Life Lessons From Will Smith: 5 Steps

When I think about Will Smith, I think about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, blockbuster movies, and Gettin’ Jiggy With It. Then about 5 years ago I discovered another side of Will Smith, the inspirational thought provoking side.

He always struck me as a cool dude you can chill with and learn from, then after watching his Tavis Smiley interview (a few other Youtube clips as well), I realized why he is successful. Here are a few of the life lessons I picked up on, that you can apply right now.

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In order to win, learn how to lose

It’s easy for someones success to look overnight. When I see someone gaining success, I always try to imagine what their journey was like. The struggle, the sleepless nights, the empty bank accounts, mountains of debt, relationships lost, this list could go on. That person learned how to lose!

So why embrace losing? Well, i’m not embracing losing, rather redefining it. 2014 has been a year of much progress for me, but only because I figured out how to lose as well. I just replaced the word lose with grow. When that investor passed on my pitch, I grew. When that relationship didn’t quite work out well, I grew. When I spent all night working on a product launch, and nobody paid attention to it, I grew. Did you grow?

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The Only Bad Idea Is Not Taking Action

I was talking with my good friend Jimi Olaghere, who is founder of GeekSupply.co. The topic of the discussion was: Ideas. We were going over product ideas for gamers, since a new generation of consoles were released. The conversation went beyond it’s initial start and we just started wondering where good ideas are born. Here is how I feel about this topic.

There are no bad ideas. In my 7 year journey of being an entrepreneur I discovered bad ideas are temporary, because they turn into good ideas when action is applied. You learn, you grow, and you discover how to improve the idea. If the idea doesn’t work, sometimes you realize a new one from the experience.

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The Men Who Failed 1,000 Times

Welcome to the club. That’s what you hear when you tell someone about your bad day at work. They go through the same shit you do. But that’s the magic of being human. We are all the same, we breathe the same, and most of all we bleed the same. So what makes the ordinary extraordinary? What makes the smart, smart? The dumb, dumb? Effort, it’s the only thing we can control. I’m learning about effort in a whole new light these days. Effort is the gas that keeps our entrepreneur engine going. Even taking the topic slightly off of entrepreneurship, effort is what it takes to succeed at virtually anything.  I never looked at it that way before. I was blind, but now I see.  So why do most people lack effort? Pain.

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Build Your House On Value

Common advice I used to always receive is to network and be a connector. While that’s a good way to come up, it’s not stable by itself. Its shaky, like a house of cards. I think networks are definitely important, but creating some form of value as a foundation to build your success “house” on is even better.

Value doesn’t catch feelings, value can’t stab you in the back, value can’t just decide it doesn’t like you anymore, in other words value isn’t human. If you build a house based on connections alone, you can go very far, but one card can cause the whole house to collapse. Then what do you have to fall on?

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How To Hustle Content Like A Movie Theater

This post originally appeared on The Phat Startup a while back. I thought it was still relevant, given the heavy focus on content all brands are now pushing towards. So, time to give it new life!

I had a great conversation with The Phat Startup co-founder James Lopez about Jay-Z’s ownership with the Nets. There were people criticizing him as if his position with the ownership club didn’t mean anything financially. Well, they were wrong. Jay has pulled a classic move that we jokingly coined the “movie theater hustle.” Give away the movie for little or nothing, and just make money selling the popcorn. Even though we were kidding around, its really a unique analogy for delivering value.

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Faith Without Works Is Dead

I’m as patient as they come, but sometimes when something clicks in me I ask myself “damn, why couldn’t I have figured this out earlier?” But I accept the way life comes, because everything surely does happen for a reason. Lately I been somewhat addicted to James Altucher blogs and Jim Rohn audio tapes. I connect with them. They come from places where I have been, and even where i’m currently at mentally, physically, and even financially. To “choose yourself” as James would say is to not let the world put you in the rat race, and to take hold of your destination. You can’t just say it, you need a daily practice that stimulates you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

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5 Sites To Create a Landing Page For Non-Coders

Every year is a big “learn how to code” year. I still believe it’s important to learn how to code, but now it’s far from being a reason not to start something. I feel like creating a landing page is a great way to start validating an idea. I emphasize ‘start validating’ because some people get stuck at this stage, and depending on your product it may not provide enough validated learning. A landing page is not a MVP, its one of many things you can do. When teaching people these strategies, I always get the “I can’t code” or “don’t know where to start” push back. So I compiled 5 websites that can get you a landing page up and running in a hour or incredibly less.

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What Startup Communities Can Learn From The Black Wall Street

Update: This post actually turned into a Ted Talk. Watch above.

It’s almost common language in the tech community now that you don’t need Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs are taking a different route by creating the community they dream to be part of, right where they live. I’m aiming to do this with Newark, NJ. Using examples from those such as Brad Feld, Tony Hsieh, and of course history.

In 1906 a wealthy African American named O.W. Gurley moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in hopes of buying some new land. He successfully acquired 40 acres and started one of the most unknown business movements in American history with the new Greenwood district. I invite you to read up on it. I want to focus on how they grew.

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