I did an interview with the awesome guys from The Entrepreneurial Journey today. They said the interview won’t be posted till ~May so stay tuned for a link.
In preparation for the interview, they sent me the questions below. I thought I’d share the answers. The following was written before the interview and some of it was touched on, but not all. Enjoy my entrepreneurial journey:
What does the “Pursuit of Happiness” mean to you?
The first thing that comes to mind is freedom; freedom to pursue the most important things in life: family, faith, friendship, and intellect.
How are you pursuing happiness in your life?
I’ve found that my happiness has a lot to do with relationships. First and foremost, my relationship with my maker. I try to be a faithful person and when I’m focused on the real purpose of life, I feel it. It brings peace.
The relationships with my wife an children also bring a lot of happiness.
We are a conglomeration of the people who we choose to interact with and learn from, who do you have in your circle of influence?
In addition to my family and the people I know through my church, I find that most of my other influences are authors and bloggers. I like to read and I read a lot of non-fiction. One influential book I am reading right now is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Not the biggest fan of the title, but the content is spot on.
Other influencers include Brad Feld and Jason Mendleson, both VC’s at Foundry Group. I’ve gotten to know them through the Boulder community and they co-authored the book Venture Deals. Jason also co-taught a VC Law class I took at CU. They both champion a very entrepreneurial friendly VC paradigm that I find refreshing. In addition, they are just genuine people.
What would it take to be part of your circle and how do people get kicked out of your inner circle?
I’m a pretty friendly guy, but I guess I do have a group of people I try to maintain a relationship with. I think to be a part of that group, you have to be pushing for your full potential. I hate to see talented people waste their talent. I like to talk with people who are making a difference and trying to change the world, even if it is in small and simple ways.
I think the only thing that would get you kicked out of my inner circle is if I couldn’t trust you.
Who would you consider a mentor?
Holly Hamand, the co-founder of TapInfluence and Scott McDaniel, the co-founder of Survey Gizmo. I met Holly and Scott while building HappyFreebie.com. They helped me a ton!
What was the most beneficial thing they taught you?
The advice they both gave me while working on my startup was invaluable. I guess a general take away from Holly is that you should do what you’re good at, believe in yourself, and be persistent.
We find that many successful Entrepreneurs or people who have experienced success have many different priorities in life, such as: Faith, family, self, money, shelter, education etc. etc.. What are your priorities that bring you happiness, sanity, and success?
Faith, family, friendship, freedom, health, and intelect. These bring me sanity.
Why have you chosen to put them in this order.
They are in order of importance. Faith is of eternal importance. I don’t believe the earth is a coincidence. A lot of people wonder why they were born. I don’t. I really feel that we will live after death. I also believe that our choices in this life will affect our life after death.
Second, what would life be without relationships.
Third, being free is something that mankind has fought for from the very beginning. Freedom is one of the reasons I love entrepreneurship so much. I’ve sold my time for a paycheck for many years. I don’t like it. I like the excitement I get when I’m free to spend my time on the projects I believe will produce the greatest value for me and society.
Fourth, what is life without your health. Nothing. Misery. I guess we will all lose our heath someday, but isn’t life much better with it?
Fifth, I like to know things. If I have a fault in intellect, it is that I want to know about everything. I love science, technology, art, engineering, business, and the list could go on.
As an Entrepreneur/business owner it is important to manage stress or clear your mind. What is an activity that you do that allows you to dedicate time to your self, mediate, or clear your mind?
I think reading does this for me. I also really like animated movies. I probably sound like a kid, but Big Hero 6 was awesome. I make it a point to see every one that comes out. I have a crazy goal to one day produce/direct/invest in animated movies.
Another thing that I’ve been doing lately is I don’t let my mind ruminate on stuff that isn’t helpful. Entreprenership, for me, is like a roller coaster. The good days are amazing and I can’t wait to tell my wife about them. The stagnant or even bad days tend to get my mind iterating over all the things that could go wrong. If I don’t stop the iteration, it just gets worse. I don’t make the right decisions when I ruminate. I’m not as good at selling when I iterate. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy unless I stop it! So I do. I just stop my mind from iterating.
Most people look at Failure as a negative thing, however, most entrepreneurs view failure as an opportunity. What is an example of when you were able to turn failure into an opportunity for success?
I think MyNiceTie is an example of this. I had the vision of a nationwide necktie retailer. I flew to Korea, bought 2,000 ties, and did everything I could to sell them. This led me to build my first website, which I thought was a failure for the first 3 years. It also led me to make YouTube videos, which I thought were a failure for the first 3 years.
About a year into MyNiceTie, I thought I had failed. I all but closed the doors. I worked on it from time to time, but not much. Then, it just took off. Now it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Are you part of a mastermind group?
I was invited to a group and went to one meeting, but never got invited again. :) I’m not sure if they even had the group again.
What is your favorite part of belonging to a mastermind.
I agreed to attend the group because I think it is awesome to have a group where you can bounce ideas off each other.
What was the hardest thing you had to give up to become an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if anything has been hard. That is not to say that I haven’t given anything up. I’ve worked over every Christmas break. I went for almost 5 years without a meaningful vacation. We’ve spent all our savings, multiple times.
But all of that is only hard when thinking back. At the time, and even now, it is all about the future reward.
Where would you say you are at in your Entrepreneurial Journey?
Beginning? High? Low? End?
I think I’m at the beginning of the curve on the hockey stick. There is more to come. I’m at the point where some of my efforts are really paying off and they have positioned me to make the next 2 years really valuable.
What is your opinion on Education?
Priceless. I think life long learners make the best people, let alone entrepreneurs. That said, there are a lot of things in the education system that will try to ruin your education. Don’t let them. Learn as much as you can.
I love the mantra that the definition of intelligence is to maximize your future choices. As long as an education gives you more choices, then keep going. The minute that you’ll have more future choices without continuing, then stop.
Is there a program you may recommend or a class you would absolutely take
I enjoyed the MBA program at CU and I think the undergrad program is good too. I also recommend BYU for undergrad. Both CU and BYU were amazing entrepreneurial schools.
Not a lot of people know this, but I believe the best program in the country for training future Venture Capitalists is an MBA (or Law degree) at CU. I really think that is a hidden gem. That said, Venture Capital is an extremely hard career path and no amount of schooling could turn some people into a good VC; however, if you already have the investor mindset, an MBA at CU will take you to a whole new level.
I had an awesome class in entrepreneurship at BYU taught by Jon Richards. I don’t know if he teaches anymore, but he’d be a great person to know. I think he is now at Utah Valley University.
My favorite class at CU was VC Law taught by Brad Bernthal and Jason Mendleson. Highly recommended. We actually had a reunion this year for everyone that has taken that class. It was awesome.
Who’s the most interesting person you have ever meet?
My brother Troy. He is always studying something new and he is a very good story teller, so it is always interesting to hear him talk about his studies.