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.
Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business
Throughout the year, the Virgin co-founder shared what he thinks are the essential elements to success.
If there’s one thing Richard Branson knows, it’s how to run a successful business.
Throughout last year, the Virgin founder shared what he thinks are the keys ingredients to building a successful company with each letter of the alphabet, which he slowly revealed through the 365 days.
From A for attitude to N for naivety to Z for ZZZ, check out Branson’s ABCs of success.
How Reflexively Apologising For Everything All The Time Undermines Your Career
How can you inspire confidence if you are constantly saying you’re sorry for doing your job?
I’m one of those weird people who gets excited about performance reviews. I like getting feedback and understanding how I can improve. A few years ago, I sat down for my first annual review as the director of communications for the Florida secretary of state, under the governor of Florida.
I had a great relationship with my chief of staff, but I had taken on a major challenge when I accepted the job a year prior. I didn’t really know what to expect.
Youth takes charge
I was 25 at the time, and everyone on my team was in their thirties and forties. I came from Washington, D.C., and was an outsider to my southern colleagues. I was asking a lot from people who had been used to very different expectations from their supervisor.
I sat down with my chief of staff who gave me some feedback about the challenges I had tackled.
She then paused and said to me, very directly,”But you have to stop apologising. You must stop saying sorry for doing your job.”
I didn’t know what to say. My reflex was to reply sheepishly, “Umm, I’m sorry?” But instead I immediately decided to be more cognisant of how often I said I was sorry. Years later, her words have stuck with me. I have what some may consider the classic female disease of apologising. When the New York Times addressed it, five of my friends and past coworkers sent it to me.
In it, writer Sloane Crosley got to the heart of the issue:
“To me, they sound like tiny acts of revolt, expressions of frustration or anger at having to ask for what should be automatic. They are employed when a situation is so clearly not our fault that we think the apology will serve as a prompt for the person who should be apologising.”
Topic of debate
I’ve talked at length with other women trying to figure out this fine balance. The Washington Post, Time, and Cosmopolitan have all tackled this topic. Some say it’s OK to apologise; others criticise those who are criticising women who apologise. Clearly, I’m not alone in dealing with this issue. In fact, I’m constantly telling the people I manage that by apologising they give up a lot of their power.
Here’s the bottom line: Don’t apologise for doing your job.
If you’re following up with a coworker about something they said they’d get to you earlier, don’t say, “Sorry to bug you!” If you want to share your thoughts in a meeting, don’t start off by saying, “Sorry, I just want to add…” If you’re doing your job, you have absolutely nothing to apologise for.
That’s what I think. And I’m not even sorry about it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
10 Quotes On Following Your Dreams, Having Passion And Showing Hard Work From Tech Guru Michael Dell
If you’re in need of a little motivation, check out these quotes from Dell’s CEO, founder and chairman.
There’s much to learn from one of the computer industry’s longest tenured CEOs and founders, Michael Dell. As an integral part of the computer revolution in the 1980s, Dell launched Dell Computer Corporation from his dorm room at the University of Texas. And it didn’t take Dell long before he’d launched one of the most successful computer companies. Indeed, by 1992 Dell was the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.
Dell’s success had been long foreshadowed. When he was 15, Dell showed great interest in technology, purchasing an early version of an Apple computer, only so he could take it apart and see how it was built. And once he got to college, Dell noticed a gap in the market for computers: There were no companies that were selling directly to consumers. So, he decided to cut out the middleman and began building and selling computers directly to his classmates. Before long, he dropped out of school officially to pursue Dell.
Fast forward to today. Dell is not only a tech genius and businessman, but a bestselling author, investor and philanthropist, with a networth of $24.7 billion. He continues his role as the CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies, making him one of the longest tenured CEOs in the computer industry.
So if you’re in need of some motivation or inspiration, take it from Dell.
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