This blog post comes at a little bit of a surprise, but I thought that I'd share this part of my entrepreneurship journey with you:
After 3.5 years, I'm no longer working at Dedicated Media!
A couple of months ago, my friend Daniel Ordonez recommended I put down what I was reading and immediately begin Start Something That Matters, by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie.
As part of my commitment to reading 1 book a month this year, I decided to give the book a shot. I was generally aware of TOMS and their mission, so I figured it was a good opportunity to take some of his successes and lessons and apply them to Food Tribe.
In addition to covering Mycoskie's own personal journey as an entrepreneur, SSTM provides readers with stories, tools, and ideas to encourage and empower entrepreneurs to implement programs in their businesses to drive social impact and create meaningful change in its wake.
Mycoskie's mission was to start a profitable company that ALSO drove meaningful impact. Too often conventional wisdom teaches us (and especially entrepreneurs) that ROI is the number driver of the health of an organization.
Mycoskie points out that a host of alternative metrics need to start being graded in order to measure the true success of an organization: its ability to change its customers lives, or to help its employees not just be satisfied in their work, but find meaning - these are the types of things we need to start measuring beyond traditional business metrics of earnings, losses, and growth.
Which is great! One of the challenges I've had in scaling Food Tribe was finding the perfect marriage of value proposition and social impact - two things paramount to the success of the company. As I continue to grow the company, I'll remember to use TOMS example in order to remind Food Tribe - and everyone involved - that our number one mission is to end hunger.
If you're interested in launching a company based on social impact, check out this cool Design for Social Impact Workbook offered by design consulting firm, IDEO.
So you're telling me that moments of self-doubt and insecurity have a name??
I started working on Food Tribe last year because I was interested in combining my passions of food, entrepreneurship and social welfare; it was about starting a journey to figure out how I could turn the things I loved into a career, driven by a desire to leave the world a better place by ending hunger. No big deal, right?
In theory, starting a company is easy. You identify a market, find the opportunity, offer a value proposition, and go to market.
In practice: LOL.
Starting a business is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It never ends. There's always work to be done, skills to be learned, and stones left to turn. When you combine that with the stresses of daily life - bills, family, work - and it can become overwhelming.
That's why Impostor Syndrome has been particularly annoying. I'm very rarely the best at anything, but I'm pretty competitive at most things. If something interests me, I learn about it, and I try it out. After a while, I get better.
Launching a startup isn't that easy though. It's not always easy to measure progress, which can get pretty discouraging. It helps to be able to visualize the journey because you know there's an end in sight.
Startups don't work that way though. You have to be flexible and willing to pivot. You can't be sensitive to criticism, or unwilling to change.
You also have to balance that with keeping your vision and being tuning out the noise and opinions of others.
Basically listening to everything and nothing at the same time. Easy, right?
During the most stressful times is when my internal "Impostor" starts dropping seeds of self-doubt, frustration, and fear:
"If you were really serious about Food Tribe, you'd be pursuing it full-time."
"You don't have the background or expertise to make Food Tribe a profitable company, capable of generating recurring revenue."
"Ending hunger? Who do you think you are?"
What makes dealing with the "Impostor" so tough is separating him who I know that I am: confident, motivated, intelligent, and resourceful.
I've learned that by including friends and family on my journey, has been the best way of keeping the Impostor at bay.
Celebrating little wins with others - filming a web show, completing an accelerator, getting Food Tribe's first feature - helps remind me that while I may not have conquered the world today, there's always tomorrow.
.... random right?
Last weekend was my first weekend participating with Ruckus Projects. As a quick reminder, Ruckus Projects is a community of innovators looking to make social impact in conjunction with Impact Hub LA. The 3 month program groups me with 13 REALLY smart people with the hope that by coming together, our respective visions will come to life through a spirit of support, accountability, and helpful feedback.
This weekend, was an experience. We hung out all day on Saturday at the Impact Hub co-working space in the DTLA Arts District. It was great getting to know everyone/their ideas as well as identifying important lessons and ways to prepare for getting our ideas out.
One of the lessons of the day involved the power of asking. We were split into groups and given a paperclip with a simple task: trade your way up in an hour and see what you can come back with.
Through a series of trades, we worked our way up to $80 worth of gift cards. Remember, we started with one paperclip, and we didn't know any of the people we made deals with. Trades involved deals for matchsticks, safety pins, pencil sharpeners, candy, you name it.
What I Learned:
1. People are willing to help you, just ask
2. Your Perception of an item/service/things value doesn't always match up to someone else's (one of our last trades involved the gift cards in exchange for a pencil sharpener - our trade buddy was more interested in clearing out wallet space!)
3. Sometimes, you just gotta wing it. You're not always going to know what you're doing, but what's the worst that could happen?
Ruckus Projects is a 3 month program designed to help social entrepreneurs get their product out. They provide meeting space, mentor-ship, community, and valuable relationships.
Working with Ruckus is going to be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity.
Here's to 2016!