Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Curiosity’s Motivating Spark

 

Curious Boys

Entrepreneur or not, embracing curiosity in your life can have a powerful impact.  Some folks are born naturally curious and remain intensely curious their entire life.   Others of us (myself included) need to learn and practice the art of constant curiosity and do well to surround ourselves with motivators to stay curious.

This idea hit me over the weekend. Sitting with my two boys in church at Peachtree Road UMC on Sunday, I noticed them making notes, drawings, and soaking in the architecture of the sanctuary.  Huh? Odd behavior for a 6 and 9 year old. Sitting still and calm isn’t normal.

At first, I started to be inspired by whatever deep spiritual movements inside them caused this wide-eyed curiosity… but then I realized it.

Boys are only motivated by one thing at a time.   The one thing consumes them.  It lasts for months or years and nothing else enters their field of view during this time of focus. Each one has grown up shifting from phase to phase.  Motorcycles, trucks, trains, boats.   Then things like dragons, pirates, Star Wars, Legos, Star Wars, Pokemon, more Star Wars, more pirates, SnapCircuits, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson…. and of course, the obsession of obsessions that is current:  MINECRAFT!

For those unfamiliar, Minecraft is like virtual Legos.  Our boys use the iMac and the iPads.   You enter virtual [pixelated] worlds, sometimes alone, sometimes together, and build things. Our kids have done some impressive construction in their Minecraft worlds.

What was happening in church this weekend?  They were making mental notes about the church sanctuary architecture so they could recreate it in Minecraft.   First gut reaction of a tired dad: “Oh, brother! Give it a rest!”

But then the “Big Picture Parenting” mindset prevailed (thanks to Tommy Newberry for that) and I realized the value of this curiosity.   Who cares why they are so curious… they are soaking it in!   They were so focused, that after the service, we sat on a side bench and they talked and stared for another 15 minutes after everyone else was long gone.   I even took time to snap the photo above to capture the moment. This was nothing but goodness.

The parallel adulthood lesson is a no brainer.

Entrepreneurs are just like those boys.   Intensely focused. The company. We sleep, dream, breathe it.   And because of it, we are curious. We are hunting for problems, curious about solutions, experimental with technology and value  propositions.  It’s how we move forward.  It’s the reason we have to remain curious.

For me personally, exploring the vast possibilities in startups is a motivator to stay curious and learn about industries, companies, and processes that I would otherwise have little interest in.       Being curious is good no matter what your motivator.

Blue Sky Thinking – Ideas are Everywhere

Since my wife’s trip to Necker Island where she was able to get to know Sir Richard Branson, we’ve been brining a lot of his ideas into our family, especially for our young boys.  The favorite is Sir Richard’s way of thinking: “find the impossible and make it possible.”    We try to regularly ask the kids: What is something impossible that you could make possible? It’s a fun family topic.  

Now our dinner table conversation consists of inventions and ideas such as:

  • A pillow that can record dreams
  • A net on a stick that goes beside the boat and catches fish automatically so you don’t have to use any line
  • A remote control fish with video camera that eats other fish and you play it like a video game for fishing
  • A beacon that goes underwater and can tell you what all the fish are thinking

Yes, we started the exercise at the beach over the holidays so the theme for fish/boat related ideas is heavy. Regardless, the more often we have the conversation, the more it becomes a way of thinking wherever we are. 

I enjoy blue sky sessions within startup world as well. Imagine the things you could do if you had no limits. What would you build? How would the world work?    Take some time and make a list of blue sky ideas.

You never know when you might stumble upon the path to making one of them happen.

Hard as Hell – Every Day

Hey entrepreneurs out there, ever notice how hard it is to build a company?  Yeah, it’s hard as hell.  This week I mentioned to one of my close entrepreneur friends how “It doesn’t matter how smart you think you are, how much money you have, or how many connections you have. It’s still hard as hell, every single day.”

He sent me back this note that I wanted to share. 

Johnson, 

You already know it’s hard. For true entrepreneurs, this is what every day looks like:

1. Work every day like you just lost your biggest client.

2. Work with integrity to your team, clients, and family.

3. Come in early and stay late.

4. Do your best every day. When you leave the office ask yourself: did I do my best today? If no… turn your ass around and go back.

5. Be hungry

6. Collaborate always and let others take credit. It’s not all yours.

7. Put a picture of your inspirational successful investors (for us, this is Tom Noonan) on your desk in an Uncle Sam hat pointing at you and look at it all the time. 

8. Constantly simplify the mission into bitesize chunks to keep yourself from being overwhelmed and to stay on task. 

9. Use your vision board. Think in detail about your successful future as if it is inevitable and operate as such. 

10. No matter what, keep your confidence. That’s the most important tool in your belt. If you lose that, everything will fall apart. 

NOW UNLEASH THE FURY.

-Sam

Ordinary People Have No Imagination

Let’s start this post by defining who is included in the categorization of “ordinary people.”

If you are an entrepreneur, ordinary people includes: everybody.  

Yes, even other entrepreneurs.

In your universe, in your corner of industry, with your product, your market opportunity, and your vision— you have superpowers. You have the vision and you are the expert.  Everybody else is ordinary compared to you when it comes to your vision.

So here’s what you need to learn quickly about these other people… the ordinaries:   They have inferior imaginations compared to you.   I continue relearning this lesson daily.  

You spend your days telling people what you’re building, how you’re building it and why you’re building it. You draw it on whiteboards and bar napkins. You use multiple metaphors. You mix the metaphors. You layer the metaphors. You even tell personal stories to build up the vision. But still, people never imagine the vision as clear as it is in your head. 

That is, until you show them something.  Give them something to play with.  Or walk them through a demo of something in action.  Even if it is mocked up screen shots or a clickable prototype.   This is the only true way to describe a product to someone and make it “click.”    This is why we work so hard to win “Demos” with customers. We don’t win slide presentations or meetings, we win the opportunity to show off a product or results.

This week, I learned this truth yet again.   With Voxa Alerts invites going out  and users getting their hands on it, I see the lightbulbs going off.   I’m getting notes with compliments and praises about how brilliant our idea is.   Of course, I want to respond and say “Yeah duh. I’ve been telling you this idea for 6 months now.”  But instead, I’m getting more value out of the “Cool. Now that you’ve seen it, what else do you think it could do?”

And that’s how you help ordinary people work through their lack of imagination. 

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Bet on Technical Insights

how-google-worksI’m reading and enjoying How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg right now.  I’m only a third in, but can say that I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long time. Highly recommended for anyone building a tech company… of any size or stage.

One of the early concepts discussed is how critical it is for a tech startup to be focused on adding value to the world with genuine technical insights

With all the talk about sales and marketing in Atlanta startup world, it is an important reminder that you must somewhere in your product have a true technical insight that has a spark of magic.  Here are some of my favorite ideas from the book:

Bet on technical insights, not market research.

In Google’s case, the products that succeeded were based on a technical insight (serving more relevant ads, searching faster, filtering images with difficult-to-do algorithms) where the products that failed “lacked that fundamental technical insight that would shift the cost-performance curve nonincrementally and provide significant differentiation. (iGoogle, Desktop, Knol, Notebook, and even the popular Reader).

We are in a period of combinatorial innovation.

There is so much opportunity right now to combine platforms, data, technologies to solve big problems or reimagine solutions to the current ways of doing things.  (Personally, I call this entrepreneurial alchemy…mixing all kinds of crazy stuff together trying to make gold.)

Don’t look for faster horses.

From the book: “When you base you product strategy on technical insights, you avoid me-too products that simply deliver what customers are asking for.”    For those who read Steve Jobs bio, you know that he was a master of knowing what the user wanted … before the user did.  The book continues: “That sort of incremental innovation can work very well for incumbents who are concerned with maintaining the status quo and quibbling over percentage points of market share. But if you are starting a new venture or trying to transform an existing enterprise, it’s not enough.

In short, if you’re in a crowded market, don’t try to find your way out just with your messaging, marketing, and sales strategy. Spend time in your product, with your engineers. Look for deep technical innovations.

When you do start to uncover these insights, the entrepreneur/CEO’s job is to package them up and figure out how to get that product in the hands of as many people as possible.   Granted, selling is just as important!! Looking for technical insights in your product… is a good reminder about what has to be at the core of what you’re all about. 

More to come from this book as I work my way through it.  Entrepreneurs won’t be disappointed in the read.

Predicting Your Crazy: Profile Your Team. DISC Profiles are Mandatory for Startup CEOs

 

“God is great. Beer is good, and people are crazy.” – Billy Currington

This is one of the best country song lyrics of all time.
As it turns out though, that people are crazy in entirely predictable ways.

A Pretty Typical Entrepreneur's DISC Profile

A Pretty Typical Entrepreneur’s DISC Profile

Early as an entrepreneur, I had a lot of exposure to personality profile systems and tools, but I never dove in.   I had an exec on my team who convinced me not to use them because he “can make the test say whatever he wants me to think is his personality style.”    That was pretty logical so I caved and we never implemented it. The part I missed is that if you want to skew the test, then the team learns about your results is helpful too! (Faked results can be even more helpful depending on some of the controls in the profiling system you use.)

My personal favorite profiles are DISC and HBDI. I’ve found DISC the most helpful in day-to-day thinking.   My own DISC profile is above, which anyone who knows me, won’t be surprised to see. I am a high “D” and high “I.” Until the last couple of years, I was a higher “I,” but lately my “D” has been coming up, so watch out, because I’m now pegged at 99, the highest possible score. :)   Also notice that extremely low “S” … meaning my preferences toward stability are pretty darn low. I love change, obviously.

DISC is helpful as an entrepreneur because you learn how people are wired to communicate. This isn’t pigeonholing anyone and you don’t make any important decisions based solely on a personality profile.  However, with a good DISC profile for your team, you will learn generally how each team member…

  • … prefers to communicate with you.
  • … prefers to communicate with each other.
  • … handles conflict.
  • … manages stress.
  • … likes to work (heads down vs. collaborative).
  • … learns the best (reading, writing, doing, talking, etc.).
  • … is best motivated.
  • … will behave in social settings.
  • … makes decisions and evaluates options.
  • … evaluates risk in their own life.

So many problems can be avoided and strengths can be leveraged when you have a solid understanding of personality profiles and each team member.

If this is new to you, here is a quick DISC 101:

  • High D’s. Decisive.  Think Donald Trump.      Characteristics:   Forceful, dariing, determined, competitive, driving.
  • High I’s. Interactive. Think Jim Carrey.  Characteristics: Persuasive, inspiring, enthusiastic, sociable.
  • High S’s. Stabilizing. Think Mother Teresa or Mr. Rogers.   Characteristics: Predictable, passive, complacent, stable.
  • High C’s. Cautious.  Think Joe Friday (“Just the Facts, Ma’am”).   Characteristics:  Perfectionist, systematic, careful, analytical.

As a CEO, I want my team to know my profile as well.  It helps them be prepared for my strong opinions and high-energy communication styles.

For core startup teams, it is imperative to have some of each style on your team. It is healthy and gives your team a higher likelihood of surviving the long haul when scaling changes the dynamics of growing your company.

  • D’s – generally the D’s will be the CEO and occasionally will be in a sales role. Make decisions quickly and act with “no fear” in more settings than the other profiles.
  • I’s – lots of I’s go into sales, but also do great in marketing. Great story tellers, actors, and persuaders.
  • S’s – this is your GM or COO. The checklist oriented glue that keeps the rest of the knuckleheads together. The chief rhythm officer to keep the cadence. The guy or gal who takes the plan seriously and has to be convinced if the CEO get’s a crazy idea to go “off plan.” (Ahem, ahem, which is hourly on most teams.)  My saying is this: “To an S, EVERYTHING is a big deal!”
  • C’s – You want the C’s managing the books and writing the code!  These are two things that need to be done with a perfectionist at the helm.
DISC Profiles on every desk in Dave Ramsey's building.

DISC Profiles on every desk in Dave Ramsey’s building.

Last fall I toured Dave Ramsey’s building in Nashville with my EO Forum. They have 300+ employees in the building and run an impressive operation. I was blown away to see that each team member (executive to admin) posts their DISC profile on their door or their desk as a reminder to anyone communicating with them “here is how I like to communicate.”  See pic here.  It was awesome to see that the HR folks were all high S’s and C’s while sales and marketing were the D’s and I’s.

Once you learn the DISC profiles, you will find that this knowledge finds it’s way into your day multiple times, every single day.   You will learn how to plan your communication strategies better and people all of a sudden start to make a whole lot more sense.

 

Resource Note: The free DISC Profile available on Tony Robbins site is, hands down the best free tool out there.

Bonus note:  If you lead a sales team, I highly recommend finding a trainer such as Jim Ryerson with Sales Octane to come in and help your front-line reps learn how to use DISC to communicate with their prospects and customers.   Communicating with the right style to the right person at the right time is a skill that can be learned and DISC provides the fundamentals of what they need to know.

Are You Having Fun?

 

Last week I was talking to one of our Voxa team members about how we’re doing as a team.   We now have 7 full-time and with some extra hands helping out part time, it’s a very early-stage team of 9 high-energy Voxans.  It was a good dialog around finding the best role for everyone on the team and how and where each person adds value specifically. He wanted to be sure he was performing up to par.  Knowing how you’re doing can be tricky when the roles are so early and not yet clearly defined.  Of course I assured him that he’s doing a fantastic job and then it occurred to me to ask him a very important question:

“Are you having fun?”

At the time, that question even caught me a little off guard. In all my years leading small teams, I have asked many questions. Questions like:

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how are you feeling this week about the company?
  • Are you satisfied with your job here?
  • Would you recommend to your best friend get a job here?

But for some reason, I have never thought to ask “Are you having fun?”

I’m not sure why I’ve never asked that question. Perhaps because work isn’t about having fun, it’s about making money, getting s**t done, making a mark. But isn’t doing something meaningful supposed to be fun? Isn’t pushing yourself to be better and to make a mark supposed to be FUN? If it’s not fun, then isn’t there something else you can be doing?

This question has been hanging in my mind since last week and I will continue to think about it. Even when it’s hard as hell, when we lose deals, when people quit, when competitors win… looking back, it should still be fun… I think. Don’t you?

Our parents never came home from work and answered the “How was your day at the office” question with “It was FUN!”   And looking at my own routine, I probably don’t say that enough either.  But as I sit here writing in the clear-thought and positivity of the morning with an objective outlook on the day, I’m wondering if I should start focusing more on the fact that what I do is a ton of fun.   What if my kids can grow up hearing me say repeatedly that when I was away from them, I was having fun.

Why not? What’s the downside?   If you look at the construction of success, I hardly think you would find that fun is a detractor.  Winning customers is fun. A productive team is fun. A hard day of meetings is even fun.    The challenge of a hard competitive battle over a big deal is fun… even when you lose (sometimes).

This is an energy boosting topic for me and I hope it will be for you as well. Ask your team if they are having fun and try to evaluate your day and verbalize to others that you’re having fun.   Who knows— maybe if you say it often enough, the next hard day that comes along won’t feel quite as hard and you might even squeeze out a grin.

 

Inside the Mind of B2C VCs – What B2B Startups can Learn from B2C Investors

 

b2b_b2cThere is an interesting dialog in Atlanta right now around the lack of B2C startups and successful tech companies. My only comment on the dialog itself is that I wish it could stay positive and not come across so negative from a few folks. It’s really great topic with powerful ideas around how to make change.

In parallel to those Atlanta conversations, as follow-up to the Bay Area trip with Kasim Reed, I’ve had the opportunity to chat at length with VCs who do very well investing in consumer startups. Also, I’ve learned a great deal by helping our Atlanta Ventures Accelerator company, YikYak negotiate investments from B2C focused VC’s from Silicon Valley.  I’ve learned that the way the B2C crowd thinks about growing startups is completely foreign to me, and learning how they think has opened my eyes to some valuable points for my own B2B startup, Voxa, and can help others as well.

It’s easy to sit atop the imagined ivory tour of Enterprise SaaS startups that can generate substantial revenue very early and proclaim that businesses without revenue models don’t make any logical sense and aren’t sustainable… but… B2C startups benefit from a clear, undeniable, singular focus that often times it is hard for B2B folks to achieve. B2C startups must be 10000% completely focused on building the best product, period.

Build the best product, or die.

One of the investors in SnapChat, Facebook, and Twitter told me that they tell their portfolio entrepreneurs over and over to stop thinking about monetization. They tell them that monetization will be figured out in 3-5 years at the earliest. Instead, focus on the user experience. Focus on building a product that has tremendous value. Live inside the head of your users. Be a user!  Use the app yourself constantly. Always be thinking what you can do to make it more useful for yourself.  It’s very simple what to do.

In the B2B world (and I can already see this happening in Voxa), it can be easy to get distracted with the other challenges of building a sales oriented business.   You have to put a ton of effort and energy into your customer acquisition machine. If you do this before the product is fully ready, you will have issues.   If you have success with your sales efforts, but have a product that hasn’t been fully proven to add sustainable value, you can be falling into traps you set for yourself. While it’s important to find the balance between sales and product, remember that when you put your “product hat” on to think like a B2C startup.

Think about what features and improvements make the product the best to *use*. 

In any startup, you will always be prioritizing your product roadmap. As you get users, you will add more desired features. Some of these features make the product easier to use, while others may be growth hack features. Features that are intended to make the product more far reaching perhaps shouldn’t be prioritized over features that make the product 10x more valuable to the current user base.

It’s all a balancing act. Everything is a compromise.  Remember to give both sides of the equation intense and intentional attention.

I look forward to learning more from B2C startups as Michael Tavani becomes successful in bringing a boat load of energy towards more B2C in Atlanta. Way to go Michael!

 

 

Making the Upside Down Org Chart Your Reality

 

Upside Down Org ChartWhen I was an undergrad at Georgia Tech, I had the opportunity to hear the legendary Jack Welch give a talk.  There are some talks like this one where a few bullet points stand out and stick with you. One that stuck with me was about the mentality headquarters.

Jack told his people: “If you are in GE headquarters, then you are here to support everyone else on the front lines.  You should receive more phone calls than you initiate. You shouldn’t be creating work for the front lines, you should be making their jobs easier.”

Other organizations call it an Upside Down Org chart.   Put the customer at the very top, then you have sales and front-line representatives, followed by team managers, and then at the very bottom, you have the executive team. Right there at the foundation, supporting the rest of the team.

In a growing startup, the CEO has to think about the shape of this chart every day. I’ve written before about the jobs of a startup CEO.   A CEO’s main duty on a daily basis is to support the team.  When you’ve handled job #1, and made sure that the company has the financial resources to pay the right people for the right roles, then it’s time to support them.  Here are some tactical ways that I am trying to be better at supporting Team Voxa.

1. Have more unscheduled time than scheduled time.  My friend Dan Kurzius over at Mailchimp taught me this. His calendar remains largely open so that he is there to bounce around and help team members all day.  This is the one I struggle with the most and have written about it before.

2. Don’t take on tasks for yourself.   Also something I’ve written about, but still it’s hard.  When you love creating, it’s so easy to say “I’ll handle that one.”  I’ll write that marketing copy, spec that product, make that proposal, etc… but what I’m finding is that for each task I put on my plate I am hurting the company more than I’m helping the company.

3. Prioritize your team over others.    CEOs have a ton of inbound pings and requests for attention. Vendors, investors, other entrepreneurs, other commitments. It’s important to be intentional about showing the team that they come first, that they are your first priority. It will sting to turn down some of those distractions, but being there for the team is important.

4. Avoid the urge to be the one creating all the processes.   There are a ton of processes to be created in a startup. From sales processes to onboarding, to engineering/spring planning, dev ops, daily stand ups, employee onboarding… In my experience, while helping the team understand that intentional, well-designed processes for every single thing we do are extremely important, it’s not necessary that the CEO actually create them. Just that the CEO help reinforce their importance.

5. Let go. Allow failure.   If you want your team to become resilient, antifragile, and committed. It’s important that you allow them to find their own way. Let experiments happen. Let them lose deals.  By letting go, you create an entrepreneurial culture where everyone has true ownership of their role on the team.  It’s hard to watch, when it’s so easy to jump in and handle it yourself. But jumping in does nothing for helping the team member grow.

6. Understand the personality/DISC profiles of your team.   Put this in the category of “Things I wish I knew 15 years ago.”    You can learn so much about people when you have a firm grasp on DISC and the primary personality types. This will help you predict with great precision when someone is going to handle a task/project well, how it’s going to go for them, and how you can help.   We have leaned on DISC and HBDI for the teams at the Atlanta Tech Village and Team Voxa and I can honestly say I don’t know how I ever built teams without these tools before. If you aren’t doing DISC, here is the best one I’ve ever seen, and it’s free.

7. Have a core team.  As a CEO, you need an inner circle. Whether you call it  a Management Team, or Executive Team, Partners, Founders, whatever… it doesn’t matter. You need a core circle, even from the very beginning where you have added meeting cadences to be together, to evaluate your progress, to ask hard questions, to consider dramatic changes, and to keep the oxygen of ideas flowing into the company.    Be sure that each major functional area of the company is represented in your core circle — Sales, Product, Marketing, and Customer Support.

An upside down org chart is more than a cute talking point for culture. It is a leadership mindset.

Day 1 in the smallest of startups isn’t too early to start building these habits that will make your team and your company more successful… and tons more enjoyable for everyone, by the way.

 

Hire Competitors – Four Reasons Why

 

Hiring RunnersSince the launch of Voxa, we have been in heavy recruiting mode. It has been a ton of fun and we’ve met many fantastic people.   I can now say with certainty that the Village as a recruiting tool is more real than I expected. People really want to work in the high energy atmosphere that is the Atlanta Tech Village.

Given this great environment for us as a company, with lots of great people to choose from for each area of the business, we have the luxury of choosing the best of the best.

One trait that I believe comes with the best recruits for any startup is their proven competitiveness.   Runners, athletes, even fine arts: startups should look for competitors.

Of our first two full-time sales hires for Voxa: one has a couple of state championships in a very competitive sport under his belt, and one is an aspiring Olympic athlete… yes, THOSE Olympics!

I’ve heard other entrepreneurs who say they will give strong preference to athletes or runners for certain positions – mainly sales – and I think it’s a great idea.

Here are the top benefits and reasons why demonstrated competitiveness in a sport is a huge plus for candidates.

Discipline. This is the biggest reason.   To get to the top of a sport is never a quick hit. It’s months and years of training. It’s a commitment to the training… to the process of getting better.  Competitors understand that consistent energy applied towards a direction will eventually move the needle in big ways. Competitors are willing to make this investment.

Reward. Competitors understand that what happens after this disciplined training is completed is a reward. Focus on the prize. Focus on the W or the PR, or whatever it is… there’s something at the end of the process and it’s worth busting your ass for.

Focus.  There are lots of high energy people who don’t have the focused energy necessary to move the needle. Competitors know that all energy must be applied in a single sport, single muscle, single skill.   Hard core weight-lifting improves a marathon runners time as much as learning to write code helps a sales person close more deals.

Mentally and Physically Healthy.  My personal favorite reason — competitors generally remain healthy in body and mind. They continue to run, swim, workout and this makes them a delight to be around during the day. They don’t have wild unfocused energy. They are positive and upbeat. They stay on schedule and on task, aren’t relying on caffeine or alcohol to function throughout the week and can kick ass in their natural state.

This is why I prefer to hire competitors. If there are any EEOC complaints from this post, I’ll take the heat.

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Quick, important last comment: ALL of the above can be applied to anyone who has served in any branch of the military.   Give me a Veteran of the US Armed Forces all day long!  Those people know what it takes to literally go to war, and that’s the kind of person I want to be beside.

 

 

Register for the Race

 

I have enjoyed thinking about health and exercise from the perspective of establishing a system, thanks to Melonakos’s blog about the subject.   As I hear people talk about getting healthy in the New Year, I encourage them to do the same thing that worked for me to finally get my lazy butt in gear.   Pick a race 3-6 months out, register for it, and bite the bullet to get training.   Looking this far out makes any goal less intimidating.

It just so happens that exactly 11 weeks from right now is the Publix Full & Half Marathon in Atlanta. Guess what, if you can run/walk 3 miles, then you have time to train to complete 13.1. I brushed it off for years as well, and last year I finally did my first half. It was incredibly rewarding. So I will be chugging through 13.1 in Atlanta on March 23.

Here is what you need to know. A novice training plan, courtesy of HalHigdon.com is pasted below, along with the dates you need to track for this race.  Look, I’ve done all the work for you.

Register for the race RIGHT NOW.  Use this code courtesy of ITL Coaching to get $10 off.  LGITLPGM14 ($10 off) — Check out what ITL Coaching is doing to help runners set small goals to meet big ones!

Feel free to register along with team Atlanta Tech Village. (I don’t really know what this means, but it’s cool to say you’re with a team.)

Now get on it.   Don’t just start running without a goal and an end point. If you don’t register for this one, register for something.

WEEK MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
1
Dec 30
Rest 3 m run 3 m run 3 m run Rest 4 m run cross
2
Jan 6
Rest 3 m run 3 m pace 3 m run Rest 5 m run cross
3
Jan 13
Rest 3 m run 4 m run 3 m run Rest 6 m run cross
4
Jan 20
Rest 3 m run 4 m pace 3 m run Rest 7 m run cross
5
Jan 27
Rest 3 m run 4 m run 3 m run Rest 8 m run cross
6
Feb 3
Rest 3 m run 4 m pace 3 m run Rest 5-K Race cross
7
Feb 10
Rest 3 m run 5 m run 3 m run Rest 9 m run cross
8
Feb 17
Rest 3 m run 5 m pace 3 m run Rest 10 m run cross
9
Feb 24
Rest 3 m run 5 m run 3 m run Rest 10-K Race cross
10
Mar 3
Rest 3 m run 5 m pace 3 m run Rest 11 m run cross
11
Mar 10
Rest 3 m run 5 m run 3 m run Rest 12 m run cross
12
Mar 17
Rest 3 m run 2 m pace 2 m run Rest Rest Half Marathon

 

3 Jobs I Wish I Did in High School

 

Private JetLooking back at my high school and college days, I can’t help but wonder if there are things I could have done to accelerated the learning that happened in my 20’s.   I notice that some kids coming out of college are super impressive and “get it” and others are more in line with expectations.

Thinking about my own kids, I focus on what can I encourage them to do that could trigger the acceleration of some worldly wisdom. The obvious answer is entrepreneurship. I try hard to teach them that they don’t have to work for someone else to make money… that to make money, you just have to decide that you want money. Then figure out how to get it.

But there is still so much value in working for other people, especially when you’re young.   Here are some jobs that I think if I had had them on the list, they would have been valuable for me.

A Gopher / Personal Assistant to someone successful.  I’ve know several entrepreneurs who point to a single person they worked for in this capacity.  Someone who takes you under their wing and treats you with tons of respect and helps you because they see that you work hard for them.

Intern at a Wealth Management Office. If only I had learned 15 years earlier the value of a connected and powerful network for my own trajectory. It’s hard to find a better place to build this network than the place where they go to manage their money.

General Aviation / Private Jet ramper. So maybe there is one other place where you could build this network… at the airport, helping the movers and shakers fuel their jets, warm their coffee, ice their in-flight champagne.

Lots of people will point out the golf course as another place where young people can build this network. I actually did work at a golf course in high school, and I agree.  The trick is getting in the right job where you can build a network.  Caddies are fantastic.   Cart guys like myself usually have such a minimal interaction with the golfers that it’s hard to build any meaningful relationships.

The bottom line is the importance of learning the value of a personal network. I didn’t appreciate it soon enough and how incredible life can be if you know the right people in the right places with the right kind of relationships.