Those who have failed will go on to be great

From my previous failures and what I’ve been able to observe, there is nothing more valuable and powerful than a major or personal failure. I believe that failure is what brings things to life and positions them to be great. I think it forces introspection, humility,  and that extra drive to prove something to those around you – specifically those who have watched you fail or been apart of your failure and now question your abilities. As I reflect on my failures and interact with those who have also failed I begin to see a pattern where the entrepreneurs who have failed typically are the ones who become the most successful.

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.

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How about you? 

What gets you horny today?

 

Ship Now, what are you waiting for?

If you’re sitting around thinking about this sweet plan about how you are going to take over the world with your product and you keep adding this and changing that, I say stop now and ship that shit – what are you waiting for….seriously?

Don’t be scared, no one is going to know about it for a while anyways – you will have plenty of time to collect feedback and make changes….trust me.

If you don’t ship now, there may be no hope for you or your product. By the time you “think” it’s right, someone will have already beaten you too it – you don’t want this, right?

It’s important that you get your product to market as quickly as possible. The longer you wait the more life and stuff happens. Put everything aside, figure what you need to make it viable, and start shipping. Do it now before I do.

The key is taking your product to market as quickly as possible. Then, after you’ve taken it to market you can collect customer feedback and use it to adjust the customer and product path. Simple stuff. Don’t complicate it.

I’ve dealt with both situations before; taking time to go to market and just shipping. You can probably guess what one always turned out better for me.

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Are you that person who sits around waiting to ship? What’s holding you back? 

 

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.

 

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.

Kicking off the Startup America Summit in Boulder, CO

Happy Monday! The Startup America Partnership Summit kicks off today here in Boulder, CO and I’m ready to meetup with some rock star entrepreneurs.

Boulder is a beautiful place, and it’s one of the leading startup communities with Techstars, the Foundry Group, and others.

Over a hundred or so entrepreneurial leaders from 27 regions (I represent the CA region as one of the leaders) in the US will gather for two days to talk startups and startup communities.

How awesome is that, right? Two days filled with startup talk and what we can do to build and support more high growth startups/communities. Where do I sign?

If you’re wondering what Startup America is, Startup America is a growing national movement of entrepreneurs and resources providing startups access to the things they need to grow and produce jobs.

The movement launched at the White House in early 2011. The AOL co-founder Steve Case chairs the Partnership and the kauffman and Case Foundations are its founding partners.  American Airlines, American Express OPEN, Dell Inc., Intuit Inc., Microsoft and NYSE Euronext are just some of the corporate sponsors that have already jumped on board as well.

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome! And, you should for sure sign up. Does it cost money? Nope. It’s free. It’s a no cost program with a ton of benefits. And, if anything, being a part of this organization will help you connect with some pretty cool people who can help you grow your company.

I will share my thoughts and what I learned later in the week.

Have a great week!

 

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.

 

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? 

 

Startup Community Ecosystem Roles

I think everyone passionate about their community and startups asks the question. What are the roles needed within a startup community ecosystem to be successful?

Building startups for the last 8 years (within different communities) and working with Startup America Partnership the last few months has given me some great perspective to take a stab at this question.

Members of strong startup community ecosystems stay involved and add value by playing a wide variety of roles. In designing a startup ecosystem or strengthening an existing one, companies should incorporate an assortment of roles into the community structure and help members take on new roles as their needs change.

Below are 17 roles that I’ve put together as being critical to a any ecosystems function, preservation, and evolution. Please add your comments below. I’m not saying I’m an expert, just throwing out some ideas.

  1. Mentor: Teaches others and shares expertise.
  2. Investors: Invests in all stages of startups: seed, early, and growth.
  3. Learner: Enjoys learning and seeks self-improvement
  4. Back-Up/Supporter: Acts as a safety net for others when they try new things, take risks, fail. And they participate passively as an audience for others.
  5. Partner: Encourages, shares, and motivates others to build high growth companies.
  6. Storyteller: Spreads the community’s success stories throughout the community, state, and nation.
  7. Historian: Preserves community memory; codifies rituals and rites
  8. Hero: Acts as a role model within the community. Someone to look up too. Someone who has been there done that.
  9. Decision Maker: Makes choices affecting the community’s structure and function
  10. Provider: Hosts and takes care of the other members
  11. Greeter: Welcomes new members into the community
  12. Guide: Helps new members navigate the culture
  13. Catalyst: Introduces members to new people and ideas
  14. Performer: Takes the spotlight and serves as a figurehead or icon of what the startup community represents
  15. Ambassador: Promotes the community to outsiders
  16. Accountant: Keeps track of people’s participation
  17. Talent Scout: Recruits new members

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What other roles are necessary within a startup ecosystem?