Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Creating is Procrastinating (Sometimes)


Portrait of the artist as a time waster

Portrait of the artist as a time waster

I’m writing this for you right now, but I should be working on a project. But hey, I’m creating, right? This is good. This is right-brain. This is the opposite of doing nothing. This is the opposite of just consuming.

That’s what our story says. That’s what we tell ourself. But is it true?


Creating is Procrastinating

We work from plans (if we’re lucky). My plan, today, is to get a better start to the month because last month didn’t really hit my goals. But instead of doing that, I’m creating. Yay, creation.

The difference, as with all matters, is knowing which is which. This creation? This work I’m making for you? It’s not productive (though it will be). It’s me taking a pause before doing the grind work, the stuff that needs doing that isn’t as sexy, that isn’t as fun, that isn’t as right brain.

Will this help? Will sharing this information make some kind of positive motion for the rest of my goals? Not immediately. But maybe it is a warm up, a way to shake off the cobwebs. No. Not really. It’s procrastination.


Be Honest With Yourself

People misunderstand the best use of honesty. It’s never best to aim your honesty at others. Saying what you truly feel can often come with painful consequences. But when you are pure and honest with yourself, that’s gold.

I’m being lazy right now, and instead of doing what needs doing, I’m creating. I’m not even creating something that’s due this week. I’m making something that’s due never, that might or might not be part of a better project. That’s the honest reality.


Be Compassionate With Yourself

Okay, so maybe that’s what I needed to do right now. Maybe now I can get on with the work that needs doing. That’s what then. This is now.

It’s okay to accept that my need to be creative served no real ends (at least not now). But now that I have, it’s time to move forward. Just like you. Reading this isn’t moving your goals forward. You’re stalling. Just like me.

Nod knowingly. And move on. Now.


Chris Brogan stopped writing this so he could work on Human Business Works.

Have a Hard Time Saying No? These Methods Will Change That


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

If you find it difficult to say no, you’re not alone. Many of us find it hard to put our foot down. So much of what we’re told about success revolves around the idea of saying yes: to new ideas, new innovations, and new opportunities. But becoming a yes man (or woman) can put a real strain on your productivity, creativity, and happiness.

In fact, research by the University of California in San Francisco shows the more difficulty people have saying no, the more likely they are to experience stress, burnout, and even ultimately depression. Plenty of studies have linked stress and fatigue to reduced productivity and engagement on the job.

You need to learn when to say no — and how to say it — to ensure you don’t burn any bridges in your career. Here are 10 entrepreneurs sharing how they say no and keep themselves sane:

1. Explain Why

I find people are always impressed with honesty. Time is finite, especially as an entrepreneur. When I have to say no, I do my best to explain what my focus is and why I can’t say yes. I usually find people respect the honesty and wish me the best.

- Adam Lieb, Duxter

2. Exude Grace and Gratitude

People get it. You’re busy, it’s not a good fit and the timing isn’t right. But what makes a big difference is how you treat people. If you can be gracious and show your gratitude for the opportunities or potential client/hire’s time, people will respect your “no” so much more.

- Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media Inc.

3. Never Apologize

“No” should never be accompanied by “I’m so sorry, but I can’t because…” When it’s necessary to say “no” to a request (whether it’s from a client, an employee, etc.), simply explain your reasoning and leave things open for a potential “yes” down the line. Never use apology language — it assigns blame.

- Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

4. Do It Constructively

Having heard my fair share of “no” before, I believe that even though it can sometimes sting, eventually the most beneficial ones are given in an honest and constructive manner. Let me know how I went wrong and how I can improve. Only by learning can you hope to get a “yes” the next time.

- Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

5. Be Direct and Concise

A no-response should be short, direct and to the point. It is not meant to open up a dialogue. Let the person know you are declining the opportunity, and wish him or her good luck with the project. The more details you provide in your response, the more ammunition the individual will have to forge a rebuttal argument as to why you should say yes. – Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

6. Say No Quickly

Requests from clients, pitches or potential hires that are not right for you will thwart your ambition.

Say no quickly and politely and move on.

- Kuty Shalev, Clevertech

7. Say It Carefully

Besides being polite in saying no, try to communicate what you mean by “no.” Do you mean “not now” or “never”? This will often help those you’re saying no to have a better grasp on why you’re saying it in the first place. You will both move on quicker that way.

- Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent

8. Tell Them It’s Not a Good Fit

Business is built on win-win relationships. Relationships that are built on people who don’t have the same expectations, values or intent will result in everyone losing. It’s incredibly important that, much like a marriage, there is a good fit between the two parties. If there’s not, then you’ll do more damage by working with them than by just walking away. It’s just not a good fit, and that’s OK. – Adam Callinan, BottleKeeper

9. Accompany It With a ‘But’

As my business grows so do the number of requests hitting my inbox every day. One of my 2014 promises to myself is to say no more often. When I do have to say it, there’s usually a “but.” “No, but I know another company I can refer you to that might want to take this on.” “No, but I’m happy to recommend another speaker.” “No, I can’t meet for coffee, but I have a blog post on that topic.” – Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

10. Make It So You Don’t Have to Say ‘No’

Saying no requires you to pay attention in the first place, and this requires time and resources that could be better spent saying yes. This is why we have a very specific understanding of not just who our ideal customers/employees are, but more importantly, who they aren’t. By knowing what we don’t want, we can better filter out those people before we even have to say “no.” – Liam Martin, Staff.com

About Ilya Pozin:

Founder of Open Me and Ciplex. Columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn. Gadget lover, investor, mentor, husband, father, and ’30 Under 30′ entrepreneur. Follow Ilya below to stay up-to-date with his articles and updates!

Photo: marc falardeau/Flickr

Startups: What does it feel like to be the CEO of a start-up?


Experiences, fears, joy and excitement: what a real life of CEO and what are they doing every day.

I found this post on Quora. This is confession of Paul DeJoe from Ecquire.com.


Very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don’t mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into 20 times what they gave you.

It’s very difficult to “turn it off”. But at the same time, television, movies and vacations become so boring to you when your company’s future might be sitting in your inbox or in the results of a new A/B test you decide to run.

You feel guilty when you’re doing something you like doing outside of the company. Only through years of wrestling with this internal fight do you recognize how the word “balance” is an art that is just as important as any other skill set you could ever hope to have. You begin to see how valuable creativity is and that you must think differently not only to win, but to see the biggest opportunity. You recognize you get your best ideas when you’re not staring at a screen. You see immediate returns on healthy distractions.

You start to respect the Duck. Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. You learn the hard way that if you lose your cool you lose.

You always ask yourself if I am changing the World in a good way? Are people’s lives better for having known me?

You are creative and when you have an idea it has no filter before it becomes a reality. This feeling is why you can’t do anything else.

You start to see that the word “entrepreneur” is a personality. It’s difficult to talk to your friends that are not risking the same things you are because they are content with not pushing themselves or putting it all out there in the public with the likelihood of failure staring at you everyday. You start to turn a lot of your conversations with relatives into how they might exploit opportunities for profit. Those close to you will view your focus as something completely different because they don’t understand. You don’t blame them. They can’t understand if they haven’t done it themselves. It’s why you will gravitate towards other entrepreneurs. You will find reward in helping other entrepreneurs. This is my email: paul@ecquire.com. Let me know if I can help you with anything.

Your job is to create a vision, a culture, to get the right people on the bus and to inspire. When you look around at a team that believes in the vision as much as you do and trusts you will do the right thing all the time, it’s a feeling that can’t be explained. The exponential productivity from great people will always amaze you. It’s why finding the right team is the most difficult thing you will do but the most important. This learning will affect your life significantly. You will not settle for things anymore because you will see what is possible when you hold out for the best and push to find people that are the best. You don’t have a problem anymore being honest with people about not cutting it.

You start to see that you’re a leader and you have to lead or you can’t be involved with it at all. You turn down acquisition offers because you need to run the show and you feel like your team is the best in the World and you can do anything with hard work. Quitting is not an option.

You have to be willing to sleep in your car and laugh about it. You have to be able to laugh at many things because when you think of the worse things in the World that could happen to your company, they will happen. Imagine working for something for two years and then have to throw it out completely because you see in one day that it’s wrong. You realize that if your team is having fun and can always laugh that you won’t die, and in fact, the opposite will happen: you will learn to love the journey and look forward to what you do everyday even at the lowest times. You’ll hear not to get too low when things are bad and not to get too high when things are good and you’ll even give that advice. But you’ll never take it because being in the middle all the time isn’t exciting and an even keel is never worth missing out on something worth celebrating. You’ll become addicted to finding the hardest challenges because there’s a direct relationship between how difficult something is and the euphoria of a feeling when you do the impossible.

You realize that it’s much more fun when you didn’t have money and that money might be the worse thing you could have as a personal goal. If you’re lucky enough to genuinely feel this way, it is a surreal feeling that is the closest thing to peace because you realize it’s the challenges and the work that you love. Your currencies are freedom, autonomy, responsibility and recognition. Those happen to be the same currencies of the people you want around you.

You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realize how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you.

You learn the most about yourself more than any other vocation as an entrepreneur. You learn what you do when you get punched in the face many many times. You learn what you do when no one is looking and when no one would find out. You learn that you are bad at many things, lucky if you’re good at a handful of things and the only thing you can ever be great at is being yourself which is why you can never compromise it. You learn how power and recognition can be addicting and see how it could corrupt so many.

You become incredibly grateful for the times that things were going as bad as they possibly could. Most people won’t get to see this in any other calling. When things are really bad, there are people that come running to help and don’t think twice about it. Tal Raviv, Gary Smith, Joe Reyes, Toan Dang, Vincent Cheung, Eric Elinow, Abe Marciano are some of them. I will forever be in their debt and I could never repay them nor would they want or expect to be repaid.

You begin to realize that in life, the luckiest people in the World only get one shot at being a part of something great. Knowing this helps you make sense of your commitment.

Of all the things said though, it’s exciting. Every day is different and so exciting. Even when it’s bad it’s exciting. Knowing that your decisions will not only affect you but many others is a weight that I would rather have any day than the weight of not controlling my future. That’s why I could not do anything else.


This article is a part of collection of the Startup on the road.

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Two Time Wantrepreneur


In explaining my resume, I often say that I’m a two-time entrepreneur.

But that’s a lie. I’ve actually started four businesses.

I started one of those businesses (CrowdVine) to prove to myself that I could run a company. Then I started my current business (Lift) to represent my biggest passion. That’s the two-time entrepreneur part of the story—the part that I’m proud of.


Before those two businesses, I was also fake-started two other businesses.

Wantrepreneur is another word for poser. This is the person who talks about starting a business and who begs you to take their idea seriously. If you’re polite, you do take them seriously—until you realize that the wantrepreneur is never going to actually launch their idea (or even start building it).

There are tons of these people hanging around startup communities. They talk about the big ideas and how, if they can just get funding or find a co-founder or save a bit more money, then they are going to leave their well paid corporate job and turn their idea into the biggest thing the world has ever seen.

I used to look down on this person. But then I remembered that I was that person. Twice.


In high school, after getting and falling in love with my first computer, I decided that I wanted to help other people with their computer problems.

So I brainstormed a consulting business that would go into people’s homes to fix personal computer problems.

I talked to my family about this idea for weeks. I was focused on one big decision: should charge $15 per hour or could I convince people to pay $25 per hour.

Eventually, I just bit the bullet, picked a price and started work on a flyer. I printed little tear tabs with my name and phone number on that flyer. Then I took the flyer (just one) to UCSF, where my mom worked, and put that flyer up on a billboard.

That one flyer was the sum total of the execution phase of my tech support business. Nobody called, and I never printed out a second flyer.


Much later, after I’d graduated college and started working my first job as a programmer, I got it into my head that I could build a consulting business making restaurant websites.

Many restaurant websites are missing or hiding the only pieces of information that matter: phone number, address, hours, menu, and reservation information.

This was especially true in 2001.

I reasoned that I would also have to make the websites look beautiful. To do that I would have to learn the art of food photography. With no research, I decided this was the key to the business.

I bought my first digital camera, making sure that the camera was rated highly for close-up shots. Then I bought a book on photography.

That was the sum total of the execution phase of this restaurant business. I took many vacation photos with that camera, but never a single photo of food.


What did it take to get me to actually start a business? I had to get comfortable as a programmer, work at a few startups, and observe other founders by working for them.

No amount of advice was ever going to turn my restaurant or tech support ideas into real businesses. Mentally, I just wasn’t ready. I needed to do some maturation and visualization. That took me six years.

Obviously, wantrepreneur is a pejorative. We use this word to make fun of people who seem like fakers. Let me propose a less judgemental word: pre-preneur. If you meet a pre-preneur, let them play out their fantasy. You might run into them again, running a company, several years down the road.

Further Reading

Everything there is to know about startup competition.

 — Here are a few things I’ve learned about competitors to the four startups I’ve worked for or started (Odeo, Wesabe, CrowdVine, Lift).

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How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused


How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused

Image credit: Shutterstock

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.

Our brains are finely attuned to distraction, so today’s digital environment makes it especially hard to focus. “Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). “A distraction is an alert  says, ‘Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.'” The brain’s reaction is automatic and virtually unstoppable.

Related: 8 Tips for Finding Focus and Nixing Distractions

While multitasking is an important skill, it also has a downside. “It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ,” Rock says. “We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong.”

To make matters worse, distraction feels great. “Your brain’s reward circuit lights up when you multitask,” Rock says, meaning that you get an emotional high when you’re doing a lot at once.

Related: The Truth About Multitasking: How Your Brain Processes Information

Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. “Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative,” Rock says.

Try these three tips to help you become more focused and productive:

1. Do creative work first. Typically, we do mindless work first and build up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus. “An hour into doing your work, you’ve got a lot less capacity than (at the beginning),” Rock says. “Every decision we make tires the brain.”

In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work, like deleting emails or scheduling meetings, later in the day.

2. Allocate your time deliberately. By studying thousands of people, Rock found that we are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. “You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours,” he says.

Most people focus best in the morning or late at night, and Rock’s studies show that 90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.

Related: 4 Ways to Disconnect and Get More Done Without Unplugging Completely

3. Train your mind like a muscle. When multitasking is the norm, your brain quickly adapts. You lose the ability to focus as distraction becomes a habit. “We’ve trained our brains to be unfocused,” Rock says.

Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. “It’s just like getting fit,” Rock says. “You have to build the muscle to be focused.”

Nadia Goodman is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY. She is a former editor at YouBeauty.com, where she wrote about the psychology of health and beauty. She earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Visit her website, nadiagoodman.com.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/225321#ixzz2tk3Ld4hs

http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/225321

Richard Branson on Not Going It Alone


Richard Branson on Not Going It Alone

Richard Branson

I love bumping into people and finding out who they are and what they’re working on. You never know who you’re going to meet. Such encounters can be valuable: If you think about how your most important relationships began — with business partners, your spouse, with friends and mentors — the stories will almost all involve chance meetings. My curiosity about others and ability to connect with people have helped me to succeed — after all, if people don’t know who you are, they are not going to do business with you.

Many people think that an entrepreneur is someone who operates alone, overcoming challenges and bringing his idea to market through sheer force of personality. This is completely inaccurate. Few entrepreneurs — scratch that: almost no one — ever achieved anything worthwhile without help. To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.

Finding ways to meet with people in the real world and build business relationships is becoming ever more important in the digital age. While in some industries it’s possible for employees to limit their communications to email and, if they wish, avoid interacting with colleagues (and their managers), that’s not possible for entrepreneurs, since relationships built on trust are vital to doing business.

This is why I make a point of attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, whenever I can. The event is ridiculed in some quarters for its sheer scale — according to The Economist, 2,622 people gathered in that small town in January, including 46 presidents and prime ministers, representatives of firms with a total value of $12 trillion on the stock market, and many celebrities and journalists. However, the very action of bringing these powerful people together makes Davos useful, even vital.

Some of the events I attended at this year’s forum included discussions of: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; the role of business in philanthropy; conservation and climate change; and tech investments of all sorts, from health to space travel. Equally useful were the random chats with acquaintances in restaurants and hotels. I spoke with the actor Matt Damon about clean water initiatives (he is a co-founder of Water.org, a nonprofit that helps to bring water to impoverished communities), the angel investor and “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell about how to grow startups, and with the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates about overpopulation. Other such meetings at Davos will help to shape the future direction of many companies and organizations.

Steve Jobs, the entrepreneur I most admire, is remembered as a talented maverick and a loner, but that’s simply wrong. The Apple co-founder turned his personal vision into reality with the help of trusted, talented teams. How did he and his people come up with their ideas and solve the technological and design problems they encountered as they worked on Apple products? By spending time together. As Steve said to his biographer Walter Isaacson: “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

This is part of the reason why communities of entrepreneurs can turn into creative hubs. Look at Silicon Valley in California, BoxPark in London and other areas where like-minded people have banded together. Technology allows us to connect at the click of a button, but companies will still pay premiums to be near their competitors and others working in the same industry. When you are thinking about launching a startup, you should always look at whether setting up in one of your industry’s creative hubs would be a good choice.

If you are a business leader or entrepreneur and your team is primarily working from home or locations other than the office, keep watch to make sure that they are collaborating — your employees should not be just a list of email addresses or instant-messaging contacts. If you need to jump-start your team, events like hack days, conferences and outrageous parties can help people get to know each other and find creative solutions to problems.

The businesses that make up the Virgin Group operate in a variety of sectors, and we’ve been able to turn our unusual structure into an asset partly by encouraging employees to become intrapreneurs. When somebody in one business has an idea that would work at another, I always encourage them to give it a try. Lots of our employees have transformed their own careers and started new companies within our group in the process.

To achieve your goals, you need to be on the lookout for the opportunity to make connections wherever you go. Welcome chance encounters and opportunities to dream up outlandish plans. The person with the skill set you need to get your new business idea off the ground may be sitting at the next table in the cafe. Go over and say hello.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, which consists of more than 400 companies around the world including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and Virgin Mobile. He is the author of six books including his latest, Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School (Portfolio Trade, 2012).
Questions from readers will be answered by Richard Branson in future columns. Please include your name and country when you send your question to BransonQuestions@Entrepreneur.com.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231523#ixzz2tk2Ha9gN

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If You are “Doing Entrepreneurship,” You Should Stop


I am tired of the word “entrepreneurship.” That might sound weird—but I am. The problem, I think, is that entrepreneurship went from being a means to an end, to an end in itself.

People used to see a problem in the world, and realize that founding a startup would be the best way to solve that problem. Now graduates want to run a startup, and then look for a problem to solve, which is ass-backwards.

Oftentimes, the best founders stumble into being an entrepreneur because they realize that what they’ve been trying to do has already actually been formalized for them via a startup, and that the entrepreneurial community can help support their dreams, and guide them.

But when I ask someone what they do, and they tell me they “do startups” a little piece of me dies inside.

Sometimes I do that by accident, myself! I screw up!

I fall into that trap too when I get lazy, and I don’t want to explain myself. People accept the answer and move on. But from now on, my answer will be “I invest in Internet companies by building their software in exchange for equity.”

I don’t do it because I wanted to run a startup—hell I woulda done finance if I liked it better—but I did it because I was convinced that I saw a problem no one was solving. I became obsessed with solving that problem.

I have the same issue with people who tell me “they want to be a senator.” I’d much rather hear them tell me they want to make America better, or fight for an issue, and the best way to do so would be to hold a position in office.

Titles or social structures ought to serve as vehicles, not goals.

There are many institutions that teach entrepreneurship—that help people take their ideas and build them. I think that’s fine—they are positive pieces of the community, but convincing people to be entrepreneurs is not the right thing to do. It’s the reason we see so many bad ideas.

So stop doing entrepreneurship. Start pursuing whatever your dream is. If founding a startup is the best way to pursue that dream, solve that problem you’re obsessed with or reach your end game—fine. But don’t be “an entrepreneur” and then look for a problem.

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How a Designer Paints Entrepreneurship


Why your definition of an entrepreneur is probably wrong.

We, entrepreneurs, are hopeless romantics.

We’re suckers for curiosity. We haul ass for lofty goals, sing Valley-speak gospels of Graham and Blank, and, by god, we’re driven by a heart-thumping vision. And as we’ve convinced ourselves that we hate working for others, we also eat uncertainty for lunch. The ideal entrepreneur embodies all of these traits—according to VCs and serial entrepreneurs. But take a second to ask yourself this question and let it percolate:

“Exactly why are you an entrepreneur?”

It took a coffee chat with designer John Maeda to help me realize that, as an entrepreneur, I’d been living under a rock, never having fully answered this question:

1. Mission is only a fraction of an entrepreneur’s DNA

A Sinek-ian response would be to state a company’s mission, like mine: To prolong pets’ lives by bettering access to pet healthcare.

Turns out this statement reveals nothing about why I’m pursuing entrepreneurship—that there could be another team out there who shares the exact same vision as me. Why not join them instead? If I’m truly driven by this mission, why not join a similar company with more resources and clout?

2. Working for someone else doesn’t have to suck across the board

Before my two startups, I had a brief stint in finance, long enough to convince me that the corporate hierarchy wasn’t for me. I loathed some of my bosses and thought, if this were the case at a company, I couldn’t possibly work for another person. Ever.

But feeling jaded with my job doesn’t necessarily mean I’m fit to take the leap of being an entrepreneur. This could mean that I just haven’t found the right team to work with.

3. Saying money doesn’t motivate you doesn’t make you a true entrepreneur

It certainly helps not to be money driven. If fact, I have better peace of mind because of it. But there are plenty of entrepreneurs who are driven, at least in part, by cash and have been successful.

Not caring about material goods qualifies you to be a kick-ass monk, though.

4. Entrepreneurs firmly believe only they can do what’s best

Maeda’s point.

We’re entrepreneurs because we don’t believe anyone else can do better than what we envision. We assume this highfalutin stance that we—only we—are worthy of pursuing this venture. There’s no one out there like that. Others’ efforts are subpar, which is why we want to take charge. That’s the true calling of an entrepreneur.

5. Start with audacity

With this calling comes a voracious killer instinct to destroy competitors, which Maeda euphamizes as audacity. In other words, having balls. It’s audacity that leads entrepreneurs into hell, your blind sense of not giving a flying fuck about what you’re about to face. I felt this way when I started Luna Pharmaceuticals, and the same feeling permeates since I’ve launched Nibbol.

All entrepreneurs begin with this fervor, then follow one of two paths:

i) Recklessness eventually kills your startup and you fail

or

ii) You learn, adapt to your roller coaster and survive—building courage

6. Die a slow, painful death

Put simply, courage is confidence with intelligent decision making. You begin to effectively navigate the pitfalls of running a company. Hence, you know what to do when shit hits the fan.

Everything sounds like smooth sailing until you encounter the grim realities of your hero’s journey:

i) You become complacent

or

ii) You die a slow, painful death, overwhelmed by the fast pace of your environment

Once you’re at the top of the food chain, everything falls into place. You snuggle into your armchair, sinking into complacent comfort, devoid of the euphoric excitement that lit your ass to start the venture in the first place.

In 2013, Maeda left for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) after serving six years as head honcho of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Why? Complacency. What’s a designer to do after saving a world-class art institution from the financial crisis, multiplying college applications and the endowment, and refusing to buckle under the pressure of a traditional faculty hesitant to embrace change?

Bounce to greener pastures. Restart that terribly beautiful audacity.

That’s what I did. I was wilting away at my previous company, with the pressure high enough for me to leave everything I loved behind—my girlfriend, closest buddies—and move to San Francisco. I couldn’t pinpoint that feeling exactly, but whatever fallout I had, I wanted that sense of renewal, that sense of rebirth.

I needed a Web 2.0 William.


So now I can purposefully ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”

Is it really because of animal healthcare? Yes, partially. And, of course, we want to change people’s lives. But it’s also because I feel no one else can design and build something as beautiful as my team can.

Pretentious? No.

A lofty dreamer? Sure.

Call this my audacity. And maybe one day with my startup I’ll find courage. Or, perhaps better yet, never. I mean, which entrepreneur wouldn’t want to stay brave, young at heart and romantically foolish forever?


Did you like this post? I’ll update you with more good stuff.

Special shout out to mentor John Maeda, Aliaksandr Hudzilin, Alex Poms, Daihua Ye, and (last but not least) Hedan Zeng for being there every step of the way.

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Don’t stop believin’.


Few people are entrepreneurs. Even fewer are successful.

But for the resilient ones — the dreamers, thinkers and changemakers — being an entrepreneur is the only path.

I’ve come to find entrepreneurship is a process. It is neither a sprint, nor a marathon — it is evolving. It is beautiful, gratifying and deeply terrifying.

Fortunately, I’ve had help along the way. Advisors provide valuable advice, direction and motivation. Investors do the same with an obvious vested interest in success.

With each time I’ve failed — and it’s been often — they have guided me back on track and helped me walk the path to my vision.

But I’ve learned that while investors, advisors, co-founders, etc. are necessary, no one will build this company for me. I am the one person who can make it become my vision.

The only entrepreneurs I know have achieved success after years of pushing forward with their vision. And every time I encounter a challenge or question my motivation, I’m reminded of Chris Sacca:

“Everything good in my life has come immediately following a period of anxiety, intensity, uncertainty and commitment.”

Don’t stop believin’.

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The Interview Question Every Entrepreneur Should Be Asked


The question that unlocks the real key to their success, the deep-rooted, honest answer — and what you should ask yourself.

“What was the most pivotal accident, or unexpected discovery you made towards your success?”

I, as I would imagine every other entrepreneur or successful business person would agree have not been completely successful due to my own conscious decisions. Habits can generate success, yes. Honing your actions day in and day out, and working your ever-living ass off can have its results — yes.

But every entrepreneur could probably attest that something that they did, seemingly unnoticeably, or without much conscious thought led to a gaping chasm of success in their career. There is always a massive amount of hard work that goes into every successful career, but there is almost always some pivotal, cornerstone moment, decision or thought that generates a massive reward. I would wager that 80% of entrepreneurs could level with this question, and the answer would be remarkable.

The good interviewers know how to speak from the level of whom they’re interviewing, they understand their psyche. To get a really humble answer out of somebody, that can really give a beautiful emotional result, you have to ask the question that really plays on their mind.

“Successful” entrepreneurs are nearly always put on a pedestal, and the humble ones understand that they shouldn’t be. They understand that there is something that they did, some way they worked or some decision they made that led to that “success” and they don’t believe they can take all of the credit.

The answer might typically be something seemingly small, but that’s how all major revelations are made — that’s always the kind of change that sparks some landslide, one that is made without much conscious thought — because it’s an “ah hah!” moment, but more like an “oh, duh..” moment. It’s noticing something that should have been there all along, like a final piece to the puzzle, and when it’s slid into place it makes everything fall together.

Most successful people know there was a moment like that in their career, in the product they made, perhaps it was even an employee they hired. They made some really good decision, that they don’t want to take full credit for, almost like a guilty pleasure — if they are humble they will admit it. If they aren’t, it’s a question that should be asked anyways.

So what was your most pivotal accident? Your unexpected discovery? Your “oh duh” moment?

This is the kind of thing we (other entrepreneurs) want to know, it’s the kind of real, humble inspirational insight that we love to hear about businesses.

Everyone started out somewhere, if someone can reach to such heights and attain them, we all can — this is the kind of insight that reminds us of that. That we are all foulable and also all able to attain greatness, even if by accident.

Further Reading

7 Step Process to Repeat Success

 — Do you want to “scale”? You need systems, a process. If Apple’s creativity can be routinized, your success can be (should be) too.

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