World Tour 2019 Month SEVEN Overview – Boston And The Luck Of The Irish

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.

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Hey Kid, need a ticket?

It was a Saturday afternoon and I was on a long run in the Boston heat when a recurring thought about Fenway and seeing a Red Sox game kept crossing my mind. I just felt like I needed to go that direction. Something said to me – go to Fenway and see what happens. As with the previous cities I have been in, I make sure to check out a game when time permits. Fenway is one of the oldest ballparks in the country so it was super important on my list of things to see when I was in Boston. 

I rarely do these types of things by myself, I don’t really go to baseball games alone. But I thought oh well, might as well see where my luck takes me! So after my run, I got ready and headed toward the city. I navigated to the T and found the path to get to Fenway. Once I exited the subway I had a quick call with my Dad, and he was excited I was there at Fenway to see a game. I said “alright Dad, I need to get going… Let’s see if I can snag a cheap seats ticket and get into the game!”

It couldn’t have been 20 or 30 seconds after I hung up the call, as I was walking up into the box office to buy a ticket I hear a guy yelling. “Hey Kid, need a ticket?” Here you go! Take it.” I’m looking at this guy a bit weird and not 100% sure what he said. He says “don’t buy one, here’s a free ticket!” and he hands me a paper printout ticket ($85) value and says “just buy me a beer inside” then he disappears into the crowd. Shocked, I go to the entrance, get through security, give my ticket to the woman, it works, and within a few mins time I am standing inside Fenway Park to take in a Redsox game – for FREE! I was shocked and thrilled. HA!

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So I grabbed some beers, went to the seats where he and his friends were sitting close to the Right Field foul pole and watched the first few innings with them before walking around the stadium. Chris was a quintessential Bostonian: friendly, couldn’t stop talking, laughable, cussin’ up a storm but light-hearted and happy. I took in the game from a few different areas of the stadium and then headed home. Chris, wherever you are – thanks man!

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This story sums up my life right now – how openness and embracing the unknown leads to success. I couldn’t have known I was going to be given a free ticket when I got to the stadium… but I trusted what I was hearing on that run. I trusted enough to SHOW UP. It also sums up entrepreneurship. One must be open to new experiences, open to listening, open to their internal instinct, and open to taking risks. Open to SHOWING UP when you are asked.

In the month of July, my travels took me to Boston, Massachusetts where I reached the 16,000+ milestone and connected with my Irish roots. You can read about my June experiences here. where I transitioned from the West to the East.

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I flew into Boston July 1st – went to my friend Angelica’s where I would stay for the first week of my time in the city. My first few days in Boston were magical. It was the first time I had been to the city so I was all senses open and taking it all in. We went out downtown hit the old bars and stuff saw some of the North end, which is the old Italian area and also the area where lots of historical landmarks are found. We also went to Back bay, had dinner and drinks, then walked out to the water and through the parks. 

My initial take on Boston is it’s a unique city, something very special. It has a historical and forward-thinking stance to it – both at the same time – which is quite different than the younger and newer cities on the west coast. It’s obvious the summers are really great, and a perfect time to visit (I’d imagine fall is even better!) There are numerous beaches close to the city and a beautiful coastline. The city is pretty much on the Atlantic Ocean coast and near the first place I stayed was a beach on either side of me reachable within a 10 min run. Such a great spot to live. 

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4th of July – Angelica was out of town so I was less inclined to go out to the big 4th of July celebrations, although I do recognize 4th of July celebrations in Boston are pretty cool. So I actually didn’t do anything for the 4th and I think I went to sleep at like 7 or 8 that night. My life is full of events and pretty much a party every week so I felt it was actually best to stay in and rest that night. I’ve seen my good fair share of fireworks so I felt I wasn’t missing much.

I Stayed at Angelica’s in the Winthrop area for a week, and of course, found my running routes – yes, along the beach for sure – and got into a nice daily routine. One big thing I noticed was the lack of coffee shops, except for Dunkin’ Donuts, which really bothered me. I know this is a west coast perspective but Starbucks really did create that third place where you felt you could go in grab a bite or coffee and work for a few hours. It feels comfortable and convenient like you aren’t breaking any rules. With the proliferation of coffee shops and cafes which I now realize I take for granted in Seattle there is always a place to chill and work. Dunkin Donuts, on the other hand, is like a fast-food coffee joint more similar to a McDonalds than a Starbucks. But alas, I found myself seated at Dunkin’ at least a few days since it was the only place within walking distance where I could get some work done.  

After a week at Angelica’s, I got an Airbnb in Medford for the next 2 weeks. It was fairly close to the T Orange line, I got used to using the system and getting comfortable with the city of Boston. This specific Airbnb was nice as I had my own room but was connected to a central kitchen and shared with another room in the small downstairs apartment. It was simple and worked well. That week, I went to numerous startup events such as New Technology Boston, Mass Challenge, Mass Innovation, as well as a few others. 

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I decided to do some sightseeing one Sunday so I went and walked the Freedom Trail and checked out the historical areas of the city. The trail is easy to navigate and follow to many cool spots. I saw the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Memorial, Paul Revere’s house, old graveyards, state house where the constitution was signed. Boston has so much history you can feel it creaking in the wooden floors and in-between the cobblestones on each road.

One weekend mid-month, Angelica and I headed up to Portland, Maine and I was able to finally see a Lord Huron concert! They are one of my favorite bands and all year I had been looking at their tour to see where we crossed paths. The evening was beautiful, the concert was out on the lawn of a park in the middle of Portland. It was a smaller venue but a really great show. And how can you not love that picture below? I have always wondered what the “other” Portland was like since growing up in the Pacific Northwest we have Portland, Oregon. Portland, Maine is a smaller but up and coming city with lots of potential. It was cool to visit and I see lots of things sprouting up there and something to keep my eye on. Maybe we can start things up there someday soon?

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After the concert, We went back to stay at Angelica’s again for another week. I originally got an Airbnb after the first stay because I didn’t want to overstay my welcome and thought I’d first stay week, and then get an Airbnb for 2 weeks and then see how we both felt. It was obvious we both wanted to still hang out and for me to stay so I came back and stayed the last week of July. Thanks again, Angelica!

We had the Founders Live Boston event July 23rd, it was a really great event held at the CiC building in Downtown Boston with maybe 125-140 people in attendance. Our city leaders Andy Jacques and Ande Lyons do an incredible job leading the Founders Live Boston team, I am very grateful and impressed with their efforts and impact on the city. AK Ikwuakor of Elete Styles won the event, they create custom made clothing for the athletic build, a consumer segment which has difficulty finding clothing that fits them appropriately. You could feel a ton of startup and founder energy in the room, it was an honor to be in attendance. I say this in each city but there is a similar response to what we are building. It’s hard to describe but I can say it feels very right and very natural and very very true. I am honored to be at the helm of something so powerful and impactful. 

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My time in Boston was something special and I will never forget July 2019. Thank you to all that made it what it was for me!

Oh, wait what’s this? A Random trip to NYC for the week!?

Late in July, I discovered some previous Boston plans had changed and I found myself with a few extra days on my hands. I needed to head toward DC and we also had a Founders Live NYC event on July 30th, so I decided to jump onto Airbnb and find a place to stay for 5 days, take a quick flight down to New York and within 24 hours I was in the city that never sleeps. Damn, that is a very true statement.

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I decided to show up as a surprise to our NYC event. It went off well and was a fun event. Mike Smith and Sean Allen Fenn are out city leaders in NYC and they were excited to see me and as it was their first event as city leader (Mike’s anyway) it was good for me to be there and help them out a bit. The winner was Bluewave Technologies, BLUEWAVE Technologies makes an ozone infusion device to disinfect and deodorize almost anything – without using water, detergents or manufactured chemicals. It harnesses the sterilizing power of ozone, which kills germs 3,200 times faster than bleach, in a closed-loop infusion process at a speed and convenience never possible before. Overall, the event was awesome and a night all of us won’t forget.

Without sounding too much like a broken record here each new city is the same experience. It half shocks me and half feeds me. People see the dramatic potential of Founders Live and how it could impact their community and they love it. They want more of it. They want to spread it back to their own cities or home countries. Just at this one event in NYC, there were people from Botoga Colombia, from Mexico City Mexico, from Ecuador, from Kyiv Ukraine, and a few other countries who now want to talk about expanding it and starting Founders Live in their city. Whoa!

Deeper thoughts from the road:

I now more fully understand why musicians go on tour, and actually how effective they can be when they are away. It’s where they earn their money since they are dialed in and focused on the process of the show and entertainment. Touring forces you to be effective and efficient. It makes you stay on task and figure out what happens today, what you are doing tomorrow. When do we leave and where are we going? It makes you ask the question “am I being effective? Am I earning? What am I doing now, today, tomorrow to move things forward? What’s the plan? When musicians are not on tour they are most likely at home with friends and family, and probably a bit less focused. So being on the road and on tour has helped me dial in my effectiveness and processes to get shit done no matter where I am. I am loving it.

I can’t fully describe it but another wave just hit Founders Live. It feels different. Is it the East Coast? Is it the numerous people who are in Boston, DC, or NYC from other countries who attended their first event and want to expand it to their home country? Is it the growth we are seeing online and our monthly active users increasing on a weekly basis? I don’t know, but we are currently in a massive momentum swing upward, we must go with it and ride the wave as it continues to crest. 

When you are open for connection, connection comes to you – I am in love with meeting new people and enjoying a unique connection with them, whether it’s for a few hours, days, or a few months. This approach is important as you navigate the world, but especially as one is touring around to new cities each month. The world will mirror you and your energy.

Nothing is more powerful than a story. You MUST create your story – no one else in the world is responsible to create and tell your story. Make it emotional and relatable. Figure out something to do – something to create – that no one else can copy and replicate. Something you can own. Then just go do it.

Lastly, I have gone from scared to courageous in the last year. In previous years I was actually scared of the future, and only now do I realize how much it was holding me back. I was scared of the thought if I failed again. I was weirdly even scared for my future success. I was scared to lose my then-girlfriend. Everything changed when I made the shift to embrace fear and embody courage. I changed from reaction oriented to action-oriented. I realized my story was up to me to create and tell, and the only thing in the way of my vision coming true was my damn self. 

That realization and change, in my view, is what success is all about. Please, if you take anything from my writings and tour, its the fact that you already have the answers and the power. 

Now I am in our nation’s capital, Washington DC and enjoying more time on the East Coast before I head back to Seattle for a 2-week visit with friends and family to end the summer. (uh, where did it go?!) Then it’s back to NYC for the month of September!

Here’s to another successful month on the road.

More pics from July below.

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ANNOUNCEMENT – Delta Airlines and Founders Live Partner To Bring You SKYBONUS – The Easiest Way To Maximize Your Travel Budget

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World Tour 2019 Month SIX Overview – Livin’ In The Land Of 10,000 Lakes

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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PODCAST – My Interview on Founders Mentality with Josh Fedie in Minneapolis

(PODCAST) – I was recently interviewed by Josh Fedie on his Founders Mentality podcast. 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.  Listen here.
 
 
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World Tour 2019 Month FIVE Overview – Beauty And Business in Colorado

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.

The latest month’s travels took me to Denver and Boulder and reached the 11,000 milestone. You can read about our late April drive into the state here. It’s a pretty amazing state.

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We arrived in Denver and went directly to my good friend from college Thao’s house in Wash Park area of Denver. This is a nice area of the city, and Wash Park is a “Green Lake of Denver” park, where many people go to hang out and run/walk during the week. During my time staying at Thao’s place, we chilled out, watched hoops, hung out with his family, spend Cinco de Mayo at one of his friends places and went to a Rockies Game one weekend. It was really good to see my ol’ college buddy and get to know his family.

We had our Founders Live Denver event on May 9th at Galvanize Golden Triangle. It was a was fun event, with growing energy in Denver for the event. We originally launched Founders Live Denver in fall of 2017, but it had taken a bit of a hiatus over the last few months, and it felt good to see things get back in motion. The Denver/Boulder area is a burgeoning hotbed for innovation and technology, and we definitely want to make sure we have a strong community and brand in that area of the country. The event’s winner was Event Integrity At Event Integrity, we help people organize events with confidence.
They did a great job during their pitch and during the Q&A with the audience.  Also exciting that night, I met Greg Narain at the event, who has now become our next city leader for Founders Live Denver. Greg spent many years in Silicon Valley and has vast experience as a founder (even building out his own brand called FounderCraft) so I have full confidence Greg can take and run with what has already been established in Denver.

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That weekend, Thao and I decided to get out and go to Colorado Rockies Game. It was a fun night to hang with him, boys night out at the baseball game. The weather was a bit back and forth and that night it stormed and rained a bit but not enough to delay the game. I remember wearing a Colorado Rockies hat at like 10 years old when they were an expansion team back in the 90’s, so it was fun to go to Coor’s Field.

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My next Airbnb was in Aurora, CO, just outside Denver and was a shared room. This place was $11 per night, and a shared downstairs area like a hostel with partitioned off rooms. It wasn’t very nice and was kind of a pain in the ass but I spent less than one average night of Airbnb on the entire week staying at this place so it was worth it. In the end, I established my surroundings, found the nearest Starbucks, got my running loop down and got comfortable. Not too bad actually. It even snowed in late May! Which was quite surprising but melted off after a day or so.

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After Aurora, it was time to venture to Boulder for the rest of the week. I went on a hike overlooking the city, did the Bolder Boulder 10k run of which 50,000+ people ran that day, had a few meetings at the Google office and worked out of the coffee shops on Pearl St. We then went to Red Rocks Amphitheater and saw a concert – Disclosure. This was a big bucket list thing for me as I have wanted to see a concert at Red Rocks for so long, I just hadn’t had the opportunity until now. The Amphitheater is beautiful and I have to admit is a better place to see a show than The Gorge in Washington. Surprising, it’s a smaller venue than I thought, holding only about 10,000 people total. But the views! And the sound! So great.

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I left Boulder and flew back to Seattle for May 30th – June 2nd. This wasn’t a planned trip originally but due to scheduling, flights, and needing to see some of my family I decided to make the quick trip back to Seattle – to remind myself how beautiful the city is under the sun and how great our community really is there. We had Founders Live Seattle event on the 30th at Thinkspace, was great to be back and see all the people. The winner of our Seattle event was Nomena, they are building out some interesting stuff in the data protection space and I’d say they are hitting the market at a perfect time. I actually pitched the TV show concept at the event (find the video of my short talk about the show here), made it much more public. People are loving it. It feels so inevitable at this point and it’s just a matter of getting the right people around it and involved in the appropriate way. We have decided it’s time to get more serious about the show, and what are the next steps to get agents, executive producers and studios involved. Things are progressing at the right speed.

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Now entering month 6 of this journey things are at least becoming a bit more clear to me. First, travel does get easier and more manageable as time goes on. You learn your intrigues, your needs and wants, and your daily habits or things you need to do each day and each week no matter the location. You learn how to be flexible. You learn how to be efficient. You learn what’s most important to you and how to get shit done no matter where you are in the world. There’s always a coffee shop or lounge to slide into and work for a few hours. You can still take your calls, but you have the ability to also go see and discover random parts of the world at a moments notice.

Secondly, I am starting to understand myself in more depth. I haven’t discovered the entire end game yet or “who I am” per se, but I am starting to realize who I am not. I am not the man who found himself in Seattle in a less than optimal situation 6 months-year ago. I knew I needed more and needed to evolve and change. To grow. And I needed this experience and all its challenge to pull it out of me. Lastly, with the emergence of the TV Show concept, the growth of Founders Live around the world (40 cities and 15 countries currently reaching tens of thousands of people!) each and every subsequent city experience solidifies 1) my belief in how impactful Founders Live can be in a community and around the world, and 2) the responses of the event and Founders Live brand are the same from city to city. From a user experience and customer research standpoint, this is exactly what I set out to discover. “Yes this is awesome and we need this here in our city.” Yes, I say, don’t worry Founders Live will be here for quite a while!

What’s next? I just left Bozeman Montana and I’m currently on my way to Minneapolis. This next leg of the Tour feels different for a few reasons. This entire tour has been in the West or Southwest of the US, but I am now heading east for quite some time. Initially to Minneapolis, but then to Boston, DC and NYC for the summer months. It feels more serious and I’m now venturing quite a bit farther from home (wherever that may be right now!) so it feels different. Well, see you on the trails.

Onward!

[PODCAST] My Interview on Innovation Calling – Creating a Global Entrepreneur Community

(PODCAST) – If you are *still* wondering why we are building Founders Live and where we are going, this podcast really dives into it. We talk about many aspects of growing startups, creating culture, core values, and many other things. Thanks Erin Gregor and Syya Yasotornrat, I had a great time on your show. Listen here!
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World Tour 2019 Month FOUR Overview –Ambitions The Size of Texas

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.

In month four of the Founders Live World Tour, I found myself in Dallas for most of the month of April. I must say after 2 full months of living in Texas, I now have a much stronger appreciation for the Lonestar State. It’s much greener and more beautiful than I expected and during the spring months, the weather is pretty darn good (outside of a few crazy loud thunderstorms) which were amazing to see and hear. And the startup talent could hold it’s own against many other Founders Live cities!

We arrived in Dallas on a Monday and got settled into the Bishop Arts area, our new neighborhood for the month. We stopped at a coffee shop to work for a while as we waited to check in at the Airbnb. I looked around and quickly thought A new city and new adventures are in front of us, I wonder what crazy shenanigans we’ll get into here?!”

The first week of April was Dallas Startup Week so we had a central location to go to each day and check in with what was on the agenda. For this first week, out homebase was Ross Tower in Downtown Dallas, which was the location of Founders Live Dallas event to happen on Thursday of the week. I didn’t partake in much of the startup week activities but there were many talks and panel discussions on startup and community topics. I tended to be heads down working on Founders Live, as well as gearing up for the event and filming to happen on that Thursday.

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This is The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado… I just like the pic so I put it first. I’ll get to that part of the trip later!

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Founders Live Dallas was held on April 4th during startup week at Ross Tower. It was an awesome event, with roughly 125 people in attendance and great energy in the room. Our city leader David Ezell (and his supporting team) did a great job leading the event. It’s been fun to stop through our cities and observe how the various city leaders run the events. Of course, me being present at the event influences and changes how they approach it in some ways, but still, it’s a cool way to not only quality check but to pick up nuances and pointers from the leaders on how to best run the events.

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The winner (featured in the image above) was Moments By Design, by female founder Leslie Flores: Moments By DesignMaking life easier with custom curated parties in a box! Leslie’s pitch was very crisp, on point and well within the time limit. She earned every vote and came out the winner of the night. All the pitches were great, the other companies ranged from a smart connected robot quarterback for pro and college football teams, to a bulletproof clothing material, to a company which collects online Food and Recipe Videos for healthy eating. All the presenters were impressive and on point, which I attribute to David and his team for the excellent training.

Monarc really impressed me and I was able to get to know the founding team a bit better over the course of the month. They’re designing a robotic quarterback – the idea here is that receivers will be able to practice routes and drills entirely independently by utilizing their tracking tag with the robot that will predict their path and throw them an appropriate pass. As we continued to talk I started to see how this and other intelligent systems are the future of sports. Well done gentleman!

Another interesting founder I met was Jacqueline Twillie and her company Zerogap.co. She is focusing on Leadership Development and aims to decrease the pay gap and gain equal representation between executives at companies large and small, which I very much agree with. “Success in Leadership Engagement requires consistent learning and development. This allows emerging,mid-level, and executive leaders to innovate new concepts. The Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on their senior management teams had a 34 percent higher total return to shareholders than those with the lowest women’s representation.” Jacqueline will go on to do great things.

During the Founders Live Dallas event, we filmed a sizzle reel for Founders Live. This will require a bit of backstory I am hesitant to divulge too much but oh well, here we go! I recently connected with some people in LA and we have a growing conversation about how to turn this world tour into a more established TV show. When they heard about what I was doing on the road they asked quite obviously “why is this not a TV show?” Think of an Anthony Bourdain type of show where I travel to a new cities, investigate the innovative nature of the city, highlight five new early-stage entrepreneurs, help them through their process and then culminating in a big pitch competition where one is voted the winner.

It’s The Profit meets Shark Tank, with the local flavor of Parts Unknown, and the authentic sentiment of Undercover Boss, through the innovative lens of the app generation. Yep, I like the sound of it too!

So first step in the process was to get a sizzle reel – or short film example (think pitch deck but for visual entertainment) of what Founders Live is all about, and what a full hour-long show could include. I put out a craigslist ad for a videographer and received more than 30 responses for a one day shoot! I picked one and we got to shoot on the day of the event – me talking to the camera, sitting down and interviewing each founder about their concept and their questions, and then real footage of the event. It was a unique and fun experience, although a bit challenging to coordinate it all at the moment during the day of the event. These types of things are what I need to get used to if I am to have a TV show. Having a camera one foot from your face is not the most comfortable feeling, but I know I can get used to it. At this point, I am not sure where this will all go but I can tell you one thing: we are laser-focused on doing what we can to highlight and share the stories of entrepreneurship around the world, however that can happen. We’ll see where it all leads!

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This is us having a movie night at Eisenhower State Park in N. Texas.

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Due to housing issues (and no place to stay for one night), one Sunday we decided to hit a state park for the and camp for a night. We drove up to Eisenhower State Park on the border of Texas and Oklahoma, worked on the water during the day, took in an incredible sunset, had a movie night outside and went on a trail run the next morning.  As you can see Texas has stunning sunsets.

One thing to note – The weather. Dallas has the most intense thunderstorms I have ever seen. One minute it’s clear and sunny, the next you then see massive clouds, and here comes a crazy thunderstorm. Standing in the rain is like taking a shower, so much water at one time the streets just start flooding and little rivers are formed within 10 mins. Crazy stuff.

Another interesting aspect of visiting all these new cities is how you adapt to your surroundings and establish a routine and familiarity with the new community. In Dallas, our neighborhood was Bishop Arts, just 10 mins south of downtown Dallas. I quickly found my running route (3.5-mile loop around the area) and our go-to places for coffee, food and go out for a few beers. We even got to know some of the local bartenders at a brewery over the course of the month. It started to feel like we were locals, at least for a few weeks.

Many people have asked me what traveling like this feels like. It’s really really fun. But after being on the road for more than 4 months I can tell you there are downsides of travel – specifically not wanting to leave! Once you land and get established in a city you get attached to people and places and you don’t necessarily want to uproot and leave. Establishing a relationship and connection with someone can take some work, and once you do it’s very difficult to then turn around and just take off. The way I can describe it is you basically divebomb someone’s life, create whirlwind relationships and experiences, then you leave. This can be exciting and fun, but it tugs on your emotions as well. It’s something I have had to get used to during this intense time of travel. It’s actually very difficult at times. 

The last week of April it was time to leave, and we drove in the bus from Dallas to Denver. Our first stop was Sante Fe – and take in the cool, artsy, random, eerie parts of New Mexico. I told Raleigh, “ya know, New Mexico is a pretty cool place and after all said and done with company growth and some sort of exit, I could see myself here!” It’s beautiful, crisp, warm, and off the path enough where you have space and time to be creative.

We checked out Meow Wolf (the neon pictures below), even saw a concert by The Midnight, Hiking to Hot springs and camped outside in the foothills. We then Drove into Colorado, and took in the amazing terrain and got some great pics. We stopped at The Great Sand Dunes, hiked up to the top of the dunes one day, and camped at what felt like the top of the world overlooking the entire valley. No words to describe this stuff, just look at the pictures below and think of your own words to describe it!

Finishing out the trip we stayed at Dakota Hot Springs outside of Denver. If you do enough research on this place you’ll discover it’s uhhh…clothing optional (that which we didn’t participate in!) but we both quickly realized that is the modus operandi of most of the hot springs here in Colorado. Cheers to seeing and experiencing new areas of the world!

On a sad note, this was my last week in the Van Gough Bus. Raleigh is now on his way back to the Bay Area for his next job assignment and to start the next phase of his life. I greatly appreciate the time we spent together on the road and his graciousness, hospitality, honesty, and friendship will be missed.

Now I am in Denver and looking forward to another incredible month, new relationships, experiences, and awesome Founders Live events! If you know anyone in the Denver/Boulder area and want to connect the two of us, please reach out.

Below is a group of images that I feel sums up the last month on the road.

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On to the next!