As we round up 2012 and move into the new year, I’d like to encourage people to not stop taking big risks. To not stop believing. We can’t shy away from all the fears and uncertainty. For the first time, we have more people than ever starting companies and some of these companies have the potential to impact billions of people lives.
This is history in the making and now is not the time to stop.
What’s so incredible about this is that we are not just talking about a better future, but we are building it.
To me, this is an enormous privilege and responsibility, and we must take it seriously.
The speed of thought and innovation is mind-blowing. The costs to start a company have never been lower and the resources out there are rich and plentiful.
We are experiencing an industrial revolution and what I hope is that everyone grabs a hold of it.
The role of us as entrepreneurs is to take the biggest, boldest risks and to look at everything from a long term perspective. It’s not about overnight success, but about cooperation and collaboration. It’s about working together to build a better world.
Come on, let’s commit to using our talents for global impact. Lets focus on the lives of our customers. Lets tend to the seeds that we’ve planted. Let’s think big and empower our nation’s creative entrepreneurs, and attempt to create companies that make a difference.
Who’s with me? Lets ring in another great year!
What do you want to be great at? For me it’s a husband, father, and then entrepreneur.
After my family, I want to be great at starting companies, providing jobs, and changing the world. To do that, I felt that I needed a set of rules to live by.
I use this list for myself and for the startups that I decide to get involved with.
This is a short list of things I work hard to hold myself accountable for…and those that I decide to partner with.
1. Be disruptive and visionary.
2. Go big or go home
3. Build your network through relationships
4. Plan for the next 5 minutes and for the next five years
5. Be flexible
6. Persistence pays off
7. Get your product to market fast and early
8. Seek honesty in everything
9. Stay hungry and humble
10. Be everywhere all the time everyday
11. Culture is the lifeblood of everything you do
12. Break these rules
What does your list look like?
Do you ever wonder why Silicon Valley is so awesome? I always wondered. Then, I moved here and found out why.
It’s not because of Stanford or all the VC’s like everyone thinks. Silicon valley once started out as nothing – It didn’t just one day pop up and be this incredible place for a startup. It started in the same place you are. Yeah, they have nice weather, you can surf and board in the same day, and it’s absolutely beautiful, but again, this is not what made the Valley the place to be for startups.
The reason Silicon Valley is successful is because the people here are more open to trying things and doing shit. They’re not afraid to take risks and lose their shirt. And they understand that high risk breeds high reward.
Everyone is on board with the vision and moving in the same direction. It’s not a top down ecosystem – It’s all-encompassing. Everyone is included and everyone has the same opportunity.
There is a sense of connectedness like I’ve never seen – I actually saw this in Boulder as well.
The other thing is that for the most part everyone trusts one another. You can meet with someone for coffee and within 30 days that person has written you a check to invest in your startup.
Think about this for a second. In other parts of the country, people want to strip you down naked, pull every record and file you and your company have, meet your kids, and then, they still come back asking for more – this shit kills an early stage startup.
Any community can build what Silicon Valley has built. The key though, is taking risks and trusting one another. People can say what they want, but Silicon Valley is built on the foundation of risk and trust.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Action sports: I’ve always been and always will love action sports – it’s in my blood.
- Any good example of strategy: social, analytical, marketing, management, etc.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How about you?
What gets you horny today?
In my book, short-term expectations and plans aren’t as important as long-term possibilities. Honestly, I don’t really care if some of my plans fall apart. Why? Because what matters is that I stay strong and continue to pursue my vision letting nothing get in the way.
Photo Courtesy of: 123freevectors.com
What matters is that you follow your heart and keep choppin’ wood every day. If you’re one of those people that lets short-term plans affect long-term possibilities you have a problem, and unless you change your thinking, you might not accomplish much in life.
Things are going to happen to you. Plans are going to fall apart. You will lose at times.
The key is staying positive, keeping an eye on your vision, and charging forward daily.
A good example is Jobs. He never let short-term stuff affect his vision of making cool shit. The thing I loved about Jobs was how he made gutsy decisions time and time again. He stayed hungry and never gave up…even till his last breath – this inspires me
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
What about you?
Will you stay strong pursuing your vision until you breathe your last breath?
For those of you who know me, I am a visionary. I like big risks and I’m not afraid to fail and lose everything – I’ve already been there done that. Yeah…it sucks while you’re in it, but you get right back up and start building again.
My dad always taught me to either go big or go home. We never went half ass – it was either all in or not in at all. Let me tell you, this was a great foundation for my startup life.
The same is true when it comes to VC’s. They are all in. They are taking big risks on your startup and for that, they are looking for a big win. They want deals that present an opportunity for a 10x return – minimum.
VC’s could give two shits about your little startup company that is going to own 30-50% of your small market – have some vision for crying out loud – that is if you are trying to reach VC’s.
I will also tell you from experience that it is just as hard to build a small company as it is a large one – you will never find me building something small again.
If you want a VC’s attention then go all in and build something that has the potential to scale and show a beauty of a return.
I am no VC, but I am speaking for some of my friends that tell me the horror stories. If your deal doesn’t have the potential for a 10x return then don’t waste their time.
What about you?
What are you building? Does it have the potential for a 10x return – minimum?
As you know, or as you are learning, failure is a very important part of your journey. Yes, I know I’ve blogged a lot about failure lately, but it’s only because of how important failure really is.
All successful entrepreneurs fall at times and then climb their ass right back out of a heap of crap only to be better, stronger, and more ready for the next challenge – I know that this is true for me. How about you?
The key to failing is getting right back up. You can’t stay down long and cry like a little bitch. You have to jump right back up and flaunt it – show off your scars and wounds so that other people can learn from them as well.
What matters in the end is that your shield is scuffed and beaten up because it shows that you were willing to fight. If you come back with a clean and shinny shield that just shows that you’re a pussy.
If you want to help and transform others, don’t talk about your arrival, talk about your journey, your battles, your wounds, and your redemption.
You hear about people with setbacks – I’ve had mine. Setback are awesome! Why? Because they are opportunities for clarity, humility, growth, and wisdom. You learn your strengths and you learn your weaknesses. You learn to ask for help. And you learn who you need to win the fight.
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.
How about you?
Why do you as an entrepreneur do what you do?