Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Airbnb founder Nate Blecharczyk, Brit + Co founder Brit Morin, TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque, and Lyft co-founder John Zimmer took the stage here at Disrupt SF to talk about their experiences as disruptors of already-disrupted industries, but the first question from the audience was a doozy — how did each of their respective services capture their first 10,000 users?

Lyft founder John Zimmer pegs some of the company’s early success (it’s only 11 weeks old, after all) on fostering word-of-mouth about the new social ride-sharing service. Part of that crucial equation is, interestingly enough, the iconic pink mustaches that appear on every Lyft vehicle. They’re a notably quirky addition to an otherwise normal car that was conceived as part of a driving experience that people couldn’t help but talk about.

Brit + Co’s Brit Morin’s approach to gaining traction was similarly social, but as an online content company its approach…

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Can You Have Passion for What You Don’t Want to Do?

People always ask “So what do you want to do?” I know I am not alone when I don’t have a clearcut answer, but I’m starting to realize that this is okay. For me, knowing what I don’t want to do is equally as important as knowing what I do want to do. By approaching this question from the opposite angle, I believe you start to focus your skills and talents much better, and see things much more clearly.

Now at the age of 24, I have a good sense of my likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses. I’ve found that as I have gotten older, my ability to block out what I consider to be “noise” or wasteful of my time and energies is vastly improved than even a few years ago. This approach has increasingly made me seek out and focus on ‘high quality’ things in my life; friends, relationships, interests, food, travel, and work. This sometimes comes across as stubbornness, which is understandable, but I have no interest in doing something that I will not enjoy, or talking about the weather or anything else I consider a waste of time.

So what I do is use these little annoyances as motivation, and an impetus for change. This website doesn’t work the way it should? I’ll waste no time going to another one. You want to talk to me about the route you took to get here and how much traffic you hit? I’ll immediately cease talking and lose interest in our conversation. Your product is infuriating and that’s just the way it is because there is no other alternative? I hope to change that.

I am passionately annoyed, bothered, and upset by a myriad of things every day, all of which are constantly illuminating the life I want to lead, the experiences I want to have, and the company that I am going to build. So long as you can keep an open mind, fight hard against the things that you dislike and think are in need of change. Keep on fighting until whatever it is you want changed can be ignored no longer, and make that change fucking happen.

“Like many of Apple’s inventions, the iPhone began not with a vision, but with a problem”

“Like many of Apple’s inventions, the iPhone began not with a vision, but with a problem.” – Farhad Manjoo writing for Slate

Love this quote. All companies should approach how they function and what their purpose is this way. The rest of the article is also worth a read.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in name, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Hellen Keller

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

As cliché and played as this phrase is, it has moved me to do a lot of things in my life. Whenever one starts to feel restless or unsatisfied, that scary sense of change and the unknown is near. And once we can sense that change is necessary, we try to analyze whether it would be wise to act on these feelings or not.

  •  Should I go up and talk to the pretty girl?
  • Should I quit my job and travel the world?
  • Should I have studied something else?

We are in some current situation, that for whatever reason is undesireable to us so we mull over different outcomes in our heads. And far too often I find people erring on the side of caution, sticking with their current unhappy state just because it is familiar, safe, and convenient. Stop this thinking immediately. It is detrimental to your health, your relationships (I’m sick of hearing about how you hate your job), and society.

The most incredible people I have met in my life are ones that fully embrace change. They feed off of it and they grow as people, always open to new things and taking intelligent risks. Because it all comes down to “what is the worst that could happen?” The answer is, not much.

I plan to quit my job in May, travel the world for a bit, and then come back and start a company. This is not an option that most poeple would take. They would rather continually work for 40 years at various jobs that pays 5% better than the previous one they had, so that they can enjoy a nicer hotel and maybe a first class flight to wherever they plan to spend the only two weeks of the year that are truly theirs. Fuck that.

So what will I do when I quit my job, travel, start a company, and it fails (which is certainly possible)? I truly have no idea, but when it’s framed within “What’s the worst that could happen?” the answer is surprisingly, not much. I’m without steady income for a couple years and the business fails, so I get another job. Not ideal, but far from incapacitating me for the rest of my life. I’ll have taken a chance on something I really wanted to do, see some cool stuff around the world, and only have to answer to myself. And the upside is infinite.

So tell me, what is the worst that could happen?

Why?

My motivation doesn’t lie in money, ego, or, like Steve Jobs, to create ‘works of art.’ I’m no blood thirsty capitalist, no narcissist, and certainly no artist. Instead I want to seek control over my own life and to be entirely responsible for the outcomes. I want to do as I please, without having to worry what coworkers/bosses will think. The fact that I used to worry if I had built enough mind-numbing decks between now and my last employee review in order to get a 5% raise at the end of the year is an insult to all the amazing advances people have made over our short time on earth.

As humans, I truly believe we want to do real work. We are wired to create, solve, improve, optimize, economize, simplify, and invent for it is the fiber of our species. And it depresses me to know that I (and many of my friends/peers) haven’t done any of those things since college. This is my reason for starting a company. I want to create something, fix an existing problem, and absolutely and completely own it myself, the way I want to.

 Go forth and build. What’s the worst that could happen?

The Decision…. (Not Quite LeBron James)

Three and a half years out of college and I have decided to say “Fuck You!” to the corporate world. A sentiment that is no doubt shared by many disaffected people in the work force, and common sentiment to harbor.

Now for the hard part….. I’ve decided to start a company.

My main motivations:

  • I dont wan’t to talk about how it was 5 degrees colder than it was at this time last year in Cape Cod. I’d rather be working on something I care about.
  • I don’t ever want to be asked “Hey. How do you work the printer?” just because I sit next to the printer.
  • I’m tired of being forced to dress up as a dancing Kia commercial Hamster being chased by singing Fraggles in the company Halloween Talent Show because it encourages ”team bonding.” (yes, seriously).
  • I never want to hear “That being said” or  “from a ______ perspective” or “ASAP” again.

But ultimately, I don’t want to be obligated to do things I don’t want to. Giving up my time to be somewhere that I don’t really want to be, in exchange for some money to pay off some bills I don’t really want to pay so I can have two days of “freedom” every week is not how I want to live the next 40 years of my life. Time is my most valuable asset. 

Now that I plan to start a company, I am going to chronicle my choices, thoughts, (mis)adventures, motivations and progress here for people to track. I also hope it will keep me motivated and prevent me from becoming complacent, since there is no better time to start than now….