Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Scaling Your Passion

I was really inspired by reading Inc. Magazine’s article about Evernote, their company of the year. The most memorable part of the article to me is that the founder made fun of the alleged comment Sean from Napster made to Zuck about “a million dollars isn’t cool… a billion dollars is…”   But the Evernote founder says, a “billion dollars isn’t cool… a billion people is cool!”

I love the passion that is driving that company. It talks to Simon Sinek’s work on helping companies inspire people and understand their “WHY” in everything they do.

In my life, I want only work with entrepreneurs who are truly passionate about what they are doing for society. I don’t mean passionate as in high energy, but I mean a fire within that you can see when you talk to them about what they do. These are the entrepreneurs who need help connecting the dots, and with just a little bit of outside help and advice, they can accelerate fast! That’s where I want to be.

To scale your passion, there are some key tips:

  • Create a sales team that can be your gasoline and your engine… and use them to get the meetings, the big demos, but stay with them as the executive sponsor on their meetings. Use their drive to create fair pricing, negotiate smartly, and bring in the business… but allow them to leverage the founders’ passion to close the deal.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your excitement to prospects and clients. Keep them engaged and excited – they signed with you because of you and if you fade out of the picture after they become clients, their excitement for your company will fade with it.
  • Find ways to scale this passion-sharing. Use webinars, in-person events, conferences, user group meetings, even conference calls to communicate with your clients as the executive/founder/passion-leader of the company. Maintaining individual relationships with each client will be impossible, but using the right tools for mass communication, you can do it.

What else? Do you think passions are easily scalable?

One Foot in Front of the Other


When I set a goal to run my first 10k last summer, it was the first time I had ever started a regular training plan for running. I didn’t think it was possible for my legs to move me in a distance longer than 2.2 miles.

Turns out, I was wrong. All those around me were right!  I used Hal Higdon’s training plan, which made it a breeze and a blast.

Looking back, the training was easy – the mileage was easy to accomplish, the schedule was easy to follow and there was no reason to consider that it couldn’t be done. Yet even as I stared running, I was still intimidated by the unknown. This was new to me and I didn’t know if my body could translate the numbers on the page into a physical accomplishment… but there was one comment by Hal that was more inspiring than anything else in his schedule… after all the tips and pointers, he said at one point, “Ok, now just go run. Put one foot in front of the other. It’s simple.”

There are so many areas in life where we sit around thinking, planning, considering, researching… when what we really should be doing is just going to put one foot in front of the other.  It’s simple.   You may not end up where you think you are going to go, you may be walking right into a wall… or even more scary, right off a cliff…. but if you don’t at least try, you will never know, and life isn’t about research or wishing things could happen… life is about movement, change, and new experiences.   Unless you are happy with everything about your life right now, go find your training program. Find a run – and then do the most simple part, one foot in front of the other.

What else inspires you to put one foot in front of the other?

Success by Association


One of the things my parents used to teach me is the concept of “guilt by association” … I remember them telling me that if I went with my friends and they robbed a bank, I would go to jail right along with them.

Since I’ve been paying more attention to the associations I join and the company I keep, I’ve also noticed a phenomenon in my own life I’ll call “success by association”  … or sometimes I think of it as “intensity by association.”  I don’t know about you, but when I’m around those really successful, really intense entrepreneurs and leaders, I can’t help but wanting to be a little like them.  I find that their tips on running their lives, their companies, their homes are always packed full of nuggets.


One successful entrepreneur I know told me once when I was complaining about being too busy to do new things that “Time is not a limiting factor. WE are a limiting factor. You are a limiting factor! There is always time for what you want to find time for.”  What I learned from that quote is that not having enough time will never be a valid excuse for anyone to not start a company, have quality time with their family, or do anything else. You have to control your time.

Here are some of the tips I give to college kids I mentor to help them associate up:

  • Try and notice when you enjoy being around folks who make you feel successful, just because you’ve done more than they have – go find the people who make you feel lazy because they’ve already run 20 miles before your alarm goes off at 7:00am!
  • When hiring your team, keep this in mind: you want everyone on your team to be smarter, quicker, leaner, and meaner than even you are… this will drive you to be more like them… as long as you have the self-confidence to embrace this.
  • Find the formal associations (like Rotary, Young Entrepreneurs Council, Chambers of Commerce, Entrepreneurs Organization) where successful leaders spend their time. Be there with them. If they are there, it’s a sign that you should be there too.
  • Help out those who you admire, for no reason but to help them. Offer to help with their companies, make introductions to them, introduce them to sales opportunities, offer to assist with their favorite charities.


What else can you do to associate up?”

Plans for the Blog


Thanks again for taking a look at my newest venture: this blog. It seems appropriate to let you know my plans for it so we can be on the same page with your expectations.  I intend to use this as a tool to motivate and communicate tips, ideas, and actionable inspiration for entrepreneurs and just overall energetic people.

I hope to post 3-4 times per week, and so far already have the first couple of weeks lined up and scheduled to go, so things are looking good so far.

I also plan to regularly update my FUEL section of the site. This is a static’ish area of the site where I will only add books, music, blogs and more that I have found helpful and think you will find helpful as well.

So here’s what I recommend:

  • First, subscribe.
  • Second, spend some time enjoying some of the Fuel.
  • Third, comment and contribute!

That is all. See you soon.





Law of Conservation of Entrepreneurial Energy

Back in school, those “laws of conservation of whatever” always made sense to me. I could get that mass, energy, and whatever else could “neither be created or destroyed.”     In my entrepreneurial journeys, I’m starting to realize the same is true about energy needed for every venture. Whether it is running a startup, a $50mm company, a church, or even a class of kindergartners–  energy is the most precious resource to thriving in the role.  Positive energy is good… bad energy can be destructive, unless harnessed the right way.

Everyone tells aspiring entrepreneurs that they will always underestimate how much capital they will need to get their company off the ground.  That’s true usually– but even more common is that they underestimate the energy they will need to get off the ground.  Energy can generate creative solutions when capital has run out. Energy can be used to inspire a team, to infect a prospect with excitement about your company to close more deals. Energy can be used to improve quality and find developers that will code until 3am for you.   Capital is nice, but without authentic personal inspiration, your chances of success in any venture are reduced.

I’m excited about this blog as a vehicle for me to explore ways to generate energy, conserve energy, and make the most of the good things that come from it.

I don’t now (and won’t ever!) claim to be eloquent, profound, funny, or  academic. I do however know that when I am inspired, excited, healthy, and happy, I have energy. And when I have energy, I feel like there are very few things I cannot do.  I hope to share some of this with you. I hope you will find energy.

Now let’s give this thing a whirl…