CONVOSPARK BLOG

The Next Chapter: Massive Change with Change.org

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The last two and a half years of my life started with one bizarre interaction.  An older gentleman walked into the office I was working at at the time and sat down across from me, a desk creating about 7 feet of distance between the two of us.  He reached into a manila folder pulled out a piece of paper.  He slid the paper across the desk, it appeared to be some type of flow chart that this man said was “the future”.  We talked about a crazy idea, putting a sales and marketing tool in the hands of the service providers of local businesses.  Giving servers, bartenders and baristas an opportunity to make more money, learn how to market themselves and most importantly, be empowered.

This conversation stuck with me for a long time after the meeting was over.  So much so, that I dedicated the next two and a half years of my life to executing this crazy idea that we call JoynIn.  The older gentleman (also the Founder) became a mentor and friend, we raised over a half a million dollars, we built a team that at one point was 10 people strong, and built a pretty freaking cool product.

A few months ago I hit wall.  I just couldn’t do the work with the same type of enthusiasm and pace as I was known for.  Something was different, and it was me.  It was my heart telling me that what I was doing was not right for me.  It was telling me that full and complete alignment with my life’s purpose was more important now than ever.  That validating my worth as an entrepreneur by building a successful startup was not important.

So a month I ago, I decided to leave JoynIn to write the next chapter.

Before “writing” it, I took time to think, feel and evaluate my values, skills, passions and vision.  A decompression process along with an intense personal audit gave me incredible clarity not just with my career, but with the values that guide my life.  I will make sure to outline the process in a future post.

A somewhat discouraging realization came when I discovered there were very few companies and organizations that really fit interest and impact profile I was looking for.  This was also illuminating, recognizing how embryonic the social change/ tech sector truly is.  Resisting my entrepreneurial tendency to build from here, I instead took the most non-scalable approach to the job search ever.  I built a short list, presented to key players at each company and started to interview.

Never going through a real job search process before I found it to be eye opening.  I found that most interviews are conversations, that you need to sell creatively from the jump, that high growth companies sometimes don’t even know how they got there, and to follow the most passionate people.

So after all this…where am I?

I am beyond excited to announce that I will be the Director of Channel Sales at Change.org, a company that is transforming how individuals and organizations spark massive social change.

What led to the decision?  Many factors, the main one simply being it was THE choice.  When I talk about complete alignment of purpose and passion, this is it.

It goes far beyond my own personal wants being met.  There is no other company that exists in this time and space that can create radical global shifts at the level Change can and potentially help shift collective human consciousness.

Sitting down with the CEO Ben Ratray for 30 minutes made that insanely clear.  That in the here and now, this is it.

A focused pivot

As I pivot in life, I naturally pivot in…blog.  Of course I will be chronicling my life experiences and repositioning those experiences so they can be of value to you.  I will also be taking a deep dive into the social change space, social business, leadership and other related fields.  This blog will be a dynamic resource for social entrepreneurs that define themselves by the social impact they create and for those who are looking to define themselves in similar ways.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoy and then act!

 

Photo Credit: B Rosen

How Tech Startups Can Avoid Building Too Much Too Soon (Forbes Guest Post)

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I miss writing…alot!  So much so that in desperation to get something out there, I decided to post something that I wrote a few months back.  So here it is.  It was posted on Forbes a few weeks back, now on my personal blog…hope it adds value to your work :)

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Most companies fail not because they don’t have what it takes to build a successful product or service. They fail because they build an unneeded or unwanted product or service. For many tech startups, this happens because they built too much, too early. They identify a problem in a particular market, and they try to obliterate that problem with possible solutions.

To avoid this, take notes from Eric Ries, the forefather of the The Lean Startup Movement. As a result of his work, we are seeing a radical shift in way startups are solving customer problems. Today, garage-office startups and Fortune 500 companies alike are approaching product development with a more “scientific” approach. The principles that anchor the Lean Startup help entrepreneurs avoid wasting time and resources on products or features that will have little positive impact on customers.

Here are three ways to avoid providing too much, too early to your customers — and possibly ending up with nothing:

Start with the real MVP

You have heard of a minimum viable product, right? Have you ever built one? Probably not. Most of us are educated under a more waterfall-driven product development approach — we design something robust, and then we build something robust. It’s a linear model which doesn’t leave much room for flexibility. One of the major issues with the waterfall model is that it does not provide an adequate environment to gather quick quality feedback. The purpose of an MVP is to test your idea as an experiment as quickly and as cost effectively as possible. This can be a banner ad that measures the conversion rate on people responding to your offering (AppSumo’s Noah Kagan and Tim Ferrissare pros with this method) or it can be a series of prototypes trying to solve an overarching consumer problem (like the guys at Aardvark, acquired by Google). At JoynIn, we built what we thought was an MVP, but found out (after months of development time) that adding too many features made it difficult to really test our idea. By building too much, too soon, we made our solution hard to validate. Even worse, we made our users have to dig to find the true value of our product. Lesson learned.

Hit one value proposition out of the park

Another huge lesson we learned was the more assumptions you try to validate, the harder it is to validate just one. Spreading your team’s focus too thin leads to mediocre features, customer service, and even affects your user. Quora is a good example of a startup that takes on a fundamentally simple value proposition and knocks it out of the park. They aimed to provide people the easiest way to find answers to questions on topics they cared about. Many believe they did this better than Yahoo! Answers, Aardvark, Answers.com and LinkedIn Answers by using semantic data that give users the answers they’re looking for. When you are looking to solve your customer’s problem, focus on the best possible solution rather than five good ones. Simplicity, clarity and leverage go a long way.

Don’t forget the most important question.

When you are building a product or marketing to an audience, always ask the “Why?” Ask this question from the point of view of a customer. Why do I want to spend $49 on this shirt? Why am I looking at this label over the others on the shelf? Why do I want to click the ‘Buy Now’ button? Don’t create unnecessary steps for the user to get to where they want to go. At JoynIn, we imagined that before each step our users took — whether it was clicking a button or filling out a form — they would ask themselves why they were doing it. The “Why?” had to justify the action and effort. For example, take a look at Groupon: the primary call to action is the “Buy!” button. Before clicking, I intuitively ask myself why. In this case, the reason is clear: to get 60 percent off a Swedish massage. Next step: confirm the purchase and enter in your credit card number. Why? To get a great discount on a Swedish massage. The effort to click a few buttons and pull out my credit card is worth it because of the deal.

Resist the temptation to solve all the world’s problems right away. Pinpoint your focus and embrace the Lean Startup principles. Doing so will help you understand where to spend your precious time, effort and money.

Startup Vision Validation

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Building a startup is sexy.  The front-end developer with skinny jeans and hipster swag is the new version of a Scotch drinking Ad Man.

And this is all good…believe me I love to rock the fake nerd glasses just like the next SoMa hacker, but there is an issues that often arises along side new trends.  Trends tend to be superficial.  They are trends because they have hit some type of critical mass, and to gain critical mass you must have mass appeal.  Appeal typically lives on the surface…think about it.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I believe entrepreneurship should be about adding value instead of just solving problems (there is a difference).  Because I believe when you are not in touch with the purpose, the vision, or the “why”, you are not setting yourself or your organization up for long term success.

This is why I think every entrepreneur should go through thorough ”vision validation” before they start building a startup.

If you’re an entrepreneur you understand the concept of validation.  You’re constantly experimenting to validate certain assumptions you have.  You  ideate, build, test, learn and start all over again.  Going through this validation process helps you gauge your successes and failures and helps you pivot or preserve.

We often get caught up in the mechanics of building, the data and user feedback to the extent that we forget why we’re building what we’re building.  We need to validate our vision to see if the sleepless nights are worth it, if we can handle 40 “no’s” from VC’s, and if we’re ready to make a ding in the universe.

So how do you validate a vision or your dream?

I don’t know of a systematic process to rapidly test and validate a vision, mainly because when it comes to vision, your instincts or gut directs you.  Visions typically aren’t agents of the mind, strong visions aren’t intensely intellectualized, they live in the realm of passion.

Instead I believe that validating a vision should involve an inquiry-based learning process, where you are asking yourself questions to deeply inspect if your visions connects with your purpose, your interests, and the change you want to see in the world.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself in efforts to validate your vision:

Does my personal mission and company vision align?

Creating a successful company takes more than smarts and hard work…it takes passion.  The bigger the game you’re playing in, the more you are setting yourself up for temporary failure.  Smarts and hard work can do little to get you beyond those temporary failure; passion and vision does.

I have made it a point to only start businesses that I feel align with my personal mission, which is to add unique value with all I create.  If I don’t commit to that guideline when building a business, I know I won’t be able to commit to that business.

How will this idea push society forward?

This question tends to get lost in the sea of startup sexiness I talked about.  However, when reviewing the history of entrepreneurship, it’s evident that entrepreneur are creators that move the world forward.

If you are an entrepreneur this should be your underlying mission.  Go manage a hedge fund if your primary focus is money, politics for power and status…as an entrepreneur, your creativity and audacity is meant to transform society.

So ask yourself: if I execute on my vision, will the world be a better place?

Do I want to be doing this 10 years from now?

A friend of mine that sold one of his startups and Co-founded two Y Combinator companies was telling me about his new venture over the phone a few weeks ago.  Recently he’s been working on a few ideas that got some traction and had some legs, however he was not excited to grow those ideas.  This new ventures was different…I could hear it in his voice, he was pumped!  He told me that he took a bit of time to take a step back to reflect on the new idea he had…while “stepping back” he ask himself one simple question:

“Do I want to be doing this 10 years from now?”

He took a look at what his strengths, his passions, and the form of the business and answered the question with an emphatic “YES!”

Who else shares this vision with me?

This is a tricky one.

A competition audit is essential before starting a business.  Some industries support multiple players (like agencies and other service based companies), while others are winner take all (like network driven models like Facebook and Foursquare).  These varaibles are are important to access  before you start, however all this can be done with research.

When it comes to vision validation, it’s important to find peeople who shares your vision with you.  Most successful companies need a team to make it work, therefore inspiring a team that’s united under one grand vision is essential.

The best way to see if people share your vision is to simply share.  Start talking to people about your idea, and tell them why you’re doing it.  Don’t just tell anyone.  Tell people you look up to and really connect with.  People that if they backed you, you would know you’re on to something.

Lastly…

Before you build your next startup, take the time to validate your vision.  Look deep within (and sometimes outside) to see how your vision resonates with you, the people important to you and if it passes those tests…see if it resonates with your market.

Startup Launches — World Change Movements — Crazy Book Campaigns…with visions of Machu Picchu

Monday, August 8th, 2011

When you title blog post like this, you run the risk of being construed as a pretentious self-important braggart.  At this point…so what!!…I’m tired, excited and eager to share!

Over the past two months I (in collaboration with many incredible people) have:

  1. Released the first version of JoynIn in the Bay Area for private testing (much more to come over soon)
  2. Worked to build the Be Social Change movement (much much more to come very soon)
  3. Helped launch a incredibly powerful and empowering book campaign with Jake Sasseville and team.
  4. Went all out home workout style!
  5. And woke up an hour earlier than normal (on most days)…eekkk

All being done in rapid sprint mode as a  trip to South America has been hovering in the background like the pleasant but often noticeable chirping of  an early morning bird.  My girlfriend Catherine and I have been planning this trip for months and TODAY will be strapping on our oversized travel backpacks and be catching a plane to Brazil!

The intensity of these past months coupled with the visions of Machu Picchu has tested me on many levels from: commitment to my work, relationships, mental dexterity, leadership, confidence in my abilities and flat our ability to execute.  In the face of all the chaos I have surprised myself in maintained a calm core (although it may have not always shown out the outside).  No pats on the back for that…instead a simple take away realization that I will make sure to keep with me as we go on our month long excursion and step back into work when I get back:

Your Life is Your Life

Nothing in your life is not your life.  You cannot say that work is work…or that a vacation is vacation … everything in life encompasses YOUR LIFE.

What is the significance in this obvious and almost intellectually insulating truism?  The significance is that when we act and live as if every moment, regardless of what we’re doing, is part of our life…we make sure to LIVE it.  You don’t wait for life to start happening or for you to finish something.  You just live…you are present.

Despite the challenges that arose over the past two months I can honestly say that this was very much an incredibly fulfilling chapter in my life.  I was present as I pressed forward with self imposed deadlines, Skype meetings, and challenging situations.  I never really said…”why can’t I be in South America already” (ok…maybe a few times).

I will be there soon enough…and I will make sure I smell the roses :)

So….in the past two months…

  • I sprinted
  • We hit major milestones
  • and now Cath and I are off to South America…

See you in September!!

Don’t Know Where To Start? Just Start

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Over the past couple months I have been keeping close tabs on my actions and the actions of others.  Since I am committed to creating incredible results in all I do, I thought investigating these actions would be a great place to start.

To create results, action is required.  Simple, yes, but there is an important distinction to make of this.  Without any marketing research you can conclude that about 99% of people want great results in their lives.  However many people don’t do what it takes to get those results.  The natural question to raise is “what stops people from getting the results they desire?”.

The responses you will get from people and the true answer to that question are typically two different answers entirely.

The response you will typically get is: “I don’t know where to start” or “I simply don’t know what it takes to get the results I want”.


However, the “true” answer to the question of “what stops them?” is lack of action
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The fact of the matter is no one knows where to start, no one starts out with adequate knowledge on how to get the results they desire.  Even funnier is that too much knowledge often stagnates people (ask an academicJ).

Saying we lack enough knowledge to produce results is a cop out the vast majority of the times (future doctors please stop reading).  We all do it…some more often than others.  When we do this we fail to recognize how overrated preparedness can be and how underrated constant action is.

Actions generate possibilities.  When we send an email, “like” a Facebook status, make a cold phone call we are generating an infinite amount of possibilities, most of which we are unaware of.  We may not understand the “best course” of action in these cases most likely because there isn’t one.  Sending out that email can ignite a spark of inspiration in the person who reads it and thus creates a new chain of possibilities and further actions.  We can all think of at least one time where some nearly unconscious action led to a new job, a date, the apartment in the perfect neighborhood.  We often fail to give credit to the series of actions that got us there; instead we just believe it just happened by chance.  These cases are not by chance or serendipity…they are created by an accumulation of actions.

So when it’s all said and done, there are two people in this world:

…those who don’t act and those who do…

I don’t buy into our societies need to separate, decouple and create opposites.  However in this case it’s hard to argue against.

You may waiver between sides…but during every single moment you are either one or the other.  Most likely 80% of the time you are hovering on one side of the equation.

The good thing is that we are not fixed as one way or another.  We can change instantly.  I have been a person who does and have been a person that doesn’t…so I know from experience.

I have observed that the people that “do”, do two things exceptionally well:

They act in spite of fear and they constantly indulge in curiosity.  They are constantly in action; they gain momentum on top of momentum.  And when the momentum appears to stop, they find a way to build it up again.

They are the ones that post about 5 Facebook updates in one day sharing their experiences with the world, then won’t post for an entire week because they are writing an ebook while traveling on top of elephants in Thailand.  They are the ones that send audacious emails to VC’s despite not having an “in” at the firm.  They are the ones that have a deep interest for people, their work and their play.  Their curiosity leads them to learn and experience more than ordinary people (and post it to Facebook).

These are the people that get results by constantly being in motion and allowing their awareness and instincts to guide them.

In conclusion…ACT!  Simple as that!  If you don’t know how to start, don’t worry, no one does.  Be aware of how powerful one action can be, and the momentum that can build from it.  Don’t fear not knowing, that is always going to exist.  Instead act in the face of fear and see yourself develop a natural curiosity for what you do!

Adventures in Fundraising: What I Didn’t Know and Sort of Know Now

Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Asked Out (new name still up for grabs) team has been on the fundraising hustle for the past 4-5 months.  We have had our successes…we have our rejections…and stumbles along the way.  I personally have not been the most integral part of the fundraising process…but I have contributed.  Therefore I have been able see the process unfold from a birds eye view (if the bird was flying sideways…eyes are on the side of the head )…without being involved in the real nity gritty.  For me…I have made connections, pitched, answered questions and charged the room/Webex with some good ol’ fashion Gen-Y start-upper energy!  My first time doing the valley circuit has been a tremendous learning experience not only in the “hows” and “whats” of fundraising; but also in how to align a team, product and vision.

Let me sum up what I learned with a few key points:

The formula is simpler than you think:

Just like a start-up does business development…raising angel and venture capital is a very similar process.  One: you take a look at who you have relationships with and see who they have relationships with.  Two: You reach out to those connections/ investors, present the opportunity or asked to be put in touch with someone who would be interested in the opportunity.  Three: You pass on materials, pitch or demo.  Four: You wait and hope.  Five: You take on “next steps”.

Yes this is a simplified format and you most likely will be more creative and deviate from this process…however I learned that the process is simple.  Don’t over complicate things…investors like simple…they talk to hundreds of people every week/ month.

Traction (whether you like it or not) it is what gets most companies funded:

We have been pitching on the lower rungs of “traction”…meaning what we have to show is some fantastic test partners and alpha feedback.  However for products that have any type of consumer side, you almost always need traction.  Traction doesn’t mean that your model is scalable…it means you have results.  When you don’t have traction…many will love your concept…not necessarily the opportunity.  So when it comes to getting a product out there…build lean, deploy quickly, iterate…focus on traction!

“You have a huge vision?  So what?

Investors say they love the “change the world type businesses”…however “love” is not always synonymous with investing money. Many investors (mainly angels) like to “hit singles” in this venture ecosystem (as a few of colleagues and advisors have told me). Therefore big dreams can be scary…they may be too robust of a solution for a broad market.  Many investors would rather see a niched model that may catch the interest of Google in a few years.  When investors do believe in your vision…they next want to assess the team.  Can this team execute this grandiose vision or can’t they?

Most won’t give it to you straight (at least a 100% straight):

Most of the investors I have met are fantastic people… interesting, successful and very nice.   In some cases their niceness prevents full self expression (at least it seems to).  We haven’t hear that our concept sucks once (it is a terrific concept however I feel we should expect at least one “this sucks”).  When they do give it to your straight…take full advantage…take in their feedback (don’t always act on it) and ask for advice.  They don’t know your model like you do but they might know the space much better so every piece of feedback counts.  Basically you will have do some introspection to really figure out why you are getting “no’s”.

Separate your belief in your start-up from your response/ success rate:

Like I said it’s important to take in feedback but it’s much more important not to take feedback to heart.  The more you allow “no’s” to bruise your ego the more it will affect the overall start-up.  Feedback is simply feedback…it doesn’t mean your model won’t work…or that your team is not right…it’s just feedback (good feedback from incredible people also doesn’t guarantee success).  Some feedback you will act on…other feedback you won’t.

The rest of what I learned and have began to implement can be summed up in this video by Naval Ravikant of Venture Hacks.  This presentation further expanded what I did not know…always fun to find out you don’t know much :) .  Watch it!!

3 Ways to Inspire People to Work for Equity

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

This is a guest post by my good friend and remote entrepreneur Austin Evarts of FullFoundation.com.  Austin has traveled the world while building Twepto , creating an online course on passive revenue generation called The Remote Entrepreneur, all while getting featured on Tim Ferriss’s blog The Four Hour Work Week.

In the early stages of a startup you often need to pay people in equity rather than salary.  Not only is it cheaper while “bootstrapping”, but you want to be working with people who see the most value in being paid with equity.  These people truly believe in the project and are willing to sacrifice payment to see it succeed.

So the problem then becomes:  how do you keep people motivated? As “CEO”, “Chief Motivator”, “Lead Cheerleader” – whatever you want to call it – how do you keep people pushing when they are basically working for free?

I’ve learned (usually the hard way) a few tricks that I would like to share with you here.  Please note that I am not a programmer (although I’ve been learning).  My experience comes from building and motivating teams around concepts that came from my head.  In more cases than not, I am the “non-technical founder”.  So how can you motivate the masses without paying them cash?

1.  Be a Cheerleader
•    Remind people why this project is a “game changer”.
•    Remind people that when this works out, it will be far better than their day job (i.e. you can be making millions and working for yourself).  Be very clear with people upfront that if this project is to succeed, they will at some point be expected to quit their day job.
•    Share good news.  If you come across an interesting article on Mashable that shows a trend toward what you will be offering, share it with the team.  Articles like this are great kindling to fuel the fire.
•    Know the numbers and get good with statistics.  Send out regular (but not too regular that it is annoying) emails about the potential of the company: market size, potential revenues, etc.  These help to remind people what they are working toward.

As CEO/founder of a startup, motivation and guidance is your job.  Make it a point to cheer lead regularly.

2.  Know What you are Talking About
As the non-technical founder, you are in a unique and often difficult position.  Great programmers usually want to spend most of their time coding, meaning you should be spending your time on the business side of things – finding users, testing business models, etc.  You are essentially, “the business guy”.  The problem that many non-technical founders face is that a lot of programmers (at least the good ones) don’t want to the job of implementing the vision of a business guy.

The solution that I’ve found is to really know what you are talking about.  First off, you should definitely have a deep understanding of the problem that your startup is trying to solve.  The best startups begin by trying to solve a problem that the founders have.  Second, you should  be able to “talk the talk”.  Not knowing what your programmers are talking about creates an unhealthy distance between you and the people you are trying to motivate.  If you are constantly asking, “what does that mean?”, you slow progress down drastically.  If you want a general understanding of what your programmers might be talking about, W3 Schools is a good place to start.

A general desire to learn about the environment around you is an extremely valuable characteristic of an entrepreneur.  If your programmers are coding in PHP, you should probably know what an array is.  That doesn’t mean you need to know how to use one.  Just know enough to talk the talk.

3.  Make things Public
The last thing you need in a startup is a lack of communication.  If someone is slacking and missing deadlines, talk to them about it, find out what is up, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.  It is hard to to keep people accountable when you are not paying them.  Making their ineptitude public, however, is another story.  People are more motivated by the prospect of public failure than they are by the prospect of making millions.  Y Combinator actually uses this as a technique for motivating their startups.
Make sure that everyone on your team knows everyone else’s deadlines.  When missing a deadline means letting your friends down, it’s less likely to happen.

Photo credit: *Kicki*

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What non-monetary techniques have you used for motivating your team members?

Contribution at the Core

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Entrepreneurship and self reflection goes hand in hand.  When you’re able to step away from the laptop for a few, you often are confronted by the “whys” of your life.  One of the fundamental “whys” that confronts entrepreneurs is the ‘why am I doing what I do?’.  I mean…your friends think your weird, your parents don’t approve, you can’t take your girlfriend out to that nice restaurant down the street, you sometimes wonder if you can pay rent on time…why in the hell do we do what we do?

As my friend and amazing entrepreneur Arielle Scott has asked a group of friends…“How do us over believers set our goals so high, fail, yet keep on moving forward”.

I believe it’s imperative that entrepreneurs must establish a governing motivation beyond anything superficial and ephemeral such as money, fame or status.  If those are your main motivators you will we quickly be disappointed.  You will either not fulfill your expectations fast enough having the utter disappointment making you quit…or you will obtain money and status so fast that you fail to establish a long term vision beyond yourself and fail when both money and fame cease to be enough.  Basically it takes looking beyond one’s self satisfaction and preservation to actually make a true impact.  It takes the intention of building a legacy with the contribution you make.

I have no empirical evidence suggesting that people like Sergey, Larry, Steve Jobs and others have come to the same conclusion that making a contribution is what it takes.  I am sure many successful entrepreneurs are simply free market opportunists with genius like intelligence and uncanny work ethic.  However I believe this notion of “being a contribution” is adopted amongst a sub-set Gen-Yers…and if it is not yet adopted it needs to be.  Not simply to better our chances to succeed…but to better the chance for all of humanity to thrive.

I would like to believe that the very people that have the innovative abilities, ingenuity and vision to transform the world with what they create will always keep the people of the world in mind.  Having “being a contribution” become a governing motivator for many may shape the world in positive ways that we can only dream of at this point.

It took me a while to realize that focusing on becoming a contribution would be my only way to accept the failures and continue to move forward towards success.  It took me even more time to be present enough to look outside myself with the work I do.  Next step is to make it so that I (and we) leave a lasting positive impact on the world.

When Do You Know You’re an Entrepreneur?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

As an “aspiring” entrepreneur I constantly asked myself,  “How do I know that I am an entrepreneur?”.  Being conditioned to “know” something is something through tangible and transitional reasoning I had no way of identifying myself as an entrepreneur.

Today I can confidently say that I am an entrepreneur. I am one, because I say I am, I feel I am and I make a unique contribution to the world.

Here’s me diving deeper into this topic…

When did you know you were an entrepreneur?  What is an entrepreneur in your mind?

The 4 Pillars of Personal Branding

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

To many, personal branding is a buzz word that has been over extended throughout the social space.  You can categorize it as a “buzz term” or “fad trend” but you will most likely be neglecting the power that shaping your online persona can have on the rest of your life.

The video below dives into 4 absolutely vital principles to adopt when building your personal brand online.

Build a platform

We’re not talking about building your own Facebook or a massive blog.  Instead we are talking about a more figurative platform.  Build a platform by leveraging all the cool stuff you are doing right now.  If you work for a big company let people know what you’re doing (it got Scoble pretty far).  If you own a company…associate yourself with your company and the company with yourself.  If you have passions, shout it from a mountain top and see who you will connect with!

Don’t be bashful

I love that word…bashful.  In this case we’re going to treat it as a bad word.  For some people, such as myself, it can be quite difficult to talk about yourself.  Especially if you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything worthwhile.  At that point, you must think from this perspective: “there is always someone who wants to be where you are and wants to know how you got there”…cater to these people now and expand your audience as you grow.  Don’t be bashful, talk about your accomplishments, build up your credibility but please always put humility first.

Build up others

Focus on others before yourself.  When you connect two people that will benefit from each other you are building up your own importance indirectly.  When you showcase someone’s good work by tweeting it out to the world, you are validating their efforts.  When you focus on others, new possibilities open up, paths to new people emerge and you can now identify more opportunities and how it relates not just to you but to everyone else you are connected with.

Add value to the community

Have something uniquely valuable to say.  What you do online should be governed by the question “how am I adding value?”.  You can talk about yourself, your accomplishment but if it doesn’t help anyone else…no one will care about what you have to say.  Find ways to differentiate yourself and find new perspectives that not many have.  If you focus on adding value first, you will be moving in the right direction.

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