I recently announced my plans for a 12-month Founders Live world tour. This post covers the last month and other lessons from my journey and what I have learned from taking the biggest risk of my life to date. Follow along here on this blog and here.
Wow, has it been half a year already? Just too much fun to keep track of time I guess.
In the month of June my travels took me to Bozeman, MT and then to Minneapolis where I reached the 14,000+ milestone. You can read about my May experiences here. It’s a pretty amazing country we live in.
On June 2nd I flew from Seattle to Bozeman and got settled in my new spot for the week, a Hostel downtown on Main Street. It was nice to stay downtown close to all the restaurants and bars, felt like a fellow Bozeman!
Our Founders Live Bozeman event was on June 5th at Devils Toboggan, a newer cool swanky speakeasy bar. We had a great crowd for it being summer and the first event in Bozeman. The winner was Jennifer O’Brien (pictured below) of Montana Craft Malt, a collective of growers, scientists, brewers, and beer lovers dedicated to helping brewmasters reach their loftiest expectations for taste, quality, and pure drinkability. With unique access to one of the world’s best barley-growing regions and the state’s top independent growers, we produce an extraordinarily diverse selection of classic and artisanal malts.
I easily found my running routes around the city parks and there were even a few coffee shops across the street in which I made my temp office for the week. Montana is a really beautiful state and my only regret was that I just didn’t have enough time in the Big Sky country to see all the parks, mountains, trails and people. I’ll be back.
I flew to Minneapolis Monday the 10th and got settled in the Uptown/Powderhorn neighborhoods where my first Airbnb was located. This leg of the trip was quite exciting, as I had never been to Minnesota and knew I was encountering new territory. As always, I found my running routes – they have a cool greenway connecting their many lakes in the city – and made sure I ran every day or every other day. Running helps me level set, get acquainted with the surroundings and keep stress levels low. Minneapolis has so many lakes, but residents are only able to enjoy them for a few months out of the year so in the summer they are packed. Most people I met would say “you picked the best time to be here! don’t come here in the winter, they are brutal and long!”
I definitely agree with ol’ Bob on this one…
I stayed in 2 different Airbnb’s, the first one was in the Powderhorn area which is a very multicultural and diverse area. I stayed there for almost 2 weeks. The first night in town I walked from my place to Uptown (about 2 miles) and got a feel for the community and area. I hit a bar and watched some baseball, which was relaxing.
Uptown was the area I spent many days working at coffee shops or at WeWork where I met some great people in the startup community. I was featured on Josh Fedie’s Founders Mentality podcast, where Josh and I talk about Founders Live, My current world tour, knowing how and when to pitch, many other founder tips, as well as DOING THINGS THAT SCARE YOU! It was a fun conversation and amazing to chat with someone I’ve only know through interacting on Founders Live up to this point. Thanks Josh! You can find the full conversation here.
My second Airbnb was in Uptown area, a much nicer and obviously more well-to-do area. This place was very close to the Lake of The Isles, where I ran a number of mornings. It’s a really beautiful windy path around the lake, and kind of like the Greenlake of Minneapolis. The area has lots of coffee shops nearby and a short walk to WeWork Uptown.
As seems to be the mode now, each new city I enter I make sure I see their stadiums and hopefully catch a game. You can’t shake the sports fan out of me! I went to a Twins game with a friend who works with a good founder friend from Seattle Joel Carben and his sports tech startup IdealSeat – a previous Founders Live Seattle winner! It was way cool to see Target Field, it’s a beauty and it was a great night for baseball. Twins won handily. Spending some time outside of Founders Live and at a sporting event has become a staple of my travels, as it gets me away from work and is extremely relaxing.
It was really fun to check out the offices of SportRadar, the leader in real-time sports data. I’ve known a few of their employees for years, from my Callin’it days (where a friend and I were hacking on a few real-time sports app concepts) and it was interesting to connect with them after so many years of phone calls and emails. I toured their office and saw where real people are watching screens and hitting buttons to record sports data from games in real time. By the way, that’s how most of the data from the games you are watching is collected.
We had our Founders Live Minneapolis event on June 27 at WeWork Uptown. It was a fun event and a good restart for Minneapolis since they had been on a bit of a break for the year. The winner was Little Acorn Shave Co. – Stop shaving like a man! All the pitches were great. The city is excited to see Founders Live grow and impact the city on a deeper level. We have brought on Dick Polipnick as our new city leader and he’s already building out his team of support and leaders. I was very impressed with his professionalism towards the opportunity to lead, I know he’ll do great.
During my time in Minneapolis, I met a few people who have become fast friends, more on that below. I was even invited out to one of their houses on a lake outside the city, hung out and chilled in the boat and on the water. As we were floating in the water next to the boat I told them this is the most Washington thing I have done thus far on the tour. We love to float and boat back in Seattle and in Eastern Washington, and at that moment I was right at home. It was a great way to end time in Minneapolis, bobbing in one of the 11,842 lakes of 10 acres or more.
Now I am finally on the East Coast and in Boston, another city in which I’ve never been. Here’ we go again!
Some thoughts on a deeper level. It’s strangely difficult to make instant connections and friendships to only then have to leave a week or two later. On one hand its a positive, fun and exciting experience of making a connection and quickly getting to know someone. But at the same time, you know it’s a passing moment and in short order, you will be moving on and out of their life. It’s just something that takes time to get used when your life is on the road.
The TV show concept is starting to take shape and it’s really fun to dive deeper with the idea when I talk to certain people. The more conversations I have with others the more it locks into place as something many people would be interested in watching. More customer development is happening right now in this area of the business but I can tell you once we get running, you’ll love it!
Overall, How do I feel? Honestly, I am fully embracing this experience and could see myself traveling and building Founders Live for a much longer timeframe than this 2019 year. If the show takes off, that’s exactly what my life will encompass.
What’s the travel feel like now? Travel is getting easier and now feels like my normal life. I was talking with someone in Minneapolis and that exact question came up. I actually had to think about it and realize – wow, yea this is now my normal life. The travel is less weird and more normal now than ever.
We’re halfway through the year? Crazy. It feels like just a few weeks ago I made the announcement and left Seattle. It’s happened that fast and quick. I feel like I have lived about 2 or 3 years of experience in just these first 6 months of 2019. I do miss Seattle and the big community of founders and entrepreneurs I enjoy chatting with – you know who you are, hello 🙂 – but each new city presents unique gifts I can’t find anywhere else.
I’d say the biggest change in my daily perspective has been this ephemeral nature to it. I’m living here and now. In the moment. Taking in great experiences one day, one hour at a time. I’ve learned that a great life is really just putting as many of those in your life – back to back – as possible.
I’ve also taken note of how impactful my story and tour has been on people. I really do appreciate all the words people send me. But something has become apparent to me recently: The difference between standing out or fading into the crowd (being extraordinary or being average) is simply a decision. Once you make the decision to be extraordinary, you then start paying attention to specific details of your life. Seeing these details more clearly, in turn, allows you to refine yourself, tighten up your business, and crystallize your message on a much deeper, unique and impactful level. It all starts with the realization that you can have it, you can be extraordinary. Then you make a decision to go do and be just that. It’s actually pretty simple. So how about we all just go and do that today!