Find Your Value – It’s There

Everyone has value. Unfortunately, it’s not apparent to most people what their value is. I bring this up because I’m in another transitional phase. It’s part of the startup life.  Whenever this happens, I second-guess myself and slide into a mini-crisis. But fortunately for me, I have a support network that doesn’t let me slide very far.

I had a chat with a friend the other night and he reminded me the value I bring to companies. It’s hard to realize your value when you’re down or when you dismiss your value (more on that). But sometimes you have to step back and re-assess from 10,000 feet (or better yet, have a friend give you an outside analysis). Taking stock in what your value is will help you re-establish your confidence and find the right fit for your skill set.

Far too often we overlook the good and focus on the bad. It happens to everyone. It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have and not on what you do have. I do this all the time. But when you’re feeling down and think you don’t have value, remind yourself what you do have. Everyone has something to offer.

You have value. I’d venture a guess that deep down you know what your value is. But when your skills don’t fit well with a company’s needs, it’s hard not to feel like you don’t have value. Rejection is hard, even for those that have been rejected a million times.

Do you quit dating after one bad date? Does a bad date mean that you’re broken and you have nothing to offer someone in a relationship? No, it just means it wasn’t a fit. Eventually you’ll find your fit and your value will come pouring out.

Keeping a positive attitude can be tough when you’ve been kicked. But the sun is going to come up tomorrow no matter what. Can’t change that. Might as well get up and show the world your value.


Shia LaBeouf’s Motivational Rant

Alright, by now, you’ve probably seen Shia LaBeouf’s motivational rant speech. It’s quickly become a meme and it’s easy to dismiss the video. Shia LaBeouf’s behavior has been erratic and it’s hard for some people to take him seriously. Totally understandable. The fact that the video is of him in front of a green screen is also a little bit weird (I guess it’s an art project?). But take out all of the unusual Shia LaBeouf baggage (like that rat tail) and listen to the message. Just listen.

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I did. Over and over again. Maybe it’s because I’m in a weird point in my life, where I’ve had mild success, but not the success I dream of? Or it could be I’m just a huge Shia LaBeouf fan (sarcasm alert)? Whatever your feelings are for this guy, he seems to have taken his own advice thus far. Read this excerpt from his Vanity Fair profile a few years ago:

LaBeouf’s mother said fine, he could be an actor, but she wasn’t going to “pimp” him. “If she was my manager and my parent, we’d have a weird relationship—half business, half family—and business always takes over every conversation. So she wouldn’t help me with it,” he says. “She wouldn’t even make calls. I was furious, because this was the only thing I wanted to do.”

LaBeouf decided to call agents himself. To get them to take him seriously, he pretended to be a middle-aged talent manager, from England. “I had this fake résumé and all this garbage material,” he recalls. “It was such a ridiculous phone call, and they knew it was a kid. I hadn’t gone through puberty. But they were interested in me because they’d never received a phone call like that.”

A cousin drove him to the offices of the Beverly Hecht Agency, where LaBeouf claims he won over agent Teresa Dahlquist with an X-rated comedy routine. Actually, Dahlquist says, he read a scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “Let me tell you about Shia,” says Dahlquist, who signed him that day and still represents him. “I absolutely adore him, [but he] never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

LaBeouf was ten when he did this. Were you going after what you wanted to at age ten? I sure as hell wasn’t.

Before his 30th birthday, LaBeouf has been the leading man in a billion dollar franchise (Transformers) and lead reboots of old favorites (Indiana Jones, Wall Street). In between he’s been in some underrated movies (Fury, Eagle Eye, Disturbia). My point being, if someone is someone is going to give you really blunt advice about chasing your dreams, Shia LaBeouf isn’t the worst person to listen to.

My goal here isn’t to convert you into a Shia LaBeouf fan. My goal is for you to listen to his words, his message, and take that to heart. When people ask why they haven’t accomplished their dreams yet, many times it’s because they haven’t started.


The American Businessman and Mexican Fisherman

A couple of years ago, I shared this story my Dad sent to me. I was about a year into my first business and I had become a hermit. I cut off ties with many friends, thinking I had to spend every waking moment in front of a computer, somehow building my company or improving my skills. It was a really lonely time and it took me months/years to repair the relationships I had abandoned. My Dad’s story was a good wake up call for me. A reminder of what’s really important.

This story I’m sharing with you today is an answer from Quora. It’s a story about an American businessman and a local Mexican fisherman. I like this story because it makes me think about what I’m actually working for. I’ve been thinking about what I want for a while. It’s not an easy question to answer and this story makes you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, that it only took a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish. The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The American scoffed. “I am a Wharton MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Fifteen or twenty years.”

“But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Everyone Should Read, Write, and Think Alone

“I take a lot of time just to read and think about things by myself.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Maybe because I’m a natural introvert, but I like to sit alone and reflect. I like to step back from everything, slow it down, and think. That’s why I love writing in this blog. It’s a moment in my week that allows/forces me to think clearly.

My life has a million things going on at any moment. I work in tech, which means things are constantly changing. What worked yesterday doesn’t mean it will work today. I’m in a constant state of motion. Sometimes I feel like I’m reacting more than I’m thoughtfully moving forward. I feel like information comes in one ear and out the other.

That’s why when I read this quote by Mark Zuckerberg, it really resonated with me. When asked about his weekly work hours, he stated that he was only in the office for 50-60 hours a week. But he’s constantly thinking about Facebook. More importantly, he states that he takes a lot of time to read and think about things by himself.

I think more people need to do this. Regardless of what your occupation is, you should take time to read, reflect, and write. I love writing because it clarifies your thoughts. You don’t necessarily have to make your thoughts public. I also write in a journal from time to time, where I keep more personal thoughts. But it’s the same exercise as this weekly blog and similar to the annual exercise I do when I reflect on what I want. No matter the medium, I find it very cathartic to just sit back, read, think, and write.

If you’re having trouble getting started, let me pose a question to you. I’m currently reading Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. In it, he states that he often asks interviewees this simple question, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” What’s your answer to this question?

In a future blog post I will answer this question. But if you’re stuck on what to think and write about, start with this question.





TalkAnything Interview with Rachael King


In this episode of TalkAnything, I had the pleasure of speaking with Rachael King. I met Rachael on Twitter years ago. We finally met about a year ago, as she was making the move to Los Angeles.

Her move to Los Angeles coincided with a new position at DogVacay, as its new Head of Communications. Rachael’s journey to DogVacay is a great one. It’s one that any young professionals in any industry can learn from. Rachael started at a job that has nothing to do with her current career. But she turned her hobbies into her career, and hustled to meet the right people. It’s a great lesson on career growth and how to use technology to network.

FYI: I used new microphones for this interview. The way it recorded, my voice is in your left ear and Rachael’s is in your right. My voice isn’t as loud as Rachael’s voice, but that’s ok. You want to hear what she has to say more than me 😉

Lastly, here’s Mr. Buttersworth’s Instagram account.

Does Work/Life Balance Exist?


Is it possible to have it all? Is there such thing as a “work/life balance?” I have chosen to believe that you can have everything and live with balance. I wrote about it earlier this year, it’s clearly something I think about and struggle with mightily.

I’m 31 but I feel old. Which is ridiculous because I’m not. But I see my friends going out all the time, seemingly having so much fun, and I can’t help but wonder…am I wasting my youth?

I had a lot of fun in my early-mid twenties. Up until the age of about 25/26 I went out a lot, drank a lot, cared about little. I knew I had dreams and ambitions, but when you’re getting really drunk on a Wednesday and waking up hungover to get to work on Thursday, how dedicated are you?

I started my first company a few weeks shy of my 27th birthday. Since then, I’ve felt like I’m constantly getting punched in the face. I’m happier about that I’m actually working on my dreams, but I question whether or not I’m happier. I look at Facebook and Instagram and I see my friends having really fun times. They’re traveling, drinking, sun bathing, and whatever else seems like ridiculous amounts of fun. While here I am on my computer, looking on with envy, feeling a bit frustrated, and confused.


But if I look at the flip side, are my friends accomplishing their professional goals? Are they on their way to accomplishing their professional goals? My suspect not. So I’m torn. Is there a way for me to enjoy my youth and focus on my career? Do I even want to be out drinking anymore, like my friends are?

I’m clearly in the midst of a mini life-crisis. I’m dealing with my internal conflict, weighing the juxtaposition between raging the raging twenty-something lifestyle and calmer, mature adult life.  Can I ever balance this?

I don’t have the answer. I struggle with this, just as everyone else. I probably just think about it more than most. The only thing I am going to do is this…continue to have faith. Have faith that my hard work will pay off. Have faith that the life I envision will come true and that these years of struggle will be worth it.

What Do You Want?

what do you want

What do you want? It’s a question that I always ask my friends. “If there were no obstacles, what do you want in life? What’s your wildest dream?” I ask this to help them eliminate doubt and to focus on what they truly want. Then I help them work backwards to figure out a plan to get there.

I believe that self-reflection is an underrated exercise, but one that’s extremely vital to an individual’s self-improvement. The most successful people are constantly reinventing themselves, always aware of who they are and their surroundings. Shortly after I started my first company, I started an annual exercise of asking myself a series of questions about my personal and professional life.

It’s been about five years since I first started this exercise. I have an Evernote document where I write down what I want, both professionally and personally, then I map out my strategy to get there. For the most part, my goals have remained constant. There are minor tweaks based on experience but it has kept me on the path I most desire.

I bring this exercise up for two reasons. One, I’ve been making some decisions based on what I “should” do, not what I wanted to do. These are two different reasons for making a decision and when I choose what I should do, I’m never as happy. Second, a close friend asked me point blank, “What would you change in your life to make it better?”

Being presented this question forced me to say, out loud, what I want in my life. It was weird saying it out loud. But I was very quick to point out two things I’d do to make my current life more enjoyable. Now I’m focusing my energy on how I can improve myself in these two aspects of life. Which makes me feel happier, more focused, and more confident with my decisions.

If you’re interested in this exercise, below is the template of questions I ask myself. The questions are simple, my answers are long and thought out. While it might not pertain to you, the part that I’ve actually found the most interesting is the last section where I ask myself, “Entrepreneurs I Admire.” The job functions of these entrepreneurs has been refined over time. I can clearly see where my journey is taking me and I’m quite happy with the direction.

What Do I Want in Life?



How Do I Get There?



What Do I NOT Want To Be?



What Do I Like to Do?


Who Do I Want to Be Around?


Entrepreneurs I Admire

Why Do I Admire Him/Her?

What Do I Want to Emulate?


TalkAnything – Interview with Joe Cannon

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 11.57.16 PMAlright, the TalkAnything podcast is back. This week I’m talking with my buddy Joe Cannon. Joe is the Director of Marketing at Sports Studio. He probably has one of the coolest jobs you’ve never heard of. He outfits commercials, TV shows, and movies, with any sports apparel you see.

Joe and I have a great discussion about how he got into this line of work and how all the moving pieces go together when you’re dealing with brands, production companies, networks, leagues, etc. I thought our discussion about why you sometimes see official logos and why you sometimes don’t was really interesting. It’s something I’ve always wondered.

Here’s the link to the Jabari Parker/Gatorade commercial mentioned in the interview.

You can find Joe online everywhere with the username “joecannonballs,” like his Instagram account.

The audio is good, but the volumes change between my three transition. Whoops! So just be prepared for that. Otherwise, enjoy!

On Wisconsin! #FinalFour

I’ve got all year to write about growth hacking, mobile payments, and other tech related topics. Today, I’m still basking in the glory of the Wisconsin Badgers’ return to the Final Four.

It’s no secret that I’m a proud alum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I love my alma mater. I love the campus, the school spirit, and our athletic programs. We have a lot to be proud of.

Our athletic department is one of the finest in the country. We do things right. Our football team doesn’t lower admission standards for athletes, yet we still have the second highest revenue of all college programs. In addition to winning on the field, we graduate athletes.

Congratulations to the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team and the rest of Badger Nation. Looking forward to next week and our rematch with the University of Kentucky in the Final Four!