Entrepreneurs Looking to Build a Home

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Lay down your best brick every day. 

I don't need to tell you this. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days.  

Especially us millennials. We don't want to work for "the man". It's unbelievable. The internet and media have produced a rainfall of "wantrepreneurs". Believe me, I know what it's like to think about that "million dollar" idea all day and fantasize about creating the next FB.

I think it's good to be ambitious and goal-oriented when you're young.."hustling and grinding". But what does that really mean? I think the true meaning has been taken out of context. Everyone is looking to make a quick buck. 

However, let me tell you right now - stop with the short term, shoddy ideas. Stop looking for short-cuts. That road will close quickly. That last thing you want to do is get stuck.

Build a foundation. It's better to not make any money for 15 years so that you can make $100,000 dollars a month forever then it is to make a quick $60,000 and go back to laying down brick #1.

I've learned to understand that great things take time and tons of hard work. Go out and test things. Get feedback. Learn what product-market fit is. Learn to work as a team. Learn through failure. You will be tested.

However, make sure you realize this is not something that you do for a couple months or even a couple years. This is a long-term game. Read about the failures of successful individuals. No one had an easy road.

For those lucky enough to climb high and fast, realize you can fall even faster.

Be yourself. Think about why you're doing this. Do you truly care about solving this problem? Realize if you're going to be serving the world and your community, you will need trust. You will need relationships.

And both take time to build. These are things you earn. You're not the only one playing this great game - we all are.

If you lay your best brick down every day, you'll eventually start to realize that you've built something so magnificent, wherever you go, you feel at home.

Know When to Take a Break

I didn't want to get out of bed today.

For the second time this year, I feel burned out.

My body is aching everywhere and I don't feel sharp mentally.

Taking time off hasn't been in my vocabulary this year.

I would've kept pushing through but today I hit a brick wall. 

I've done the least I needed to today. 

I showed up and did a interview. To be honest, I didn't feel the best about it, but I'm glad I didn't reschedule.

We're all grinding and pushing ourselves constantly.

But at what cost? I think it's important to work hard and build your toughness.

However, we're all human and it's okay to say I need a break.

Instead of pushing myself and digging a deeper hole,  I decided to take my foot off the pedal and rest.

That networking event, the pop-dinner, and that catch-up meeting can wait.

Because how can you help others when you can't help yourself?

Take a break before it's too late.

On that note - I will not scheduling any more one-off meetings until after the holidays.

What we can learn about American Airlines and its dedication to world class customer service

“After 15,000 flights without pilots erroneously scheduled by American Airlines,

thousands of angry passengers take to social media”.

Hopefully, nothing of that sort makes headlines come Christmas and New Year.

AA might be able to deliver on its promise and ensure all of its customers are taken care of,

but what happens if it’s just a couple hundred passengers?

Are we willing to give AA the pass?

Just a couple hundred families that weren’t able to see each other. No big deal.

I’m not sure what the solution is. Only people closest to the situation can shed light.

Should they try to serve as many flights as possible and risk a small number of cancellations?

Even given the huge concerns from the Allied Pilots Association.

Or make a decision, own the mistake, and tell their customers upfront so they can schedule alternative plans.

Possibly offer free miles or some incentive for them to return?

How long before a decision is too late.

Do you think those passengers that lose the chance to be with their loved ones during the holidays of a known problem,

will ever use AA again?

It’s not a merry situation by any means, quite the opposite.

But it is an opportunity for AA to show they know a little about class and customer service.

If you’re running AA, what would you do?

Thankful For My Failures

I haven’t been at a job longer than 3 years.

By many recruiting standards, I’d be a hiring concern.

However, I’m thankful for all my experiences.

In order to console me during transition periods,

I’ve had friends say, “At least you have your degree.”

Which is correct, but sounds like they see my experience as a failure.

I know they’re just supporting me – but these particular individuals are scared to fail.

My reply would be this:

“If I fail more than you, I win.” (directly stolen from Seth Godin)

I’ve worked in retail before. I’ve done consulting work in Hong Kong.

I’ve helped with family businesses – grocery stores, travel agency, etc.

I thought I was going to become an investment banker at one point.

I was a dishwasher at my own restaurant.

I’ve also sat in a boring cubicle,

explaining to an internal client the results of a regression analysis.

Now I’m the venture capital space.

I work with tech startups. I’m constantly learning and I’m addicted to it.

Now, I look back and think – I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m learning finally how to start applying all my experiences.

It’s as if everything is finally coming together (I’m actually praying that’s really the case)

I’m ready to fail. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to learn from my mistakes.

If I’m not learning, then I’m not going to be able to grow into something more.

Let’s be real, failure brings humility. Which brings character.

I’ll take that any day of the week.

Cheers – Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

People Behave Irrationally


We used to think people believed rationally.

Then Richard Thaler, Nobel prize winner in Economics, helped demonstrate that people actually don’t have any self-control and behave irrationally.

This wildly interesting field (at least for some) is now known as Behavioral Economics.

I was listening to the newly proposed tax plan, which includes giving big corporations a huge tax cut. From 35% to 20%.

The argument is that with these tax cuts, big corporations will see an influx of savings, hire more workers and increase wages.

That sounds rational, though.

However, it seems like from many case studies – the expected outcome doesn’t play out.

I wonder why?

Many Economists and the Economic Policy Institute say there's little relationship between post-tax profit rates and business investment that boosts productivity. In fact, productivity and wages have grown faster in periods of higher taxes.

It’s hard to believe when companies are setting on more cash than ever before, that by giving them an additional $2 trillion will push these firms to take care of the middle class by creating more jobs and increasing wages.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being irrational.

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What I've Learned From Writing So Far


I started writing for a variety of reasons - to facilitate personal growth, to give back and share my experiences, engage with the broader business community, and to discipline myself.

Here is a summary of my experience so far.

Opportunities:

1.       Adding value to already bright minded people is tough. It forces you to step out of a comfort zone.

2.       I’m not an expert. I’m putting myself out there by writing from experience.

Lessons Learned

1.       Improved mental clarity. Everything seems clearer.

2.       Spending more time thinking deeply. More insights.

3.       Focusing on actions that create value.

4.       Find myself creating other good habits.

Feedback and suggestions are welcomed!

Love Yourself


Think about your last interaction with someone. What were your initial thoughts of that person?

We’re most likely to notice the bad qualities in others rather than the good ones - the things that concern or annoy us.

We’re also always comparing each other.

When another person gets the feeling that you don’t really see much good in them, that person is less likely to see much good in you.

Unless you’re surrounded by terribly toxic people, everyone you know must have many positive qualities, such as fortitude, generosity, kindness, patience, honesty, or compassion.

Most people fundamentally have a positive aim. For example, your roommate who doesn’t clean up after herself wants more leisure time or a younger sibling displaying an aggressive attitude wants higher status. Try to see the good intentions from those around you.

If we can’t see the good in others, we’ll have a hard time seeing the best in ourselves.

Recognize that you have positive intentions, real abilities, and a quality heart. When you start doing that, your interactions and conversations take a turn for the best. This positivity is self-perpetuating. It feeds itself. It’s contagious.

We need actions of love in this world today more than ever.

It starts with you.

Be Thankful


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Do you spend a few minutes every day thinking about the things you’re thankful for? Most of us are so caught up in our busy lives figuring out what’s next. What don’t I have? What do I need or want? We are so fixated on ‘more’. Like Tupac said, we’re all in a state of ‘Gimme gimme gimme’. If you can not understand or appreciate the value of things you have or the people in your life - for good or for bad, you will not understand or appreciate the value of things you want. In that case, you will not achieve or obtain those things. If you do somehow manage to obtain some level of success without true appreciation, history shows this period of success will be temporary. The sad thing is, for most of us to truly appreciate what we have, we need to live without those things.

There are so many variables in this equation of success and happiness. I will briefly touch on one more. I read a post on social media the other day from a friend who was acknowledging the fact that they basically didn’t want an ounce of negativity in their life. I passionately agree with this friend. If you can’t start a dialogue, if you can’t move the needle forward, and all you can do is blame and think your solution is the right solution - then you are a problem. People like this will suck the energy out of you in the wrong places. Be grateful and be positive. If you can’t do those things, why would anyone else be grateful or positive for you? Create value, don’t be a part of the problem. And smile.

Success Doesn’t Have a Time

Is this what I dreamed of doing when I was a child? No. Is this where I imagined myself a year ago? Nope. Do I know exactly what I’ll be doing a year from now? Heck no. However, do I have my 2018 goals written down? You better believe it. You don’t know when you’re going to have success. If you think you’re lacking experience now, then at some point you’ll think you’re overqualified. The timing is never perfect. Success doesn’t have a time.

You have to plan and invest in your future. Very few people consciously plan and design their life. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” — Benjamin Franklin. Are all the billionaires in this world working harder than the rest of us? You need a vision. Invest in yourself. Track your performance. Pray and meditate. You will have to make course corrections. But - do this long enough and you will be shocked. Let’s hustle.

Reasons To Have A Mentor

I’ve been lucky enough to have met a few stand-up individuals who have had a ton of success in their career and have been willing to guide me through mine. However, I didn’t always have these individuals around me – in fact, I wasn’t even aware the impact a mentor could have. Mentors are simply individuals who push you to take the first step in accomplishing your goal. We all know how hard that can be.

Mentors can share their experience and help guide you both personally and professionally. They’ve been there and done it. Whatever you’re thinking about or stressing over, they’ve probably thought about it or been through a million times. They know the sacrifices which need to be made in order to achieve something great.

Mentors keep you in check and provide unfiltered opinions.

Mentors can provide introductions to fuel your growth.

Mentors give you confidence and energy.

Mentors are not in it for the money. Rather just to see you succeed.

These individuals are rare. If you come across a mentor or someone that provides these benefits in your life, make sure you thank them and keep them around. If you don’t have one, ask family and friends, network, and shoot emails –  find one now because they can grow to be a priceless resource for life.

Only Time Will Tell

Could you be spending less time on Instagram? Do you find yourself sending emails every 30 minutes?  I’ve been guilty of both. You might constantly feel busy, but here are 8 tips on being more productive with your precious time:

1.       Schedule your day the night before. Visualize it. Focus on tasks most important to your success. Remember the 20/80 rule here.

2.       Build in interruptions (small and quick tasks). Don’t overbook.

3.       Figure out which items require deep thinking alone. Put everything else away and immerse yourself. Here is where you will reap real benefits.

4.       Utilize 3-5 hours of work on the weekends.

5.       Say no to things you can’t commit to or don’t care about.

6.       Exercise and eat healthy.

7.       Plan time to unwind.

8.       Commit to the plan.

You can never get your time back so be intentional about it.

Diminishing Returns


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It sucks when you’re not feeling well. It’s probably one of the most frustrating emotional states. It’s even worse when you try to push through, only to exacerbate the problem.

It’s been one of those weeks for me. I’ve tried to take care of myself by eating the right things, drinking lots of fluid, and everything else your mom tells you growing up. I haven’t been sleeping well, nor have I given my mind a break. This is only increasing my stress and decreasing my productivity. My returns have diminished and now I’m paying for it.

I guess sometimes you need to just cut your losses and rejuvenate yourself.

It’s okay occasionally to let the world know you need some time off for ‘personal reasons’. I’m know a lot of you are grinding, always working, finding something to do, never finding time for a break, and honestly, you probably don’t even want a break because you love what you do.

Likewise. I love the process.

But right now, I would be hurting myself further and putting those around me in at risk. At the very least, killing their buzz.

As Bryant McGill, the human potential thought leader, once said, “Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So, relax.”

Signing off until next week.

How do you plan on finally changing your life?

You have goals. You have a plan. Your ambitious. Yet, you find yourself stuck.

You might even be someone that is willing to put in the work. You might even be someone that is smart - someone that tends to excel at whatever they do. You might even feel like you’re already putting in a lot of work. You might actually be committed.

However, it’s been weeks, or months, or even years and you haven’t even gotten your idea off the ground.

If this is you and you want to change your life, you need to realize you won’t get what you want unless one thing happens - you change your environment.

Rarely will almighty persistence and willpower be the answer. In fact, you will burn yourself out, always.

You need to make a decision, commit, and design an environment that facilitates your commitment.

So, before you go out and spend endless amounts of energy only to exhaust yourself, make sure the people around you are committed to your success.

When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.  – Alexander Den Heijer

Why Columbus, Ohio Is the Place to Be

I spent the first 18 years of my life in a suburb outside of Cleveland and the majority of the last 10 years in Columbus. I always thought after graduating from The Ohio State University I would move to a bigger city like New York, LA, or Chicago. However, so much as changed, particularly in Columbus and there are opportunities to get in on at the ground floor. As much as I love visiting a city like New York, Columbus is starting to feel more and more like home and here are a few reasons why:

1.       Real Growth – People are moving to Columbus. The population has grown to make Columbus the second biggest city in the Midwest after Chicago. With The Ohio State University, employers have access to plenty of young talent.

2.       Fashion, Food, and Art Scene – After New York and Los Angeles, Columbus is home to more fashion designers than any other U.S. metropolis. The restaurant and dining scene is on fire and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. You have places like Hot Chicken Takeover and FUSIAN changing the fast-casual scene and restaurants like Standard Hall, Pint House, and Forno that cater to young professionals and know how to create a vibrant atmosphere, along with excellent food and drinks. If you’re into contemporary art like me, you won’t be disappointed with the Columbus Museum of Art, the Wexner Center, and the Pizzuti Collection.

3.       Entrepreneurship Culture – it’s still very early, but the culture in Columbus is becoming more entrepreneurial every day. Since moving back, accelerators like Fintech71 have been created. The city recently also received a federal smart city grant that will hopefully spark innovative technologies into transportation and beyond. Then there are venture capital firms like LOUD Capital, Drive, and Rev1 helping create the city’s new generation of entrepreneurs. Last but not least, Columbus has some of the smartest ‘makers’ at the Idea Foundry building cutting edge technology. Definitely worth taking a tour:)

I’m excited and optimistic to see what the future holds for Columbus.

How Do You Make Up For Experience?

You can’t. If you’re really interested in an area or idea, but find yourself lacking the “required” experience, the best thing you can do is take action. Start a passion project.

What you can’t do is wait. Here are 5 ways to significantly speed up the process:

1)      Find a niche you’re interested in and immerse yourself for 90 days. How do you do that?

There is no science or formula. Take a thoughtful approach on what interests you and what skills you have. Then put in the work.

2)      Read at least 5 books on the industry within the first 30 days.

3)      Talk to industry experts. Read what they’re writing about. This will give you a much better understanding of what the opportunity is.

4)      Build relationships with community leaders, investors, professors, etc. Always add value to the conversation and maintain those relationships. You will need these people once you’re past the idea stage.

5)      Test your idea. Talk to family and friends. Offer it for free.

If you make it to day 90, then you’re probably onto something.

Most of the time by day 30 I learn one of the following things: there is no idea, there is no market, I’m no longer interested, or my game changing solution was all hype. All is fine - you’ll be able to leverage those lessons with your next project.

If you do this a couple times, there’s a great chance you’ll put yourself in a winning position.

What strategies have worked for you?

Are You Motivated Enough?

Your lack of motivation is not the problem.

Nobody wakes up and thinks, “Hey I’d rather be worse off or have less friends and money.”

Everyone is motivated and wants to succeed.

Fear is your problem. Thoughts of, “this might go wrong, I might fail, what will other people think”, overcome your desires.

Everyone has a desire to succeed, to be happy, to make a difference, and to occasionally get recognized.

In college, I was so focused on motivating myself, reading inspirational quotes, but nothing worked. Don’t get me wrong, being positive and having gratitude are important qualities to have, but that’s not what’s going to cause you to act in a way that really moves the needle.

I wanted to started my own business numerous times throughout college, but it took me almost 3 years after graduating to start my first business and a huge reason was because I was so afraid of what could go wrong.

You will make mistakes, things will go wrong – as they did for me. However, it opened up many doors and changed my life for the better.

If you’re not willing to put in the work, then forget everything I’ve said.

Whether you want to be the best blogger, CEO, chef, hair stylist, writer, mother or father, it’s not your lack of motivation that’s holding you back.

Once I realized no amount of failure, no number of setbacks or rejections would stop me from reaching my desires, I realized I could virtually do whatever I put my mind to. And ask anyone that has conquered their fears, there is no better feeling – you truly feel free.

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.”

What’s it going to be?

 

Don’t Start a Business If You Haven’t Thought About These 3 Questions

While successful entrepreneurs have a great business idea making them money, they likely had go through a run of bad ideas. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself before wasting too much money or time on an idea:

1.       Is this idea providing a solution to a real problem?

Whenever I come across a conversation with a fellow entrepreneur or friend looking to start a business I ask, is there a need for your product? Is this opportunity real and what feedback have you gotten? You can validate the needs of your customer through prior experiences, using a survey, showing a demo, or shipping a prototype. Your goal should be to quickly hack together a reasonable solution and get feedback early and often.

2.       Who’s going to buy it?

Why should I use your product or service? Chances are you’re not the first person to think of it. Are you saving me time or money? What makes your product special? Do you have a patent? For you to have an actual business, you need to have someone willing to pay for your product or service and preferably not your mom or best friend.

3.       How big is the market opportunity?

You want to make sure the opportunity is big enough. Assess the number of potential customers. Focusing on a certain niche can be a good idea, but be careful not to choose too small of a niche.

Lastly, but not least, your idea shouldn’t be confusing. Ideally, you should be able to explain it in one sentence.

5 Tips to Having a Successful Morning

Your morning routine could be impacting your life more than you think. I’ve been consistent with my morning habits for the last 3 years and it’s changed my life. I’ve gotten much better at eliminating negative thoughts and controlling stress — just ask my college roommate. You don’t need to read a 300+ page book, spend money on cool toys, or waste your time with burdensome ideas. You want quick and simple ways to have a productive morning. Here are 5 tried and tested solutions that work:

1. Hydrate.

Drinking water first thing in the morning is incredibly important to increasing your energy level.

2. Wake up early enough for ‘me’ time.

Everyone is different. Some people are more productive in the morning, some people are more productive in the evening. If you wake up at 8 AM and go to bed at 1 AM, you can still be as productive as someone that wakes up at 5 AM and goes to bed at 10 PM. However, you want to have enough time to eat a breakfast, think about the rest of your day, and connect with your significant other/roommate/pet, etc. before leaving for the day.

3. Prepare the night before.

You don’t want to spend time trying to make minute decisions in the morning. One easy win is ironing your outfit the night before. Use your calendar on your phone and build in time for unexpected tasks — you’ll be much happier.

4. Get your mind right.

I meditate every morning before I do anything. If the first thing you do every morning is check emails, text messages, or Facebook comments, your mind will immediately start to get stressed. Instead, do something that clears your mind, allows you to think about the bigger picture in life, and appreciate what you have.

5. Get moving.

Get a morning workout, yoga lesson, or some physical activity done to help you move around and get your blood flowing. This will give you the motivation you need to attack your day.

Lastly, but not least, always make your bed and clean up after yourself:)

Comment with what you’re doing to have a successful morning!