Another Lesson Learned: See The Opening

I woke up yesterday to a pretty cool email waiting in my inbox with the words:

“We would like you to come in and interview Giant Thinkwell and Sir Mix-A-Lot today”

This doesn’t just happen to anybody, and it certainly doesn’t happen to someone that waits for opportunities to fall in their lap.  Successful entrepreneurs MAKE things happen.  And to be brutally honest, I pretty much made this happen (acknowledgment: with help from others to connect the dots).  How?  It all started 3 months ago.

  1. I connected with a founder of a recently launched startup about 3 months ago
  2. We stayed in contact via email, sometimes not hearing from him for months at a time
  3. I started writing on this blog
  4. I started shooting out my posts to larger publications around the country
  5. BusinessInsider.com like my writing, published a few posts and offered me to become a contributor
  6. I finally met up with the founder a few weeks ago and chatted about my latest happenings (quitting job, blogging, looking for connections)
  7. He connected me into a local startup communications list last week
  8. Giant Thinkwell, a local startup, announced they were releasing the Mix-n-Match app on the list
  9. They also requested help and asked if people could spread via social networks
  10. I reached out and simply commented “I could do a post on BusinessInsider.com if they wanted”
  11. I recieved the email in the morning and that afternoon I was sitting across the table having a conversation with “Mix”

Successful people jump at opportunities and follow through on them.  You cannot wait around for someone to find you and give you exactly what you have been looking for.  You must go make it happen.  Like a running back in football, when you see an opening, you must go for it.  Sometimes that little opening will make all the difference in your life.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Monicas Dad

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An Exclusive Interview with Sir-Mix-A-Lot Baby!

Giant Thinkwell, a social game studio based in Seattle launched a new Facebook game today called Mix-N-Match that features Grammy Award-winning hip hop icon, Sir Mix-A-Lot.  Mix n Match brings you and your friends along side Sir Mix-A-Lot to hang out, learn more about the entertainer, win stuff and have a good time.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Sir Mix-A-Lot and Giant Thinkwell CEO Adam Tratt today for a little chat about the new project as well as the recent changes in the entertainment industry.  When you sit with Mix, you get the feeling this man knows what’s going on.  He is curious, quick witted as well as forward thinking.  You also get the feeling he is not done yet.  Here is an excerpt of our interview.

What attracted you to Giant Thinkwell?

These guys are geniuses.  From my perspective, a guy who came along in an era where you were distant from your fans, not by design, that is just how it was.  It was all systematic.  They produced the record, they distributed the record, they promoted the record, you wait till you get the call.  The way you sell records now is totally different.  These Giant Thinkwell guys are rock stars.  They are the mega pimps of this era, and they understand it really is about connecting with fans.  They get it!

What did you do back then in the day?

It was really the label.  They had a team of people who scripted how you were going to do things.  They did everything.  As an artist you were very removed from it all.  Most guys have just pulled back.  My manager has been talking about this stuff for a long time.  And now today, your fans know everything, like what time you take your dumps in the morning to what kind of underwear you are wearing, ya know?

Adam, is this Giant Thinkwell’s first app?

No, but it is our second.  So our story is the company was born at Start-up weekend.  In the beginning of social games it was the Wild West, and  Zynga was doing whatever they wanted on Facebook.  Now, everyone else is now clamoring for a piece of it.  Zynga already has their customer base of 500 million players.  What we realized is there is very little in the area of Branded Entertainment, and what is out there is really not that good.  So we thought, why don’t we take 2 things people love, social games and entertainment and put them together?

Where do you see this category of apps going?

Adam: What’s happening on the sidelines in entertainment is the whole model is changing, people aren’t buying records much any more.  It’s all changed.  Entertainers and celebrities of all kinds musicians, actors, athletes, will be interacting with their fans on line, in fact they do it already.  Social media right now is about talking AT your fans.  So we think the model is going to change.  The bar is going up. We think the way a guy like Mix announces and releases a new song will change.  And we want to be a part of it.

Mix: from an artist perspective, this is the first time in my career I can shape my brand, my personality.  They used to think “OK, this is a dumb guy who likes Big Butts and asses” (according to Mix only part of that is true) because that is how I was promoted by the record labels.  But now, I come down to meet with the Giant Thinkwell team and they don’t go, “this is what we’re doing”, they say “what should we do?”  Finally I am able to deal with my fans one-on-one on my terms with my personality.  It’s great!  I predicted the demise of the music industry back in 1999.  So today, I’m not like Lady Gaga and the way she is with her fans, but it’s on my own terms.  You are your own marketing firm now.  The gangsta element of record business is gone forever.

Do you think it’s a better time to be a musician?

Good Question.  From an old school cats point of view, no it’s not a better time cause back then we were spoiled.  But a new artist just breaking in, yes it is.  Because Music is more honest now.   You can get your stuff out into people’s hands in so many different ways.  So the cream is going to rise and the good ones will break out naturally.

You’ve seen success, what is the most important characteristic of successful people?

Mindset.  I have never met a successful person who talked about failing.  The glass is always half full.  I don’t even like being around negative talkers.  And secondly, they always figure out a way to monetize something.  You find a hole in the market, find what people don’t have enough of… and you supply it.  There is a big difference between those people who have the entrepreneurial spirit and those who are talented, but scared of themselves.  They are always sitting in the corner, shivering, wondering why they can’t make it.  Successful people jump at opportunity and take advantage of it.

What keeps you going?

Anything new.  I just started new company called True Human Interface, software to help people make music easier.  Right now we are finishing the brains of the software and we’re thinking sometime early next year we’ll have something released.  If you look at a lot of the older artists, the only ones who are still profiting are the ones trying these new things.  Our goal is to come out with a strong, serious product.  I was watching them edit True Grit, and they edited the whole thing with mouse and keyboard.  It was crazy!  We think we can have some good ideas to help make things easier.

What advice to you have for young entrepreneurs?

Make sure that you have  is unique and necessary, make sure your dream is viable.  Second, don’t be afraid to fire someone early if they are not the right fit.  You need to make sure you have the right people in the right places.  Lastly, don’t be afraid of criticism.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.