Dan Gould's Car - Investor in Flowtown

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
  • Driver
  • Assistant
  • Travel agent
  • Maid
  • 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.

Signup for Clarity

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

We’ll be providing updates and instructions leading up to the big day. If at anytime you have questions, don’t hesitate to email me directly, or better yet, call :)

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.

Signup here to give me the best birthday present ever.

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.

About Demandforce

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.

Related
Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Again: The Story of Flowtown

Big Thinkers
Big Thinkers

I’ve had an epiphany.  It hit me the other day that no matter what’s happened to me in my life, I’ve always been able to work it out.  Sure I’ve hit some crazy walls and got stopped in my tracks, but at the end of the day I figured it out.  Things weren’t as bad as I thought and good things always came from those experiences.

So the big realization was that I wasn’t thinking big enough.  Or better yet, I wasn’t taking big enough risks.  Or said even simpler, I didn’t give myself enough credit to solve the problems that those risk would certainly entail.

Well enough of that.

It hit me that no matter what issues I’d faced in the past, or will face in the future, that I’m more than capable of handling them.  That doesn’t mean that I’m going to be reckless in my business or personal life, or think that I can succeed at anything I put my mind too, but I do believe that no matter what – I’ll be able to handle it.

That’s a huge realization.

The impact has been incredible.  I’m focused on bigger projects, moving way faster and looking for bigger opportunities to create massive value.  My sights are set higher than ever before and the cool part is that it’s polarizing others to join me and help out in a way I’ve never experienced before. In some ways, it’s actually easier – sounds crazy, right? We’ll, it’s not.

The future is brighter than ever before and I think we all need to give ourselves more credit then we do.  We’re capable of achieving way more than we give ourselves permission to persue.  Holding back isn’t doing anyone any good. The world needs us to.

“Too many of us sit on the sidelines of fear and doubt, unable to contribute to a world in need of our brilliance.” Chris Guillebeau

So with that I challenge you to take bigger projects, take more risk, trust in your abilities and set your sights higher. Who knows – you might just learn that the only thing stoping you, is you.

In San Francisco, being an Entrepreneur puts you at the top of the food chain and failing is worn like a badge of honor, so most people can’t wait to jump into a pool full of startup Kool-Aid. Even the non-swimmers.

The problem is they think it’s all about working at coffee shops, raising a lot of money and speaking at conferences. If they get funded, they act like they’ve made a sound career decision, one that led to a promotion. Trouble is, it isn’t true.

Most entrepreneurs are like artists: passionate and starving

I’m not sure when being an entrepreneur turned into a career but it’s a dangerous way to look at it. It’s like waking up one day deciding to become an artist. You don’t decide to become an artist, it comes from a passion to create.

Also, it seems more and more people are starting up for the money (or the hopes of it). Wow, are they misguided. It’s way easier to become an investment banker than to have a successful outcome as a tech start-up. The odds are not in the entrepreneur’s favor.

It’s more than being a risk taker

At the end of the day, it’s not about taking risk. Yep, I said it. Sure there’s risk involved, but it’s not why you start up. For most, it’s about creating something from nothing. I don’t care about money. I don’t care about materials. All I care about is creating something that others use and find valuable. There’s definitely ego involved, any creative act requires it.

It’s who you are … all you know.

How you become an entrepreneur can take many different paths but I’m certainly not working for someone else. At this point, it’s who I am and all I know. Some feel that they can’t do it forever because they have plans on starting a family or can’t sustain the intensity – well I disagree. It’s sustainable if you choose. It doesn’t have to mean risking it all, or working 100 hours a week. It’s more like waves that come and go and if you manage it properly, it’s doable. I can’t see myself doing anything else – building companies is what I love to do.

I’m not writing this to discourage people from starting. I’m hoping people read it in order to help them prepare. Entrepreneurship is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s certainly not a career move either, it’s something you do for the rest of you life.

P.S.Lately I’ve been writing twice a week at http://maplebutter.com – it’s a blog I started for Canadian founders – be sure to subscribe.

Where will you be July 13th? I’ll be co-hosting the International Startup Festival in Montreal with some of the brightest and smartest minds in the startup world. The startup festival is a two-day conference on the business of startups. It brings together industry veterans and fresh faces, thought leaders and technology giants from around the world, for a series of lean, fast-paced events. It includes startup launches, inspiring keynotes, and deep-dives into hot sectors like mobility, social networking, and gaming.

Apply to pitch your startup!

Phil Telio (Exec. Dir of Startup Festival) and I had a chance to catch up today and talk about why startups need to attend this and what’s to expect (fyi Fireworks!!!).

This event is one of many that are occurring across Canada, and is a big step towards innovation and supporting startups across the country. If you can find me .. beers are on me. Can’t wait to see you all in July!

It’s that time of year again – conference season. Below is a list of events and talks I’ll be giving at each.  So far I’ve got 11 nailed down with a few more being figured out. I love speaking and connecting with amazing people – it’s what fuels me. If you’re going to the event (or want to and need a discount code ;), or you’re from that city, leave a comment below and be sure to include your twitter username. I would love to connect in person.

InboxLove, Feb 25 in Mountain View

Email and Social Marketing

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LeadsCon 2011, Mar 2 in Las Vegas

Getting Social & Mobile

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1K On The Side w/ Ramit Sethi, Mar 7 (Online)

Marketing Metrics and More

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Mar 3: Berkeley-Columbia Exec MBA Class

Startup Talk

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Social Marketing for Startups, Mar 7 in SF

Social Marketing 202

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The Lean Startup SXSW, Mar 12 in Austin

Lean Product Development: Timely.is Case Study

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Dogpatch, Mar 20 in San Franciso

Activity Streams and Cohort Metrics for Startups

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BigOmaha, May 11-13th in Omaha,

Lean Product Development: Learning is the Killer App

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The Michigan Lean Startup Conf, May 19th in GrandRapids

Lean Product Development: Learning is the Killer App

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Startup Lessons Learn Conf, May 23 in SF

Case Study: Flowtown

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MoSo Conference, June 16 in Saskatoon

Social Marketing: Hustlin’ for ROI

Be sure to leave a comment below if you’re attending any of the events and want to connect in person.

Zack big ollie
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

Winchester Skate park pool Judi O

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!

Unity Day

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

Lost In Thought

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

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

Parkour Team

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?

Foot in mouth

Here’s a lesson in how to put your foot in your mouth – email your start-up friends and tell them that no one is doing anything to create a community in Canada.  That was me today in a Maple Butter update. I choose the wrong words and lacked context to make a point. Canada has some amazing groups – like Startup North, Sprouter, StartupCampLaunchParty, NextMontreal, StartupDrinks, DemoCamp only to name a few - working hard to build this community.  I know when I’ve made a mistake.  I’m sorry.