first person you need to be in touch with is yourself. If you’re not in touch with yourself, you’re not going to be able to be in touch with anyone else. Take the time to tap into you – It will be the best time you ever spent.

3. Move on

Don’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come to you, go where the opportunities are – they might not be happening where you are, but they are happening. Move to a big city, go where your customers are, move to a place that offers more resources. Don’t sit around waiting for an opportunity to happen. Move on.

4. Channel your Emotion

Control your emotions before they control you. Emotions can ruin you. They will wipe you out every chance they get. Don’t let emotion get in the way of you winning. You need to be emotionally tough. Train your emotions so that when you go out there you are ready.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Scrap

Don’t let people push you around or take advantage of you. I don’t care how young you are, if you are a female, it doesn’t matter. Be a leader and be respectful, but don’t take shit from anyone. I don’t care if it is a VC, a partner, friend, you need to stand up be a man or woman and lay it on the line. People might think you’re a prick at first, but in the end when everyone succeeds they will respect and appreciate you. 

6. Don’t put up with office politics

To build a great culture of people who innovate takes time, energy, and obviously the right people. That is why when office politics pop up you need to take care of them right away. Don’t let them linger or they can wipe out all your hard work. Nip them in the but as soon as they happen and let your team know that you’re not willing to put up with crap like that. Culture is key and anything that stands in its way should be thrown out. 

7. Take Care of Your People

People are the key to your company’s success. Without the people your left there standing around like an idiot. That is why you take care of your people. Take an interest in their lives, their families, and their hobbies. Love on them. And make sure that they know that you care. If you can do this, you will always have people willing to work their tails off for you.

8. Say no

A simple word that is hard to say, NO. Many people have a hard time saying it. I do. The sooner you can get good at saying this word, the better off you’re going to be….in every area of your life.

9. Take Risks

Risks are part of life and success. If you’re not willing to take risks, then don’t plan on making it very far. The greatest feats where accomplished by leaders who choose to take the biggest risks.

 

What’s up with all the LA Incubators and Accelerators?

Are they legit? Why so many? How much money are they putting up? What kind of deals are they looking to invest in? Do they do follow on capital? How are they going to scale with talent?

These were some of my questions going into last nights Lean LA event titled “Learn About LA Incubators/accelerators” – really glad they put this event on.

If your curious about what Lean LA is, it’s a non-profit organization that is all about helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. The organization is run by Pete Mauro, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Joe Zulli. I haven’t had the chance to officially meet Patrick or Joe, but my coffee meetup with Pete was very positive.

By the size of the crowd last night (350 people), I wasn’t the only one with questions. The event was packed with people waiting outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hoping someone wouldn’t show and they could score a ticket to come in.

Another good call was the meal ticket that came with the admission price. How awesome is that? You could redeem at any one of the food trucks outside. Well done with this one!

So, let’s get to the meat of this thing. Why in the world would you want to move to Los Angeles for a startup? I wouldn’t, just being honest here. Not that I don’t think that everyone is doing a great job building the infrastructure and figuring it out, I just prefer to be in a place that already has it figured out.

Essentially all the incubators/accelerators said the same thing: they are working their tail off to create the infrastructure that will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into and build great companies. I think this is important and overtime will happen. Do I think it will happen quickly? No. As with any startup infrastructure, you have to work your nuts off, take a ton of risks, put your ass on the line, be willing to lose some serious dough, f some stuff up, and then, after all that, make the decision to keep going. If LA can do this, they will, overtime, have something great!

And, the other thing is talent. I think there is talent as there is talent everywhere, you just have to find it, organize it, and put it to good use. If you can’t get talent involved in the community that is your own fault – this really means you suck at selling.

The panel was fantastic – mainly because it was moderated by Dave McClure who wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and put people in their place – not in a negative way – I think he was just trying to challenge everyone to really think about what it is going to take to build this kind of community.

After Dave got everyone loosened up – it didn’t work for everybody, the event started with a representative giving a quick intro, history, and what their interest was in supporting the LA startup scene.

Some of the people who were on the panel were:

Start Engine (Howard Marks), Idealab (Allen Morgan), upStart.LA (Dan Dato), K5 Launch (Amir Banifatemi), Originate (Jeff Scheinrock), Amplify (Jeff Solomon), Muckerlab (Jeff Rannala), and Launchpad LA (Sam Teller).
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Here is a list of all the incubators/accelerators and how they are structured as it sits today.

LeanLA.com Los Angeles Area Incubator & Accelerator Cheatsheet.

(Courtesy of Patrick Vlaskovits, more details here.)

Start Engine: 120 Startups @ $20,000 per year
Idealab: 4-6 Startups @ $50k – $500K a year
upStart.LA: 5-10 Startups @ $18,000 each class (1-2 classes per year)
K5 Launch: 10-50 Startups @ 25K-$200k
Originate: 10-15 Startups @ $100K-$1.5 million per investment
Amplify: 20 Startups @ $50,000
MuckerLab: 20 Startups @ $21k a year
Launchpad LA: 20 Startups @ $50k a year
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Here’s the good news – at least from what I could see, people are fired up about entrepreneurship and they’re willing to step up to build the community, shape the culture, and pour cash into companies. And, for me, I don’t care where it is, if this is happening and people are trying, I am excited and fully supportive of it.

Now, go do your part…good things are happening.

 

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!

 

CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE REQUIRES PATIENCE AND SLOWING DOWN

The good news is we move fast; the bad news is we move fast. Now pause for a second and think about this statement. Your probably even having trouble pausing, aren’t you? Are we as leaders moving to fast? Are we moving so fast that we are forgetting to connect with people? Is the pace at which we are moving putting us in a place, where we’re all alone?

Photo Courtesy: Creative Commons

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