Meet the Team, Follow Progress and Enjoy the Ride

This blog is about the lives of a few entrepreneurs who are aiming to establish the next trend in social networking and the concept that will make it happen. Since our venture is all about connecting people together, we want to be involved and connected to you and we want you to be involved and connected to us. We'll be sharing with you: who we are, how we got started, how we’re doing and where we’re going...we're taking you along for the ride!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who is Your Front Man??

…and by front man, I’m obviously being gender inclusive. Here are a few expressions that I most definitely always consider gender inclusive and/or gender neutral.

“You’re the Man” and “You’ve Got Balls” I’m always a fan of hearing “Ann, you have bigger balls than me” (Just making sure if not being politically correct, I’m at least explaining myself)

So, who is your front man? If you are in the process of starting a web 2.0 start-up that’s a question you best be asking yourself and answering. And P.S., I’m not just talking about who is presenting to investors, running the team and talking to corporate partners. I’m referring to—Who is your public front man.

Web 2.0 companies are filled with user generated features and information, and packed with user interactivity and collaboration, but what’s your glue, idea generator/mixer, the key to spreading your message (assuming you have a message) and source of commonality (for or against…if everyone hates you, they are uniting around that!). This is particularly important for social and online community type of companies…this is how and why many communities are developing around a cause and/or a niche.

Ideally, your front man is the founder and CEO…because he or she are the breath, heart and soul of the company. The founders and CEOs are normally who people, consumers and followers will want to know and learn about and hear from.

Your front man needs to have personality (for good or for bad…preferably an extrovert and very outgoing), passion, possess some likeability factors; be presentable in public, and respectable. Extra bonus point if your front man can easily transcend across genders, age groups, ethnicities, all backgrounds etc.

Case in point, Kevin Rose…awesome front man. People pay attention to what he’s doing and what he has to say. Some girls have a crush on him, some guys want to be him, some people dislike him, a handful hate him, and some don’t care…but, everyone pretty much knows about him.

Kevin was never in the shadows…he played up his role as the front man to Digg, before Digg became what it is today and therefore played a big part in getting Digg to what it is today.

On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, never took an active role in being the front man of Facebook. The media coverage is what exposed Mark as the front man of Facebook and he is a passive and boring front man…others have stepped up and have become sub-front man via their Facebook blogs for Mark.

So on that point…your front man needs to be active in their role as the front man from day one or really pre-day one. Don’t wait for the media to uncover you or for your PR team to get you an audience. Go find and create your audience…set yourself up. They are plenty of ways to do that…if you don’t know how, then frankly, you probably need to rethink your chosen path or find a real good front man to partner up with.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Design Feedback, Please...

We're doing good with the design of the mock-ups for the back end and we've nailed down our homepage design...however, the blog design isn't going that well.

It's not doing "it" for me. Since we'll go live with the blog right away, I can share it and perhaps get some feedback and assistance, or at a minimum some of your thoughts and comments. I'm pretty determined to have a three column blog, but I could change my mind on that one.

Click on the picture for larger image.

This is the top part. I think the header might be too large for a blog.

Thanks for the help!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chirping in My Basement

There is a cricket chirping away in my basement…this was annoying me a great deal since I enjoy working in absolute silence, so I shared my frustrations on Pownce and Jeffrey replied “a cricket in your house is a sign of good luck. she/he will leave when it's time.”

Truth is, I am having some amazing luck these last couple of days…the kind of luck that is bringing together a stellar programming team for Why Go Solo. I couldn’t dream this stuff up even if I tried; the experience, the diversity, and the excitement each member possesses is right on mark. This will take us into a whole new category when it comes to raising money and getting off the ground. We will not simply be going into the development stage, we will go into the development stage with our own development team. Why Go Solo will have a fully experienced and dedicated Development Team. I can’t stop saying it…there’s something to take to the bank!!

I realize you shouldn’t count your chicken till they’ve hatched…so I won’t, not just yet, but I am going to be one diligent and thorough mother hen to make sure each of those eggs properly hatch.

Let the chirping continue…I’m apparently in good company!

I consider the post from below to be a good omen and a sign. Someone told me a few nights ago I would become the next Kevin Rose...perhaps, it’s all coming together.

If you read my blog and you aren’t part of the family on Pownce, let me know and leave me your email address. I’ll send you an invite. We’re having quite a fun time over there.

Tutting My Own Horn

I shouldn't, but I can't help it...what can I say, I'm having a good day. (Not even sure tutting is a word...)

Carlos A. just joined Pownce...he was fan of two people and guess who they were? Of course, Carlos is now my friend, Kevin is just going to leave him hanging like the rest of us!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

For the Sake of the Story...

That’s the conclusion I have drawn…it’s for the sake of the story. I mean really, how boring is this story—entrepreneur has brilliant idea, writes business plan, pitches to first investor she meets, receives funding, launches product and makes it big. BORING…right?!!??

Exactly, you have to spice it up…add struggles, tragedies, disappointments, short lived victories that turn into set backs, and make it a story of perseverance, serendipities and hope.

So on that note…off we go into the next chapter. Since posting my post on Sorry…But, I’ve Been Burned Before, I have started to get closer to finding the team of programmers and developers I’m looking for.

First, there are a few programmers on Pownce that I’ve been “Powcing” with for the last few weeks who are interested in hearing more. I’ve already had a long chat with one of them, and he is absolutely excited and ready to get started. This obviously makes me very happy. He loved the concept (Why Go Solo) and was amazed by it.

Second, I have just received an email from GoBig Network. They are getting more involved and hands-on with helping start-up succeed. We found the company, who is assisting us raise funds, through GoBig Network and they have been tracking our progress pretty closely ever since. I’m very impress with GoBig Network’s level of involvement.

Anyway, the email related to helping us find the killer team of programmers we need who would be willing to work for equity. Need I say more…obviously, I responded to let them know I’m very interested and what do we do next.

Martin and I had a long heart to heart today about our situation and our options. We’re both pretty exhausted…because honestly, it takes a lot of energy, passion and determination to keep a dream alive and every time we explain Why Go Solo we pass on that energy and passion to someone else, whether or not they will do anything with it. Every time something doesn’t pan out, we have to dig deeper to keep going and keep the faith and hope alive. It’s draining. We need some progress.

Neither of us wants to give up; we both believe so much in what we want to build and create. Hopefully, the tide is about to turn in our favor. Let this be the beginning of the chapter of how we created a killer development team that will release the future of online and social communities…the team that will shake things up and create a whole new type of buzz. Lets grow the team that will believe in the possibilities and the dream that is, Why Go Solo!!

To be continued…the story keeps unfolding.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sorry...,But, I've Been Burned Before

One solution, to having a lack of funds, for a web 2.0 company made up on non-developer/programmer types trying to develop their concept, is to work on expanding the team and grow partnerships with the other key personnel needed…however, this is proving to be just as difficult as raising funding itself.

I have narrowed it down to four main reasons why enticing developers into accepting a partnership/equity into the company for work is next to impossible:

1) The individual has been burned before by another entrepreneur or company. Many of the programmers I have been talking to have all had some sort of bad prior experience, which is making them very hesitant about trusting someone again, and accepting equity into a company as payment.

2) Developers are in very high demand. Lets face it…many start-up entrepreneurs are approaching developers with the same offer and for the most part all developers (particularly the very good ones, we would want in the first place) are securely employed and making high salaries. This makes them a little more hesitant about taking a huge risk like working for a start-up that is not funded. They could just easily join a start-up that has been funded and still have stock/share options.

3) They are already working on their own start-up part time or a buddy’s start-up. So even though one idea might have a better chance of actually making it big and/or make money; they rather stick with what they are currently involved in. (Can't blame someone for having loyalty!!)

4) Development companies who have teams of developers have a business owner mentality. They seek payment for services because they have to cover their overhead and many are no longer, or were never real risk takers in the first place. Although, they have a team they employ and could use to develop the requirements of a start-up they are the least interested….they have many expenses to consider.

This is all of course just my point of view and what I’ve encountered. I have met amazing and fabulous programmers and developers who have been very helpful in countless ways. I just wish I knew how to convince them to take a chance with us…

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Random and Much Needed Update

Ahhhh, yes…what’s going on with Why Go Solo!?!? I realize I haven’t been blogging has much these last couple of weeks and there are two good reasons for that:

1) The unbelievably slow progression is down right killing me and I haven’t wanted to talk about it. And

2) We will soon be moving the blog over to our domain, and therefore, I want to have some fresh and wonderful material to start the blog in the new location.

Yesterday we received some designs that I was very happy with…the problem we have now is which one to go with—if it’s not one thing, it’s another right? I really wish I could just post the designs here and have everyone take a vote on it, but of course, we can’t. The decision we have to make is between very fun, exciting, colorful and playful and a more professional, business-like, but still hip design.

One of the designs just makes me happy…looking at it makes me smile. On the other hand, Martin kinda thinks that design would be best suited for Crayola. We have sent the designs to be vented out to friends, family, our handful of investors thus far, and our board of advisors. This is going to be a tough call. We need to decide soon so we can move into the design for the blogs…and the backend screen shots.

The funding raising efforts are going much slower than I had ever anticipated. I’m hoping August is just overall a slow month for getting in touch with people…it’s what I’m telling myself.

I’ve been aggressively looking into other options and for the most part coming up short. I was thoroughly let down by one investor who had promised to help. People will say anything to get your help, but when it’s time to return the favor…only a few rare and special people return the favor. There’s no point in harboring a grudge. I just keep a good list of who has been there to help and who hasn’t. I also try to remember to simply help while not expecting anything in return. See there’s that word expectation…wish I never had expected this gentleman to help.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping busy networking. I’ve met some really interesting people these last few days. I will talk more as things develop…lots of great potential collaboration, but no expectations!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tough Love and Forever Overcoming Fears

I'm in a bind...with what to write about, so I decided to share a little piece of background and information about myself. It's the story of how I learned about fear; the power of fears and the need to face them:

When I was about eight or nine years old I had a tremendous fear of spiders, than one day, I was cleaning the bathroom as part of my weekly chores, when I saw a spider nested behind the toilet. I screamed and ran out of the bathroom.

My step mom came down to see what the ruckus was all about. I was almost in tears and told her about the spider. Now, what you’re about to read might shock you…

She didn’t go into the bathroom to kill the spider—instead, she locked me into the bathroom with the spider. I panicked. I screamed, yelled, cried, begged and pleaded to be left out. She told me the only way out was to kill the spider.

I remember sitting down in the opposite corner and talking to myself to calm myself down. I came to realize I had to address my fear. The only way out of this situation was to face my fear. I dug deep, decided I wasn’t afraid and found the courage to kill the spider.

When I was finally let out of the bathroom that day, I had learned an extremely valuable lesson, at the tender age or eight or nine…Don’t let your fears corner you and lock you up. Have the courage to face them. The only thing between you and freedom is facing and surmounting your fear. I'm grateful to have learn such a valuable lesson so young.

What might sound like a traumatizing experience, made me face my fears and from that day onward to today…there’s nothing I won’t take on. I don’t hesitate or blink in the face of fear or adversity.

I don't recommend going to extremes to overcome a fear, but I say seek out what makes you fearful and do something about's the only way the fear will vanish.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Profits in Partnership

The Profits In Partnership Luncheon is an annual event held to foster networking among representatives from major corporations, government agencies, and minority owned companies. In addition to featuring guest speakers, there is formal recognition of executive education patrons and scholars. This event is hosted by Virginia Tech and organized by Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council.

The guest speaker this year was
Nikki Giovanni, Professor of English and world renowned poet (Check this link out)

Who attends these events?

Executives and Contract Representatives of major corporations and government agencies; owners and marketing executives of minority owned companies, supplier diversity coordinators, and staff of business development organizations.

I’ve attend dozens of these events over the years. Aside from gaining key contacts at major corporations like;
Freddie Mac, BAE Systems, Capital One, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Philip Morris, Hilton Hotels, to name a few...I’ve learned that these organizations have a strong need to develop innovative products and services that can help them gain competitive advantages. My experiences has been, that they rely on and seek entrepreneurs' input at these events for this very reason. (After all, who is more innovative than an entrepreneur??) Most of my conversations go as follows:

1) They ask me what my company does
2) They test my knowledge of their company
3) They then bounce ideas off of me or ask for my general feedback
4) Ultimately, the more familiar I am with their organization the deeper the conversation

Sometimes, I forget that it’s not just individual people who seek out other people to create experiences and partnerships but also the bigger and well known corporations. Martin

Anal Retentive About Design

Presentation is everything…from fashion, to food, gardens, to homes and yes, websites. Or may be, it’s just me—particularly about websites. I am very picky when it comes to selecting and having the right website design. (I also happen to be judgmental of every site I visit…for the good, bad or the ugly. I’m not proud of this…it’s just so happens to be my little pet peeve in life).

For over a week now, we’ve been working on getting the design for the Why Go Solo homepage and thus far, they have been off for one reason or another. I’m not the easiest person for a web designer to work with—I’ll certainly admit that. I want for them to exercise their creative design skills to produce a certain feel and emotion from the website and more often then not, that is simply not descriptive enough. Unfortunately, all I know is how I want to feel and be moved. Just like when you see and look at a piece of art.

Here is some of the guidance (not all) that was provided:

Key Words

  • Trendy (colorful, appealing, teasing to the senses, attention to details)
  • Fun
  • Clean


  • Easy to navigate
  • Easy to understand
  • Makes good use of space
  • Makes good use of the branding


  • Active and professional adults
  • Professional business travelers (for leisure time)
  • Singles and married alike

Think the place you want to go to as a professional, educated, mature, financially stable, active, fun individual. For example, the Why Go Solo logo reminded me right away of the logo for a trendy New York martini bar. This is where our target market goes to unwind…perhaps, while still wearing their suits.

If you are a rift raft, immature, a thug, only looking to hook-up etc…then you will be intimidated by our brand/look and feel.

I also provided websites that I like and don't like and website elements that I like and don't like. Is it too much to want to be blown away?

Martin and Ruth kinda liked the last design (given some minor changes), but it wasn’t “It” for me. Chasing the “It” factor is a dangerous game…but I feel, it’s well worth it.

When people visit us, I want them to feel captivated, energized and uplifted by the site and the possibilities.

I really want to nail down the design soon. As soon as we have the design, we’ll have a new temporary homepage and people will be able to sign-up for invites for the beta. We will also be moving this blog to our own domain and branded template…PLUS, we’ll be starting a new and exciting blog.

Lets hope this all happens next week!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If I were a DC VC...

I would have cool VC envy…seriously. I’m not jus trying to rhythm—I mean it!!I figure I would go ahead and blog today about my thoughts on this subject as well, since it’s related to starting the Club in my previous post.

I’m an avid follower of Fred Wilson’s blog AVC and Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s blog Ask the VC and of course every entrepreneur basically knows of/about Guy Kawasaki. There are other VCs who also get good attention…but none that I’ve come across who are in the DC, MD and VA areas (DMV). The key thing all the cool VCs have in their willingness and high level of interaction with entrepreneurs, budding entrepreneurs, other investors and the general public.

The DMV has it’s share of Venture Capitalist firms—here is a list of just those in Fairfax County, VA. And it’s worth noting that a few were listed in the Entrepreneur Magazine's 7th Annual Top Venture Capital Firms for Entrepreneurs:

Of course I’d be reminisce if I didn't note that the majority of the firms in the top 100 list were in Palto, CA, Menlo Park CA, and Waltham MA.

But back to being cool…if I were a VC (first off, my life would probably be drastically different) I would aim to be one of the cool VCs who is approachable, full of good scoop, and abreast of what’s happening. Frankly, I think that’s why so many people read Fred’s blog. He knows what’s going on, he’s a cool guy who is in “the know” and loves to interact. I would be his alter ego…the cool chick VC. Yes, when I grow up I want to be Fred!!

The VCs in the DMV need to come out and play a little more…meet the entrepreneurs and the people who partake in the technology community.

I just recently received this comment (two months after the event) from Hannah Clifford of Intersouth Partners on my post about the Grubstake Breakfast

Thanks for the mention in your blog. Please say hi next time you're at an event; not all VCs bite.

The key to your success will be perseverance, self-awareness and surrounding yourself with a great team. There will be many bumps in the road; embrace the challenges and learn from them.

Good Luck!


We all need more events in order to be able to network and say “Hi” to each other. Am I going to pitch a VC every time I see one…must definitely not. We (investors and entrepreneurs in the DMV) all need to network, keep each other abreast of what’s happening and support one another.

I’m sure many VCs in the DMV wouldn’t mind hitting the same types of homeruns Fred has habit of being involved in…if you don’t know what they are, look them up and you might want to use Del.ici.ous or Feedburner to help you (hint, hint).

The next big thing might very well be lurking in the DMV (shameless plug for Why Go Solo).

I plan on knocking on the doors of VC firms to get them involved once our Club (we'll need a name soon) is up, running, active and productive. I certainly hope they will get involved, provide feedback and education…as well as, have some fun and be a little cooler!!

The Wheels are Turning...Watch out!!

Since before BarCamp DC I decided to get involved in the technology community of DC, which is frankly, what ultimately lead me to BarCamp DC. What I’ve realized in the process is that there isn’t much actively going-on and therefore not much of a gathered community around Technology and Web x.x in our Nation’s Capital.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, BarCamp DC has gotten me all fired up and now the wheels have been turning. Anyone who is a serial entrepreneur knows what that normally means—that’s right, I’m going to start something!!

Not a business…but rather a club and community. But first let me share what I have found so far:

The Northern Virginia Open Coffee Club (OCC) which meets every two weeks but rides the OpenCoffee Club concept developed by Saul Klein. I’m talking with Will, the organizer of OCC, about this idea. I first thought may be expanding OCC would work, but having our own DMV (DC, MD and VA) Club might be best.

We also have Refresh DC…I haven’t been to any of their meetings yet.

Our goal is simple: bring together the best and brightest new media developers in the DC metro area so that we may learn from one another. Our industry is too rich for any one person to "know it all." That's where we come in.

Newly started is the DC Web 2.0 & Video 2.0 Meetup group…They are having a meeting tomorrow and I plan on attending. According to Paul, the organizer of this group, the group has reached two dozens members in less then a month. So it’s obvious the interest is there.

I have heard of TECH Cocktail and apparently there was a TECH Cocktail event way back in May, in DC, and although, it sounds like is was a hit and splendid event…it’s not a regular thing.

And also upcoming is Start-up Weekend DC (I’m signed-up but on the waiting list)

I know there are probably quite a few groups I’m missing which are completely programming/engineering related.

Alright, so here is what I have in mind:

We start a group in the DMV which upholds a creed that is the basis, backbone, and mission of the Club. The creed basically entails a group dedication to support, encourage and grow all web x.x type companies, technology companies and spread the growth of all related matters. The Club is open the web entrepreneurs, technology driven individuals, programmers, engineers, and technology focused investors and everyone else who have a genuine interest in supporting the creed/mission.

Thought leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in the DMV would lead the efforts and combine knowledge into a blog. The blog would be about the Club events, the members, entrepreneurial ways and the latest happening/ well as, what's hot in the DMV as it relates to technology and business development.

The Club would host 2-3 events/gathering a month. Once a month the meeting would be for Entrepreneurs to vent their ideas and get feedback from the community or practice their pitch prior to seeking funding. The members would provide honest feedback, recommendations and support to assist each other. Once a month, we would also have have an educational session presented by the members covering a new technology or an entrepreneur skill/know-how. Finally, once a month we would try to host a guest speaker (successful entrepreneur, VC, PR...etc.)

The point of all this is to truly establish a way to support, grow and promote the Technology industry in our own backyard. It will take the involvement of all sides to make this happen (the entrepreneurs, techies, developers, investors and social media gurus).

I imagine a day when a web x.x or technology company is launch in the DMV and there is a buzz, commotion, and excitement around it. There is an Army of local bloggers promoting and supporting the launch, there’s a killer launch party with lots of media, and there is a sense of accomplishment…we might not be Silicon Valley, Seattle or NYC, but at least we aren’t the quiet mouse we used to be either!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Coding Envy: Why Aren’t I a Bigger Geek

I went to bed with coding envy…and I woke-up this morning still frustrated from having coding envy. Instead of Powncing about my frustrations, I decided to blog about it. I’ve been Powncing too much and not blogging enough (but, I digress)

BarCamp DC was fun and informative, it was also a reminder of everything I don’t know and wish I knew. Being surrounded by what appears to be some of the best and brightest programmers and designers in this town increased the coding envy I’ve been harboring for the last couple of years.

I wish I knew one programming language like the back of my hand…be it PHP, .Net, Java or Ruby on Rails, while having broad knowledge of all programming languages. I would love to “geek out” and talk about it, constantly develop new applications, and test “stuff out”. But, I don’t and can’t. If I could, Why Go Solo would be much farther along.

I spoke with a few programmers who were working on their own Web 2.0 type companies (in their spare time) and they admitted, that although, they can create it; they can’t necessarily bring it to market.

On the other hand, I can bring just about anything to market and am fully equipped and prepared to lead a company, be a spokesperson and continue to grow a concept. This is why people need each other and have to develop the right teams.

Fortunately, I met someone yesterday who mentioned he would help me find a lead engineer for Why Go Solo, and prior to that, I met someone else who agreed to review our code for quality control. We’re moving ahead with the development of our Phase One beta because nothing will stop us from launching. And much like many other Web 2.0 companies, we’re going to start looking for the brightest, and smartest programmers to come join our team.

One of the discussions that floated around throughout the day, and definitely at the after party was the need for more technology and web 2.0 type conferences and events in Washington DC. The VA, MD and DC areas are not without some amazing programmers, engineers, designers and innovative entrepreneurs…and we definitely need to get together more often, support each other, interchange ideas and put ourselves ‘on the map’.

I wonder a great deal about how different things would be if we were creating Why Go Solo in Seattle or in San Francisco…I’m assuming it would be overall a lot easier; from raising the development and launch, but I’m hoping that doing it here in the DMV will create some commotion!!

I’m sure I will continue to suffer from coding envy, I will continue to be absolutely amazed by programs like Firebug (although, I will never personally use it) and I will continue to wish I was a real geek/nerd. That however, will NOT stop me from getting things done and shaking things up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rites of Passage...the Fourth Installment

Develop Nerves of Malleable Steel

I will try to coherently explain, the best I can, what I mean about developing nerves of malleable steel. Determination, perseverance, and even sheer stubbornness are all inwardly generated sources of energy, strength and driving forces that are sent outbound and “burned” like fuel, as we pave our way forward in the world. Some people have greater reserves then others and push harder, faster and farther against all odds. But the thing is, outside forces like; stress, pressure, difficulties and other strains are inbound and aplenty in the start-up game. How those outward forces coming in are coped with, is just as important, as all the energy you expand everyday.

By malleable I’m referring to: having a capacity for adaptive change, and being capable of being flexible and compliant.

Nerves of straight steel can snap or even worst…break, after taking too many ‘hits’ from outside sources. However, nerves of malleable steel will bend, flex and adapt to the outside forces and allow you to better deal with the stresses and pressure.

Developing nerves of malleable steel is a rite of passage that beautifully compliments the other attributes inherent in entrepreneurs.

Identify and Surpass all Weaknesses and Step out of all Comfort Zones

This is my favorite rite of passage and the one I enjoy(ed) the most because I am definitely on a journey of self-discovery and growth. I take pleasure in pushing my limits and facing my fears, and embarking on the journey of following my dreams and being an entrepreneur has elevated the requirements and sped up the process.

I believe this rite of passage actually applies to anyone who is pursuing a dream. Our dreams push us to become more than we already are…our dreams ask of us what we often times neglect to ask of ourselves.

You will know when you are facing this rite of passage…whatever the requirement asked of you; be it to overcome a fear, surpass a weakness, or step out of your comfort zones--the option to either pass through the rite of passage or give up on your dream will likely hit you like a ton of brick.

It hit me that way…each time, it was either surmount and do or let go and give up. The way the paths crossed and then veered off one way or the other was appalling…each time I grabbed hold of my dream and went for it!

Our dreams are meant to stretch, push, and mold us…go for it, it’s worth it.

Now, I say…BRING IT ON!!

Release all Doubts and Believe in Possibilities

This rite of passage becomes easier to exceed as you pass and master the other rites of passage. As you begin to master finding comfort in taking constant risks, entering and living in the realm of unknowns, accepting reality while living in fantasy, maintaining hope while releasing expectations, developing nerves of malleable steel and identifying and surpassing all weaknesses and step out of all comfort zones—you grow strong, confident and become empowered…so by default, your doubts begin to melt away.

Replacing doubts by believing in possibilities creates optimism…positive thinking. We are, create and attract what we think. Doubt attracts uncertainty and what we fear. Believing in possibilities attracts a world of possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.

When doubt creeps in, replace it by visualizing the outcome you desire. Do this as many times as it takes, until only the desired outcomes reside in your thoughts and being. After a while, you will simply think and create possibilities.

This is a rite of passage I am very familiar with…been traversing it time and time again.

Final installment tomorrow...

Monday, August 6, 2007

NYC Green Lady Prescribes Why Go Solo for Me

I grew up in a town called Westfield, NJ, which is about 30 minutes outside New York City. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the city over the years and it was good to get back over there for the weekend. My mom, dad, Ruth, and I went to visit my sister, Laura in North Jersey and went into NYC for a day of fun. From left to right, you have my sister (who is single and can’t wait for the Why Go Solo launch), mother, father, and Ruth (my wife who can’t wait for different reasons:). For myself, the trip was to evaluate the need for Why Go Solo in NYC, “The city that never sleeps.”

NYC experiences over 40 million travelers per year and houses over 8 million people (according to 2000 Census data). My initial thought was that if you are in NYC and seeking out a social life or spontaneous connections you are in the right place. After spending a full day in both China Town and Little Italy, I was able to view at least 200,000 people walking around, sitting in restaurants and outdoor eateries, going shopping, biking, jogging, etc. Regardless of what they were doing, there were people alone everywhere and a lot of them were simply people watching. Understanding there are some assumptions in my drawn conclusion, but I would say that some of these individuals are curious people and would love to have a service like Why Go Solo.

Towards the end of the day, I broke off from my family and was alone for about 3 hours just people watching. My main thought, without first recognizing it, was, “I wish I had Why Go Solo and wouldn’t mind making a connection right about now.” Martin

Rites of Passage (Part III)

We’ve begun to discuss the rites of passage to getting a start-up off the ground. If this hasn’t become obvious yet from the previous post, it will in this post—starting a start-up will test your sanity in indescribably ways. What I can manage to convey in words…doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Accept Reality While Living in Fantasy

This is particularly applicable to the visionary(ies) for the start-up, the person who gave ‘birth’ to the idea and initiated the process of taking the idea to conception. From day one, this person has been carrying the load of his/her vision and has been busy rallying people behind it, imparting the vision and motivating others to follow him/her.

For this person, (and yes, I am that person) there’s a need to live in a world where the grandeur of the start-up exists in it’s full glory, because that is where the will to keep moving, to keep fighting and to keep giving 110% comes from…it’s the source of the enthusiasm, hope, and joy which must continuously be shared with others: partners, investors, vendors etc.

At the same time, this poor soul also has to stay grounded and accept reality. This is very tough when things aren’t going well or when progress is delayed. No one around possesses the same sense of urgency or burning desire to see things happen. (Just want to note. I’m talking in general terms, Martin is right there with me)

Everything has to be seen in a variety of dimensions, phases and stages…starting a start-up is not a single layer job, and the visionary behind it, has to exist in different places, at different times while never losing perspective or track of the house of cards.

The reason why this becomes very difficult for me is because I have a wild and vivid imagination. I can’t even impart the sheer size of the vision to most people or explain how clearly I can see it all…meanwhile, the reality SUCKS. However, only being positive and active in reality will bring about the vision.

I can jolt anyone interested in the world that exists in my imagination!!

Maintain Hope While Releasing Expectations

This isn’t about being passive or naive…this is necessary in order to maintain some sanity. Having hope means you believe, you trust and you have faith…this also means, you are detached from the outcome and releasing expectations. You trust and believe the right things will be done, the best outcome will be reached and the correct actions will be taken. (You hope while you supervise)

Leaders don’t have expectations…they impart a vision, they share their passion, they nurture, train and develop their people and then allow for right things to occur and for their people to raise to the occasion.

Having expectations is like carrying a very heavy ball and chain that you created for yourself. Surely, if you are dead set on having expectations, be sure you clearly communicate what they are, but don’t be surprised when those expectations aren’t met.

Hanging on to expectations is setting yourself up for constant disappointment. That is not the type of environment that is healthy for developing a strong start-up.

Hope is also a slippery slope…and heartaches are still plentiful, but growth, understanding and further development is built into it; be it your own or that of the people around you.

There will be times for expectations, for deliverables and for specific requirements—it just shouldn’t be the normal tempo or level of operation. The world cannot come crashing down if an expectation isn’t met. See, it’s always best to hope and be prepared with an alternative plan.

That’s the other thing with hope…it keeps you creative because you aren’t tied to being angry or disappointed.

Even as I write this—I know that I have way too many expectations and I know they are weighing me down. I come from a background that was very structured and failure to deliver had consequences…so I’m still learning to ease up!! However, don’t be fooled…it’s still necessary to hold people accountable, to express and convey a sense of emergency and foster a need for action.

More to come later…btw, the picture is from my time on the USS Essex.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rites of Passage (Part II)

As an entrepreneur with a brilliant idea (sorry for the shameless self-promotion) I’m on the journey (with my partners) of getting our start-up off the ground. I have embarked on this journey with my eyes wide open, and every day, I remain extremely conscious of what’s happening to me and what I’m experiencing. I constantly check-in on the state of my well-being, my outlook on everything that’s happening or not happening, my train of thoughts, my expectations, and the reality of current statuses and progress.

Blogging has been a useful method of expressing myself and keeping tabs on what’s happening…however, I have yet to truly and directly express what I have learned to date and what I am still struggling with.

The question I ponder the most everyday is this: What are the rites of passage to getting a start-up off the ground?

I ask this question in ways that extend well beyond having a solid idea, comprehensive business plan, strong business model, and appropriate funding. Those are obviously crucial benchmarks, but what goes on psychologically, emotionally and mentally into each of those steps are the real Rites of Passage every entrepreneurs undertake to get their start-up off the ground.

Starting a start-up and being an entrepreneur is often compared to being on a roller coaster ride. You often have either real highs or crushing lows and keeping things balanced is difficult. I believe the Rites of Passage we undertake on the journey identify why that is…

Here are The Rites of Passage I have identified thus far:

  • Find comfort in taking constant risks
  • Enter and live in the realm of unknowns
  • *Accept reality while living in fantasy
  • *Maintain hope while releasing expectations
  • Develop nerves of malleable steel
  • Identify and surpass all weaknesses and step out of all comfort zones
  • Release all doubts and believe in possibilities
  • Trust key players and trust absolutely no one
  • Become temporarily selfish and live with the guilt/circumstances

(* most troublesome for me)

Find Comfort in Taking Constant Risks

Upon making the decision of embarking on the start-up/entrepreneur journey immediate risks are taken. Leaving a steady job, placing your financial future at risk, and risking the current state of all your relationships due to the time requirements involved.

Taking the initial risks is just the beginning. Every decision at the beginning of a start-up is a risk. The key is this, do not not fool yourself that you’re making a decision…and not taking a risk. Of course, there are ways to minimize the risks…but as someone taking daily risks, that really means crap at the end of the day.

By default, taking a risk means you have no guarantees of the outcome but an educated guess, so when you take a risk based on an another risk…it has quite a compounding factor and creates what many people call “a house of cards”.

This is definitely the first Rite of Passage. Those who don’t have the stomach for it will never start a start-up.

Enter and Live in the Realm of Unknowns

Once you start building your “house of cards” (on hopefully a valid foundation, i.e. strong idea and solid business model) you work everyday to apply crazy glue to each cards so they never tumble.

Your daily work might include meeting key people, creating partnerships, building your team, developing your technology or product, and raising funds, etc. Through your daily interactions and tasks you begin encountering answers to your unknowns…some answers will propel you forward and provide glue, while some will shake up the house.

But here is the kicker, ALL potential answers to unknowns (good or bad), have to remain in the unknown category. In a start-up there are no guarantees—Therefore, unless it’s a signed deal, a delivered product or money deposited in the bank…it remains an UNKNOWN.

Your sanity is often tested. If you can do this and remain semi-sane then you have passed another Rite of Passage.

To be continued…

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Rites of Passage (Part I)

I earned the title of Marine by going through 13 weeks of Boot Camp ( pre Marine Combat Training for females) and then I earned the title Lieutenant by going through another 10 weeks at Officer Candidate School (OCS)…so I’m used to going through a variety of “rites of passage” and earning the right to graduate to the next level.

I graduated OCS with a pelvic stress fracture. After six months of recovery and being fed up of waiting, I was ready to start the next phase of my training (The Basic School). However, my doctor gave me a 10% chance of making it through another arduous six months of training. I remember him asking me: “Does this hurt?, Does this hurt?, Does this hurt?” while moving my leg around and me answering “No, No and No”. He finally asked me: “Would you tell me if it hurt?” and I replied “No” and that's when he shook his head and signed off my paper work allowing me to start training. I knew what I was made of...but he didn’t, otherwise; he would have given me better odds!!

But, as luck would have it, three months into training I badly injured my right ankle during a very important field exercise. Normally, getting injured at that point in training meant getting “dropped and recycled”. I knew I couldn’t afford having that happen to me, so although, I was on crutches; I asked to return to the field exercise. I remember a defining moment when the Executive Officer of the Company yelled back at me, soon after I’d left his office from asking, yet again, to be allowed to keep training: “Lt. Bernard, you are very persistent aren’t you?” I replied by yelling back “Yes, Sir” and he said “It just might pay off for you”

The next day, he brought me out to meet back up with the Marines in my platoon and I finished the field exercise by working in the Command Operation Center (COC). After graduating, I found out that the Executive Officer had taken full responsibility for me in order to be able to take me back out to the field exercise, and therefore, rescuing me from getting “dropped and recycled” to another company. He told me he knew I had what it took and I was worth taken a chance on.

You must have heart, guts, determination, will power and mental strength to make it through that type of training, particularly while surmounting injuries, but I also needed someone to see my potential and cut me a break.

What I’m answering for myself now is: What are the rites of passage to getting a shot at getting Why Go Solo off the ground? Or in more general terms: What are the rites of passage to getting a shot at getting a start-up off the ground.

To be continued…

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

13 Entrepreneur's Secret to Success

Thirteen Entrepreneurs Secret to Success

I selected my favorite top 13 Success Secret from the Entrepreneur Magazine's Hot 100 List in the August issue (the online link has all 500 companies)

1. DivX Inc.: The ability to embrace an unforeseen opportunity and have the patience to ride the waves to see the vision realized

2. Lifted Research Group: Passion, hard work and surrounding myself with great people. Also listening to my heart rather than my pocket.

3. Reflectx Services: Having an experienced, talented and dedicated team with common core values and the willingness to flex to meet market needs in spite of the business plan.

4. Goodman Networks: Having passion and desire for what we do along with an entrepreneurial spirit and an optimistic outlook on life.

5. Road King Trailes Inc.: Stay focused on your goals and products; don't just focus on what your competition is doing.

6. Hazen Construction LLC: Delivering projects as promised with a high level of quality in order to have the best reputation.

7. TC Consulting Inc.: It is the pursuit of excellence, never settling. It is the ability to live without regret. Being able to succeed is to never be content and always keep the ambition machine full of fuel.

8. Vineyard Vines: Success is having fun and loving what you do.

9. ExactTarget Inc.: Succcess means creating something that adds value--every minute of every day.

10. Journeyman Construction Inc.: See not hurdles--see opportunities

11. Albar Precious Metals: Listening to the advice of other successful people. It's very easy to get an ego--I've found the best way to achieve success is to surround myself with successful people.

12. Tavant Technologies Inc.: Keep customers satisfied, keep employees happy and constantly strive to get better at what you do.

13. North American Building Inc.: Plan your work and work your plan. Never say it can't be done. Resourcefulness produces results.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Going to BarCamp DC

I’ve been signed up for well over a week now and the event is August 11, but it’s taken me forever to get this post out.

I heard about BarCamp DC on Pownce from Brian at Viget Labs. I did some digging and looking around and decided there would be much to be gained from going. It will be rather nice to meet the people, in and around my local area, who are involved in social media and web technology.

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.

Everyone who attends the event is required and expected to participate, it's an unconference. The schedule gets done as people arrive and sign-up to present. I’ve been racking my brain to decide what I would want to talk about/present. I haven’t come up with anything yet…hoping to have it figured out before I show up. My best bet is something related to the importance of building solid social communities and the advantages to be gained.

Here is a video from BarCamp SF. (I was going to post the video from BarCamp Austin II, but it was way too cool looking and people seem to be having way beyond the amount of fun I think is to be expected at a BarCamp event…geez, come on, they had a live band and were doing shots!! The event was hosted in an actual bar.)