Father’s Day

June 19th, 2011

I guess I should have made my post that I published earlier today about my Father since it is Father’s Day. Although, as I thought about my father, I think they my previous post about all the amazing things I’m doing really just might be the best Father’s Day present I could offer my father.

You have to understand that my day has the entrepreneurial bone in his body. Well, maybe not the bone, but he has it in his head. The desire to be an entrepreneur has always been my father’s dream and it’s always alluded him. He’s tried over and over and never really succeeded at it.

I still remember as a young child sitting around listening to my dad talk about this business or that business. Inevitably he would use a line that went something like this, “If I only have XXXX customers paying $X.XX a month, then I’ll be set.” It didn’t matter if it was Amway, Investing, Life Insurance, or some other company that my dad tried to do. I was always there to sit there and listen.

I think even as a young child I would challenge my dad on his assumptions. I really wanted to learn how it was going to work, what the commission structure was, and how he was going to grow the business. Obviously, I’d inherited that same entrepreneurial bone. I’d ask him hard questions like “How are you going to get XXXX customers.” And the always popular, “What if you only get X customers?”

I certainly was a precocious young kid wasn’t I? I guess I still am. Just ask any entrepreneur that I’ve talked to. I never enjoy people that say “That sounds good.” or “I really like that idea” when I ask them for some feedback on something I’m doing. I prefer someone who’s going to ask me the hard questions and help me to be able to answer them.

So while my Father’s unfortunately never reached his dream of entrepreneurial nirvana, I hope my Father’s proud of all the entrepreneurial success I’ve had. The reality is that without my father I wouldn’t be nearly the entrepreneur that I am today. Not only did I get his genetic traits, but I also learned incredibly valuable lessons from his experiences that made me who I am today.

Thanks Dad!

Life is Good – Busy, but Good

June 19th, 2011

The last month or so I’ve been extraordinarily busy. Actually, much busier than I like. However, I love all the projects that I’m working on and so I keep driving them all forward. Here’s a quick summary of what I have going on (in no particular order).

I’ve helped organize Startup Weekend Las Vegas (happens this weekend…Woot!). I’m happy to say that Startup Weekend Las Vegas has sold out. I can’t wait for this weekend.

Along with Startup Weekend, I’ve grown this new passion for trying to do some small part in helping to grow the number of internet startup companies and internet startup entrepreneurs in Las Vegas. I even launched with the help of a number of other people a new blog called Las Vegas Startups. However, the most rewarding part of it all has been the number of interesting Las Vegas internet entrepreneurs that I’ve met since doing these things. It’s a great feeling to be connected to so many interesting and amazing people. I can feel that it’s laying the ground work for something special in Las Vegas.

Many of you probably don’t know of my love for Ultimate Frisbee. Well, it’s real and fantastic. I always say my addiction to ultimate frisbee is my key to staying skinny (or at least relatively skinny). Lately, I’ve been helping to keep the Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee community organized. It’s a completely selfish desire since it’s hard to play ultimate frisbee without other players. I even organized a Las Vegas summer ultimate frisbee league which starts on Monday. We exceeded our registration goal and so life is good.

On the blog side of things, I’ve grown the Healthcare Scene blog network to 14 EMR and Health IT related blogs and still growing. Almost every site in the network is growing and improving in all the important metrics. I think we’re up to 9 people blogging across the network. I certainly couldn’t do it without all their help. July 1st, I’m changing the way I handle ads on the various websites. Let’s hope that the change goes well. Each day I’m in awe at the power of blogging and the influence blogs can have.

The Pure TV Network is doing really well. Pure DWTS, Pure SYTYCD and Pure America’s Got Talent are all killing it with amazing readership (and amazing writers that help me) and we even launched Pure X Factor. I’m lucky to work with the dozen or so writers that participate on those sites. After reading this post, I think they’ll realize why I haven’t had as much time to post myself.

I also just got put in as Scoutmaster. I’d been an Assistant Scoutmaster for the past couple years, so it hasn’t been all that much different. Just getting to know some new leaders and help them understand how scouting works. I love the impact a Scoutmaster can have on these fine Young Men. I can’t wait until July when I’m going up to a high adventure camp for a week. Certainly there’s some level of service required to be a Scoutmaster, but honestly I’ll probably have as much fun at this camp as the boys. Although, don’t tell my wife I said that. That’s the only bad part about scouting, being away from my wife and kids.

On that note, I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my kids lately. Mostly because my wife took off for a week to go on a Sister’s trip. It’s been pretty exciting watching the kids for a week. We’ve had some good time to bond. I’m sure I couldn’t do it all the time like my wife does, but I’m glad I had time to enjoy my children. I’m even happier my wife got a break and some time away from the children. Needless to say, I’ll be very happy to have my wife back.

There’s my update. As you can see, I have one or two things going on right now. Not that any of you really care, but I started writing and just couldn’t stop. There’s something therapeutic about getting it out in the open.

One Trick I Use to Remember to Be Thankful

June 18th, 2011

I’m not going to go into a long rant about why it’s so important and valuable to show gratitude and be thankful in this life. Suffice it to say that I’m a big believer in the idea of gratitude and being grateful for the things, people and even the challenges that life brings. It not only enriches your life to be thankful, but it also enriches the life of those around you.

I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I generally appreciate the life I have and have many things to be grateful for even if sometimes I forget.

I think it was about 6 years ago when I moved to Las Vegas that I started doing something that helps me to remember to be thankful. It’s a small, subtle thing, but pretty much every email I’m provided a reminder to be thankful.

The trick happens with the signature that I include in my emails. Thankfully, a while back Gmail figured out how to do email signatures properly (on a per email address basis) and so I’ve really leveraged the benefit of their email signature. Not only does it put some nice links to my various websites and phone number (when desired), but the signature helps me to know that I’m sending the email from the right account. I use Gmail’s awesome feature which lets me send as if from dozens of domains all from one email account.

When using the signature feature though, I deliberately set it up to not put “Thanks,” before my signature. Sure, I could include it in the signature and save me a few seconds by not having to type it. However, that’s why I actually leave it off. I want to take a few seconds every email to think about being thankful. In fact, every once in a while, I consider whether I should include thanks in an email or not. However, dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of times each day I take a few seconds to write “Thanks,” in my emails.

Sure, sometimes even typing it so often I forget to be really thankful. However, many times a day I do think about being grateful when I type it. It’s certainly a small and subtle thing, but it’s a small thing which I think makes a huge difference.

If you want to be more thankful, try it out and let me know how it goes.

Becoming a Pro Blogger – You Can Do It

May 19th, 2011

I just read this inspiring post over on ProBlogger about one man’s journey to become a professional blogger.

I absolutely loved the story, loved the twist in the middle, and loved the guy’s passion for blogging. If it doesn’t inspire you to blog more, then you should just stop blogging now.

However, I disagree with some of the things he says. Here’s the comment I left on the post with a few additions:

Great story and thanks for sharing. I agree that people can do it. I quit my job about a year ago and I feel like it was the best decision I’ve made in my career. Although, I’m not quite as brave as you are and I’m sure many others aren’t either. I prefer to encourage a slow and steady form of blogging that steadily grows into something powerful and wonderful.

To me, it’s more about the choice each night between watching another TV show or building your blog (although, I have a network of TV blogs, so in that case I needed to do both). That’s the hard choice you have to make day in and day out. The problem for most is that they choose the TV over the blog. It’s their life and their choice, but don’t expect a blog to grow without sacrifices.

Plus, you can’t just work long hours. You have to work smart too. If you do that, as you say, you can make it! I know some incredibly passionate bloggers who spend hours and hours committed to their craft. However, for them it was a craft and not a business. To me, that’s working hard, but not smart. If that’s what makes you happy, by all means do it. However, if you want to be a professional blogger, I think you have to treat it like a business. My blogs are as much entrepreneurship as they are journalism.

Also, thankfully my slow and steady approach to blogging has made it so I haven’t even had the cry in the pillow days either.

Startup Weekend Comes to Las Vegas

April 29th, 2011

I’m really excited to tell you about Startup Weekend finally coming to Las Vegas. I’ve wanted to participate in Startup Weekend for quite a while. In fact, I was friends with one of the first people involved in Startup Weekend and I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit envious of him being part of it. Well, now it’s coming to Las Vegas.

If you don’t know what Startup Weekend is, it’s an intense 54 hour weekend of working on some cool project. You start with an idea and finish with a launched product. The basis for a potential business. Plus, we’ve already landed Zappos as a Startup Weekend Las Vegas sponsor and Kevin Rose (of Digg fame) as a judge. Plus, more announcements on the way.

Registration for Startup Weekend Las Vegas is open and only $75 for the Early Bird registration through May 25, 2011. It’s going to be a fun weekend, so go register now.

Ok, if you’re still not convinced, here’s the rest of the details about how the event works and a great video which captures the essence of Startup Weekend quite well.

| About SW |
Startup Weekend is a 501(c)3 non-profit that brings together the entrepreneurial, web development and design communities for one weekend with one goal: Going from idea to launch! Here’s a quick video of the recent events in Philly: watch. I believe it captures the essence of the Startup Weekend, a launchpad that we’re truly excited to bring to Vegas!

The weekend is easily broken down into PitchBuildPresentFriday is pitch night when anyone with an idea gets one minute to pitch to the crowd. The crowd votes on the top 8-10 ideas and we start to form teams and build. We build all day Saturday until around 4:00 on Sunday (with some awesome meals mixed in). Finally, Sunday is launch day where teams will have the opportunity to present their ideas to investors, industry leaders. A few awesome ideas and their entrepreneurs have even gone on to receive funding.

| Judges | Sunday (6/26) – 5 PM – 8:30 PM
There are so many ideas that come out of Startup Weekends. Some of them are wacky and a lot set out to rule the world. Judges are encouraged to give valuable advice/feedback in addition to just asking questions. We have a list of 5 basic criteria for the winners circle:
1. Execution (what teams have actually accomplished over the weekend; i.e. deliverable)
2. Presentation (self-explanatory)
3. Viability (financially speaking)
4. Innovation (is the concept unique? disruptive?)
5. Breakthrough Potential (maybe it’s popular among first adopters, but can it be scaled to a larger market?)

| Speakers |
Friday (6/24) 7PM – 7:45PM
We’re going to have two speakers and a local startup do a demo before we begin pitching. Speakers will have 10 minutes of full on attention to speak on topics like: bootstrapping vs. raising funds, the local investment ecosystem and team dynamics and the importance of picking the right people and communicating effectively. The audience will then have 5 minutes of Q&A. Slides are ok but not required.

| Mentors |
Generally speaking, mentors spend about two hours on Saturday and/or Sunday meeting with teams or individuals. We plan on having some awesome ideas launched in Vegas, so we understand if you want to stay longer.

Saturday – 10AM to 6 PM and/or
Sunday – 10AM to 5PM

| Help Spread the word |
– Checkout startupweekend.org and lasvegas.startupweekend.org
– Follow us: @SWVegas
– Send anyone you feel would be interested in attending, sponsoring or judging our way at:lasvegas@startupweekend.org.

6:00pm – Registration starts (pizza served)
7:00pm – Kickoff & Speakers
7:30pm – Pitches Begin – (60 seconds per person)
9:00pm – Attendees vote for the top ideas
9:15pm – Teams start forming and discussing ideas
10:00pm – 1:00am – Teams begin to work

[Recharge on Fremont E]

9:00am – Doors open. Breakfast & coffee
9:30am – Teams continue working. Mentors arrive and begin working with teams.
12:00pm – Lunch
6:30pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
12:00 midnight – Finished for the day. Stay and work as late as the venue will allow.

[Recharge on Fremont E]

9:00am – Doors open. Breakfast & coffee
11:00pm – Lunch
12:30pm – Mentors arrive…
3:00pm – Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
4:00pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Judging & awards
8:30pm – Wrap-up
9:00pm – Wrap Party

Slow and Steady vs Boom and Bust Entrepeneurship

April 22nd, 2011

Seems like Friday’s are when I get my biggest inspiration for posting on this site. I guess that Friday evening is the time that I don’t want to do other work and so I take a little bit of time to think and meditate on things. I think that actually works out quite well.

Tonight I’m thinking about how so many people out there can’t see the long term vision of slow and steady growth. Instead they want to go all out and either crash and burn or hit it big. I’m not saying that the second option is not a good option. In fact, there are hundreds and thousands of amazing businesses that have been built by that approach. I just don’t think I have the stomach for that approach.

Many people might immediately react that well then I must not be an entrepreneur. How could someone as risk averse as I really be an entrepreneur? Let alone an entrepreneur that is going to be successful. They likely then continue to say that my competitors are going to eat me alive. They’ll likely suggest that you have to go fast to stay ahead of the competition. Then, they start to equate “fast” to working long hours at the office, not having a life making the startup company your life, and all the other highly fantasized parts of building a startup company.

Luckily, I’m not alone in this belief. It just seems that very few people are willing to talk about it in public. The notion that you have to give your life to a company to be successful in business, while glamorous in a story about a company, also misses out on some of the best parts of life. I think that the guys behind 37 Signals cover this quite well in their book Rework. It’s quite possibly the best $13 gift my wife’s given me. Not only is it a quick read, but it covers the type of entrepreneurship that I enjoy doing. It exposes all the myths that exist and gives people like me freedom to believe in another path to fulfill my entrepreneurial itch.

That path to me is paved in the principle of slow and steady persistence. It’s lined with working smarter, not harder. It’s foundation requires the passion of the entrepreneur.

I won’t cover all the reasons why I think passion is essential, but imagine it this way. The frenetic boom or bust method of entrepreneurship doesn’t require the same level of passion. You’re moving so quickly that you have no choice. There’s always a zillion things to do and you never know which way is up. It’s fun, exciting and you’re hitting all sorts of interesting milestones all the time. They may not have been effective or efficient, but they were exciting and it’s easy to be passionate about exciting things.

Instead, the slow and steady method of entrepreneurship requires passion to keep going even when the progress you’re making is hard to quantify and hard to see. It requires a certain amount of faith and determination that as long as you persistently do a little bit more each day that the persistent hammering away will be rewarded in the long term. That doesn’t sound fun to most people. That’s why passion matters. When you’re working on something you’re really passionate about, you don’t need the outside acknowledgement that what you’re doing is cool. You’re doing it because you love it and you’d likely do it even if there wasn’t the gold at the end of the rainbow.

In fact, your passion for what you’re doing is so great, that it’s hard for you to even classify it as work because you enjoy doing it so much.

Compare that principle with the warp speed entrepreneurship that takes a big round of investment and wants to grow the company quickly to reach the day of harvest when they sell the company to someone else. I’m not saying this approach is bad or evil. It’s not.

It’s just unfortunate that this boom or bust mentality in entrepreneurship actually discourages so many would be entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams. Persistent passion can often take you a lot farther than money. However, it takes remembering the long term perspective of the business. Many people might not enjoy the long slow ride that takes you to amazing heights. Although, I think many more would if we helped them understand principles of slow and steady entrepreneurship.

Silicon Las Vegas

March 11th, 2011

I had this little link stored away in my draft posts. It’s an article about a man named Michael Tchong who sees Las Vegas as a future Silicon Valley. The article is a nice read and does a good job talking about the challenges of internet startups in Las Vegas. However, I agree that there’s some real potential here in Las Vegas for entrepreneurship and specifically internet startups.

I did a little more digging and found Michael Tchong’s website called ubercool (nice name). He also has a twitter account by the same name and it even lists Las Vegas, NV as it’s location. So, I guess he does live in Las Vegas according to Twitter. Although, if you look at his speaking schedule on his website, it looks like he travels a whole lot. He does seem to have a pretty interesting background and so I hope that one day I get to meet him.

It’s fun to think about Silicon Las Vegas. There are some tremendous upsides to living in Las Vegas versus Silicon Valley. Not the least of which is the now very inexpensive housing. Of course, there are some challenges as well. This quote from the article linked at the top is one of the largest ones:

Information technology and Web publishing employees comprise less than 1 percent of our workforce, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, meaning Las Vegas isn’t exactly a tech hotbed.

Of course, the fact that UNLV categorizes them as information technology and web publishing (who uses that term?) should say something about the area as well. There’s so little activity they don’t even know how to categorize it.

However, the article is right that Las Vegas could use a few more Zappos like companies to make their home here. While the jobs from those companies would be good. There’s even a greater value of having technology companies like Google and Yahoo located in a city, because many of their employees will end up quiting and starting their own companies. Or they will leave the large tech companies and provide the future work force for the smaller internet startups.

If I were in Las Vegas politics, I’d be working to bring some of those large tech companies to Las Vegas. It would be worth the cost.

A Different Kind of Entrepeneurship

March 9th, 2011

I know that there are lots of arguments all over the internet about whether entrepreneurs are born or made and of course the right answer is it’s somewhere in the middle. Some people’s nature would never make it as an entrepreneur and some people’s environment makes it impossible for them to be entrepreneurs.

However, I’m a strong believer that you get what you want. If your heart is set on being an entrepreneur then you’ll more than likely end up with that result. It’s hard to stop a person’s strong desire and passion.

I think one of the biggest problem we have is what we define as an entrepeneur. Don’t get me wrong. I think there is a very big difference between small business and entrepreneurship. For example, a mechanic runs a small business. Unless they have a dozen repair shops. Then, they become entrepeneurs.

However, I think we also love to glorify the entrepreneurs who get hundreds of thousand or millions in funding which they burn through like a women burns through cash in a shoe store.

My favorite is when groups define entrepreneurship by revenue. So what if you have $500k in revenue if you have $1 million in expenses. I’d rather have the entrepreneur with $300k in revenue and $200k in profit. It is certainly a different approach to entrepreneurship, but just as valid as the former in many cases.

The key for me is that an entrepreneur sees a way to make 10 times the amount they were making with the same amount of effort.

Plus, the reality when your an entrepreneur in a place like Las Vegas is you have to be smarter with your money since the investment dollars don’t flow the same way in Las Vegas (at least for internet startups in Vegas). I think this is a really healthy thing and it is why I’m glad to be a different kind of entrepreneur in Las Vegas.

Journalist versus Blogger

March 4th, 2011

A week or two ago, I attended a really big conference in Orlando for one of the niches I blog about. When I say really big I mean 31,000 attendees and 1000 exhibitors. It’s pretty outrageous.

Although, I say it’s like being a kid in a candy store. As a blogger, I need content and advertisers. Each of the exhibitors at the event were potentially both: content and advertisers. Of course, it was my job to get the great content from these people and to also show them the advertising possibilities. With 1000 advertisers, I had to be pretty selective, but either way it was a lot of fun. Tiring, but fun.

A few interesting things happened in this process. First, is that I spent a decent amount of time in the press room for the conference. It’s a nice relatively quiet place to sit down, use the internet, charge my devices, and grab something to eat (except the day they ran out of food). The other fun part about the press room is that you get the chance to meet a bunch of other press people at the conference. I definitely met some really nice and interesting people.

Although, I overheard a conversation in the press room that really made me think. One of the journalists was talking to another journalist about a story they were working on. They talked about how they hadn’t seen much about a certain topic at the conference.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking that’s not that earth shattering. It’s not. However, it did cause me to stop and think through the process that these journalists go through to write a story. They have a specific topic in mind and they go out and find the information related to that topic.

In fact, I saw a story just like this come out of the conference. It was about all the walking you did at a conference of this size and the challenge of standing in a booth all day. The story was actually pretty good and made me laugh. Although, you could just imagine this journalist going from booth to booth asking exhibitors about their feet and how they were feeling. You could imagine they had this story in mind as they searched out people’s experience with it.

The funny thing is that I really rarely have a story in my head as I go into a meeting with someone or when I attend the conference. Certainly I will have prepared to know the person and/or company that I’m learning about. I’ll have considered questions I want to ask them that might bring out some interesting information, but I have no agenda going in. Well, the only agenda I have is to pull out something interesting from what they said that will be of value to my readers.

As one vendor said, you go in trying to find out what the story really is and don’t go in trying to find info that backs the story you want to write.

Quite honestly, as a blogger, the story basically writes itself. Maybe the difference between me as a blogger and a journalist is that I want to be a thought leader. I don’t want to just tell a story or report on something that happened. I want to provide value above and beyond telling a great story or reporting news.

One of the exhibitors that I talked to asked me what my editorial calendar looked like. I must admit that I was a little stumped on how to respond to him. I was partially familiar with the idea of an editorial calendar and I could see how it could be beneficial for advertisers to know that you were going to be writing about a specific topic in a specific time frame.

I still haven’t quite reconciled those two things. I guess I mostly reconcile it now by creating blogs that target a specific niche. Rarely do I stray from that niche. So, when someone wants to know what I’m going to write about on my blog, they can be sure it’s going to be information about that specific niche.

My response to that exhibitor (and hopefully future advertiser) wasn’t very good. I think I replied that I have 300+ draft blog posts topic that I can choose from. So, I look through those to decide what topic I might post about next. Plus, as I read and learn about the industry I create new draft blog posts which basically contain ideas or links to things that I could write about.

Most of my blogs aren’t about breaking news. They’re not about reporting events. Those are time sensitive and require a ton of commitment and connections to do really well. Instead, by focusing my blogs on being a thought leader and open forum for other people to share their thoughts, I’m able to create content that isn’t very time sensitive. In fact, I might write a week’s worth of posts and then go on vacation for a week. I come back to a zillion comments that I missed and need to look at, but at least I have that freedom.

There you go. There’s my take on the difference between a blogger and a journalist. What’s your experience?

Power of the Droid

February 19th, 2011

I’m currently traveling to q conference right now. As I go from airport to airport, I usually bust out the laptop to check my email, maybe write a blog post, etc.

This is the first time I’ve traveled since getting my Droid and there’s honestly no reason for me to get out my laptop. I will when I get to my hotel, but I have a feeling that I’ll be constantly opting for the phone over pulling out the laptop.

The only thing that might deter it is a bad connection. Although, with wifi my phone will haave as good a connection as my laptop would.

We’ve always known that one day our cell phones would be our computers. I just didn’t realize how close we already were.

Side Note: Of course, I even opted to write this blog post on my Droid as well.