This sign is placed on my wall so that every time I leave my office I am asking myself this very important question.
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.
It’s been awhile, but I’m back. Sorry for the delay – I’ve been in the trenches and spending lots of time with my family.
I’m not gonna lie, blogging has been on my list it just hasn’t risen to the top. Yeah, yeah I know how important it is, but I also have things like an amazing wife, an incredible son, and startups that need me out there hustling.
You’re probably wondering what’s happening in my world. Maybe you follow my Facebook or twitter and see my posts/tweets, and you’re wondering, what’s up with him? How is he making money? How is he keeping it all organized? I’m wondering all the same things!!!! Oh, and it looks like he’s killing it and must be raking in the $$$$. Not really! It may look spectacular on the outside – it really is on the inside too, but it’s not because I’m making lots of money, it’s because I stay focused on what’s important and I wake up everyday knowing that I really have everything I need; a beautiful family, my health, and the opportunity to start and build things with people I care about.
Here’s what’s Important to me:
- Trying to be the man and husband my wife deserves
- Trying to be the best Dad I can be for my son
- Adding value to my startups: strategy, data, raising $$$, sales, customers, traction, marketing, distribution, talent, the list goes on
- Making good decisions based on past experiences
- Surrounding myself with people who challenge me to be great
- Leading with my strengths
Next question, how is he making money? It starts with me getting creative every month. Sometimes it comes from my startups while other times it comes from a consulting project. And other times lots of prayer. It’s tough. I have to work hard every month to find a way to pay my bills. But, I’m ok with it. Is it tough and at times do I want to give up? Yes, but then I think about my wife, my son, and my passion to win. I’m a champion and I know not to let short-term gains affect my long-term possibilities. I press on.
How do I keep it all organized? I don’t. Instead I build up people around me who can fill in my gaps so that together we win. My mindset is that together we go further faster.
How are my startups doing? Incredible! I mean they all have their challenges, but overall good traction, growth, distribution and they’re all really early still.
Here’s a little more on my startups and projects:
- Free Lunch Friday: This is my passion project. I carry it around daily looking for ways where we can add value and change the world. Because I understand what it means to be hungry, at FLF we are on a mission to feed the hungry startups and entrepreneurs that feed our global economy. We are starting with community – free food and beer, but come this August we will be rolling out FLFU ( Free Lunch Friday University) – basically the non-profit version of GA, but insanely focused on entrepreneurial education and content. We are very excited about this. Our plan is to pilot it in 3-4 cities and then scale it big in 2014.
- THINK TABLES: I’m an idea person and If I want to write it down, then I want to do it on the table. I co-founded this company because I wanted a whiteboard table for myself. The company is scaling sustainably – not huge, but a healthy growth rate that feels right at the moment. Nevin Groce is the CEO and is killing it. A few weeks ago he engaged 3-4 direct sales people that are currently experiementing with different sales channels. We also have some new product lines coming out soon.
- FundOurCommunity: You watch, this company will go public within the next 10 years. It has a solid team, the product is great, and the power it has to completely revolutionize the way we fund projects within our communities is nothing less than special!
- schwagon: On hold – picking up pace – had several issues to sort out.
- konnect: This is a new one. We got sick of wasting time at events and meeting random people who don’t add much value. We are making connections way more intelligent and using big data to do it. We just started raising money a few weeks ago. Our go-to-market will still be this year.
- + a few stealth ones that I can’t share at the moment.
That’s it for now – I’m just getting back at blogging. More later. Thanks for following. Let me know how I can help or add value.
Where are you searching for ideas or innovations? The best ones come out of real problems or real pain – things that you feel or face everyday.
I’m not saying these are the ideas or innovations that you should pursue, it’s just the way I roll.
To me, If it’s something that I will use personally then I will put all my effort into making it an excellent product. I never build just for the sake of building.
If you ask me, there is nothing truly new in the world. It’s really just a mash-up of all the things that provide different perspectives - that allow you to think or do something in a completely different way. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open to the things that are driving you crazy.
For proof, check out my startup companies. You will see that they are all things that I use. They are pains that I or someone that I care about have felt at one point or another and because of this we put together startup companies to solve these problems.
What are you working on? Is it a real problem or pain of your’s? Or is it just some shit that you’re building just to build. Go for the latter if you want to succeed.
I’m excited to share this new time lapse video with you from Think Tables. This startup has big plans for 2013. Keep an eye on them!
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!
I think people misunderstand us entrepreneurs.
For that, let me clarify what makes me and pretty much every other entrepreneur in this world do what we do.
When people think about entrepreneurs, they think of people like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and the like. But, what they forget is that at one point these folks were in the same spot as you; sacrificing, staying up all night coding, spending every last dollar on their dream. Yeah, they didn’t have shit on their way to the top, but they were happy doing something they were passionate about.
You see, people get caught up in the public face and the hype about a company but forget about what’s going on under the hood and the time that’s being put in to get to the top.
They never seem to ask either or take the time to understand. Then….one day, we surprise the hell out of them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘To be great is to be misunderstood“
Because I often feel misunderstood (Maybe you do too), I thought I would take a stab at helping others better understand us.
We have a method to our madness. We don’t sit around on our computers all day doing nothing. It may seem like the strangest thing, but every one of us have a process for thinking things through, strategizing, and making decisions. We are process oriented people and think like a builder. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are doing it just comes natural as it’s part of our fabric.
We trust our gut to the end. We’ve spent our lives absorbed in chasing our dreams and for this we are extremely confident when it comes to trusting our instincts and following whatever inspires us the time. We follow what we believe in, not what other people think is right or what society tells us we should do. We may listen to others, but it’s only a trusted few and in the end it’s still going to be our.
You won’t find a more passionate person. This is what we do. There is nothing else…it’s all we know and want. It could be writing code, coming up with the next great product, or changing an entire industry, we love it. It inspires us to go big or go home. It’s ultimately where we feel most comfortable. We feel at home and if you were to ask any of us, we would tell you that there is nothing else we’d rather be doing.
We are quick on our feet. We can process things, come to grips with a situation, and understand complexities very quickly. Stuff that might take you two hours to understand we can take care of in minutes.
Problems are our lifeblood. We enjoy nothing more than seeking out and solving problems. We see every problem as an opportunity worth solving. It’s like it’s a never-ending game or something. We actually get off on it. And once we fully understand the problem, we will bring everything we have to the table to come up with the right solution, business model, decision, whatever it takes.
We have something to prove. It’s not entirely clear as to who, but we have something to prove. Maybe it’s to ourselves, that we really can solve a certain problem and build something out of nothing. Who knows. Regardless, we are all on a pursuit to achieve greatness and we will let nothing stand in our way.
Hardass workers. You will find no one that works harder than us. Yeah, you may work with your hands, but you eventually come home and sit with your families. We lay awake at night thinking about our companies. We wake up in the middle of the night to start working on a thought or an idea. It never stops. It never ends. Our work is our life. It’s obvious really when you consider how passionate we are about what we do and how driven we are for accomplishment.
And just for the sake of knowing, If you ever end up working with one of us, the worst thing you can do is sit on your ass. We hate people who say yes all the time and we are impatient with folks who don’t add value. We surround ourselves with people who can make things happen. If this is you, great. If not, move along. We think this way. Come on board and get to work or get out of our way. Easy as that.
Make it your personal mission to build cool shit with cool people.
If you’re thinking about starting a company don’t make it about it be about money, power, success, or the cool factor? These are the wrong reasons to start a company…and if this is all you got, you better be ready to fail.
Yes, you do need drivers as you do in anything, but don’t let these be the reasons why you start a company.
Starting a company is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It’s tougher than any Iron man, fight, school paper, exam, breakup, or fight you’ve ever been in. Starting a company is like getting in the ring with an MMA fighter just to get your ass beat over and over again – the key, getting right back up because anything worth doing is worth fighting for.
Don’t waste another day doing anything other than this. I’ve started several companies for the right reasons and I’ve started companies for the wrongs reasons. What I’ve learned is this simple statement: build cool shit with cool people.
Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made, get out there, find cool people, and get started building cool shit.
If you do this, it will change your life.