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.