Founders LIVE -A Creative New Project That Needs YOU!

It must be Spring, the time for new things and emergence into a bright new world because that is what I seem to be doing lately.

I recently came to a crossroads in the creative side of my life, and have been contemplating which long and winding road I should take next. Yes I have posted on here my blog for years (thanks for reading!) and created scores of video conversations (thanks for watching!) with all the enjoyment, excitement and satisfaction that comes with sharing those nuggets out to the world. I have also been experimenting with events, meetups and live shows all the while conducting social observations and reading people like a hawk… AND I’VE COME TO DISCOVER THERE’S MORE UNDERNEATH ALL THIS CREATIVITY. The common theme in all these experiments is seeing the inspiration grow in people get and how they desire to be a part of something bigger.

All I can say is it’s gotdamn infectious.

So here I am offering a new approach to content creation and community engagement. I didn’t want to just start another blog, or another social network. But then I thought why not combine both… I realized I wanted to create a platform for creatives, entrepreneurs and go-getters to connect with like minded people and if desired, be provided a channel to display their talents – be it crafting pithy nuggets of wisdom, writing blog posts, conducting interviews, distributing podcasts or creating fascinating videos, art or music. More importantly, I wanted to create a central channel for others to find this type of valuable content and in the process maybe become better people. And to open a space where all of us creatives can see and be seen, to read and be read, and to hear and be heard. I believe everyone has a unique set of talents. Founders LIVE allows you to share yours, and discover other talented people and enjoy what they have to offer.

So here you are – Founders LIVE. Some things to know.

1) You are the first to know about this. OMG. Join with satisfaction you will be the first of many to be a part of this exclusive club connecting with like-minded individuals and being in awe of (hopefully) thousands of talented people. Quickly join, say hi and share with people you may think are a good fit.

2) Membership to Founders LIVE will be $5 per month. Yes, great things in this world actually cost money. Here’s a little more info on the app.

3) THE FIRST 100 PEOPLE TO JOIN WILL BE FREE FOR LIFE. Zero dollars. This means you should probably, no… most definitely click this link and join simply because it doesn’t cost you anything and the worst thing that happens is you never go back. I’d hate for you to delay and have to pay $60 per year when you don’t have too!

4) I plan on holding (and encouraging others to hold) cool and entertaining live events, talks, podcasts, shows, pitch contests and experimenting with other cool ideas on Founders LIVE from time to time, so SEE #3 and follow said instructions.

5) Does someone actually have to be a founder to join? Nope, it’s just a catchy name!  If you feel you really aren’t a creative, entrepreneur or go-getter who would add their content, see #4 and follow said instructions.

Lastly, I want to give thanks from the bottom of my heart for everyone’s support, for being a loyal reader and a fellow creative entrepreneur, and inspiring me during the times my hopes were hanging dry on a vine wondering when the next rainstorm would come. I hope I give back as much as I receive and please join me in creating something fun, cool and unique in this world.

Join here > founderslive.com.

I also have created a new blog founderslivemedia.com which I will probably be posting more from so might want to check that out as well.

Creating Your Own Wake

As a founder your survival is a function of how you create your own wake.

Wikipedia defines a wake as:

A wake is the region of recirculating flow immediately behind a moving or stationary solid body, caused by the flow of surrounding fluid around the body. There is formation of vortex in the wake which is the region of low pressure in it.

…The formation of these waves in liquids is analogous to the generation of shockwaves in compressible flow, such as those generated by rockets and aircraft traveling supersonic through air.

wake

Circulating flow.

Vortex.

Pressure.

Shockwaves.

If you read the entire definition you’ll likely get lost in a hell of a lot of science but those are the words that jump out to me when I read the definition of wake. It doesn’t just apply only to water either, if we could see movements of air we’d be seeing the impacts of wakes and shockwaves all around us.

To me, in human terms wake simply means your lasting impact on the world around you.

I have been thinking about this phenomenon recently since I made the leap back into entrepreneurship as a founder, (re)discovering all the painful and challenging issues you deal with as you are just starting out. So many things are working against you and the inertia of the world is quite similar to the inertia of water. A boat doesn’t create a wake unless its moving. Same for us. Forward progress in life requires some sort of energetic force to drive you forward, pushing against the inertia of the world and creating a wake that ripples outwardly away from you and positively impacting others around you.

There’s some social science for ya.

One of the most important lessons I learned in the last couple of years is you can make the entrepreneurial path a little easier by creating a wake around/behind yourself. This is not easy, because it requires effort and energy to do things we generally don’t want to do.  Going above and beyond our normal comfort zone to stand out is almost the antithesis to what we as humans feel we want to be doing each day/week/month.

But standing out – creating a wake impacting others – is what is required of you as a first time founder who is desperately wanting to make it to the next level. That or get lost in the thousands of others vying for the same attention, money and position.

What would a wake look like in real life? How would it involve humans, social interactions, business decisions, etc?

I find the key to gaining an edge when just starting out is finding specific actions to take to create a wake in an industry – shockwaves that keep spreading and impacting people you might not even have direct contact with.

Start writing on topics people in your industry might find interesting, posting them on social media and guest posting on other media outlets. Who cares what you write about (okay that’s kind of harsh but you get what I am saying) and what others might comment on, just having a voice and putting it out there places you at the top 10% in your industry. Be consistent in your writing efforts and don’t worry your audience will find you. Create video or other visual content which is entertaining and educational and that others can share with their networks. It doesn’t exactly matter what you record and put out, it just matters that you start and don’t stop so others start to recognize you. Organize local events and meetups around relevant industry topics so you can help others connect with each other. Be seen and be known. Work on and release products which are both interesting and have high potential to change your industry. Who knows, you might learn something new! Carry yourself, shake hands and talk in a way where people will be impressed.

These are the things people remember, they are what people share with others and what sticks in a room once you leave. That’s your wake.

 

Look No Further Than Shinebox Films For Your Next Videographer

10100696_300x300A few months ago I was desperately searching for a new film crew for Founders RAW and after interviewing a number of other candidates I was introduced to Ahamed and Dominic at Shinebox Films. We met over coffee and even after just a few minutes I quickly knew these guys were going to be my next film crew. I hope you (or them) do not mind this unsolicited praise as I simply would like to voice my satisfaction thus far with Shinebox Films.

The unique thing about producing Founders RAW is there are a few nonnegotiables I have as we put these segments together. First, we must be on location at a neutral place, typically at a bar or restaurant. My intention here is to create a naturally comfortable environment for myself and another individual to have a quality conversation, and for you the viewer to feel like you are a fly on the wall in the bar listening to us chat. This is not easy for a film crew to accomplish, and Shinebox has done a great job accomodating this challenging request. The other nonnegotiable is the level of quality – visual, audio, content, editing – they all must be world class. That or no one will want to keep watching these clips and over time the project will whither away. I will definitely say Ahamed and Dominic have fulfilled their promise of putting an incredibly high quality into their work.

And as you can see below, they haven’t disappointed. This is a clip from a recent Founders RAW conversation with Seattle Angel Investor Gary Rubens where you see their work in action. We filmed in the Pharmacy, which is a Speakeasy in the downstairs of The Temple in Pioneer Square. Notice the quality of Ahamed and Dominic’s editing work as well as aligning Gary and I in chairs in a well lit area so as to create a casual conversation between two friends.

Another conversation we shot in the fall was with Nathanael Nienaber, the CEO of on-demand moving service Ghostruck. We shot this specific episode in Easy Joe’s bar in downtown Seattle. The lighting and background in this shot is damn near perfect.

Here is a short description from the Shinebox website:

Shinebox Films imagines, executes and delivers moving pictures that convert  ideas and goals into compelling visual messages. Whether your project is a few seconds or a few hours we have the creativity and experience to make you and your passions shine.

We offer full support and service before, during and after filming so you don’t have to get bogged down in the details. We’re here to help no matter how much experience you have with videos and can help you navigate the often intimidating universe of videos.

If you want to engage viewers with your message we have the proven creative and technical skills to do so.

In an age full of videos we deliver the unexpected. We’re ready to make the world take notice of what you have to share. Send us a message or stop by for coffee at our office in downtown Seattle.

These guys fit my mold and I would suggest any company looking for high quality videos reach out to Shinebox Films via their website, email them here info@shineboxfilms.com or shoot me an email and I can connect you with them directly. You won’t be disappointed.

Founders RAW: Rahul Sood Full Conversation

I recently had the awesome opportunity to sit down with Rahul Sood, CEO and cofounder of e-sports betting platform Unikrn. Simply put, as a safe, legal and fun way to gather, game and bet on eSports, Unikrn is at the cusp of an industry just about to explode onto the world scene. In fact, I’ll suggest it already has given there are tournaments where people can compete for multi-million dollar winnings in front of tens of thousands of fans in sports arenas. Crazy stuff.

It’s an interesting conversation since Rahul has a very intriguing past. He started his first company right out of high school, sold it to HP years later and then started Microsoft Ventures within the global tech behemoth.

Lots of gems in here, better watch the whole thing!

Give Yourself Permission To Fail

Giving myself permission to fail has been a reoccurring thought as of late, and reading a recent post from Keen.io CEO Michelle Wetzler really solidified it for me.

After a few years in the back seat helping others in the building process I am back in the founding position. As I get back into the drivers seat I am reminded that my mental approach to this next journey determines so much of my trajectory and overall success.

If I am scared to fail, I most likely will fail. If I am worried we’ll go broke, we most likely will go broke. If I think I am not good enough to be CEO and not fit to lead a successful company, I most definitely will be those things.

BUT if I reverse that thinking I can reverse the psychology as well.  If I believe I’ll be successful, I most likely will. If I am confident in our finances, we most likely will stay afloat. If I think I am good enough to be CEO and fit to lead a successful company, I most definitely will be those things. And if I open myself up to possibility of failure I see that it is not that bad.

Michelle sums it up perfectly.

Giving myself permission to fail has been one of the most liberating, stress-relieving, and rewarding things I’ve done in last year.

The only way we can become a truly great company is if we open ourselves to the possibility that we might not be.

And you know what? It’s okay if we’re not. If Keen busts, we’ll all find new grand adventures. Some us could start a new company together, or get boring jobs at big co’s, or sail around the world, who knows, the world is full of lots of amazing opportunities.

…To give yourself permission to fail, you have to untangle your ego from your work. Having your ego tied up in your work is a handicap. You can’t think strategically or take risks when you and your personal well-being are on the line.

Basically, embracing reality frees you up to be everything you were meant to be. By not being paralyzed by what could happen, you are free to create what should happen.

This is an important lesson for founders, especially first timers who fall victim to impostor syndrome. Wikipedia defines it as “a term coined in the 1970s by psychologists and researchers to informally describe people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.”

Another way to think of impostor syndrome is to be so frightened by your future (be it positive or negative) that you simply don’t believe you are doing the right things or are the right person for the job. You question every little decision you should make, you aren’t sure if you should go left or right. You think your peers see a different version of you, a lesser qualified person sitting in the front seat pretending they know what they are doing.  You start believing you are an impostor and thus end up failing in the end.

This is all wrong and can be mitigated by giving yourself permission to fail before you even start. That way you are free to make the correct decisions, knowing failure is just part of the process. It sounds crazy but a simple change in perspective makes all the difference. I have found the best perspective is that the world is full of lots of amazing opportunities, and if you fail at this one there’s always the next one.

That, my friends, is why I am back in the drivers seat.

Taking Time To Reflect

It’s been a great year. I definitely had some ups and downs but as a whole I’m appreciative of the year I had and excited for what lies ahead. At the end of the year it’s always great to unplug, get away and gather your thoughts without distraction. I’ve been lucky to escape to the ocean for some rest, relaxation and reflection. Here’s where I am spending my holiday. 

   
    
    
   

 
  

The Agony And Ecstasy of Entrepreneurship

Given my recent news of making the leap once again, I figured it was fitting to dive further in detail on what entrepreneurship is all about. This piece was written a few months back for a project I will talk more about once it becomes public, but should give you a good idea of the ups and downs of founder life.

Many people wonder what it takes to launch and grow a successful business today. Many also question what actually goes on in the mind of an entrepreneur.  Pure ambition, hopes of everlasting wealth, or recognition for changing the world are often cited as driving forces behind founders of successful companies. On the other hand some perceive starting a company as the epitome of stroking our own selfish and egotistical desires at the expense of others. Regardless of perspective, entrepreneurship is an enigma in our world – something we observe everyday yet still perplexes us as to what it actually is and why people choose to embrace it.

These questions got me thinking about what we do and why we do it, and how to best describe entrepreneurship. What most will discover is the challenge of entrepreneurship is not necessarily one of execution as it is psychological balance. I often talk about The Agony and The Ecstasy of Entrepreneurship, the never ending yo-yo effect of running a company and the toll it can take on the person who is not prepared. The agony can be described as an immense downward pressure, something akin to gasping for air when lacking oxygen. Starting a company requires creating almost everything out of thin air and demands extraordinary feats to pull off.  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Your progress will take twice as long as you expect and if you are an impatient person like myself it can be extremely difficult.  If entrepreneurship can be described as a roller-coaster ride, the agonizing times are the extreme downward dips a company founder and their stomach must constantly endure.

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Those who make it out of the dips shoot straight up to the highs and experience periods of ecstasy and bliss.  Similar to a chemical induced euphoria these naturally created feelings are what keep founders plowing through the entrepreneurial journey. A great meeting with a high profile investor, media coverage about a new product release or acquisition, and landing a new customer or partnership leading to a potentially lucrative deal are all exciting and exhilarating experiences. These euphoric feelings are what we live for as entrepreneurs.  And they are addictive.  They are additive because these types of positive experiences release dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain which result in a heightened state of emotion, and become what founders heavily rely on while they keep pushing forward.

What makes the journey so crazy is the shifts between ecstasy to agony seem to creep up like little critters in the night. One day you are on top of the world, thinking there’s nothing between you and one billion people touching your product. The next day you don’t know what just happened and if you are still leading a solvent company. Amazingly that same chemical process takes place as we experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol, as well as what is found in people who are diagnosed with mental disorders. I find it interesting how entrepreneurship and mental disorders are so close in relation yet looked upon from society in such extreme opposites. It’s important to keep in mind how damaging the cycle of Agony and Ecstasy can be to the entrepreneur if not identified and dealt with appropriately.

If entrepreneurship is analogous to a disease then it is a collection of many mental disorders found in appropriate combinations brought together to form a uniquely talented individual. Consequently, this individual has a choice on how they wield their sword. Entrepreneurs are all in – all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it to a fault. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid out for chosen individuals. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. And like any disease, if not treated appropriately entrepreneurship can be very damaging to oneself and others. If you find yourself holding the sword you must take precaution in how you use it.

Don’t be fooled, running a company can be one of the most difficult things a person will ever do in their life. If you are an entrepreneur – or choose to become one – prepare to be challenged more than you ever have in your life. You will be challenged physically. You will be challenged emotionally. You will also be challenged psychologically more than you ever thought possible.  You will ask yourself why you are doing this and to what cost is it worth. Technically, socially, professionally, psychologically and financially you will be stretched way past what you ever thought you could deal with.

Yet, it is also one of the most rewarding things a person can choose do with their lifetime. If pursued correctly, entrepreneurship is the gravity that pulls out greatness within each person. It is the grand stage on which we display our unique gifts and talents to the world. And it allows an environment for us to teach and employ others so they may also live healthy and fruitful lives. I have discovered it is the crucible we enter as rough, ugly and jagged only to emerge in time polished, beautiful and priceless.

So what is entrepreneurship again? I have found the crux in the entrepreneurial path is self actualization –  the place where the founder comes full circle on what, how and why they have embarked on the journey in the first place. Their life only make sense when they look back upon what they’ve done and connect the dots from where they have come.  It is in this place true entrepreneurs are born and true greatness can be achieved.

I don’t know… we may never know for sure what entrepreneurship really is but what I try to illustrate is how vital the entrepreneurial journey is in discovering yourself, your vision and your legacy. I hope this doesn’t scare you. In fact, I hope you are intrigued and invigorated. In the end, through entrepreneurship I hope you can gain a better understanding of who you are and how you will choose to leave your lasting legacy.