Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Morning Rituals

It’s been a week and I’ve found a new routine.  It’s not perfect, but you gotta start somewhere.

4:30 am alarm.
Get up and go sit on the couch for a few minutes wondering aloud why am I here. (I may have fallen asleep for 5-10 minutes a few times)
Stand, walk to coffee maker and brew coffee.  This generally takes two tries for both the standing up and the brewing of coffee.
Bathroom, change into workout clothes, turn on computer.
Read / write / plan for 20-40 minutes.
Workout or first task on the list.

I found that the first day was the easiest, although on the second day I was awake at 3:40am due to an email (phone was silenced at night after that).  I made the mistake of waking up early and putting in a long day (not home until 11:30pm and not asleep until 1am) on Thursday.  As well, the bedroom door and latch needed some grease, and socks are a must for early morning walking around to keep the noise down.

Tweaks for this week:

Clothes set out the night before bed with socks.
Get up, brew coffee, bathroom, drink a glass of water- skip the couch.
Meditate for 5 minutes – sitting, eyes closed, focus on a thought and let mind wander, consciously bringing my attention back to the single thought.  If I go over five minutes, that’s ok.
Write for 20 minutes while sipping delicious coffee.
Workout – Monday (long jog), Tuesday (yoga), Wednesday (lift), Thursday (yoga), Friday (whatever)
If I fail at something, go discover some new music and post on Facebook with a reminder note on the failing topic.
Tasks for the week posted in project management software – all I have to do is complete the tasks and check it off the list.
Scripts have been written as well to cut down on time wondering to myself ‘what should I say?’.

I should also note, that if an email comes in from Asia, I respond to it immediately regardless of what I’m doing in the early morning (that is if I’m awake). This past week I’ve been able to respond to fifteen requests within two minutes and had a few comments about speedy replies despite the time difference.

I’m also going to stop worrying about being a ‘bad dog’.  I’ve found that my drive comes from being constantly dissatisfied along a consistent theme.  There are many variations of the theme, but it’s always there.

Ok, enough of this, time to get started.

Update On Goober (and alleged crooks)

A quick update on Goober – the cat that was rescued up in Minden.  It’s a he!  He’s not a kitten (8-10 years old) and he was full of worms!  I’m happy to say that he no longer has worms and that he has a home!  And a new name – Henry!

Deep down inside, he will always be Goober to me.

The cat named Henry formerly known as Goober.
The cat named Henry formerly known as Goober with a new collar and bell.

And now onto the alleged crooks and criminal element.  Earlier this year I was renting office space from a man who was charged by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) with defrauding investors of more than $30 million through a sub-prime auto loan fund and his associated companies.  The latest developments have been posted at the OSC web site (link to E.I. proceedings) and it’s interesting to note that a lot of background information on the case can be found online with a Google search on the names of the companies and people involved, since the fund and companies were forced into receivership by a secured creditor.  Hours and hours of fun reading!

Since that fateful day when I received an email from a client asking if I was aware of who I was sharing office space with, I’ve made a conscious decision to move away from earning an income off of other people’s business’ and to focus on my own.  This is one of the reasons that I launched The Learning Studio (a small reason).

I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I do know that I want to be doing something that will make a positive impact on the world and the people living on it.

Keep looking forward and put one foot in front of the other.

There are 644 days to go.

Playing Hard Ball

What’s better – play hard ball or playing hard to get?  I know that playing hard to get works, however as I get older and crankier I’ve come to realize that playing hard ball may be more effective in certain situations – particularly when starting negotiations with someone who has unrealistic expectations.

Over the past month, I’ve hustled hard to get a new venture started and I realized late last week that I’ve hit the dip.  If you’re unfamiliar with “The Dip”, I’ll let you take a peek at the book by Seth Godin on the subject.  I was at the point where I was undecided on forging ahead or quitting.  After consulting a few trusted people, I decided late last night to forge ahead.

As well, I made the decision to consult my ‘action plan’ for the next 890 days.  It was a little disheartening when I realized that – yes I had done a crapload of work over the past few months – but was it productive?  Or is being productive a metric that should be measured?  Or how would productivity even be measured over a variety of different projects with differing objectives and outcomes?

So this week a wee bit of time will be spent considering my new yard stick to measure progress and figuring out a better way to ensure that I can limit the amount of time it takes get through a dip.

Drawing Inspiration

For the longest time, I’ve been looking for validation. I remember growing up and looking for validation from my parents, brother and friends. I didn’t care too much about the opinions of my teachers but I did about the ones who stepped out of their “teacher” role and decided to ‘do more’.

It’s tough to do more. The best coaching advice I’ve received is to try to do 1% more each day. That’s all – 1%. Who can’t do 1% more than the last time they did it? I’ve been obsessed with trying to do more, continuously improving and refining the process, and finding ways to replicate myself (or pass on the innate knowledge that I’ve acquired).

Now I have the chance to provide validation to a few other people that up until a month ago, I didn’t know existed. I only hope that I can get them from a ‘thinking’ mindset (planning, scheming, etc) to a ‘doing’ mindset (taking the first step, talking to people, getting shit done, etc). It’s not easy and I only hope that there is enough time for them to pull off two successful ventures and help out the local community. (Why two? Because one is not enough).

To the little meat sacks at Georgian College in the entrepreneurship program, I hope that you will be able to make the shift and achieve something amazing. I’ve got your back and I’m here for you if you have any questions.

Today is day number 919. T-minus 18 days to launch. Happy times and here’s to great fashion!

Just Not Getting It

“There are those who get it and those who don’t.” I can agree with that statement 60% of the time. In my almost 5 years at Gobi Capital, I’ve met all sorts of people and listened to many different pitches from startups to real estate to service companies. I think a new mantra is needed in this day of age that reflects the true challenges that face entrepreneurs.

“There are those who do and those who do everything else but do.”

Much better although it could probably be refined much further.

I had an interesting conversation at the CoFounder Lab’s Matchup in Toronto this week. The convo revolved around the best way to get started. In his case, the easiest way to get started was to approach a large potential supplier and get them on board first.

“Don’t I need a prototype? A web site? Sales material?” He had asked.

“No. You know your material and you know who the contact is at the company. Call the gentleman and do it soon.” I had responded.

“But what will I say to him? What’s the pitch?”

” ‘Hi Mr Big Shot, my name is Mike Blah and I’d like to give you money.’ Pause and let him respond – answer his question then ask for the best time to meet.” I had retorted.

The conversation continued on from there but the end result is this:

What separates an entrepreneur from a wantrapreneur is doing. Making the call, sending the email, telling people about your company, signing people up – it’s all the doing that makes a difference. And the best part is, that’s the starting line, the first step. What will determine the success of that young man’s startup is not the idea, but the doing of action items to build his business.

Speaking of doing – I’m finally launching a new venture. It’s about time and next week is when I stop planning and start doing. I may cheat a little and start doing today.

I have no idea what day I’m on but I know it’s in the 900-920 area. Le sigh.

I see dead people

Everywhere I look – I see dead people.

Well maybe not people per se – but dead things.  Lifeless objects that have been cast aside for various reasons – it became too hard to continue, neglect due to something shinier,   lack of funds – the reasons don’t matter.  The fact is that these lifeless objects were once the pride and joy of someone.  A cherished idea, prototype or product / service – now a dead object cast deep into the earth.

10 Startups was my idea to identify cemeteries of dead startups; a way of collecting data on what didn’t work.  Originally, I went after companies in the startup phase – interviewing entrepreneurs who were filled with hope.  The whole idea was to chronicle their story and be able to tell the good along with the bad.

Well that didn’t appeal to me at all.  All motivation and gumption left me after the first round of interviews.  Turns out, deep down inside I don’t want to talk to those people – it’s all too soon.  I need the people who are down on their luck, had their ass handed to them and are looking to make a comeback (or not and take that cushy government job).  Everyday I deal with people who are happy-go-lucky and naive about the startup and entrepreneur world.  I want to meet the goth equivalent of an entrepreneur.  I want to meet other people who see dead people.

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I should note that I originally started writing this article on October 20, 2012.  This is around the time when I first started exploring the idea of 10 Startups.com.  Since that time, there have been a few hiccups, a few changes of the guard and I’m still unsure how to move forward.  I know that over the next few weeks I’ll figure something out, but I’m looking for input from various sources.

Any input you have would greatly be appreciated!

942 days to go