In the past 12 days I’ve blogged every single day and I plan to continue for a total of 30 days. My approach to blogging is very similar to how I start companies. I get inspired, write something down, hit publish and then fix the typos and issues as I get feedback. Seriously. It’s very iterative and there’s quite a few people that help.
Easily one of the best answers to how teams should go about coming up with & testing growth hacking strategies that will work.
By Sean Ellis (the creator of the term Growth Hacker)
Honestly, I’m not sure how much we can really help each other. Every opportunity is unique and in my experience total immersion in the customer base is a critical part of coming up with effective growth ideas. You test a bunch of stuff and some of it works. Read More
Almost a year ago I asked for a favor – a birthday wish – that everyone entrepreneur I know donate 1 hour of their time giving advice to another entrepreneur over the phone. That was the seed that has now grown into Clarity.
Since then we’ve
- Retooled the product and launched publicly in May
- Completed over 12,000 calls
- Connected entrepreneurs from across 47 countries
- Signed up over 7500+ experts & advisors
And today things continue to grow!
Today I’m super excited to annouce that Clarity has raise $1.6M in a round of funding from some of the best investors from Silicon Valley & across Canada.
One of the best things about building a technology company is the ability to work from much anywhere. One way to take advantage of this is to go on a “workation“. I took my first workation three years ago when I decided to spend six weeks in Canada over the summer. The plan was to work in the morning, enjoy the boat in the afternoon, and finish up anything at night. To my surprise it actually worked quite well. Since then I’ve done a half dozen and feel blessed to be able to live in a world where this is possible. Here’s some secrets I’ve learned along the way to make them productive.
It’s events like Summit that reminds me how polarizing passionate individuals are and how they truly posses the power change the world.
Last year during Summit at Sea, Peter Diamandis gave an inspiring talk that ended up getting used in the video below. His words continue to inspire me to think bigger, work on problems that matter, and surround myself with people who share similar beliefs. Hope you enjoy:
“We are living extraordinary times.”
“Where you’re empowered to do whatever you want.”
“We will, you can, change the world and make it a vision of what you want it to be.”
He closed with
“The question is … what are you going to do?”
“Where are you impassioned?”
“What game are you playing?”
“Play it big!”
All the Summiteers are now part of my extended family. Love you guys.
Time is money. Money buys time. You can get more of one by investing in the other. Both are resources you can use to create a more meaningful life. Things that are important to me are; being close to my family, being creative, travelling, connecting with brilliant people, and solving problems that will leave a dent on the world.
The way I do this is by trading money for time and then invest that time on those things. There’s a bunch of ways to do this, but here’s a quick list of how I spend money for time.
- Grocery service
- Travel agent
- Laundry service
- Hiring great people
- Money manager
- Property management
I could do a whole post on the services and people that I use, but that’s not the point. The point is how you should look at money and where you should be investing your time. There’s no point in being successful financially if you don’t create time to spend it with those you love the most.
I either hang out with my family and friends, or work. That’s it. On the surface some might think I’m lazy or I like to waste money – but that’s because they don’t understand how and why I do this. I only work on things that I’m uniquely qualified to do and that will act as a force multiplier to create value. Value in my life as an entrepreneur means wealth and relationships. Anything else is a distraction and huge waste of my time.
The way I look at “investing” my money is in myself or other people. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and have an active company that I’m working on – today it’s Clarity.fm. I also invest in real estate. The other way I invest is in other people as an angel investor. Today I’ve been involved in 15 other companies and have already made a positive return even though 10+ of those companies are still running.
What I don’t waste my money on is car payments, consumer debt, and other expensive crap that’s not useful. If I can’t buy it cash – and will have time to use it – I don’t buy it. Furthermore, most things can be rented – no need to own. On that note, I’d much rather invest in a company or startup then buy a new car. It’s just more fun, and it plays into what I said early: “connecting with brilliant people”.
The truth is I didn’t start off this way. For a long time I did everything myself and nearly got burnt out. Over the past few years I’ve change things around to get more time and it’s allowed me to be more present, focused and effective.
I’m blessed each day I get to create great product, with brilliant people, for customers that I love. I’m fortunate to be able to travel to visit my friends and family all over the world. I wanted to share some of these beliefs and hope to inspire you to look for was you can trade money for time, then use that time for opportunity to create more meaningful value (wealth), or just spend more time with your family.
We don’t need more stuff. We need more time.
I was born on December 26th, 1979. Today I turned 32, although I still feel like I’m 17. Turning 30 was tough, but the past few years have been the most rewarding times of my life. Last summer I got engaged to a beautiful women and two weeks later we signed a term-sheet to sell Flowtown to Demandforce. Looking back to the successes I’ve had over the years, I realized that it wasn’t my upbringing or education that were critical in my achievements, but in the quality of the advice that I got from some amazing people along the way.
Have you had any of these types of conversations?
That’s why four weeks ago I started a company call Clarity that would enable this activity regardless of someones social status or geographic location. Clarity makes it easy to connect with others looking for advice over the phone. The service is all mobile, is private and secure, has some amazing features that make it fast and delightful.
So for my birthday this year I have one wish.
I’m asking every business owner, community leader and entrepreneur out there to offer one hour of their time – for free or for charity – to give 6 entrepreneurs 10 minutes of advice around their expertise or passion. Each call takes only 10 minutes. All calls are off the record, private (Clarity takes care of connecting both parties) and are filtered for quality.
Here’s how to commit your phone time:
1) Create an account
2) Block out an hour in your calendar January 5
3) On that day, promote your availability on Facebook / Twitter
There’s already 300+ of the world best entrepreneurs, venture capitalist and marketers who’ve taken a pledge to give back and I would ask that you consider joining them. It’s only through advice from those who’ve been there before that we truly gain insight into the challenges we face as entrepreneurs.
There’s nothing that would make me happier then to end this day, my birthday, with a 1000+ amazing entrepreneurs giving me the best present I could imagine – their time and advice – for others to enjoy. Please take 10 seconds to sign-up for an event that will certainly move and change their life forever.
Remember: It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur.
Man, it feels good to finally get that out! As most of you know, I’m an open book with most things and keeping this great news private for the past 7 weeks has been extremely hard.
Too many people to thank
First off I want to thank my amazing team – Ethan, David, Assaf and Jerome. Most people don’t realize that we’re only small team of five. Ethan and I have always believed that a small / talented / focused team could out innovate and execute better then one that’s bloated with sub-par people just to “get things done”. Even when we had 35,000 registered businesses on Flowtown – we made it work. The even cooler part is that everyone on the team is an entrepreneur. Everyone, before joining Flowtown full-time had their own companies or projects on the go, and they we’re willing to put their dreams on hold to be part of the Flowtown story. Today I’m proud to be able to publicly thank them for believing in us and our vision.
Why I’m excited
We found a place where we have 10x more resources to execute on a shared vision to improve marketing for small businesses all over the world. Demandforce has thousands of customers in several verticals and delivers millions of marketing messages a month. Our technology has already started to be integrated into their platform and our team is currently working on new and innovative ways to push the marketing envelope.
Two amazing people
All that being said I need to mention two amazing people, Renee and Ethan. Last August I became the luckiest guy on earth when Renee said yes! She’s been so supportive as we’ve been heads down on building out the company. Secondly, I want to thank Ethan for being an amazing co-founder and a best friend. Two weeks after getting engaged, I got a call from Ethan letting me know that paperwork was finalized with Demandforce. That was easily the best month of my life.
So what’s next?
Why do people love to ask me that question? The answer is who knows. I’ve been working with the executive team at Demandforce for the past few weeks and I’m really impressed. They’ve created an awesome company and I’m getting an opportunity to learn new and interesting things. Regardless of what the future holds, you can rest assured that whatever I do next – it will leave a dent on the world. Anything less is not worth getting out of bed for.
Founded in 2003, Demandforce helps small businesses thrive in the Internet economy. The Demandforce D3 software-as-a-service application is used by thousands of customers to grow revenue, keep clients coming back, and manage operations more effectively. Demandforce’s flagship product, Demandforce D3, connects Demandforce clients to over 72 million consumers via email communications, text messaging and online services. Demandforce has achieved 24 quarters of over 80% year-over-year quarterly growth and is led by a management team with over a decade of experience developing and delivering web-based applications that drive real, tangible business value. Demandforce, Inc. is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. To learn more visit www.demandforce.com.
As a teenager I was a “skater.” One of those kids who hang out downtown and annoy the pedestrians. Skateboarding is how I spent my teenage years. Was I any good? I like to think so. Toward the end of my skating days, I almost got my 360 flips down, used to olley the big 5 at Assumption, and even landed some pretty big backside heel flips off the parking garage.
In many ways, spending most of my days skipping class and hanging out with my friends laid a solid foundation for the way I look at business today.
1. Focus On Your Passions
Ask my parents and they’ll tell you I loved skateboarding and hanging out with my friends – maybe too much. There were times I’d jump on my bike to head 10 kilometers for a 2 hour session with some friends. And oh, the times when I’d get a new board! I’d even sleep with it next to me just so when I woke up I could see it was real and that I wasn’t just dreaming.
Passion is a powerful force. If you’re in a business you’re absolutely passionate about – the work, the long days and nights get easier. With passion, persistence never wavers and even on the darkest days – and they will come – you’ll be able to plow forward.
I’ve been fortunate to do only what I’m passionate about since turning 19. So what am I telling you? Find something that fires your passions and the money will come.
2. Take Risk and Go Big!
There were countless times while skating when I was confronted by a new set of stairs or drop and someone would ask “Hey, Dan – are you going to do it?”
As I got more skilled and more confident, “YES!” became my go-to answer, even if I was scared shitless.
Don’t underestimate me when I say shitless. I’m talking deep-down dread in the bones scared, like if I don’t pull this off I’m going to be hurting bad. But you know what? More times than not, it worked out. Maybe I didn’t always land well or land at all, but I didn’t wind up in the hospital and, on a few occasions, I actually pulled it off. Nothing feels better.
Like going for the big land, entrepreneurship is about risk. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. What skateboarding taught me was not to sell myself short – we’re all capable of bigger and better. Of course, on some days you will come up short, but if you get up and try again, you may just land it – and it’s on that day that all the other falls and fails that came before will feel worth it.
3. It’s All In Your Mind
Push, push, push, setup and go … you’re in the air, you flick the board and BAM! You miss the grip and come up short, crashing hard. You get back up, brush yourself off, stop, look at the terrain and visualize how it should be done. You close your eyes and try to “feel” how it should feel, picturing your landing being executed perfectly.
That’s how great skateboarders do it. Guess what? Business is no different. Even today, I stop, take out paper and sketch things – situations, environments, outcomes – and try to visualize the outcomes I want. Whatever that may be – a happy customer, positive reviews, someone saying “yes”, or a building full of amazing and talented people creating a huge amazing company.
Ten years later, even though I still bear the scars, I’m doing it the same way.
4. Show Some Style
Landing the trick was one thing. Looking good at it was another. Some skaters I used to ride with had great technical skills, but lacked style. It reminded me of watching a robot skate. Impressive, but lacking soul.
Contrast that with a skater who can ollie, but ollie with style and that’s a skater who makes you stop and stare. In business, there are thousands of ways to make pure cash, but in my mind, you need to have style, too. It’s about how you did it and how people around you felt. Adding style to the way you do business will make the world stop and stare – and it feels great when they do.
5. Progress And Progression
Nothing progressed my skills more as a young skater than just hanging out with the older, more talented skateboarders. They took me under their wing, showed me things I never thought were possible, and most importantly, encouraged me along. There were moments when my landing even the simplest trick was a reason to celebrate – for me and them – It was all about progression!
As long as your business is progressing, no matter where you start, it’s a reason to celebrate. I’m still reminded of that when I meet a first time entrepreneur who’s launched a new business, raised funding, or made a key hire. I get stoked for them, even if it’s a little progress, just like my skating mentors did for me.
Life teaches us good lessons when we pay attention. I still enjoy learning how things work (or don’t) to see which ideas are worth emulating for my own business. Skateboarding was my launching pad and I’m forever grateful that my parents supported me, even when their better judgement might have told them otherwise.
What sport, industry or situation have you drawn inspiration from for your business?