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?

 

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.

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.

 

Where are you in your priorities?

After God, who comes second in your life? Is it you? I sure hope so.

I know, this sounds selfish, but it’s the best advice and change I’ve ever put forth in my life.

The reality is, if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you tend to anyone else: your wife, children, company, team, startup, etc.

For me, if I take care of myself first it allows me to be mentally, emotionally, and physically available for others. It allows me to better serve and lead those around me.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • If you don’t take care of yourself mentally and participate in either prayer, meditation, or something of this nature, how can you have a clear mind to share with others.
  • If you don’t exercise and eat right, what would happen if you became very sick? You wouldn’t be much help to anyone around you now would you?
  • If you don’t get your rest, you won’t have the energy you need to get through your day.
  • If you don’t take the time to read and write, then you can’t have the intellect to contribute to others.
  • If you don’t take time to reflect and heal from your emotional wounds, you end up reacting and looking like a fool. It’s easy to make these mistakes. Instead, you should be in a position to teach, inspire and add value. How do you do this? I think counseling and therapy can be highly beneficial.

When you start taking care of yourself “first” then you can start taking care of those around you. I am know expert, nonetheless I am strive everyday to be better.

———–

What about you? 

Are you putting yourself first (after God)?

 

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.

 

Balancing fear and confidence to pursue big ass ideas

Do you have a big ass idea that scares the livin’ shit our of you? Good. That’s a start. If your idea doesn’t scare the shit out of you then it probably sucks or it’s not worth pursuing. The fear is normal.

Any entrepreneur that says he’s not afraid is a liar.

Now, if you have a passion for a big idea, it scares the shit out of you, and you’ve been impregnated with it, you should give yourself the permission to pursue it. That is, if you are ok with failure. If you’re not, then you should let someone else who’s ok with failure go after it. You, you should sit on the sideline and watch.

Pursuing big ideas is scary business. It’s terrifying. And it should be. That’s what makes it fun. Anything not terrifying is just a walk in the park. Anyone can walk in the park.

One of the keys to pursuing big ass ideas is balancing complete fear of jumping of a cliff with complete confidence that you will land safely. The fear allows you to be in touch with it, and the confidence allows you to take it on. You need both to succeed.

This was a big turning point for me as an entrepreneur. Once I found that balance – and I was able to admit my fear, it became much easier to go after big ideas over and over again.

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How about you? 

How are you doing with balancing fear and confidence?

 

Do work you love

The last few months of working on several startup projects with passionate entrepreneurs has caused me to think about this idea of work. And, how do you find work that you love to do so much that you would do it even if you didn’t get paid? Entrepreneurs, you know exactly what I’m talking about here.

This whole process began when I started working on an old project that I quickly became super passionate about again. I was able to answer the question why am I doing this? The why that sometimes gets clouded with the what and how was clearer than ever before – I love building stuff and things: products, teams, companies, and anything that inspires me to take action.

Are you trying to figure out what kind of work you love to do? Does it feel like a struggle? If so, it should. However, don’t lose hope because what you love to do just might be right around the corner.

Finding work that you love is a struggle for…everyone. I’ve struggled with this, my friends have struggled with this, and pretty much everyone I know struggles with this at some point in their life. In fact, most people fail miserably at this.

Nevertheless, if you at least have a destination in sight, you’re more likely to arrive at a place in which work feels more like something you love than work.

Work has to start with a mindset of knowing that you can love work. If you’re able to do this, you are in the homestretch. And, if you can figure out what work you love, you’re more or less there.