Newborn Opportunity: 5 Keys To Startup Survival

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It was 12pm and my wife and I just wrapped up dinner, so I crammed as many mojitos, beer and wine that could be served within 3 hours of being in a restaurant since only one of us was allowed to drink. After all, it was a long week of fulfilling employee contracts for someone else’s business that I figured “We’re out, it’s Friday, I deserve it so let’s have some fun!”.

But soon did I realize that putting back more seafood than Long John Silver himself could handle, only then would I realize that my life would soon change forever. Before I had a chance to blink, it was 2:00am and a mere 2 hours later that we were on our way to the hospital about to deliver our first child, and I was ready to deliver that night’s meal on the way there.

It didn’t take long after being in the delivery room, holding back every ounce of last night’s wrongdoing during mother nature’s finest moment, did the expectations as a father become set in stone. It was the first time in my life that someone else would be looking up to me to set the example and be a good leader, which would become the foundation I use as an entrepreneur to drive forward every day.

With each new opportunity that has presented itself, I can’t help but think and measure the success of startup survival than to being a father, trying to raise them as if they should be nurtured and cared for with the greatest of detail as not to fail in the eyes of my customers (mom included). Because there is nothing like diving in head first on both counts, that I’ve summarized around these 5 characteristics which set the tone for my day-to-day as a father founder.

1. Mindset

If you aren’t mentally prepared for what is about to change, including diapers, get ready. Nothing will prepare you more for negotiating deals, learning the ropes, and how to navigate safely with precious cargo than reading the realities of the position you are about to take with by absorbing much information as possible.

This doesn’t mean you should follow every bit of advice under the sun, it means the details you gather are necessary to draw your own conclusions around what type of daily routine you will be having so your brain starts to familiarize itself with those realities. The more details you can gather, the more prepared your mind will be for entering into a new stage of your life to be better prepared which includes having good instincts.

2. Support

My wife’s uncle would always sayyou can’t take care of everyone else unless you take care of your nucleus”. After having new additions to the family running around, and a new business to tend to, both get put under the spotlight for chasing dreams, both in the office and around the house.

When your nucleus is in need of an outside support system in the form of family, friends, and colleagues, it’s critical to ask for help instead of trying to please everyone. Both your 9-5 and home life will thank you for it.

3. Expectations

Instead of trying to be all things to everything, learn how to say no. As much as you are going to want to say yes to every little opportunity and request to please those around you, it’s OK to turn them down. While it may not feel good to shy away from giving those close to you what they want and are looking for, you will be much farther (and father) ahead when you can take a step back and keep the things that matter most from a sense of direction and ultimate goal attainment as your primary reasoning.

After all, when it comes to setting priorities to deliver on expectations like Jim Collins once said, “If you have more than 3 priorities, you have none.”

4. Timing

Oftentimes being in a startup we want answers fast because its how we want it and when we want it – which is basically code for “Right Now”. If startups were to act like children trying to ink deals, they would come across as the toddler tugging at your jeans asking “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy…” – Sound familiar?

There’s good timing and bad timing, when things fall into place right away or you struggle to wonder where and when progress will present itself. We end up questioning our decisions sometimes whether it was the right one, the wrong one, or did I really just say that out loud?

Here’s the reality…everyone not being on your schedule takes a lot of getting used to. And having patience isn’t exactly my speciality. Oftentimes being at home asking my son what patience means when he responds with “Waiting!” to which I am constantly reminded by saying “Close. Patience is how we behave while we wait.”

Learn how to accept that and know that when you are looking for attention, not everyone has the same calendar and it takes patience and a lot of persistence to ensure that the right time will come where things will fall into place accordingly.

5. Execution

Nothing in this world has prepared me more in business as becoming a father that day back in December 2009. But I wouldn’t have been able to produce results without executing. Other than timing, the most important factor in the success of results comes from compounding daily activity in some form or fashion. Similar to Einstein’s note “The most powerful force in the world is compound interest” and for startups, family, and success are no different. Darren Hardy, the founder of Success Mag wrote a great book on this exact ideology for anyone looking to understand the impact.

Just about every area that I have been involved in a startup; from walking away from a six-figure salary, knowing what decisions to make (or trying to pretend that I do sometimes), and how to prioritize time management that creates opportunity, have I realized how important it is for fathers to not only have as much support and confidence throughout their business journey to become leaders, but execution not just for themselves but for their very own to follow.

After all, it’s when a father says to his son “Be careful where you walk” it is the son who replies to his father “you be careful Dad, I follow in your footsteps”.

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I felt like jumping off our 12th floor balcony. Maybe if I was lucky, I could land in the pool below to tell the story how I sank $20,000 into a tech product and watch that be the one to actually fall flat on it’s face in the startup world. It turns out, this lost investment turned out to be one of the biggest life lessons in my career.

Since I had just helped a friend on the 14th floor make $7mm in less than 30 days (I’ll save that nonsense for another post) I was on top of the world and thought I could do anything. Instead of thinking I would be fresh on my way to jumping into financial freedom, I was now looking at a 120 foot drop after my first startup failure.

Back in 2006 I was trying to sell a product that was so obscure to the general public, only tech geeks in the nerdery would even know half of what it really does. I hacked Google’s IP datacenter just to make it work, praying they didn’t find out my product was actually relying on Google to allow customers to use a product that they didn’t even own. I even got on the phone with a PhD from D.A.R.P.A. who was building some of the craziest RFID technology who was like “Huh?”. If this guy didn’t understand the product, I was in for a serious wake up call.

About 10,000 downloads and a year and a half of giving away the product for free, the education level to explain the concept to customers was so cumbersome, it was time to move on. But not without learning a few things along the way…

Just Do. I was wrong to think I would be successful without trying. Putting any energy into something whether you think you are right or wrong will only be known until after you try. People don’t become successful by waiting.

Forget yesterday. I was wrong to think taking action on an idea would leave me worse off than when I started. If you’re going to focus on the past, be objective vs. subjective so you can see events for what they really are, not for what they aren’t.

Fire first, aim later. When you go out to test your idea , do it by talking to actual customers who might be interested in your product first before you invest any money into building something. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from actual people who would be interested in buying something when they give you feedback right away. Save these names for later, they will become your go-to crowd for testing your idea when it’s ready to build something.

Learn how to say No. Whether it’s a business partner, customer, or friend – always listen without judgement regardless of how baked into your idea you might be. But it’s easy to get carried away with new ideas to add, so remember why you started your idea in the first place. Too many ideas can be a hazard to executing that get in the way of real feedback that will help you.

Ask for help. Your family and true friends will always be there to support you. But there’s also a saying I have been giving to those who ask for advice these last few years when times get tough, when you have to dig in and  account for just how tough you really are: “Man is not measured by how many times he falls down, but whether or not he chooses to pick himself back up again.” I will never forget the day I made that promise to myself.

So in the end, I was wrong…

I was wrong to think this would probably be one of the worst failures I ever made. Instead, money was lost, so much time was poured into a failed product, but the learning lessons were worth every penny.

I can’t wait to do it again.

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I decided to make family photos a priority this year because of how important it was for capturing life’s precious moments. But I also was reconnected again with Ryan Droze who is a professional photographer, an amazing person and old friend. Seriously, have a look at his work…because if it wasn’t for Sari this whole time, we would have no family archive at all.

So I decided that something nice for her was in order with a surprise photo shoot last weekend. Although it was humid as all get out, we were able to capture some precious moments (except the pics of me wiping the sweat off my face with a diaper…don’t worry I’m fairly certain it was clean).

The other day I wrote a post about helping others and the importance of putting people before yourself. It talked about people always trying to sell themselves instead of giving yourself up for someone else’s ambition and purpose. That’s been my new style to live by, in a lesson that I am following now.

Whether it be general emails or text messages throughout the day, when someone asks me my opinion on something that is important to them, I drop everything I am doing at that moment to answer no matter what. If it means that much to someone else, it means even more to me to help them out. Putting the importance of the simplest things like photos for someone else, gave back in the form of old friendship while also keeping our family history going.

That’s my new style. How will you frame yours?

 

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I’ve found out that when trying to pitch people on branding, it just doesn’t work. Every time I have read articles and sent replies to media journalists, it’s always the same thing…crickets.

Lately I have been working on the concept for helping travelers share vacation homes together with HomeSlice, Stay Social (insert shameless plug here), in addition to a full time job during the day. For most people that know me, the idea for HomeSlice was well received and once people started liking the idea, I thought the work would start to run by itself and eventually I would be able to make the business take off. Big mistake and a huge wake-up call.

So much attention is given trying to balance everything in between like a see-saw except only this fat kid is at one end of the plank. Not only was I feeling rushed to get as much done in as little amount of time as possible during the day, everything was coming across as only being about what my needs were which was to gain more exposure without there being anything in it for anyone else except to help me. Man that’s so selfish.

The harsh reality is that NO ONE KNOWS YOU except your close friends and family. If you are trying to make something in business happen, STOP. Think about everything you want for yourself and toss it out the window into another person’s lap. What do that mean? It means putting yourself second by trying to help others before yourself. I never fully understood that until now.

Throughout my life I have read a lot of books on successful people, from Jack Welch to Jack Dorsey to Napolean Hill. And the common denominator I have come to the conclusion among all successful people finally rings true. In order to be successful you have to help other people first. Period.

Not until recently was I able to begin an open dialogue of communication without pitching anything, or sending any cold branded emails to anyone, instead it was from the heart with an open mind on helping other people get to where they want to go. Since then, I’ve received more open lines of communication from people without any sugar-coating, fancy prep work, or hype in the last 2 weeks than I have in the past 2 years. There is no more solicitation, no more selling the “why”, rather it’s walking in someone else’s shoes.

With all of the electronic tools out there, nothing is more important and more valuable that when the branding comes from someone other than yourself. Think about it, when was the last time you bought into an idea or something vs. hearing about it from your friends? The most valuable commodity is referral.

For those who already know this, I applaud you. For those that need or are looking for something…

How may I assist you?

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The other day I was on my way home from washing my car. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining, and after stuffing my face with coffee + croissants at the local car dealership (yes, I’m spoiled and it pays to buy your car from a dealer who gives free washes every weekend) I was given my keys to leave the building.

Once I stepped outside, I started thinking about my day and the different projects I’ve been working on for clients and how designing mobile responsive websites get displayed on devices like tablets and phones. As I sat in my seat, there just happened to be 2 cars parked within inches of one another basically bumper-to-bumper which prevented me from leaving at that moment. It must have been 5 minutes before I was able to drive a pristine wash off the lot and head back home. Finally, after one of the managers move the other car out of the lane, I was on my way.

As I headed home, the gas light went on so I decided to pull into the gas station at a very busy intersection. Once I stepped out of the car and grabbed the gas handle, I heard “SSCREEEEEEEECH….BOOM!!!!”

Turning around I saw an SUV smash head on with another car. I let go of the gas handle at the pump and immediately ran across traffic to take stock of the situation. There were 2 people sitting in the first car, a young couple who seemed to be very shaken up and thankfully were not severely injured with both airbags being deployed. As the younger guy stepped out swearing at the first driver, I told him to just relax and everything will be alright. Once I directed them over to the curb, picking up some bigger pieces of wreckage in the road, I made my way over to the other car where there was an elderly man named ‘Chuck’ who was pinned beneath the steering wheel, bleeding from head to toe.

After dialing 9-1-1, I stayed with Chuck until help arrived, letting him know he was going to be Ok. I noticed he liked to Fish as he had a fishing pole in his car that was pointing out from the back seat. I wanted to take his thoughts off the situation using anything to keep his mind occupied until help arrived. Once the paramedics showed up (and in less than 3 minutes) I provided all of the details to the officer at the scene, letting him know what I witnessed. As soon as Chuck made it out of the car I told him to be well and that he was in good hands.

The point of this entry isn’t to share the grim details of an accident, it’s that being “Responsive” isn’t always about work. Even thought this has happened to me 5 or 6 times in my life now, sometimes being responsive means that helping others is the only thing that matters. I was surprised that day to see only 2 other people get out of their cars to assist, but from the intersection of 30 other cars present, none of them decided to get out and help in broad daylight. I think that’s what surprised me the most.

I’m thankful that Chuck will be Ok, and that the 5 minutes being stuck waiting to pick up my car could have been me in the opposite situation. I’m even more grateful for the opportunity to respond quickly under pressure.

Get well soon, Chuck.

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By now I’ve become a huge fan of AMC’s original series The Walking Dead. Both gruesome and uncanny fun, this show had me hooked from episode 1.

But after trying to catch up on the latest zombie news while away from my 65″ Sony XBR (spoiled…I know), I loaded up www.amctv.com thinking that it would be a cinch to read the story lines. To my surprise, what I found out instead was that the biggest show in original TV series history doesn’t have a mobile friendly version of it’s ever-growing fan base!

I wonder how long it takes before internal resources or an outside agency comes in and decides to create a better version. Or…maybe there’s room to strut a new app for these guys from yours truly.

 

 

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“Yeaahhhhh….so I’m gonna have to ask you to also come in on Saturday…”

For those that are not familiar with that famous saying, and a fan favorite of the movie Office Space with Ron Livingston, it’s the epitome of what has driven me to move beyond the corporate clamor that Corporate America reigns in on employees.

But as of last week, it’s official with new office digs located in the heart of beautiful Naples, FL. About a year ago, I stumbled upon a new virtual environment in downtown Mercato called VentureX. Although being at home has it’s perks, it was time to venture out of the house and snap back into reality (Rabbit).

While working with AtreNet this past year alongside an extremely talented group of folks, I was lucky enough to land in the best place for a culture driven by Entrepreneurial spirits that fits our core team. I’ve already met some incredible folks who are creating some of the next best things in technology, and eager to reclaim my stake into the creative world again. A huge thanks to Tushar + Shawn + Brett + Amanda for helping me plant new roots into the next chapter.

As for coming in on Saturdays, the Bob’s can always call me at home from now on :)