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.

 

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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.

Coasting To Perfection

Am I doing all I can each day to reach my own pinnacle in life? Have I done everything possible to become the person I was created to be or am I just coasting along the highway…?

A post today piqued my interest and spurred this intense inner monologue. MG Siegler writes about a recent SI article on Michael Phelps which details his comeback and rehabilitation from alcohol related incidents.  The article touches on a variety of events in his career but what jumped out to me was a very interesting and possibly troubling assessment by Phelps himself, where he simply admits he has never given it his all. Ever. Even after numerous Olympics and all the medal records he feels he under-performed and still has his best inside him. Siegler ties that thought back to all of us:

“we don’t often hear about someone at the pinnacle of what they’re doing also failing to give their all — and yet, that’s clearly the case with Phelps….. And so in a way, I think that’s a more interesting point from which to look inward. If you’re really fucking up and squandering your talents, it’s pretty obvious for everyone to see. But what if you’re only not “giving it your all” and coasting on doing the minimum to still be successful — even very successful? Or maybe not even the minimum, but something less than all you’ve got. I think a lot of people are guilty of this. Maybe even most people. Certainly I am, in some regard.”

So I ask you, are you just coasting through your life?

It’s a troubling thought if you really consider the question when its asked another way: will you ever reach your full potential with your current output of energy, focus and determination?

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I ponder this question quite a bit and maybe it’s the reason I have a number of current projects/companies ongoing in my life. It’s almost as if I can’t not do them. I don’t want to ever look back and realize I could have done more, that I should have applied myself more fully to the things and people in my life, and that I coasted lazily while others looked upon me with slight disappointment knowing I was fully talented and capable of greatness but in the end never doing anything worthwhile.

Wasted talent they’d say.

This is why I push myself to write even on days when I don’t want to or don’t feel like it. I want to follow my writing talent as far as it will possibly take me.

This is why I get in front of the camera and shoot more Founders RAW conversations.  Setting aside the enjoyment I get from doing them it’s not easy being comfortable in front of a camera and I believe people need to hear the messages we are putting out. I also want to follow my talent in media creation as far as it will possibly take me.

This is why I get on stage in front of hundreds of people each month and host Feature Friday events in Seattle – a monthly event which highlights 5 new up-and-coming area startups. This pushes me to become very comfortable on stage in front of crowds and calms the public speaking nerves, a wise move given public speaking is the #1 fear in the world.

This is why I push myself to build new apps and create whole new companies. I don’t ever want to find myself out of the loop on the latest trends, as well as sometimes it just takes a few cycles before the big idea takes hold.

This is not rocket science but I do these things so that I get better at them until a time comes where they are second nature to me. This is the 10,000 hours stuff Malcolm Gladwell talks about. It is said by the time the Beattles led the “British Invasion” with Beattlemania and brought their music into America they had already played together as a band live so many times they had eclipsed their 10,000 hours threshold and were very very tight as a band. That’s why they were so damn good so early on.

But it didn’t come overnight.

The Beattles believed – as I am starting to now – you are only as good as you choose to be. And “to choose” means you determine to do whatever it takes, however long it takes, with whatever means you have at your disposal to achieve you potential. Anything less is just cheating yourself and the greater world in the process.

Some have it easy you might say. They are naturally talented and without doing EVERYTHING THEY CAN they turn out to be Olympic champions and record setters. LeBron James, Michael Phelps, ect.. Simply more talented than anyone else. I say good for them.

But I am more impressed with the one who wasn’t God gifted with the most talent in the world yet works so diligently at their craft they become one with it, they become the legends we read about. The Wright Brothers. Steve Jobs, etc. The ones who came from nowhere, with no money and no connections, no Ivy League schooling, no Silver Spoon or lucky sperm club card to show off.

These people will it into existence. They are the ones we love to read about and crave to hear speak in public.

My guess is you fit that bill just as I do. So do yourself a favor each day and ask yourself if you are giving it your all – and be honest with your answer. My guess is you’ll be surprised at how much farther within yourself you can dig.

You Gotta Give To Get

I have noticed a trend within myself recently: The more I help others when they ask the more I tend to get from others when I ask.

I am not sure if its a natural phenomenon, me being more attentive to others needs or others starting to be more in-tune with where I sit in our industry. Regardless, I discovered really cool things happen when I am more open to giving to people.

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The giving I am referring to is of my time, relationships and mind-share. This realization has come to my attention as younger founders or less experienced entrepreneurs more frequently reach out to me for help, perspective or introductions. This is natural, fine with me – given they are respectful in their ask – and something I enjoy doing.

Yes, that means I’d be open to responding to you too if you need it!

Interestingly, many times when I meet with someone they are very thankful and surprised with how generous I seem to be.  My response: I feel it’s what we are supposed to do if we are farther down the road in our journey than someone else (referring to providing guidance and intro’s if the situation calls for it.) All I ask is they do it too once they are at a level where they can help others in this way. Most first time founders don’t run in the same circles as investors or wealthy former founders, and they have to get connected somehow, someway. Founders getting introduced to well known people, investors or customers was how pretty much how this whole industry got started. Let’s keep it going…

The interesting thing I notice is how much natural karma is created when you are genuinely more open to helping people when they reach out.

The adage I now live by: help people first and people will no doubt help you.

Leading A Few Panels During Seattle Startup Week

This coming week is Seattle Startup Week, a free five-day event highlighting the amazing startup culture of the Puget Sound. It looks like there will be more than 100 events happening over the next week and should be very fun, entertaining and educational.

In fact, I will be participating in 2 of them as I will be leading panel discussions both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Below are quick descriptions of each event. If you are free either one of those nights you should come check them out. Here’s the entire schedule.

Pick The Brains of Local Angel Investors and VC’s 

(Tues Oct. 27th at 6pm)

Learn from local Angel investors and VCs in Seattle  about what they look for in a company when they invest.We will be inviting local Angel investors and Venture Capitalists to get insights on the process they use when investing in startups.

Moderators

Nick Hughes

Director of Business Development, Knotis
Nick is an entrepreneur with achievements in e-commerce, digital payments and technology start-ups. He excels at interpersonal communication and leadership, business strategy and product management. | | Currently Director of Business Development for local e-commerce focused Knotis, Nick previously founded the mobile payment startup Seconds as well as recently forming Coinme, a new company built around expanding bitcoin and digital… Read More →


Speakers


Josh Maher

Angel Investor
Josh Maher is the author of Startup Wealth: How the Best Angel Investors Make Money in Startups (http://amzn.to/1NUAoz4). Startup Wealth delivers engaging interviews with early-stage investors in Google, Invisalign, ZipCar, Uber, Twilio, Localytics, and other successful and not so successful companies.  | He’s a passionate supporter of the Seattle startup community, President of Seattle Angel, a non-profit focused on education at the…Read More →


Yi-Jian Ngo

Managing Director, Alliance of Angels
Yi-Jian Ngo, Managing Director, leads the Alliance of Angels. A network engineer by training, Yi-Jian stumbled into the startup world when AT&T rebooted its corporate venture fund and recruited him as a founding team member. Working closely with entrepreneurs and helping them build their companies turned out to be such a blast that he continued that work at Microsoft. Most recently, he was a venture capitalist at Sierra Ventures, where… Read More →


Tim Porter

Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group
Tim is focused on investing in B2B software companies in the Pacific Northwest. He currently is particularly interested in the areas of SaaS applied to both horizontal and vertical applications, cloud infrastructure and automation, data analytics, security, and enterprise mobile. He is a board member or board observer of numerous Madrona portfolio companies. In addition to his work at Madrona, Tim is a member of the three-person Investment… Read More →

Gary Rubens

CEO, Start it Labs
Founded ATGStores.com in 1999 – sold to Lowe’s Home Improvment 2012, Founded Architectural Details, inc in 1990- sold to private buyer in 2007, expertise in ecommerce, online advertising and business growth.He invests in more than 50 companies.
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Raise Capital Like A Superstar

(Wed Oct. 28th at 6:30pm)
Learn from some of the most successful startup capital raisers that received nearly and more than 10M$ in funding. Local CEOs and CFOs and startup founders will share their experiences and advice and learn how to raise capital like a superstar!

Moderators

Nick Hughes

Director of Business Development, Knotis
Nick is an entrepreneur with achievements in e-commerce, digital payments and technology start-ups. He excels at interpersonal communication and leadership, business strategy and product management. | | Currently Director of Business Development for local e-commerce focused Knotis, Nick previously founded the mobile payment startup Seconds as well as recently forming Coinme, a new company built around expanding bitcoin and digital… Read More →


Speakers

Aviel Ginzburg

Co-Founder, Simply Measured

James Gwertzman

CEO, PlayFab, Inc.
James Gwertzman is the CEO and Co-Founder of PlayFab, a Seattle-based company that helps game developers future proof their games with an industry leading live game operations platform. James has over 15 years of experience as a senior executive in the games industry. He believes strongly in the power of alignment, empowerment, and transparency to build truly great business. Prior to PlayFab, James founded and then led the Asia operations for… Read More →

Michael Schutzler

CEO, Washington Technology Industry Association
Michael Schutzler is a successful chief executive with over 30 years experience in  | rapid growth, start-up, and turn-around ventures. As a successful Internet  | entrepreneur, angel investor, and CEO advisor, he has helped raise over $50 Million  | in financing for more than a dozen companies and has served as a coach and mentor  | to more than 50 founders. | Michael spent the first part of his career in the telecom… Read More →

Founders RAW Is Looking For A Seattle Based Videographer

We are gearing up for a new season of Founders RAW and I’m looking for a new videographer.

This individual needs to be local in the Seattle area and familiar with both recording, post production and slicing of longer videos into short clips.  You can get an idea of how we shoot Founder RAW by viewing of our previous videos here, as well as the video below.  If you are interested, or know of someone who might be interested in being a part of a fun team producing great entrepreneurial focused videos, please reach out to me asap.

  • Part time position, estimated 10-20 hours per week
  • Portfolio and previous video production experience strongly recommended
  • Compensation depends on experience as well as project sponsorship status
  • Establish yourself as an experienced video professional within the tech industry
  • Opportunity to meet well established CEO’s and founders of tech startups who possibly have other video needs

How To Approach A Startup When Looking For A Job

A friend recently asked me a good question:

What’s your feel on whether or not to contact a company without a clear position opening. There are a few startups I really dig, but they don’t currently have a job opening that fits my role. Is it worth it to shoot them an email to introduce myself and possibly talk about carving out a role if they like me enough? Or should I not waste my time?

My answer:

Best to naturally network and get to know people in real life like you have done with me, rather than reach out cold knowing they aren’t hiring for your skill set and hoping for the best. They’ll probably just think it’s spam and not respond – that’s what I do.  Most companies/startups hire for personality + skillset, and the only way to find that match is to meet them first and get to know them over time, illustrating your value.  So.. find a way to get to know the founders and employees of the startups you like first, then work the angle of getting a job at their company.

Reaching out to startups in an effort to connect and get to know the company is definitely a great idea.  But cold emailing thinking you will be able to land a job is a longshot at best, and shows you have no savvy way to integrate yourself within their operations.  Especially if they display on their website they are only hiring for certain positions- and you don’t see a good role that fits your skill set. (If they DO show they are hiring exactly for what you are great at, by all means reach out to them!)

The secret to getting hired at a startup is to get to know the people within the company by any means necessary. This effort will provide an opportunity to determine if you are a good culture fit – and you might find out there isn’t a good fit after all.  And just like a lot of things, that happens over time. It’s all about learning as much as you can about the founders, the employees, their product and what type of office environment they have. No startup I know of will keep the best engineer in the world on staff if they are also the biggest asshole in the world.  And vis versa, no person will want to work with a company/founders who have no idea how to treat employees with respect.

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

And that is the root of networking – connecting with people in your industry.  “Networking” has gotten a bad rap and has been misconstrued in today’s fast paced transactional world. It’s not about the one night stand and getting hired as soon as possible.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens over time and over repeated positive interactions with various people within the startup, to the point where numerous people are asking “what does that person do and why don’t they work for us?”

So if you want to get hired by great founders in the industry, get out there and make sure they know who you are and why they should want you to join their team.