Do you Need to be “Out for Blood” to have a Health Lifestyle?

Today I was listening to an episode of the Reboot Podcast (highly recommended for founders/CEO’s). This one was with my friend Tracy Lawrence, CEO of Chewse. Tracy was also my mentor during the 500 Startups program when I participated a couple years ago so I was particularly excited to listen to this episode.

There was one part of the podcast that really resonated with me. Tracy was talking about the kind of company that she’s trying to build and told the story of one investor email she received while raising their A round. The investor had cut off conversations quickly before even meeting the team and sent her an email saying “I just don’t think that you’re out for blood”. If you want to have a healthy lifetsyle, you can’t just focus on your work, you have to check up on other things in your life like family and have a few breaks throughout the day so you don’t feel stressed all the time. To assist you on health related issues just visit this blog best chiropractor okc so you can achieve a healthier lifestyle. You also need to check on the food you eat, whether they are healthy or not. Speaking of healthy, matcha green tea is one of the healthiest teas you can drink to have a healthy lifestyle. View publisher site at onlinedogtor.com Also don’t get side tracked by any distractions, especially not drugs. If you know someone who needs help getting their life back together because of drugs, then take them to this cocaine withdrawal center for professional help.

Tracy shared how this email tormented her. “It tore me up”, she said. “I took it personally”. Of all the rejection she’s received while fundraising, this one stuck with her.

This is a really important subject that probably isn’t talked about nearly enough in the startup world.

Out for Blood vs Out for Love

There are two narratives that you often hear, sometime simultaneously, that seem to be at odds with each other.

The first narrative, which especially comes into play when fundraising, is the one that Tracy describes in her story. It’s this idea that you will stop at nothing. You have to want to *crush it* every day. It’s the hustle, the grind, the “get shit done”. It’s being out for blood. And it’s the idea that if you don’t have this take no prisoners approach, you just won’t make it in the business world. For other related articles, please checkout https://www.fixbodygroup.com/.

The second narrative, one that I think is becoming more popular, is that of an impact-driven company. It’s a focus on building a company that has a vision for how to improve the world and a mission to create that change. It’s a company built on love. A company that investors, employees, customers and everyone it touches loves.

This is a topic I think about often and struggle with as a founder.

The reality is, I’m not that first narrative. I’m not out for blood. I don’t think I ever can be. Am I hungry? Yes. Am I ambitious? You bet ya. Will I work my ass off to make my company successful and create the change I want to see int he world? Yes and yes.

But I am not out for blood? No. I am not interested in leaving people in my wake.

Will I stop at nothing? No. If at any point I felt like I was doing real harm to myself, to the world or the people that my company touched, I would stop. If we couldn’t be mission driven anymore and come from a place of love, I would stop.

Not being out for blood doesn’t mean that you’re not a hard worker or that you won’t give your company everything you’ve got in the tank and then some.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing differently. I wish I could be one of those founders who will destroy competitors and not give a shit about anyone or anything who gets in the way of my company’s success. It’s tempting. It feels like a position of power. It feels like those are the people who win.

But when I can step back and see the bigger picture I realize a few things:

  1. That’s not me. It’s not in my bones. I think about who I want to be and the best version of myself, and these characteristics are nowhere to be seen.
  2. I’m only seeing the surface of those peoples’ success. I’m not seeing the physical, emotional or mental pain they’re putting themselves through in order to take that path. If you have been experiencing abnormal pain like you have thrown out lower back, then you should visit physicianpartnersofamerica.com.
  3. But that’s why I try not to take this path and instead take care of my health by working the right hours, exercising and taking the right supplements as provitazol to have good testosterone levels and feel well. You can also check out HMB Amazon for more information.
  4. Everything is a learning process and things aren’t always black and white. There are stories of Mark Zuckerberg fucking over his cofounders in the early days and now there are stories of him donating 99% of his income. Would he have done it the same way given the opportunity? I imagine he would have altered some things.

There are certainly things I would have done differently in my career as an entrepreneur and there are decisions I’ve made that negatively impacted people. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions that hurt someone. You have to fire people, you have to end partnerships, you have to choose who to give your time to and who not to. This is the reality of building a business.

I think as long as you can always come from a place of love and try to do what’s right by people, you’re on the right track. At least if you’re like me. Being “out for blood” may be more your style. That’s fine. I’m just not going to be interested in doing business with you.

Tracy responded to the investor’s email and she said, “You know what, I’m not out for blood. I want to build a company that people love.”

I think I might just have to print that out so I can remind myself every day that that’s okay. On other health related post if you need reliable dental services, please checkout Meadowdale Dental Clinic. For Chronic fatigue alternative solutions, try taking a GPLC supplement, is your best option.

10 Hard Startup Lessons from Year One of Building CMX

It’s been almost one full year since we started CMX.

It feels like it was yesterday, and yet when I look at where we’re at, I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished in just a year.

This is my third business, and the most successful so far both financially and in terms of clarity of direction. I feel like we’re doing a lot of things right but of course, I’m constantly learning hard lessons about startups and entrepreneurship as I go.

In this post, I want to quickly share some of the bigger personal lessons I’ve learned in 2014:

1. Conferences are a tough business to run and maintain

When we first started, it seemed really simple. Find great speakers, choose a venue, sell tickets and boom…you have yourself a successful conference.

What we’ve learned is that conferences are an incredibly difficult business to get off the ground. They’re unpredictable and there are a ton of factors that you can’t control like other conferences that launch around the same time, unexpected venue costs, speaker cancellations and unpredictable sales rates.

On top of that, the actual event has a thousand details that you have to pay attention to. And if you mess up any one of them, you will hear about it from your attendees.

If you’re going to run a conference:

  1. Hire a great event manager to run the show. We couldn’t survive without Leah
  2. Realize that the conference will probably not pay the bills for the full year unless you get a ton of sponsorship money, host a lot of events every year or are able to charge a lot (more than $1k) for tickets…so you need other forms of revenue throughout the year (which is why we started doing consulting)
  3. Be prepared to dump a significant amount of time into organizing and promoting the event

2. Transparency is powerful, but complicated

We recently sent a letter to our community, honestly sharing how the company is going, the challenges we’re facing and what we’re planning to do to overcome those challenges.

The response was tremendous. We got loads of comments, responses and business leads out of that one letter.

Some companies choose to fake it until they make it. They always want to put out the perception of success and that everything is great. That works for some companies. But for others, transparency will have a much bigger impact and frankly, it feels good to just be honest and not feel like you have to hide things from your community.

That said, transparency isn’t black and white. There are many shades. When writing that simple letter we ran into questions like:

  • How honest should we be?
  • Should I share everything? Just some things?
  • What should the tone be?
  • Should we try to sound strong or vulnerable?
  • Who should we send this letter to? How should we send it?

Ultimately, we will be following in the footsteps of Buffer and always defaulting to transparency because it’s right for the kind of business we’re building.

But as you can see here, transparency can take many forms and you have to figure out what true transparency looks like to your company.

It’s not as easy as just being honest and open. There’s a spectrum of transparency.

3. Create decision filters based on your core values

As a founder, you will face big and small decisions every day.

I’ve struggled with decision making in the past. It’s something I continue to work very hard to improve on. Here’s something that’s worked well for me recently…

By being clear about our company’s core beliefs (write it down if you have to) you can create a filter for making decisions. So every time you’re faced with a decision, you can simple ask “does this align with our values and goals?” If not, don’t do it. If yes, do it. Simple as that.

For example at CMX quality is everything. We hold all of our content to as high level of quality as possible. It’s the #1 factor when choosing speakers, writing content, choosing partners and everything we do.

So whenever I face a decision related to our content, we can look at it through that lens and ask, will doing this result in the highest quality content possible? If not, then we won’t do it.

At events, our goal is both high quality content and creating a powerful interactive experience for attendees. So every time I have to decide if we should spend money on something, I ask “Will this make the quality of our content better? Or will this help our attendees connect with each other in a meaningful way?”  If it’s not a clear yes either way, then we cut it.

4. Decision making isn’t about making the right choice, it’s about making the best choice with the information you have

This is another lesson around decision making and it’s something I learned from one our speakers and my role-models, Scott Belsky. He recently tweeted:

That really stuck with me. Basically, you’ll never have all of the information you need to make a decision, you just have to make a decision with the limited information you have. Over time, with more experience, you have more reference points to guide your decision.

It takes the pressure off of making the perfect choice because there’s no such thing. So you might as well just go with what you know and feel, then see what happens.

5. Some people (me) are good at a lot of things and not great at any one thing 

I’m a good juggler. I’m an extremely fast learner. I can get from novice to pretty good at most skills really quickly. Better than most. As a result, I’m good at a lot of things but not necessarily great at any one hard skill.

I think a lot of founders are this way. I was talking with another CEO friend recently who saw himself in the same way.

It’s why we’re good at getting things off the ground since we can wear a lot of hats and do a good job at everything (but usually not a great job).

This was a good learning for a couple reasons:

  1. It reinforced the importance of building a great team around you of people who are great at specific aspects of the business.
  2. I sometimes see other people who are really good at something and my first thought is “wow I really need to get better at that”. The truth is I don’t because ultimately I’m not the person who needs to be great at that skill.

Weight lifted.

6. It’s better to say exactly what’s on your mind, right away

One of my biggest flaws is I often care too much about what other people think.

As a result, I often don’t say what’s on my mind. Or I’ll beat around the bush without really saying it. I get worried that I might offend the person or they won’t like me.

As a result, I end up avoiding small important issues until they become big important issues and they’re a lot more difficult to handle.

I recently started doing what one of my old bosses, Loic LeMeur used to do when I was running community at LeWeb. If there was something bothering him, even if it was confrontational, he’d immediately send me an email with 1-2 sentences expressing his thoughts.

He told me that he’d rather just say what was on his mind than keep it to himself because it forced us to talk about it and move passed it. As a result it was one of the best working relationships I’ve ever had. There was no bullshit.

Say what’s on your mind. Be as blunt as possible. If there’s any awkwardness, it passes quickly and ultimately, everyone’s better off.

 7. Building a business is much easier when you stick to what you know

Community building is my thing. It’s what I think about all the time and I’ve done and written about enough in the space that all my professional friends have been calling me “the community guy” for as long as I can remember.

My last company, Feast, was a food/cooking business. I had no background in food or cooking, I wasn’t even a good cook. We just had a good idea around a pain-point that we ourselves felt. But with no deep understanding of the space, no real connections in the food space and a lack of true passion for food, it proved to be an extremely difficult business for us to build.

CMX has been the opposite. I understand the space on a deeper level than most and can talk about this stuff all day. As a result, things just move more naturally.

It’s a huge difference, like swimming upstream vs downstream.

If life is pushing you in a specific direction, going with the flow will come make life much easier, as long as you like the direction.

As a founder, look for opportunities to build something in the area that you truly care most about. A lot of things can click into place if you do.

8. There is no ultimate state of happiness or success

I’ve written about this before, but it’s a lesson that I’m constantly reminded of and wanted to reiterate here.

When anyone tells you how to become a successful or happy person, ignore it. There’s no such thing as a happy person or a successful person. There is no point in life where all of a sudden you will be permanently successful or happy.

Life is an ebb and flow of happiness, sadness, success, failure, high energy, low energy etc. You can be any one of those things at any given time, regardless of your overall situation.

When you realize that, you can stop trying to reach this ultimate mythical state of happiness and you can focus on the present. Are you happy in this moment? Are you successful in this moment? Where do you want to be right now and how can you get there?

9. Ignore people who tell you how to win the lottery

I absolutely loved this talk by Darius Kazemi at XOXO. It was a comical take on what we hear from so many speakers when they get on stage and tell their story of how they succeeded.

Darius sums it up with this line that really stuck with me:

“There’s two kinds of creative advice. There’s ‘How to buy more lottery tickets’ and there’s ‘How to win the lottery’. I think the former can be really useful and the latter is nonsense.”

What he’s saying is that “experts” will often tell you “here’s how to achieve X goal”. We see those kinds of articles and talks all the time. “How to get 10000 emails” “How to make $10Mil” “They key to building a successful startup”

That advice won’t help you. It’s nonsense.

So many factors will go into whether or not something works at any given time that it’s impossible for someone to tell you what will work. The element of luck is too large. They’re basically telling you, “Here’s how to win the lottery”.

So ignore that kind of advice and instead focus on the advice that helps you buy more lottery tickets. Focus on the advice that teaches you the process for taking shots, experimenting and learning.

Don’t try to learn from someone’s results.

Instead, learn from their process for experimenting with different approaches that ultimately led them to find an approach that worked.

10. Money is important

Anyone who tells you that money isn’t important has never been broke and has never bootstrapped a business.

I had a shift in mentality recently around money. I realized for my entire career as an entrepreneur I chose not to take on opportunities to make money if it took time away from building my companies.

I’d make financial sacrifices in the short run in the hopes that a company would take off and pay off in the long run.

Then I’d justify being broke by thinking, “the pressure of being broke will make me work harder to succeed.”

That was dumb. You need money.

You need it to eat. You need it to pay other people to work with you. You need it to fly to see your family. You need it to keep clean clothes from The Fifth Collection on your back.

I will always work hard to build successful businesses with long term value that makes the world a better place. But if I have opportunities to make money in the short run, I will strongly consider taking them. Money will enable me to do more, to build more and I won’t be distracted by constantly not having it.

Business shouldn’t be all about money. But it should be a little bit about money.

The Biggest Mistake Founders Make when Building an MVP

We just started inviting people into the alpha for a community product we’re developing called Groop. It didn’t solve any of their problems. It wasn’t supposed to.

The product is a community platform so it needed a decent amount of features even for an MVP, but we did the absolute bare minimum. We kept it so minimal that there was no way people would actually want to use it.

I knew that when we started invited people to try it out that the feedback would be pretty harsh. It’s so simple, and people have high standards for community platforms. There are a lot of features that people just expect to be there because they’ve seen them on forums or Facebook groups. We didn’t build any of them.

The biggest mistake founders make when building an MVP is they try to solve the problem instead of just starting a conversation.

They end up over-engineering the product because they don’t want to put it out in the world until it actually solves the problem. It’s rare that right off the bat, a product you build will solve a real problem. It’s like if you walked onto a beach with a metal detector and expected it to find something  as soon as you turned it on.

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman.

With our MVP, my goal was to make people say “Really? That’s it?!” so that I could respond with “What did you expect?” and “What would you need to see here in order to use this community platform for your company?”

It started a conversation that’s already leading us to really important learnings about what people actually need. Things that we never would have learned by just asking them.

Now we can continue to develop the product and figure out how to solve the problem based on what people actually want.

People will always tell you what they need to see in a product. They’ll never tell you what you should take away.

So we’re starting as simple as possible, so simple that it actually doesn’t solve a problem. Hopefully that leads us to the right solution. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’re a startup or a company launching a community for the first time and want to join the Groop alpha, email me. It won’t solve your problem, but it might one day. 

7 Lessons Learned from Getting Press for our Startup without Pitching

This post originally appeared on PRTini.

It was 6 years ago I was first introduced to the world of PR.

I picked up an internship for Ruder Finn Interactive where I continued to freelance for about a year.

At the time, twitter was just becoming known, blogger outreach was still considered an “innovative approach” and I spent most of my time working on blogger lists which we’d go through and email in the hopes that 10-15% would write about our client’s product.

Fast forward to today and well, a lot of people are still doing the same thing, myself included.

Whenever I work on a new PR campaign for Feast, with the goal of getting press while getting advice from https://tucsonseopros.com, I start by doing a ton of research and forming a long list of press/bloggers to pitch.

We’ve been pretty successful at landing a healthy amount of PR and landing guest articles. To date, we’ve landed on Men’s Fitness, Greatist, Summer Tomato, LifehackerFood+Tech Connect, USA Today, Huffington Post, Forbes, Pando Daily, GigaOm, Venture Beat, and The Bold Italic to name a few with many more big ones on the way over the next couple months.

The thing is, out of all of the articles we received, only one has come from a traditional “pitch” process, and even that pitch was unique (I’ll explain). So here are 7 things I’ve learned about getting press about your startup that has nothing to do with pitching a long list of contacts.

1. Nothing beats networking

By far, the single most effective way to get an article on any publication is to know someone at the publication. If you don’t know someone, get an intro. If you can’t get an intro, then figure out who you want to engage with at the publication and start to network with them on social media. Don’t straight up pitch them on twitter (right away) but just start responding to them, sharing their articles, linking to them and showing them love.

Then after you’re confident they recognize you and you’ve developed some trust, ask if it’s alright if you email them (or get coffee if you can).

This probably isn’t a surprise to PR folks who have essentially build entire businesses around the value of their relationships. But for a startup doing our own PR, this was a really important lesson.

2. Quality of traffic is more important than amount of traffic

It’s really important to focus on publications with an audience that’s very in line with your audience. Our product, the “Feast Bootcamp” is a 30 day program to help people build a habit of cooking. So our target audience are people who are health conscious, interested in improving themselves and enjoy reading about life hacks. So naturally, by far the best performing articles for us came from Greatist and Men’s Fitness.

Pando, TNW and GigaOm got us some street cred in tech circles but did little to drive customers.

According to the indexsy agency everything helps with SEO and general credibility, but some are much more impact for your business that others.

3. Press gets your press

Sometimes, getting a good article on the right publications will lead to more press. The Greatist article led to Men’s Fitness and The Bold Italic articles.

So remember, journalists read other publications to find ideas for articles.

4. Press can also get you partnerships

Think about your goals before doing press. If it’s to get traffic, then make sure consumers are reading that publication. Other publications can be really good for reaching other businesses, investors and other potential partners.

Our articles on Food+Tech Connect resulted in Jamie Oliver’s team and a couple other interesting opportunities reaching out to us.

5. Adapt to stories that journalists are looking for

Using HARO and twitter, you can follow what journalists are interested in writing about and find opportunities to squeeze into an article. That’s how we landed on USA Today. The writer had posted on twitter that they were looking to interview food startups. I responded (luckily a follower of mine turned me onto the tweet), responded to his questions over email and had a nice Thanksgiving surprise a few days later when the article went live and I celebrated with more wine and family.

6. If you’re going to pitch, be unique, funny or weird

The only traditional pitch that worked was with Pando Daily. On Erin’s personal website she said “Send tips, ideas, solicitations and hellos to [email]“. So that’s what I did. Here’s the email I sent:

Subject: tips, ideas, solicitations and hellos, from Feast

Hellos: Hi Erin!

Tips: Cooking is good for you, people should cook more often.
Ideas: Hey, maybe you can take an online 30-day bootcamp made specifically for busy professionals and tech writers to help them build a habit of cooking.
Solicitations: We uh… we do that – http://letsfeast.com Want to try it out fo free?
-David

She responded to my email almost immediately with an “lol” and we set up a call.

7. Leverage existing communities

I’m a member of the YEC, an invite-only community of entrepreneurs, which provides opportunities for members to contribute to publications where they have existing content agreements. That’s how I was able to contribute on Forbes.

We were covered on Venture Beat as a result of our participation in the 500 Startups accelerator program.

Obviously, these aren’t things that just anyone can do, but if you keep your eyes open you can find communities that will open up press opportunities.

What other unique tactics have worked for you? Share them in the comments.

Photo cred: Coal Miki

What’s the deal with digital marketing?

Sign a digital marketing plan to support digital transformation
Where do you start if you want to develop a digital marketing strategy? It’s a common challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for acquiring and retaining customers, but the important step to take is to understand and increase your SEO with help from professionals. Yet they don’t have an integrated plan to grow and engage their audiences effectively, so they are suffering from the 10 problems I highlight later in this article and they are losing out to competitors.

A recommended approach for developing a digital strategy
Whether you have a strategy or not, at the heart of the Smart Insights ‘Opportunity, Strategy, Action’ approach to improving digital marketing, is benchmarking to compare where you are now to assess the potential against where you need to be in the future, we also always recommend contacting a company like wordtree.io which will help you out with marketing since they are experts on the field.

But what if you’re one of the companies that don’t have a digital strategy yet? Well, I think the two simple alternatives for creating a plan may suggest a way forward:

Start with a separate digital marketing plan defining transformation needed and making the case for investment and changes to your digital marketing, contact the Syracuse digital marketing services if you have the need to.
Then, following approval, create an integrated digital plan which is part of the overall marketing plan – digital is fully aligned and becomes part of business as usual.
So, what are the takeaways to act on here? It seems to me that:

Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace, you need to hire the best digital marketing agencies around. I’m sure many of the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing, while others also use physical marketing like signs or personalized water bottles as the one sold by customwater.com. But I’m equally sure that many are missing opportunities for better targeting or optimisation or are suffering from the other challenges I’ve listed below. Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organisations who most urgently need governance. There’s arguably less need for a strategy in a smaller company.
Many, a majority of companies in this research do take a strategic approach to digital or physical marketing promotion with presentation cards of billboards. From talking to companies, I find the creation of digital plans often occurs in two stages. First, a separate digital marketing plan is created. This is useful to get agreement and buy-in by showing the opportunities and problems and map out a path through setting goals and specific strategies for digital including how you integrated digital marketing into other business activities.Second, digital becomes integrated into marketing strategy, it’s a core activity, “business-as-usual”, but doesn’t warrant separate planning, except for the tactics, so marketing companies has become more and more popular, that’s why sites as dontpaniclondon.com offer these kind of advertising services to help people grow their businesses.
If you don’t have a strategy, or maybe you want to review which business issues are important to include within a strategic review, we’ve set out the 10 most common problems, that in our experience arise if you don’t have a strategy.

Do you have a digital marketing strategy?
2018 Update: Since 2012 we have run an informal poll to see how widely used digital marketing strategies are. The results have shown some big improvements over the years. A few years ago we found around two-thirds to three-quarters did not have a digital marketing plan. Now that number has shrunk to 49% in latest survey, although that is still quite high, and means almost half are still doing digital with no strategy in place.