Tuesday, December 8, 2009
For some reason, around this time of the year I'm a curmudgeon (learned that at toastmasters tonight and it basically means a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person).
I don't know what it is. Maybe its the weather or the way I see things this time of year. For some reason, the past few weeks I have been feeling down.
It was not till a few moments ago that it all clicked. I don't know what it was that made me think differently but it may have been the movie I was watching, Gran Torino.
There was a scene in the movie where Clint Eastwood is at a cookout with the neighbors and Sue says, you're happy. What's different? If you have seen the movie you know Clint is quite the Curmudgeon.
Walt, Clint's characters name, responds; Well I'm with beautiful women, the weather is great, we have great food and company. At that moment, I thought to myself Walt had been so unhapppy and grumpy the whole movie when he had a good thing right next door. It was always there but over time, he changed his perspective on his neighbors. From them bringing the ugly side of him from his time in the Korean War to where he gave his life for them at the end.
So I thought to myself. Ok I am feeling down and I don't like feeling this way. I need to change things up because this is being counter productive. I know that I am responsible for my results and my life. It's amazing how you can change things right up. Instead of thinking of the things I don't have, I needed to focus on the things that I do have, which are many.
I don't want to make this blog about the things I don't have, because I will soon and that will be a blog in its own. So with Thanksgiving just passing and my 25th birthday, I have much to give thanks and I would like to dedicate this blog to everything I am thankful for.
With it being my 25th Thanksgiving I can honestly say that I am living the dream. If you know me very well, you know that one of my frequent responses to the most asked question "Whats up" or "whats going on?" I almost always respond "Living the dream"
It wasn't till recently that I really realized that I am living the dream I dreamt of years ago. Let me explain. A little over five years ago, around the time I got cancer and my whole world got flipped upside inside out. I met Diane Carroll, who to this day I credit in part to setting me on the path I am and have been on for the past 5 years. One thing she taught me was that I could achieve anything. In order to do so, you have to plan and set deadlines. Its only a dream if think of it and it becomes a goal once you write it down.
I took a look at my binder from years ago and looked at what goals I had set for myself back then, 5 years ago. Coincidentally, I am on track. Basically what I had written years ago was to graduate in 2006, travel a bit, get 2 to 3 years experience working then either start my own business and work on it full time or goto grad school.
I just got side tracked and visited Linkedin to check on something and I saw this quote on the feed,
Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become. -- James Allen
How appropriate. As one of my fav Aerosmith songs go, Dream On.
Viola, I'm doing just that. Back to wrap up this blog because I have set it out to myself from here on out to blog frequently but to keep it short. I'm also going to test out vlogging and podcasting because quite frankly, I dread having to type even though I do it all day.
I'm thankful for the position I am in.
I have my health.
I have a loving family that consists of my awesome brother, the greatest sista one could ask for in Girlie, Baby K the cutest niece in the known universe and my loving mother who makes me proud every single day. I love you all.
I have a vast network of close friends, friends, acquaintances and ability to interact with people easily. I believe that this contacts of mine truly care for me as a person and want to see me happy and successful.
I have what I always wanted. To work with an entrepreneurial team on a great concept with tons of potential.
I am starting to develop a positive JC Otero brand where I am starting to be known in a good way.
I am doing good for the community by volunteering my time to various causes and organizations just because.
I have a roof over my head and places to go if that ever changes.
I have transportation and the know how to manage if I did not.
I have brains and character with personality.
Most of all, I have the responsibility for my results. Its a scary realization. Scary in a good way because the sky is the limit.
When I remind myself of all the aforementioned, any worries or negative feelings I have will be wiped away. In the grand scheme of things, the only important things that matter are who are in your life and how you make their lives better.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I stand before you at a crossroads in my life. I look to my left and I see one outcome, I look to my right and I have a sense where that route leads and finally I look straight ahead and can only imagine what lays over this big hill ahead of me, the sky is the limit. What has led me to this cross road was that I ventured off this year onto the entrepreneurial journey a little premature and unprepared. I am sure you have heard that quote many times, ready, fire, aim. Well I fired while getting ready, you live and learn right? 7 months have passed since I started focusing on various entrepreneurial projects and I need to get focused on one route. It's now time for me to make a very critical decision, which path to take. Luckily, all roads lead to Rome.
As I stand here at the present cross road, I can not help but think of the last time I stood at a major cross road in my life. It was five years ago this past month that I had to pick a route of many to take that would have led me to extremely different outcomes. There is no way at the the time to tell if I took the right path but I like to think that I did because it has gotten me to where I am today, one step closer to achieving my dream.
My dream all this time has been to successfully live as an entrepreneur by launching successful and profitable ventures that improve how things are done while simultaneously helping others achieve the same. Five years ago, I was in a whirl wind of a state.
In the last week of July 2004, I had a partial thyroidectomy, lost my father to widespread cancer, attended his funeral, and was diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer at the age of 19. To top it all off, I was also hit with the reality of now having to support myself financially through all this. I don't know of very many people that have had to deal with this type of circumstance, but for a 19 year old it was quite a situation to deal with. Luckily, my mind kicked me into survival mode. I had to quickly get a grasp on the situation because school was about to start and I could either go left, right or straight ahead. To my left, would have been the easiest route. If I took that route, I would have taken the advice from many people and would have dropped out of school, quit my job, and would have focused entirely on my illness. To my right would lead to down grading my course load from full time to 12 hrs or less while also cutting my 30+ hr a week part time job to less than 20 to have more energy and less stress on battling my illness. The third and most daunting path laid straight ahead of me, I could change nothing and take on this circumstance full throttle as though this life experience would not deter me from my goals at the time, graduating on time.
I can proudly say today that I chose to carry on, changing nothing and battling on. I freely chose to not change my work schedule, except for treatments and doctor appointments and refused to use an excuse letter for slipping in my classes that I was given to by the university counselor. It was an extremely difficult time, working almost full time while taking a full course load and going through the process of beating cancer.
Looking back on the whole experience, I can confidently say that I am grateful for it all. Having to make the decision at the time of what to do greatly taught me much about myself and my capabilities. Its ironic, but I see that experience as a godsend. I was pushed to the max, physically, mentally, financially and emotionally. I succeeded and became a much greater person from it all. There are many people and lessons that helped me through that storm and I would like to discuss briefly three of them with you all. The three lessons that I learned along the way are the power of the mind, confidence in thyself, and perseverance.
Power of the mind, positive attitude.
Its amazing how the right people come into your life at the right time. There were two very important people in my life during this time. First, was my brother, who never stopped telling me that I was going to get past all this in no time and who was always there for me. The second person was my very first mentor Diane Carroll. Although, I had been learning much of how to be an entrepreneur informally all my life, it was Diane that really formalized it. Deciding to stay in school proved life changing because I also changed my major and took a class where Diane came and spoke early in the first semester that I was going through my cancer experience. One of the very first things she taught me, was that whatever I could think and imagine in my mind I could manifest it to reality if I did the right things. That I was the only obstacle to making my ideas a reality. Hence my entrepreneurial journey began.
I was taught early on that being an entrepreneur was a way of thinking of life rather just owning your own business. Thanks to new ways of thinking, I started thinking big things for my future 5 years ago and set in place steps and goals to achieve them. I was able to keep those visions in my mind as motivation to push forward through everything I was dealing with at the time. It was these ideas of something great in the future that carried me through this life test. 5 years have passed and I have been able to manifest several ideas into great things. My proudest achievements that stemmed from an idea was graduating on time with a double major and magna cum laude honors to backpacking Europe by myself for a month. Most importantly in those five years I had time to dabble in 5 start ups. 3 of which are lingering with potential and two have failed. These start up experiences are mainly what has brought me to this current cross road. I have learned a world of knowledge in the process and this has opened up many doors to great opportunities. Unlike my previous major cross road, I do not have my back against the wall and now have the opportunity to pursue a various promising and exciting paths.
Confidence, belief in thy self
Second lesson learned from the last cross road is confidence and belief in thyself. There were so many times I thought about how easy it would be to temporarily leave school, quit my job and move back home to stabilize. That I almost did it on several occasions. Through the power of positive thinking and my support network, I would always get picked up and pumped up either through friends, mediation, music, or by simply reading successful stories of those who overcame adversity and did something great regardless of their situation. I think that because I constantly thought to myself that I would get through this and fly to great heights. I engrained a strong sense of self confidence that I was able to do it. In particular the book, Think and Grow Rich, and the movie, What the bleep do we know? greatly motivated me and opened me up to new ways of confidently thinking what I could do if I believed in myself.
Finally the third lesson learned, perseverance. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and takes constant treading to get to your destination regardless of the obstacles ahead of you. The road taken was a tough one but a necessary one. Having read many success stories of entrepreneurs, one key characteristic is in all of them. Never giving up. I feel like that whole experience was a test to see if I had in me what it would take to carry out big ideas that would change the world for the better. An interview with Thomas Edison states it best. When asked by a reporter how it felt to fail a 1,000 times in inventing the light bulb? Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. It's that sense of never ever giving up while maintaining confidence in yourself and your idea for something great that will get you to your destination at some point.
Here I stand at a new and exciting cross road with a few different routes to take. Each route has its pros and cons, but the one similarity between them all is that they all lead to great things. One route is getting a dream job with a company I greatly admire doing what I had planned to do before I go to entrepreneurial ventures. Thus putting my entrepreneurial aspirations back indefinitely. Another route is getting a full time gig that is the standard 9 to 5 or similar where I get all the perks while working part time on another venture. Prolonging the process of being a full fledged entrepreneur. Or I can put my game face on and do what ever it takes to continue on the full time entrepreneurial journey. Either way, all three routes lead to a promising future but only time will tell which road I take. To take a line from Robert Frost's "The road not taken" I want to say in five years, that "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
(from June 17th)
First off let me begin with this quote that I received from a friend of mine that was said by Saul Alinsky, “There can be no darker nor more devastating tragedy that the death of a man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.” A crushing defeat can do this.
I begin with this quote because for the past few days I have been psyching myself out of a funk that stems from BIKER FEST 2009, I know that failure is an event and not an individual but boy is that so much easier to say when the waters are smooth. Its much more difficult to believe once you have failed gloriously, lol.
Many people have told me that if I write out my thoughts that I will feel better and I know that to be true to so here goes because I dont really think BIKER FEST 2009 was that big of a failure, we just didnt succeed as much as we hoped in the most important part, getting people through the gates, lol.
The story of BIKER FEST begins sometime in the first week of April where my good friend Nikhil walked in the door to our apartment with the idea of putting on an event June 13 2009, called Biker Fest 2009. No one in the room had ever put on a big event and I was the only one who had ever put on any event of any size but none of this magnitude. The idea was to rent out a 271 foot by 271 foot parking lot in downtown Austin at the intersection of 7th & Trinity, a prime spot we thought.
Luckily, we had a great opportunity to get the entire lot for $2,000. An unheard of asking price for such a prime lot. The idea quickly snowballed into an all day music fest with a Harley Give Away and a full out bar and entertainment for the Fest. Boy can imaginations run wild. Nikhil was able to get a few people on board, 5 total, dubbed the 5 Horsemen. We all pitched in our monetary portions, in which I threw in 10%.
Later on it came to light that the idea of this fest came from Jay, a local bar guy who would be somewhat of our partner for this. Jay had talked about putting on a similar event the year before but never did for whatever reason and couldn't this year because he just had a kid and bought a house yada yada yada too much risk. Jay was to be Biker Fests' bar partner, he would provide the bar, insurance and liquor license. Jay supposedly tried to get the lot the year before for $2k and thats how the idea came to light.
Well now that the 5 horsemen came to ride together for Biker Fest and the real world education began....
We hit the ground running, Nikhil was quick to get it going. Cowboy Harley was a partner that we initially made from the get go. Biker Fest purchased a 2009 Harley Davidson Iron 883 Sportster, a nice bike in my opinion but viewed as a girlie bike by the die hard biker community. This was to be the bike that Biker Fest would give away, it was also the center of the event, a bike give away. At this same time we also got a reality check. The lot that we first thought was $2k actually turned out to be $8k. Due to budgetary constraints, we ended up getting half the lot for twice as much as we planned.
Shortly after that it occurred to Biker Fest to see if we could sell tickets for the Raffle we planned to have to give away the bike. Well after having bought the bike it came to light that a for profit business can not charge people to be a part of a raffle. So that instantly changed our entire economic model of selling tickets to attendees to win the bike. We could no longer sell tickets needed for the raffle, we now had to sell tickets for the event and make the registration open to all.
These were probably two signs that we should have taken notice of and stopped the event but instead we pushed forward. We looked at various advertising options and Biker Fest got a real good deal to advertiser with KLBJ, the largest Rock station in central Texas. A third partnership that we felt would help very much with the success of Biker Fest 2009. So far we had Wave Austin Bar, Cowboy Harley Davidson, and KLBJ. Regardless of these mishaps we thought these partners would help with the event.
Considering that Biker Fest now had half the lot for twice as much, a bike that we had to give a way without people paying for it, and a bar we ran with it. Well with less than 2 months before the event we began to realize how difficult it is getting vendors to sign up for an event in such a short notice. To make a long story short, we were able to get a few, 4 food vendors and 4 business vendors. One week prior to the event one vendor getting 6 spots backed out and two big food vendors backed out with one writing us a hot check that bounced. We ended up having two local bike custom shops, and 2 business vendors selling clothes and jewelry. As you can probably tell, the venue was pretty empty.
Luckily we were able to book all the bands we needed, all local and all rocking. However, the headliner LC Rocks may have been a bit pricey for the event but we learned that thru a bit of negotiation and sales you can get a lower price and we did. We had a 20 foot by 20 foot stage that was about 4 feet off the ground with a tent cover and a cat walk with two side stages for people to dance on. Quite a nice stage set up, it was set to rock. We also were able to get two giant port a cools to go between the stage and the side dancing platforms.
A lot of the momentum really started 3 weeks before the event. This is where we sold pretty much got the vendors we had and the additional partnerships. I will discuss this partners in greater detail because I was more involved with these than the previously mentioned.
The first is that of getting two gentlemens clubs to partner with Biker Fest. The idea was to have them send out girls to the venue all day to help promote the event and get the party started. The exchange was simple, we would include their name in our ad spots, which keep in mind by this time were already on the air and that they would be the exclusive gentlemen's club partner for Biker Fest. Well they jumped on board 2 weeks before the event and we had to replace one of our 60 second spots on KLBJ. Soon after getting them on board, I got on the horn and scheduled us to go into the studio and record a new spot. We recorded a new spot in less than 24 hours and had it at the radio station soon after that and into rotation in less than 72 hours, an amazing feat.
Do your research - parking lot and bike give away, radio advertising and biker demographic
Business take time to respond and plan - many businesses cant decide on short notice to attend an event
I can get things done when I am determined - Expose, Budweiser, generator, bikini bike wash
Stick to what you know - we arent bikers
Reading this puts a smile on my face now and I would just like to add some of the memories I was feeling the day of the event. It was amazing how we were able to pull this together so quickly, yeah we could have done some things differently and probably wait till next year with more planning but phuck it, sometimes you just gotta man up and run with it. So we did, although we lost our shirts on this, it was a great learning experience. We could not have gotten a better education in school, and I know this for a fact.
I was crushed for a good while after this but now that 5 months have passed, I am way past it and onto bigger and better things. I could tell plenty of stories about the experience but right now I would like to keep in memory and maybe repeat it whenever I retell the story to who ever cares to listen. I'll be sure to record it so that I can add it to the blog as a continuation.
Looking back on all this, you live and learn and life goes on. Can't stop won't stop. If you try enough things, something is bound to stick.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I have read quite a few articles about how to monetize it and yada yada yada as to how to use twitter.
I like to keep it in very simple terms, its the same way you interact with people in person but a bit different.
Lets look at some key characteristics of why humans communicate.
Inform - well clearly you can inform someone a lot better via social media, especially twitter, than you can in person. You know those annoying guys who claim to know all the stats and just shoot them off and accept no other reasoning because they are right because of their stats? Well thats a no go in this arena. Statements can easily be backed up with links and immediate responses. Twitter 1 real communication 0
Educate - well this is a tough one, both ways are great ways to educate. One major advantage that comes to mind in comparing the two is that with Twitter you can quickly and easily follow the knowledge trail endlessly through tweets. In person its limited to the person that is educating you and their personal limitations. However, the advantage in real life is that you get immediate unique responses to keep the education going. Personally I am going to have to give this one a tie just because I personally prefer to learn in person but also love how you can endlessly gain knowledge on your own. Twitter 2 Real Communication 1
Relate - this may be the best one of all because you can quickly relate to people all over the world by simply reading their profile and tweet history and see if you connect. In person, it takes a good conversation to see if there is a connection. Depending on what you are looking to accomplish, one may be better than the other. I am going to have to give this one to real communication because of the fact that it takes a lot more skill in relating to someone via real life than twitter which requires no work at all. Twitter 2 Real Communication 2
Connect -Yes connecting is somewhat the same as relating. But check it out, this is where I am coming from. Relating is between two people while connecting is between two or more people. Hands down, this goes to twitter. Because you can connect so many people simultaneously while in person it may take a phone call or personal introduction of sorts that may be slow in getting something going. With the both options having great way to connect people. I think its more valuable for a real world connection but in today's day and age, virtual connections can be just as equally helpful. Hmmmm, tie? Twitter 3 Real Communication 3
Persuade - ah my personal fav, sorry Twitter just doesn't do it for me in persuasion unless I get the info from a friend. But that is more of connecting me to information rather than persuading me to do something. In person, persuasion is a real skill, so many non-verbals and verbals to consider that it just can not transfer onto twitter without really developing your online brand. Twitter 3 Real Communication 4
The point is that yes Twitter and many other social media channels are great and all for connecting with your customer and reaching the masses. But without the human real life component to any strategy, I don't think Twitter by itself is enough.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Most recently he sent out this from a local Austin graduate from St. Edwards who has seen quite a bit of success lately. Go Hilltoppers. (I am class of '06)
“It never ceases to amaze me how the universe will conspire to help people succeed when they pour their hearts into an endeavor”
Pending rest of blog.....
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
sent by @daily_devotions (twitter)
When people feel like they are all alone, they often say that they feel as if they are on an island. The truth maybe that you have simply come to a place in your walk that your companions are unable to ascend to. The reality is that you are not on an island at all, but standing on top of a mountain surrounded by water.
Let me explain. Life is lived on levels. Everyone will not be able to obtain certain levels in life because they lack the ability to handle what awaits them at the next level, or they may simply refuse to make the necessary changes to go to the next level.
For those that God has called to do a special work in life, isolation and loneliness are inevitable. You must realize that you cannot take everyone with you. They cannot handle the altitude that you are being called to. You will begin to notice, as you continue to ascend in the will of God, that the number of people who have the ability to share your perspective of life are few and far between.
Therefore, your feeling of separation and isolation are not indications that something is wrong. It simply means that you have risen above the sea of mediocrity and ascended to a place that few others are able to witness.
Your perspective is everything. Change your perspective of your situation and don't allow the enemy to cause you to despise what God is doing in your life. You are not stranded on an island, but standing on the top of a mountain!
I dont know if this was sent in response to my recent blog post as to why I should help lead the social innovation incubator but if it wasn't then what a coincidence. I have never looked at isolation like that before. Great way of looking at things. Thanks.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
You’ll want to be able to build this case for your support and grant sources:
- why you (as recipient of their support)
- why now (at this point in your career)
- why this specifically (vs some other type of project, business)
Why me? (longest part of the response, lol)
Most people that I tell about my involvement in the development of the Austin Social Innovation Incubator are quick to respond, “Wow you are so lucky!!” in which I instantly let out a little chuckle. Only if they knew my journey to get to the point where I am today.
To me, Luck is preparation meeting opportunity and I have been preparing my whole life. For the sake of time, I will begin my case as to why I am destined to lead the Social Innovation Incubator.
The business bio in relation to the Social Innovation Incubator begins in the last week of July 2004. That week my world was thrown into a whirlwind. In one week, I had a partial thyroidectomy to remove a suspicious mass on my thyroid, lost my father figure to wide spread cancer, attended his funeral and I myself was diagnosed with cancer to top it off to end the week. Keep in mind all this happened right before my junior year was to begin. I was taking a full course load to finish on time in graduating with a double major in business administration and management while working 30 plus hours at GSD&M in the mail room.
Looking back on my time with GSD&M, I am extremely grateful to have worked there. I learned from the best about the value of relationships and the relationship of value. I learned first hand, behind the scenes, the true power of living with a purpose and meaning. Being exposed to the GSD&M story, I knew that being an entrepreneur was for me and I did everything I could learn from them. I read the books all the executives were reading, all the magazines related to business and news that I could get my hands on, and I checked out a countless number of books from their Library and spoke to everyone I could that had been a part of the ride in GSD&M's history. Couple that real world experience with my formal business education at St. Edward's, made for a great opportunity to see business in practice and in theory.
Luckily for me at this same time, I met Diane Carroll. She was a godsend, she taught me the way of the bootstrapping entrepreneur and everything I would need to strengthen my mind and heart for the journey I was barely embarking on back then. One of my main goals that I set for myself was; after I had started enough businesses and after making a name for myself that I would create an investment venture similar to VC's and incubators that would fund and develop businesses that were set to change the world for the better. I am a firm believer of the law of attraction and feel that I found the social innovation incubator and the idea of this entity found me for a reason, destiny.
This time in my life made for the perfect mixture of teachings I would need to learn and excel at for when the day would come that I would need to answer my call. That time is now.
It was not easy that first year, battling cancer while going to school and working full time. It was not any easier having to rely on myself financially throughout all this. Looking back on it all, I am grateful to have been given that experience because I can confidently say that it has prepared me up to this very day when I can lead the Austin Social Innovation Incubator.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I have convinced myself that because I had to deal with such a difficult time that I am destined for great things.
I learned all the characteristics of a leader and entrepreneur during this time. I learned how to be self reliant while reaching out to others in order to reach common objectives. I learned how to be resilient, whatever life threw my way I quickly adapted and got better. I learned the amazing power of positive thinking. When counselors and family told me that I couldn't deal with what I had been dealt, I told myself that I could and I envisioned success. My resourcefulness at the time was unmatched, a key trait in this Incubator venture and any bootstrapping venture. Finally, my personality came to maturity. My biggest strength is my ability to relate to people and quickly talk like old friends. In these difficult economic and global times, we need a leader that encompasses all these strengths and much more, I am that leader.
For starters, in my opinion one of the biggest social challenges facing the United States today is an expensive and declining quality in education. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced both public and private schools in my educational journey. There is an obvious gap in degrees of quality education between the two and I believe that I can help narrow that gap through the ASII. I know there are many entrepreneurial solutions out there to help improve our education both domestically and globally. Having participated in Citizen Schools professional after school program where I taught 6th graders financial literacy, I have seen the astounding effect a change to how children are taught can have. Finally, at a very early age, while in the 1st grade, I was neglected by my teacher and did not learn how to read till the 2nd grade through Hooked on Phonics. Just goes to show you what can be accomplished by a business solving a need.
Health care is arguably one of the biggest social problems plaguing this great country. Luckily, I have seen the best and worst of the health care industry. I have been fortunate enough to have benefited from a non-profit health care bill write off of $17,000 while at the same time having thousands of dollars in medical bills from doctors not wanting to work with a full time college student working full time while battling cancer go to collections. Not only did I pay these off but I saw first hand the complexities of dealing with medical billings and collection agencies. I have received the shocking notice from hospitals and doctors that my insurance company canceled my health insurance coverage because I maxed out my coverage while still getting treatment. I have had to deal with the inefficiencies of health care from standard doctor visits to the advanced medical procedures. I have first hand experience in some of the worst aspects of health care and know that I will be able to identify great solutions at a very early stage. Finally, in regards to health care, I have traveled to Mexico to work with doctors and made a trip shortly after graduation to Lima, Peru and saw the inadequacies of 3rd world health care by working at a school for the mentally and physically handicapped.
Coupled with the health care challenge, I am dealing with my mother and aunt not having much for retirement. Luckily I am putting some measures in place that will be able to allow them to have somewhat of a lifestyle without having to work long hours when they get older. Although this type of situation more resonates with the societal challenges of social security, I see it all the same. This very type of situation is going to be a huge burden on the country as a whole. When social security is running out, people have lost half their retirements, and many others don't any type of retirement we need to develop solutions now. I believe there are entrepreneurial solutions to helping with this and we will find it through the Incubator and Hub.
The last two biggest societal challenges we face are a deteriorating environment and increased poverty. I couple these because I can relate to the both of them through one experience. My cultural immersion experience to Lima, Peru was where I changed my entrepreneurial focus. I left three days after having graduated from St. Edward's University on time with magna cum laude honors in a double major in business administration and management. The purpose of the trip was to be cultural immersed into a third world life style for a few weeks. I believe there are entrepreneurial solutions that can help solve these societal challenges we face all over the world. While in Lima, I met individuals who were extremely poor and were working towards positive change. The hope in these people's eyes showed me that yes there is hope for change and it is much needed.
Finally my last true test of resiliency and resourcefulness was when I went backpacking in Europe by myself for a month with less than a thousand dollars. I had to figure out ways to live frugally, meet people from all types of backgrounds, and most of all see another side of the worlds vastness. I saw that Europe faces all the same problems we as a country face. The problems in the U.S. Are the same as those in Lima to those in Mexico and to those in Berlin. I realized that no societal challenge is country specific. I also learned that people from different cultures and languages can agree on a common ground and build upon that together. This experience solidified my thinking that we all want to see positive change and can unite together. We are all human with different origins.
Having over come so many obstacles to get to where I am today, there is no doubt in my mind that I am here for a reason, to do something great. Everything has happened for a reason leading up to this day. Who would have imagined I would be where I am today? Well I imagined it, here I am and lets going. I have lived through many social challenges and have succeeded with flying colors. Couple that with my formal and informal business education, I have what it takes to help change the world.
I believe the world is in peril right now. If we do not band together and come up with solutions then we may slide to far from getting back to prosperous times. The Social Innovation Hub and Incubator is bigger than any one individual or business entity, it is about answering the call of humanities societal challenges through business solutions and driving action for that. The world is calling and Austin's entrepreneurs are answering the call. My experiences have equipped me to lead the Social Innovation Incubator to the heights we envision it becoming.
Why this specifically?
Its a no brainer, I have lived through many societal challenges and have prevailed. The Social Innovation Incubator is everything that I have always wanted to do; change the world for the better and to work with businesses in getting them developed. My passions are helping others achieve their goals, ideating, and working with people. I can't see a better fit for me than leading the Incubator component of the ASIH.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I'M 100% FOR THIS IDEA!
This is from an article in the St. Petersburg Times Newspaper on Sunday.
The Business Section asked readers for ideas on "How Would You Fix the Economy?"
I think this guy nailed it!
Dear Mr. President:
Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy..
Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings
2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Forty million cars ordered-
Auto Industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage -
Housing Crisis fixed.
It can't get any easier than that!
If more money is needed, have all members of Congress and their
constituents pay their taxes !
If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Imagine the potential of that, say for like Business week magazine. They usually send out like 5 tweets at once all in a row. So when I see them it all takes up a good portion of the screen.
What if Twitter would place very subtle light ads with those tweets that was pertinent or what if Business week or the twitterer could choose what image was in the background to show their own images?
Now you not only speak thru words on twitter but you can throw in an image with those tweets in context.
The words of Teddy Roosevelt.
I came across these words while I was visiting Acton for a Austin Entrepreneur Network start-up class for High Growth Businesses. I guess you can say what every entreprneur wants but statistically few achieve.
But then again to do amazing things, you gotta take amazing risks and become an amazing person. If it were easy, amazing would be ordinary. But its not, its those that decide to burn the ships to prevent all means of retreat when battling a challenge that do amazing things.
How many companies built during difficult economic times have went on to grow and prosper to amazing success? Too many to mention.
But most importantly, why is it that these individuals who no smarter than any of us, to an extent that is, decide to put it all on the line and go for it? Its an innate punch in your stomach that says, Run with it and see where it goes. It happens to everyone that chooses to create their own path any way possible.
I recently got that punch in my gut a few months ago that just said, "Run with it and see where it goes."
The final blow came when one of my two managers at the bank branch I worked at had asked me how what I did with my time in volunteering to teach 6th graders financial literacy through the Wells Fargo Hands on Banking program helped my bottom line. I was knocked backed into reality and decided that I did not want to have anything to do with this ridiculously messed up banking world. Luckily, I had been training to take the leap into full fledged entrepreneur and thats what this blog is in part to be intended for, to tell my entrepreneurial journey as it develops.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I do have to say that my first experience with the World Massage Festival was quite good. First off, hats off to picking such a great location, T Bar M. Of all places in Texas the location selected was New Braunfels. The resort selected really made the feel of the festival very close and communal. Unfortunately, I was unable to schedule a stay within the grounds but I sure wish I had. The property was beautiful and had that summer camp feel to it. Looking back on the festival, I am glad that it had that feel because I felt that it really added to the process of developing strong relationships with those that I had met. Sitting pool side taking in the great weather while chatting with industry colleagues about new techniques and the changing economy really added that special touch.
My first day was Saturday, so I missed the opening day and night activities. The first day I miscalculated how long it would take me to drive from Austin to New Braunfels, took me almost an hour. Luckily, the scenery made the drive enjoyable. It was so easy to get to the Festival that I didn't even need a map. It was really easy to access off of IH-35, the highway that most people probably took to get to the event. Ease of accessibility is key for festival success. It may have drawn a bigger attendance crowd had it been in a bigger city. But I have a feeling that the intention of the festival was to focus on the students and their learning and provide a very intimate environment.
The food was great. My favorite item in the meal offerings were the ribs on Saturday night. By far the best ribs I have ever had, and I have quite a bit in my time. I did find the prices a bit pricey but what can you expect, it was a festival. I do want to recommend Herberts Taco Hut near by, incredible Mexican food.
Saturday started out a bit slow. Once I got there, attendees were in class and there was not much traffic in the vendors hall. But that did provide time to stroll around and see what all was being offered at this years World Massage Festival. Some interesting vendors that really caught my attention were Mother Earth Pillows, Liddle Kidz, Bamboo Fusion, Cupping, Bon Vital, Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, Emergency Response Massage International, and finally Rossiter & Associates.
I point out this particular vendors because either they had an extravagant vendor booth that caught my attention, told a great business story or had a great product.
I was relieved to have seen the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards there promoting their cause. From my experience as a massage therapist and instructor business consultant, I have witnessed the complexity and lack of uniformity amongst the various massage therapy governing bodies. From speaking many attendees I quickly realized that this is a very common problem in the industry. Hopefully they can make the governing body uniform throughout the country, especially with the dawn on online CE course offerings.
I was able to get a trial run with Mother Earth Pillows and found it quite soothing. The entrepreneurial journey of the founder of Mother Earth Pillows was even better. Having gone from a start up in her basement to getting endorsed by Bill Clinton at a techie conference to appearing in a major national newspaper publication really made for a compelling story.
The great things that Liddle Kidz is doing for pediatric massage, pretty much making its own industry and running it. Not only does Liddle Kidz help in the development of children but they also have it in their business model to teach their students who get certified in their techniques how to build a business replicating what they learned from Liddle Kidz, talk about quick scalability. I look forward to seeing where this two person operation goes, the sky is the limit.
Bamboo Fusion presented an interesting way of a new massage technique using various polished bamboo sticks that could be either hot or cold. I found it quite innovative on how they can take something and transform it into an entire business. Too bad they were not giving demos because I would have loved to have felt what Bamboo Fusion was all about.
During my stroll around the vendor hall I came across a sort of disturbing technique called cupping. Having only been around the massage industry for 5 years now, I found this technique a bit disturbing. Although I heard all the benefits and saw a few demos, it looks quite painful. I didnt see many volunteers doing it. One thought for cupping pieces would be to put some type of cover on the glass part so that viewers of the technique wont see that inflated dark piece of skin in the glass cup, ouch talk about looking painful.
Bon Vital had by far the most extravagant vendor booth. This was definitely not their first rodeo, they had huge banners, vertical and horizontal, tons of product and they were giving free bags. Thank goodness we were close to them because it drove a lot of traffic our way and it.
Right next to us, the Emergency Response International Massage booth was there. I had never heard of them but thankfully was able to speak to them for a little bit. They do such great work. I had never thought of fulfilling the need they tend to. They quickly head out to where ever there is a disaster and provide relief in terms of giving massages to emergency workers. Talk about working together. With scenarios like that happening just about every day, I am grateful that there are people out there taking care of those taking care of us.
I really enjoyed my conversations with Rossiter & Associates. I found his business model extremely unique and re/depression resistant to an extent. His focus on companies rather than individual massage clients is genius. Also his ability to teach others what he does makes for a great business model, especially in the areas of working directly with large corporations.
Finally, the reason I attended the WMF. The Ariana Institute made its first, of many, World Massage Festival appearances. I have been working with the Ariana Institute for about 5 years now and have seen he business grow quite steadily. Ariana has a great ability to connect with her students and industry colleagues. There was not one person that I did meet that was not happy to have met her. Her energy, knowledge, and ability to talk to anyone really adds to her business. Watching her speak to her students so passionately about different techniques and business strategies made me stop and admire the true passion of the healing arts through massage.
Till next year.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
Makes me think of a quote that a friend of mine that goes by the name of Pigface that told me, "Nothing to it but to do it"
Well I recently ventured into event planning with four friends to put on www.Bikerfest2009.com and it has been quite the learning experience. Due to having to portray the image of showing that we know what we are doing, I will not being able to really comment on the story of the making of it as a biography. But we just decided to do it two months before the event. Because in the end, it all comes down to it, nothing to it but to do it.
Follow us at http://austinbikerfest.blogspot.com/ to see how it develops.
Writing off into the sunset.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I can't remember the exact date that it all started but it started out with my good friend, Nikhil, sent me an email while at work about a company called OpenAd.net and the email said something like "man I have had this idea for so long and see someone is doing it" So I naturally responded well do something about it and I will work with you on it. Well I did not expect what exactly he did.
Nikhil applied to a well known incubator called the Austin Technology Incubator that stems from the IC^2 institute of the University of Texas. Well this particular incubator gets hundreds if not thousands of applicants a year to come and pitch their idea to the Incubator for acceptance into their program. Well Nikhil wrote and filled out a stellar application and we were selected to go pitch to ATI in about two months. Well, that is a big rush to see that an idea has potential. So we diligently worked on Adiki, at the time it was called Creative Outsourced but will be referred to as Adiki from now on.
For two months straight till the day of the big presentation we worked night and day on the event. Using every waking available hour to work on a business plan that we could present to ATI in hopes of getting in. Prior to pitching to ATI we consulted with some great people on how to develop this model we are trying to create. Considering that ADiki is a social networking site for creatives to collaborate, showcase, and monetize their creative content. With the ultimate goal being to allow for creatives to create their own virtual ad agencies to respond to RFP's (requests for proposals) via the ADiki marketplace. While at the same enabling for advertisers to connect to creatives in creative collaborative work sessions online via the ADiki portal.
We spoke to web people, advertising people, creative professionals, junior creatives, business owners in order to get a full scope of all we needed to incorporate into the ADiki model. Well the big day came, on Nov 2 I think of 2007 and we felt great about it. We were like, great we are going to get selected and everything is going to be great. Well we heard back in about two weeks that we were not selected for the very reasons we went to them in the first place; experience, guidance on the economic model (which it has completely changed since then), and that it was an internet site based company.
At the time we pretty much just had an idea and a business plan with a very big market to cover. So we consulted some more on refining the business model, learned a thing or two about working with investors and finding a co-creator developer to come on board with us. I could write quite a bit about both topics but I will make it short and sweet.
Investor lesson #1:
If someone is hesistant or resistant to signing a NDA (non-disclousre agreement), walk away. lol Sounds pretty logically but hey when you are eager to quickly get your venture off the ground, you pretty much compromise on a few rule of thumbs here and there. We were working with these investors by the name of Business Ether who talked us up and seemed very excited and yada yada yada. Well we tried a few times to get an NDA signed before meeting with them and going in full detail of what we see ADiki becoming. So because of who we thought they were, we met with them. We first thought it was going to only be two people but it turned out to be 7 of their investors or something like that and we broke off into groups to learn more about the venture. They still didn't sign the NDA, even though they said they would have it at the meeting, which they didn't. Anyways after the meeting they made us an offer for some ridiculous line of credit and we were like HA no. Who knows if they are moving forward on everything we told them, if they are great. Because it has evolved into something way better and we will crush them if they stick to the old model.
Developer Lesson #1
Stick to someone who speaks your language fluently and efficiently and who is experienced in the technology that you need to implement. We searched for months to find a co-creator developer to bring on board in exchange for equity who we could work with on building the ADiki vision. After many interview, I believe around 12, we met a level 4 architect from Dell who was here on a H-1 Visa and was working mad hours for Dell. Well we got to know him and felt that he would be a great fit. But after time, we learned another valuable lesson. First you cant contract or bring in a foreigner as a owner of a company while on a H-1 visa and its not a good idea to bring on someone who is swamped with work and who lastlly but most importantly is not experienced in what you need to make. In our case a social networking site.
After about 4 months of waiting around for this developer to create something that we could see online, which by this time we had nothing to look at. We decided to pull the trigger and just cut the relationship and continue looking for someone.
We then met someone experienced in building social networking sites. This guy was great in the development part, and we think we got a deal on getting it built. But this leads to lessons two and three of working with a developer on a start up
Developer Lesson #2
Keep the design in mind from the get go. Now that we have an extremely robust site of funcationality, we are now looking for someone who can work with the source code we have and make it look pretty. Would have been much less costly and easier if the design was in place from the get go, lesson learned.
Developer Lesson #3
Go with experience. Although you may find someone brillant and can learn anything, save yourself the time and hassle and just go with someone knowing what they are doing. You dont want to waste time and pay for someone to get educated on what you need done.
Anyways we found this developer to make the core functionality we need, this is around July 0f 2008. We couldnt find any investors from friends or family except from one person. We were advised to change our name, which we did, draw up an operations agreement to divvy up ownership which we did, and build a demo workable site which we did and we would get some start up funds. Well we pulled the trigger and got the demo site built with funds from savings and credit. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
We got our demo site built and quickly developed relationships with local ad agencies and universities because by this time the ADiki model evolved to being a social networking site for junior creatives, students studying creative sequences in school, to have a place to showcase their portfolios for possible internships and jobs while getting mentored by experienced creative ad professionals and potentially monetize their content at the same time. We opened up talks with two local universities and have spoken with some ad agencies about using the service.
Its getting late so I am going to cut this short but I am going to edit this and add to the story as times goes by
* Forming the Incubator as a B Corporation.
* Using a funds tracking source by PhilanTech LLC called Philan Track
to facilitate the investment of funds into social ventures. I am
getting a demonstration from Dahna Goldstein, the founder, this week.
Once we set a time, I will send to the group.
* Structuring the business model of the Incubator to where businesses
the Incubator would invest in could buy the Incubators vested interest
back instead of pushing for some ridiculous Venture Capitalist rate of
* Implementing a Social Impact Return on Investment rating system to
gauge which socially conscious business ventures the Incubator takes
Cory marrow - cant do it cuz he is booked but chances are looking good for Biker Fest 2010. Hey life is shot, you take it and either hit or miss or never shoot and never see if you hit something dead on.
Fryed Brothers- shooting a biker documentary and close to Willie Nelson. Proposed to end tour in Austin for Biker Fest and promote their documentary at the event. Well they are booked but next year looks good as well.
Vendors - not really happening but looking at providing entertainment instead such as a few ideas that we are looking to make happen.
Sold first ticket - did that by contacing people in motorcycle forums and promoting the event. Happened within minutes of starting that. We established a presence on Twitter, @bikerfest2009.
Now just trying to finalize the musical line up, details to come before end of the week.
I went to go talk to any relevant vendors that might benefit from having a presence at Biker Fest, and talked to a few. Mainly tried to talk to food vendors, which quite a few were having big operations with ROT rally, but oh well we did get a few good leads and see this being a success.
Aside from that I ate a ton of bad food. I had part of a funnel cake, 3 cups of lemonade, a corndog, two fajita tacos, and a gelato dessert. Bulging at the belt but it was delicious. I sure did regret it after going to my brothers Spartan Work out.
Boy it was way hot that day. That was the worse part of the event but what can you expect. Great experience, so many booths to see, straight from brazos to IH 35.
She graduated from grad school for speech therapy I believe. It was pretty cool, they were playing beer pong, in which I did not partake, and I played some Jenga. There was a live band there that played for quite a while. And there was definitely Elgin sausage, gotta have the elgin sausage. Katie is from Elgin so it was a must.
Swimming in the lake late at night was pretty fun, there was a group of people that went swimming and jumping off of a dock late at night.
I ended up falling asleep outside in a comfortable lawn chair. Woke up around 5 am and went inside and fell back asleep.
Woke up around 9 am and went to go do some work for my ventures after that. Listened to some great audio tapes to and from Lake McQueeny. Listened to Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant within, and Napolean Hill's Think and Grow Rich.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The event was at Barr Mansion, that place is absolutely amazing. It was such a beautiful property and everyone was so friendly. I met a few interesting people, one of them being Lee Leffingwell himself :)
I met an interesting green entrepreneur who makes compost tea. Unfortunately I did not get the name of his company nor contact info but it made for a great conversation. Click on tea compost to learn more from wikipedia. Pretty interesting concept. He also is working towards building a sustainable development that is completely green; he makes the houses out of natural products, like adobe houses.
In addition to that, I met an individual that is an animator/film maker/ and carpenter. Modern day renaissance man, much like myself.
It was an interesting experience to have attending this fundraising event, considering that I have never been to something like this. Its a bit intimidating to show up to an event with a bunch of people that I dont know but I managed.
I was also fortunate enough to meet a grant write from America Youth Works that was really interested in the Social Innovatin Hub that I am working on with a group of entreprneurs. Youth Works is opening up a green collars education program in south austin and it falls in line with what we are doing with the Austin Social Innovation Hub.
I was able to meet and greet Lee, shortly after his speech at the event. I mentioned to him briefly about the Social Innovation Hub and Social Innovation Incubator and he said "lets meet once I win office" so lets keep our fingers crossed. That would be great to get the mayors support on this developement from the get go.
After that event I left and hung out with my friend Justin a.k.a. Tiny.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday was my first morning to commute to the festival. I started out the day by miscalculating the time it would take to get there. For some reason I confused New Braunfels with San Marcos. To make it better, it was actually farther south in Canyon Lake. The festival was at 2456 Hwy 46 a few miles from New Braunfels High school.
It was an interesting festival set up. Its weird how they did it, it was more a student centric festival than a vendor centric festival. I say this because both days on Saturday and Sunday they had two class sessions per day, first class was from 8am to noon and then 2 to 6pm. So it was pretty slow with foot traffic, I think all in all there were like 300'ish people attending the event.
There were some interesting massage practices I came across. Massage cupping was interesting and looked pretty painful. Also there was a concept called Bamboo Fusion that used both hot and cold polished bamboo sticks. We are hoping to work out a strategic partnership with them but its still very early in the talks so we will see how that goes, there were quite a few businesses we met that we are hoping to synergistically work with. My friends business, Ariana Institute, got quite a bit of attention. Ariana was a judge for the techniques contest that took place. Ariana was also recognized for being a pioneer in massage therapy and instruction. Congratulations Ariana.
Right next to us was a booth called, Liddle Kidz, that focuses on pediatric massage techniques. Great meeting Tina and Shad, I look forward to having lunch with you when you are in Austin.
Another great connection I made with a business owner was with that of Mother Earth Pillows, those pillows sure can be handy. I am counting down the days till I purchase one. Hopefully soon. Really interesting entrepreneurial story Karen, the owner and founder, has. She told me of one story she met where Bill Clinton stopped by her booth and talked to her for a few minutes. Had to have been there to get the whole gist of it, lol.
I do want to say that at T Bar M, they have the best freacking ribs I have ever had. So good and their brisekt is exceptional as well. The comedian they had on hand for Saturday night wasn't that bad either, Lanny Moody. He was sort of like Jeff Foxworthy comedy, I liked it. I ended up getting home that evening around 10 and decided to return the next day to help out for the last day of the festival.
In addition to that, the only other food that I ate was that of Herberts Taco Hut, First go around I had two beef fajita tacos with gucamole, exceptional, then Sunday morning I had two egg, cheese, bean and bacon tacos, way delicious and then on the way out Sunday I had two cheese enchiladas and another beef fajita. Everything was great, definitely check it out if you are in the area which may never happen.
Unfortunately that Saturday night I decided to start blogging and stayed up way late till about 4 setting up this blog. That inevitably led me to run an hour late Sunday. Sunday was pretty slow but it did help add the mailing list we were compiling, we almost got up to 60 people. Thats pretty good. Now we have to start planning for next years festival in Kentucky.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Thanks for stopping by unexpectedly. Luckily, it was right when I got home from New Braunfels.
ToO bad we missed the art festival down on Cesar Chavez street. Oh well, it was on a whim anyways.
I had a good time beating ya at chess at Hideout. That was a pretty a good Gorilla Mocha, if you dont know what it is, you should check it out . It was delicious. Chess is such a great game, I still cant believe you beat me that one night after downtown with everyone watching.
Check this out;
we went to Hickory St. Had a great burger, the hula burger. It had pineapple, and bbq sauce. The fries are probably the best in Austin, if not the planet. The michelada was alright too, if you have never had one before, check out how to make a michelada at the link. I had mine with Negro Modelo a dark mexican beer. But my only qualm with my dinner experience last night is this; is it ok if you sit out on the deck in the front of the restaurant right next to Congress, for ROACHES to be scurrying below your table and all over the deck? Ugh I had roaches, so gross. So we had to move in to the covered patio area where didn't see any roaches.
After a short walk, we decided to go check out some jazz at the Elephant Room, never a let down. We got there just in time to see La Frontera Jazz band. Real good tunes. The best beer to get there is Schneider Weisse Weizenhell (Hefeweizen).
Finally back at the Railyard, I passed out while watching a lame movie, Funny Games, with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. Movie review coming up soon. I was not impressed and I can't believe how submissive Tim Roth and Naomi Watts' roles were in the movie. For crying out loud if someone is in your house and you don't want them in there don't just slap them and turn your back on them. Geez, some people just dont think. Especially when your wife tells you escort these people out. Forget it, no movie review, franly way bad. Don't bother.
That was pretty much my unplanned outing with Elliott.
I am originally from San Antonio, Texas. Came to Austin in 2002 to attend St. Edwards University. Graduated in 2006 with a double major in Business Administration and Management with honors. During college, my highlights were joining Delta Chi, being on the SEU lacrosse team that won a league championship, and overcame follicular thyroid cancer while working just about full time and having quite a few internships.
Shortly after graduating, I went on a mission trip to Lima, Peru. A few months after that I went on a backpacking trip around Europe for a month by myself with less than $1000 dollars.
Starting in 2007 I started working for the great Wells Fargo Bank as a credit manager and a personal banker. Now I am looking for something new.
Now you gotta read the blog to only begin to understand and be amazed by JC Otero the Idea Catalyst.
Together we can change the world.
Wish I would have started earlier so that way I could have added apps as they came out rather than having to sort thru thousands of really cool stuff.
Boy I have a lot of work to do.