One of the core values at my company, Hawke Media, is “get sh*t done.” Our team defines this (in more polite terms) as: “Move quickly, and seize every opportunity.”
While that sounds simple, many entrepreneurs do the exact opposite. That’s why I was so taken last year with our new intern, Daniel Newman. Simply put, Daniel is ahead of the curve for making things happen. While most college students are going to bars or catching up on sleep, this young man is applying every life experience to his advantage.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised in the least to learn that Daniel had recently organised and operated the first student-run Shark Tank-style event at his school, the University of Southern California (USC), and that the event turned out to be a massive success.
The guy who brought sharks to college
As vice president of operations of USC’s TAMID (which helps business-minded students connect with Israel’s economy), Daniel said he’d seen a lot of students hesitate to pursue their startup ideas. The problem: They felt too young or too inexperienced.
With TAMID Tank, Daniel proved those biases wrong: He showcased USC’s top three student-led startups and demonstrated that even student-run companies can get venture funding. He and his TAMID team organised the whole event, raised $14,000 from various corporate and institutional sponsors and then chased down VCs by sending cold emails, calling their offices, catching them at events – you name it, they did it.
Ultimately, they secured three well-known Los Angeles investors:
- Eytan Elbaz (co-founder of Render Media, Scopely, Social Native and Applied Semantics, which was acquired by Google and is now known as Google AdSense),
- Effie Epstein (COO and managing partner of Sound Ventures)
- Laurent Grill (venture lead at Luma Launch).
Leading up to the event, Newman designed a schoolwide startup competition to find the university’s top three startups, then executed a marketing campaign to hit every corner of campus and ensure that everyone knew about TAMID Tank – which subsequently sold out.
USC’s top three student-led startups (Aqus, Drops and Reefer) pitched their companies and received valuable feedback and coaching, and the event raised the profile of TAMID and entrepreneurship across campus – especially after the club won an award from the Marshall School of Business for “Most Innovative Event” during the 2016-2017 school year.
How did he accomplish all of this at such a young age?
I wanted to find out where Newman’s passion and drive came from and what advice he had for young entrepreneurs moving forward. After talking with him, here are the three things I learned:
1He learned from his refugee-parents how to deliver more for less
TAMID Tank may have been his most recent success, but Newman learned to “get sh*t done” well before he arrived at USC, drawing inspiration from his parents, who escaped from Iran during its 1979 revolution, with no money, no English language skills and no family in the United States. That didn’t stop either of them from learning English and studying to become, respectively, a pharmacist and an optometrist.
Seeing his parents succeed against such odds had a huge effect on their son’s desire to push himself to success, he told me. He considered working as a tutor for about $15 an hour but realized he could start a tutoring company himself, call himself the founder and charge twice as much for the same services.
Although he didn’t intend for that venture – TutorYou Beverly Hills – to outgrow his own reach, before long, other seniors started asking him to hire them. With more employees came more demand; just like that, he had a real business. “I learned two huge lessons in that experience,” Daniel said.
“First, deliver more, and you’ll slowly gain market share. Second, execute an idea shortly after it comes – move fast while you’re still inspired.”
2He quickly seizes (and maximises) every opportunity
With those philosophies in mind, Daniel and his best friend quickly developed another company. They’d noticed a barrier to entry for people who wanted to use geofilters on Snapchat but weren’t graphic designers; so the pair decided to help small businesses reach their younger targets on Snapchat’s platform. Drawing inspiration from the success of TutorYou Beverly Hills, Daniel and his partner planned and launched Geocasion almost overnight.
One obvious thing about him is that Daniel has never taken his smarts for granted. People hard-wired for entrepreneurship can be overconfident. And when they believe they’re smarter and more equipped for success than others, they may find it hard to know how much more they need to learn.
Not Daniel. In fact he’s taken several internships to make the connections and fill the knowledge gaps he sees in himself. That’s where I met him: in his role as a business development intern.
Eventually, our company, thanks to his diligence, promoted Daniel to my point person, allowing him, among other things, to develop proposals, referral agreements and service agreements for onboarding clients and driving revenue. These are rare and valuable opportunities for an intern and aspiring young entrepreneur. And he was grateful: Aside from learning the ins and outs of marketing, Daniel credited his time with us for helping him get Geocasion off the ground.
“I increased my marketing knowledge tenfold within weeks, which gave me the foundation to launch this company in the first place,” he told us.
“Without that experience, I might never have seen the gap that existed between small businesses and Snapchat’s geofilters – and Geocasion wouldn’t have existed at all.”
3He finds inspiration in challenges and setbacks
If a start-up takes off, that’s excellent – but even a failed startup provides valuable experience that compounds and leads to exponentially better results in the long run.
In Daniel’s view, young professionals have little to lose by pursuing a venture, and a lot to gain. Most college students don’t have to worry about rent, kids, a spouse or even a job. Moreover, younger entrepreneurs have a high risk tolerance and the highest level of energy and motivation they’ll probably ever have. At that point in life, they should experience anything and everything – while the stakes are low and the upsides high.
And just so you don’t think Daniel’s story is one of invariable success, Geocasion actually shut down recently. As the market evolved, there was no longer space for the service. Nonetheless, Daniel told me, he still believes that the time to act on an idea is always now. Even if the venture doesn’t turn out how you envisioned, you’ll meet other entrepreneurs, investors and professionals who will remain in your network.
Without chasing his ideas, Daniel would have no reason to meet people who will provide massive value throughout his career. For example, Daniel met TAMID Tank shark Laurent Grill during his own time running Geocasion. Although he and his partner closed that startup, the connection helped Daniel land Grill for the event that experienced so much success.
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
To that, Daniel adds: “Have a reason to create those dots in the first place, and you’ll be surprised to see the odd and miraculous way they connect when you look back.”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Here’s What Jeff Bezos Prefers To Work-Life Balance And Why You Should Live By It
Work-life balance naively suggests working and non-working hours should be evenly apportioned.
Amazon is known for building a culture that values hard work. So much so that the organisation has received criticism from current and former employees for having to work on Thanksgiving, or even when ill.
When asked about Amazon’s work-life balance, Jeff Bezos remarked that he ascribed to the phrase “work-life harmony” instead.
Here’s how hard-charging businesspeople can maintain energy at home and at work without burning out by finding work-life harmony in place of work-life balance.
Measure work and home focus as a matter of energy instead of time
It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the energy you bring to both parts of your life. If you enjoy working long hours, and that helps you to feel present while at home, then by all means continue.
This is a fundamental principle in Bezos’s theory of dividing one’s time between work and life. Because Bezos loves what he does, he finds energy from accomplishing his work in a manner that works well with his notoriously high standards.
As many can attest, our emotions bleed into all areas of our life. When you can gain energy from doing good work, it can help to propel you to be more successful in your life outside of work. Conversely, when things aren’t right at home, it can be difficult to find the energy to do your best work in the office. A central precept of work-life harmony is living such that both the professional and personal aspects of our life energise us to be our best at home and in the office.
This does not necessarily mean that we should spend our time in a balanced way, as the phrase “work-life balance” implies. Rather, we should spend our time in such a way that we are our best selves. In so doing, we will be better people on the whole.
Build a flexible work-life schedule
Just as different people will amass different levels of energy from work and life outside of work, different people will find they are most productive at different times of the day. The 9-5 work culture that has existed for decades is really shifting now. Most modern offices allow some form of flexible work, which means you have the ability to set your own hours to some degree.
Experiment with working at different times of the day to find the schedule the helps you to be most productive. In so doing, you’ll have more time to do your best work, and more energy to spend with loved ones as a result of increased productivity.
Know when to say “no”
We tend to think that taking on as many projects as possible is a sign of a good professional. But being busy is not the same as making an impact. To do your best work, you’ll need to prioritise projects that you know you can add value to.
Spinning your wheels is demoralising. Look for projects in which you can easily enter a “flow state” where hours melt away. This is the environment in which you are doing your best work, and are happy to be doing the work itself. It is in moments of flow that we often feel most productive, and even fulfilled. Therefore, it is after moments of flow that we tend to feel guilt-free about enjoying quality time with loved ones while unplugging from work.
If you’re approaching a time-consuming work project, communicate that to the important people in your life. Otherwise, they may think you are avoiding them due to a more insidious reason.
Providing those you love with a glimpse into your professional commitments can also help them to help you. If a good friend knows it will be difficult for you to communicate for a few weeks, they will know to pause conversations so as not to burden you with having to reply to texts or emails.
Similarly, a partner who knows that you are responsible for delivering an important project may be able to rearrange their schedule in order to better support you in the short term.
Conversely, if family commitments will prevent you from working at full capacity for a certain period of time, set the right expectations with colleagues. A good workplace is one that is flexible to the realities of employees’ personal lives. Managers who care about the well-being of their people are usually willing to help employees take care of personal commitments.
Adapting to a changing work life
Work no longer happens between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday to Friday. Work happens Saturday mornings, and late Friday nights. It happens on vacation, and during graduations. The idea of work-life balance suggests that there should be an even split between working and non-working hours.
In reality, those who have undertaken ambitious careers should aim for work-life harmony, a lifestyle in which both aspects of life give you the energy to be your best self as frequently as possible.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Give Your Business The Best Chance Of Success
For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.
In my capacity as a business owner and venture capitalist, one of the questions I get asked most often by entrepreneurs is, “how do I ensure my business succeeds?” While there’s no straightforward answer, there are important elements that I believe every entrepreneur must consider to ensure the greatest probability of success.
Firstly, no business will succeed if it doesn’t solve a unique pain point or problem for modern consumers or businesses. However, even if a business is able to carve out that niche, there’s no guarantee that growth will follow. For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.
North Star metric
This principle of having a clear business vision guides all my decisions. Whenever I need to validate a choice or a change in strategic direction, or if I’m trying to determine what to focus on, I always refer back to my vision. If the two are incongruent, then I know I need to change tack.
Elon Musk is a great example of a successful entrepreneur who is guided by his grand vision. Everything he does, from Tesla to SpaceX, pertains to sustainability, both for the planet and the human race. It might be hard to make the connection when you consider his various businesses out of context, but everything he creates fits into a broader ecosystem that in some way moves the needle towards his ultimate objective. Developing Tesla cars that run on renewable energy is but a small, short-term plan that feeds into his grand vision, yet it’s also been the catalyst for the evolution of the motoring industry.
Related: The Popimedia (Mega) Success Story
Be clear, concise
In the same way, every decision an entrepreneur makes should in some way take them a step closer to realising their vision. In this regard, it is also vital that your vision is crystal clear – a murky or undefined vision will divert you off your path to success.
That’s because you’ll tend to focus on the wrong things, especially when scaling rapidly, or when running bigger organisations, because there are many tasks to complete every day. A lack of clarity also leads to poor decision-making, or, worse, decision paralysis, and that’s business suicide – I’d rather make a bad decision than no decision at all, because it prompts action. However, with a clear vision, more often than not, those decisions will be correct.
Defining your vision
So, how do you know if your vision is clear and, more importantly, relevant and consequential? The way I stress test my vision is to evaluate it every day against the decisions I take, and the direction of the business. This daily process helps to sharpen my decisions over time.
The other step is to remain open-minded enough to accept and acknowledge criticism, and take on board advice from trusted confidants and impartial experts. This is important, because you need to craft your vision based on as much information as possible, including valid criticism.
Ultimately, though, your vision for the business should align with your purpose. Forget about money and turnover as points of departure when defining your vision. These are merely metrics that can determine the strength and effectiveness of your business strategy.
For each of my several business interests, be it VC funding or ad-tech innovation, I have different visions. Each are meaningful to me, but in every instance, I don’t wake up every day with the sole ambition of making money.
While I need to make money to grow these businesses, or build something new, having purpose and vision are the ways I pull through those inevitable challenging situations. Having your vision front of mind in everything you do helps you make better decisions, and makes the hardships easier to endure. It helps you see through the turmoil, because you know where the process will lead, and you always know where the ultimate objective lies.
Jimmy Choo’s Co-Founder Explains Why There Are No Small Jobs
Tamara Mellon shares the strategy that has helped her find new opportunities throughout her career.
The co-founder of Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon, believes that you can find inspiration and opportunity anywhere. All it takes is determination to keep going and a keen eye for observation.
Mellon began her career in the early 1990s working as an accessories editor for British Vogue. Always on the hunt for up-and-coming designers, she came across Jimmy Choo, a cobbler working in London’s East End.
She would commission him to create shoes for fashion shoots. They were so well received by readers that the pair realised they could expand beyond one-of-kind pieces for the pages of the magazine.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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