The good folks at BET “Whats At Stake” decided to follow me for a day at our Tech808 conference. I also sat down and told them a few stories on my entrepreneur journey. Enjoy!
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs,
But he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down,
The whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s choking how, everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up, over, bloah!” – Eminem
I just finished giving a TEDx talk at Barnard College in NYC. During the process of researching, writing, practicing and finally performing my talk, I learned a ton of lessons. I gave talks before, but preparing for this one was different and challenging.
When I was 16 years old I met Monte Lipman, the President of Universal Records. His personal driver dropped him off in an all black S-Class Mercedez Benz Sedan in front of my high school. It was a Saturday, and he was the only reason I would show up to school on a Saturday. He was there to speak to students at a special career day.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything he said that day except for his recipe for getting lucky. It’s the recipe he says he has followed, and got him to where he is in life. So, a curious kid like myself paid close attention. Here’s what he wrote on the chalkboard.
This year I was featured in a AT&T commercial that aimed to highlight African American tech entrepreneurs. It was a honor to be selected, and i’m forever grateful to AT&T for choosing me.
The spot so far has caught a lot of attention. If you are reading this it’s probably because you saw the spot during Empire on FOX, Love & Hip Hopon VH1, BET, or on TVONE.
Millions of people saw it, and so many have reached out wanting to know more. Joining my email list is the best way to do that (look at the top of the sidebar).
Back when I first decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur, the biggest advice I got was to go networking. I’m sure you hear this all the time.
So that’s what I did. I went to meetup groups, conferences, business lunches, and collected tons of business cards. When I got home they sat on the desk for a day or two before I followed up with them. Sound familiar? Networking was easy, activating the network is where the real magic is.
When you activate your network, that’s when it indeed becomes worth something. I learned to never network expecting to receive, but to give. Provide value.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Pardon my French. Not giving a fuck isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It’s actually more about focus and caring only about things that matter. I recently started reading “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday, and the entire book is a tactical guide to only focusing on the things that matter to get through tough times.