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I was listening to someone recently who told me that he didn’t feel whole, that he was wondering why a part of him felt missing and that he needed to go find it. In that moment it occurred to me that maybe what he was feeling was truly being whole and what was missing was only his fantasy of what was missing. If I believe everything that I’ve been taught, and we are perfect all the time, then the feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of “not feeling whole” are just our mind tricking us into believing that we’re not. This is not the truth, it’s just our programming trying to override our natural state.
Over the past 5 years I’ve been talking about how much Madison Avenue and Hollywood have effected our lives. How much consumerism has educated us into what’s most important, yet this is not the truth. We are focusing our thoughts and energies on the distractions, the things that get in our way of happiness. If we were to truly trust in the world, trust in our own inner voice, than what decisions would we make? How would we act in the world if we knew that this was all a game and life was meant to be lived fully, not sitting on the sidelines as a fan watching others play? I am tired of watching others play the game and thinking that they might be doing it better than I am.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the human process of judgement keeps us from our own happiness, and maybe, just maybe, we are whole all the time. Maybe we are perfect and it’s just our mind, or the programming of our mind, that keeps us from experiencing the joy that lives within us every day. What if we could remove that judgement and experience our inner happiness on a daily basis? In a past iteration of my thinking I would think that joy was all happiness all the time. Today I think differently. Having had the life experiences I’ve had, it’s not about happiness, it’s about feeling all the emotions of life and embracing them rather than fighting them. To embrace all the feelings with acceptance and saying hello to them. Saying hello to sadness and disappointment. To learn how to identify them and see them for what they are.
In a meditation a couple of months ago I started to think about times in my life when I felt depressed. During the meditation I came to realize that I don’t believe I was ever really depressed, ever. What I was feeling was really loneliness and the only “label” I could put on it was depression. In that moment it became clear to me that I didn’t have enough understanding of my own thoughts and the labels I use are insufficient, and how the words I tell myself effect my way of being. As I learn to understand what’s really going on inside of me I can experience the feeling and let it go. I am coming to believe that it’s about seeing the feelings for what they are and then letting them go, and the same for relationships. They are there to hold up mirrors for us, to see in others what we don’t see in ourselves. So, when we believe that we’re not whole, is that true, or is it our mind trying to confuse us into thinking that we are not perfect?
To a life well lived!
Over the last two years, as I’ve returned from our global travels and started to build 5 Dots, I’ve been a lot more conscious of the networking that I do. I’ve become much more observant of how others react to me and how people react to each other. Who are the people that everyone wants to learn more about? What is it that they do in order to gain deeper relationships, which most times translates to more business. What is the approach that they take to make it seem so effortless? How do they approach new relationships that makes them different?
I’ve talked about the concept of human doings vs human beings often over the past year or more, to me that is still at the core of the issue. As I facilitate more and more networking events and groups the more I realize that the elevator pitch, which I’ve come to love creating, in many ways is useless to the average business owner in initial meetings. The challenge is that every once in a while we can point to a conversation where we told someone what we do and business resulted. This is probably 100% true, the only issue is I’m beginning to believe that this is the exception and not the rule. The elevator pitch might be ideal for a high-tech startup looking to land some seed funding, but I’m not sure that it’s right for most situations.
We’ve all been told that people do business with people that they know and trust. So, does delivering the perfect elevator pitch do that? How is trust built and can we build it through the perfect 30 second commercial? In some cases, it is possible when the ideal solution walks into someone with the perfect problem and magic happens, but for us mere mortals it’s not that easy. When I first returned from traveling and people started a conversation I would talk about doing vs being and then I would ask what they did for a living. What a terrible question!
The more conscious I become about the evolution of human relationships the more I realize where it all starts. It starts getting to know the other person and seeing them for who they are. It starts with being present and letting them know you’re listening and deeply care about them as a human being. In a recent networking meeting with a dozen other people in attendance, one of the group members said that it’s hard to have lots of deep relationships. I totally, 100%, disagreed. It’s not hard to have deep and meaningful relationships and interactions. What is hard is making time for lots of ongoing deep and meaningful relationships.
What if we tried to make every interaction more meaningful and we tried to be more present? What would that feel like for both individuals? How would you feel if you met someone who was so interested in learning about you and not trying to sell you anything? Doesn’t that make you feel better than someone telling you what they do hoping that you might know someone you can introduce them to? Based on this line of thinking I’m coming to the conclusion that the elevator pitch might be outdated, and what we really need to do is just learn to build relationships. Most of our new business comes from those we know and trust, so how do we help people get to know us and learn to trust us? To me, that is the $1 million question.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There will come a time and place where you need to clearly articulate what it is that you do for a living. If you can’t do that then you will never get referrals. I’m saying that this is not the starting point. the elevator pitch, the ability to clearly and articulately define what you sell, who your target market is and what your ideal referral partners look like is critical, just hold onto that information until you have developed a relationship. Adam Grant, in his book Give & Take, states that the most successful people in the world are the givers and the most unsuccessful people are the givers. Knowing how and when to use your giving skill set, establishing boundaries and knowing when to ask for what you need is what will make the difference. In the end, when the relationship is formed the elevator pitch becomes so much more useful!
Connecting the dots ….. one at a time!
As I move into my next adventure, I’m realizing that this is where I was meant to be all the time. Ever since I started with Let’s Talk Business radio, I knew I was meant to live and breath entrepreneurship. I studied everything I could get my hands on and began to network like a madman, going to every event I could to meet as many people as I could. I was getting started in the mid-90’s in NYC, right when Silicon Alley was being birthed. I saw many of my friends getting involved with early stage companies while we built a nice, life-style business. My original business partner told me that a business without real growth was not worth having, yet in 2003 it became evident to me that building a “practice” was the perfect ride for me. I was a new father of two young children and being a father was my #1 priority.
I saw the amount of time and energy it took to create something that could scale and I wasn’t willing to make the trade. Over the past 24 years of my entrepreneurial journey I’ve learned so much. There are some things that I’ve never done, such as raising money and pitching VC’s, yet the journey of building, branding, telling the story and creating a vision for the future was what I loved. I spent 15 years in an industry that provided me with a very solid living. Our clients were good people with honorable intentions, yet most of them could never scale because of the limitations of their own business model. As I mature (I say that lightly) in my business dealings, I’m realizing that I was built for the startup. With that said, as part of this weekly blog I will start to highlight some of the best startups that I come across in San Diego and beyond. I believe that San Diego has an amazing and burgeoning startup scene and I’m excited to see where this all leads.
So, as my first feature I’d like to introduce you to ARC, Additive Rocket Corporation. ARC is located in the Qualcomm incubator at UCSD. It’s not your typical startup, these young mad scientists are revolutionizing propulsion. Since the engine was conceived the limiting factor to building the ideal rocket engine is the ability to machine the metal parts and assemble them in a way that it would produce the thrust necessary to propel whatever it was that needed propulsion. It could be the entire rocket from lift off or a satellite needing a bit of control out in space where the rocket engine provides some ability to control their direction. In the end, the limiting factor was to make individual parts that need to be assembled to build the engine. What if?
What if you could now “print” the engine? What could you create if you had the ability to use a 3-D metal printer to “manufacture” the engine, what would that create? Well, if you ask the founders of ARC they have an amazing answer. These brilliant minds have combined the science and engineering of rocket engines with the biology of humans. They have used an intricate capillary system that could only be manufactured using 3D printing. Most of their competitors are just taking existing assembly models and printing them, which is cool in itself. Yet, redesigning the engine from scratch is just amazing. The reality is that ARC is much more than a rocket engine company. Over the years I believe that rocket engines will be where they got their start, but the real genius lives at the intersection of engineering and biology and how a 3D printer can make new products that were never envisioned before. I would consider them a BioEngineering Manufacturing company. How cool is that?
Tonight, in downtown San Diego, SDVG (San Diego Venture Group) has highlighted the top 30 startups in San Diego and ARC is one of them. Another company that will be featured tonight is a young company called Brax (www.brax.io). Feel free to check them out as well.
I’m looking forward to posting information about lots of startups over the coming years as I build a practice around helping them grow their businesses. As always, please feel free to reach out or suggest a cool startup that I should be looking at. I can’t wait to see where this all leads.
Connecting dots ….. one dot at a time.
Since our return in July 2015 I’ve been on a journey to make a living by making a difference. I’ve been running around San Diego talking to people about the intersection of purpose and business. I’ve been attempting to take my past experiences and roll them into a new endeavor, one that will not only make me a living but one that will leave this planet so much better than I found it. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned from the past two years is that it doesn’t really matter what I do to make a living. What matters is how I do it, who I do it with and with what intentions.
I came back certain that I would start a community for purpose driven leaders. I called this community Success Redefined, wrote a book and started telling everyone how to be more purposeful. I had a big launch event in January 2016 and thought I was on my way. As you know through my posts over the past year, this hasn’t been quite as successful as I’d hoped. I’ve run into road block after road block and pivoted a number of times. Last April I hit a huge wall, challenges with growing the business, challenges at home and then Ilise was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. All of this piled up on us, yet I continued to plow forward.
Back in June of 2016 my brother told me about a good friend of his that was looking for someone to do business development for his company, so I pursued that. That wasn’t the right fit, yet the concept of business development was what I did every day. The business development construct lead me to launch 5 Dots, an outsourced business development company that did coaching and fractional business development for others. I spent time developing the 5 Dots methodology and have received amazing feedback from people about it. It seems like business development is this deep, dark mystery to most people. Maybe it’s time to demystify it 🙂
In the interim, I found Andrew Hewitt and GameChangers. I tried to use my business development skills to help them turn their GameChangers 500 concept into a thriving business. I was going to apply my business development skills to the community that is trying to make a difference. We are early in this business cycle and I thought that being at the heart of it would be my future. Yet that didn’t happen exactly as I’d thought. I continued to search and search and all along the way the answer was right in front of me.
Ever since I started in business I’ve loved startups. Even my own startups got boring after the idea started to mature. If I’m honest with myself, I really lost interest in 4-Profit at least a decade before I said goodbye. I ran it and managed it, but the business was not who I was. It used many of my skills to help it grow, yet I didn’t think to venture far from what made me a living. Ever since returning from our travels I’ve been attracted to people and ideas that are new and exciting. I want to help them tell their story more clearly, I want to introduce them to other people that have skills and resources to help them, I need to help them grow. Last April I hired a coach who asked me the same question over and over, what is it that you love? At the time I gave him the memorized answer, the one from my head not the answer from my heart. In the end, this journey is all about self discovery and I’m discovering that I’m a starter, I’m someone who loves to get things started and once they are past the beginning I’m done, I don’t need to be involved anymore.
So, where does this leave me? I’m still very purposeful and want to use my skills to leave this planet infinitely better than I found it. I will apply myself to projects that matter, with people that I like and respect in order to live my purpose. Part of my purpose is to create wealth. I like having money and helping others with the money we have. I’ve loved watching Armstrong, the young Ugandan Pilot we met back in 2012, live a life he never dreamed of. I love being a Rotarian and working on volunteer projects all across San Diego and even into Mexico. I’ve loved traveling the globe and helping people in all parts of the world. Much of this requires financial resources to do them, and I know how to make money.
Money comes when we leverage our time and take risk. I learned early on that I couldn’t trade time for money, the J.O.B. wasn’t for me. I needed to take the risk and figure out how to make money on my own. I’ve also learned the value of focus and being part of a niche of the business community. 4-Profit focused on the owners of IT resellers that had between 25 – 125 employees, and provided specific services to that audience. It became so easy to sell the more we clarified our niche. Now, the niche is start up businesses, especially those that have raised their first round of funding. I will continue to coach IT resellers, especially those that I know and like. I will find products and services that are needed by the startup market segment and work with a team of people who’s passion and values align with mine. In the end it’s all about the relationships and the human connection. The more I am out and about the more purposeful, passionate and capable people I meet.
The tagline of 5 Dots is More Prospects …. Better Clients. I believe the same is true in building my business as it regards to people. The more people I meet the more options I have, and the more options I have the more selective I can be. I’m so excited about where this is headed while also feeling a sense of peace. I am becoming the person I was born to be, not the one I was taught to be. For me it starts and ends with relationships, that’s the foundation of everything.
To a life well lived!
Wow, the past two years have been a journey. Since returning from our global travels in 2015 I’ve been searching for my next thing, the project that will replace 4-Profit and the work that I focused on for over 15 years of my life. During our global adventure I meditated every day and planned out what I was going to do upon our return. I came back to San Diego a month before the family did to start that adventure and help finish construction on our home. That was the beginning of this amazing ride that I’ve been on. The ride has had high highs, low lows and everything in between. Along the ride I’ve continued to realize what I love the most, it’s the people I’ve met and working on things that matter.
My journey is not like anyone else’s journey, it’s uniquely mine. What makes me happy is not what makes anyone else happy and what keeps me from being happy most of the time is my own mind. I guess most of this journey has been about finding myself, finding peace and finding joy. Finding joy as a father, joy as a husband, joy as a friend, joy as a son and sibling and joy as a business professional. Each of these endeavors takes time and energy and is something I’m committed to improving every day. Over the past few years I’ve shifted in so many ways. All of the shift is in my mind and my awareness, yet it is just starting to show up in my day to day life.
The biggest shift is how I approach my life, my integrated life. I was at an event recently and I was walking around and I heard someone asked the question to another guest; “Tell me about yourself?” That was a beautiful question to give the other person an opportunity to open up about who they are, what makes them tick and why they exist. The answer for me was disappointing. The person jumped into what they do for a living, their business and what problem they solve for other businesses. It hurts to see that our society is programmed to respond to a life question, a question about who we are as human beings, with a business answer, what is it that we do. Are we really defined by what we do or who we are?
Over the past 60 days I’ve stopped blogging for a number of reasons. The first reason is that I just needed a break. I needed to give myself some time to breath since there were, and still are, so many things were going on in my life. There were personal challenges, business challenges, parenting challenges and more and I just needed some downtime. So, I took it and now I’m back. Not sure if I’ll blog every week and not 100% sure exactly what the direction of this blog will take, yet I know it’s time to start again. It’s time to continue to share my journey and pass on the thoughts and ideas that I gather on a daily, sometime hourly, basis. As an extroverts extrovert, I get to meet so many people and learn so much from them. It’s been a pleasure and I look forward to sharing again and seeing where this all leads.
I want to thank all the people who’ve asked me about my blog and wondered why I stopped. It is fun to share what’s going on in my life, there are just times when you just don’t need to share. This blog is my chance to share my thoughts, concerns, dreams and so much more. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback, they’re always welcome.
To a life well lived!
It’s been almost two years since I started doing business in San Diego. Over that time I’ve learned a lot about myself, a lot about the San Diego business market, and about the desire for the business community to effect social change. We are at the beginning of this journey and their are pieces in the marketplace that are forming to build a more purpose based business community. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people along this journey and many of them are supporting this new initiative that we’re calling Purpose San Diego. We will be launching a community of like-minded, like-hearted professionals that want to make an impact and our first breakfast event is scheduled for April 19th in UTC in San Diego.
Bringing these people together is important and letting them know that making a difference is good for business. Using our businesses as a vehicle to impact our employees lives, the lives of their families and also the lives of our local community is what capitalism is all about. I was speaking with a Rotarian last week and he was talking about his journey as an entrepreneur, one that spans about five decades. When he talks with younger business owners he tells them that there are 4 places you need to invest once your business starts to make money:
- You need to take care the business and reinvest
- You need to take care of your employees and keep them motivated
- You need to make sure you are taking care of yourself
- You need to take care of your local community
The last point on the list is the one that Purpose San Diego is focused on. How do we help companies learn to be active participants in the community and how does that work within their organization. I’ve been a Rotarian for the past few years and have seen first hand the joy that organization provides to it’s members and the difference we make in the community. We need to create more Rotarians, whether they join Rotary or not! If you are interested in learning more we look forward to seeing you on April 19th at Corporate Alliance in UTC. You can easily register online!
To a life well lived!
Last night I had the pleasure to be on a conference call with a team of insanely bright people who were crafting a course for college students to help them find out who they really are. The course is based on the teachings of professor Paul Minifee at SDSU, who currently teaches a course for 19-20 year olds to help them find self. During the conversation it became clear to me that one of the core issues that I’ve been facing over the past 53 years of my life is the amount of programming that keeps us from being “ourselves” and how much “reprogramming” we need to do in order to find our core.
There have been so many people that I’ve had conversations with about who am “I”? Who is it that sees the world? Is it our brain, our intelligence, our soul or is it just a knowing that guides us towards the life we were meant to live? I am living through that reprogramming as we speak, looking at my core structure, my values, my belief system, my self-talk, my reason for being and so much more. I know that I’m on this planet to be a good father, a good husband, a dutiful son and history has told me that I’m a good provider. One of the strongest reprogramming opportunities for me is to understand how we manifest our future, how our self talk and how our own story is what needs to change.
I tell our kids every day that we make up the story in our heads, so why not make the stories great? That is very easy to say and I’m realizing that my own story needs to change. I have a good friend who I’ve gotten to know very well over the past year. I’ve seen him through some rough patches and he’s done the same for me. In a recent conversation he was asking me to be more present, present in everything that I’m doing, including monitoring what I actually say. So much of what I say is on auto pilot, it’s my story and I keep repeating it over and over again. This story is part of what keeps me from living my true purpose.
Last night’s call made be go back to the thought of when it all started, when the programming really started. I believe it started way back in our lives when we are little. We’re given so many lessons at all ages. The hardest time for me was being a teenager. Maybe that is why it’s been so fulfilling to help our two teens navigate these years. When we’re at that age, as teenagers, we are constantly reminded by people going through the same challenges, how they sees us. In turn, this is what forms much of our own self-image. I’m seeing that this is not who I really am, I’m not a collection of the stories I was taught as a teenager or at any other stage of my life. My wife often tells me that I was raised to be extremely independent and that I function in the world that way, not needing anyone. That is the furthest thing from who I want to be. I want to be deeply connected to others and help them on their journey, to be of service.
This journey to my core has been one that I didn’t plan on taking and I’m realizing that in order to be the person I was meant to be that reprogramming myself is what this journey is about. It’s time to live in the present every day, to be the best person I am in the moment, not the person I was programmed to be. It’s time to stop with the regurgitated stories and to be more aware of what’s going on in this moment, with the people I’m connected to in the moment, to be of service to them. I also know that the manifestation of who I am is already inside me, I am dusting off the lessons that were not true and allow my true core to emerge. I’m here to help people, young and old, go on their journey of self exploration, connect them with others that align with their being and use business as a vehicle to change the world! Who wants to join me?
To a life well lived!