What I Learned From a Quote From an Avalanche Survivor

I grew up in Reno. When you want to travel to Lake Tahoe to witness the breathtaking views of the lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains during the summer or just simply want to take on the black diamond ski slopes during the winter, you fly into Reno. Tahoe is just hop-skip away to the wonders of Lake Tahoe and Reno is the closest city to have an international airport. In fact, as a kid growing up, we consider the ski slopes of Tahoe our own backyard. There’s a Junior Ski program that takes a bus full of kids every Saturday 30 minutes to the closest ski resort to get them started mastering the slopes early in their childhood. Our high school had a downhill ski team that competed against other schools in the county and some went on to become a professional skiers. All that to say, ski culture in Reno is second to none.

So, when I saw the trailer for this Feature Length Documentary called BURIED, based on the 1982 avalanche in Alpine Meadows (ski resort at Tahoe know for incredible summit-to-base groomed grails and panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada), I was intrigued and just had to watch it. Here it is…

In 1982, a massive avalanche had crashed into the base area of the ski resort after a four-day storm which had dumped close to eight feet of snow along with 100 mile per hour winds. The resort was closed but a few employees remained at the headquarters. And at 3:45 pm a tidal wave of snow came down and destroyed the building and buried the parking lot killing seven innocent lives. Here’s a crazy part of this story (warning: spoiler alert), one woman named Anna Conrad was found alive after being buried in the snow for a total of five days. She was located by a trained search dog, a German Shepard named Bridget. It took total of 117 hours for her to be found. It was a miracle beyond miracle that she was alive. She had been trapped in the second floor of a three-story ski lift building. She crawled into a space between all debris and a bench, surviving on melted snow.

When asked later while she was waiting to be rescued for 5 days if she ever gave up hope. “No.” She said. “I knew they would come” She never lost hope.

After this traumatic experience, the recovery back to the norm obviously wasn’t easy for her. She was dealing with the loss of her friends and the loss of the love of her life. At the same time, she was also trying to overcome survivor’s guilt of asking why. On top of that, the tough news she was told was that she would have to have her right leg amputated.

As devastating as that new way, this is how she responded. “What happened to me was a fantastic miracle, I can’t believe that I made it. It’s like so many miracles occurred all at once to save me, it’s just…it’s overwhelming. Learning about my leg amputation was very hard at first, but I decided there was no use being depressed, I was going to have to live with it so I might as well accept it.”

In the spirit of our new series “Inspiration”, I wanted to share this incredible survival story of Anna with you. I walked away from this documentary being reminded once again the fragility of life. And beyond that, I was inspired by her never giving up hope through one of the most hopeless circumstances. But most of all, I am inspired by her attitude of gratefulness and putting it all into perspective in the midst of her own painful journey. Her courage to accept, her courage to hope and her courage to live is inspiring. Are you inspired? My question now is how will this change and impact me? How will I learn to accept the things that doesn’t show up in my favor and how will I continue to see the hope and be grateful no matter what the circumstance I am facing? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Quotes that Changed Everything

Have you ever heard someone say, “…and what he/she said totally changed my life!” I wish I could gather up these life-changing phrases and the context they were spoken in and write a book. I would call it “Quotes that Changed Everything.” I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for inspiration. My daughter said the other day that we should all stop waiting and seeking inspiration to do something and just start doing it. Whoa!! That really inspired me. It’s kind of funny that her saying not to look for inspiration inspired me. Ha!
There were many moments throughout my life when I became moved or inspired by something. So, I thought, why not share some of these stories and ideas since we are heading into the holidays and the end of the year? Let’s call this series “Inspiration.”
But first, why do we need to be inspired? I truly believe, for me, it serves as a powerful force that drives my creativity and motivation, which eventually helps me grow. I guess you can say motivation is essential for my own personal development.
Let’s rewind 20+ years to when my own entrepreneurial journey started. I watched a movie called “About Schmidt.” Have you seen it? It’s about a fictitious character named Warren Schmidt, played by Jack Nicholson. He’s minutes away from retirement from an actuary with a life insurance company, and his life’s work is piled beside him in boxes in his office labeled “Schmidt archives.” He’s staring at the clock waiting for it to hit 5:00 pm so he can officially retire and go home. You can sense that he has been bound by conformity and a lifeless day-to-day routine that brings him no joy or satisfaction. He missed out on forming deep relationships with his family, and his hope of a blissful retirement plan goes awry when his wife of 42 years passes away suddenly. Warning: this is not a hopeful film; it’s heartbreaking and a serious look at a person who can’t escape the fact his life is meaningless. Are you inspired yet? Hahaha!
There are two quotes that hit home for me in this movie that inspired me to make a personal change.
Quote 1:
Warren Schmidt: “Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None at all.”
Quote 2:
Warren Schmidt: “I know we’re all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?”
In some way, I identified with Warren Schmidt at that time. And these quotes forced me to look at my future differently. I wanted something more. I want my life to matter, and I want to make a difference in someone because I existed.
I know these inspirational quotes alone are not always enough…for me, it needed to be coupled with action and perseverance. But it definitely helped me to take the next steps toward my growth. I think taking consistent steps toward the inspired vision can gradually reshape the direction of one’s life. Additionally, the journey of change may involve challenges and setbacks, but the inspiration that initiated the process can serve as a source of resilience and motivation to stay the course.
So, to all those dreamers out there, what’s your dream? What motivates you? What inspires you? How will you get there? Let’s journey together and share our stories along the way.

Here’s Your Challenge

Finally, the day you’ve all been waiting for. (Right?) This is the finale of our recent series and there’s a CALL TO ACTION that I’ve been hinting to you about. For those of you reading this for the first time, here’s a quick summary. We’ve been talking about the psychology of success and happiness and I’ve shared some insights on…

And as promised, here’s the challenge… taking all those theoretical concepts and putting them into action!

But before I get into the details, a few thoughts on why you should take on this challenge. If you are like most people, you’ve started many things to get from point A to point B but quit in the process. For example, “I want to lose weight so I will start a diet.” You quit because it got too hard when someone suggested beer/pizza/ice cream night. Another example: “I want to wake up early and start every morning with a good run.” One day it rains and your 5-day streak is broken and now you can’t even remember where your running shoes are. Or, how about this one? “I am going to journal everyday.” But you realized your drawer is full of colorful journals that are 1/4 way filled and the rest are blank pages. You somewhere, somehow, stopped and never went back to finish it.

Most people lack the discipline and willpower to do what they set out to do. Most people don’t do what they say they are going to do. Most people don’t execute consistently. But imagine this: what would it be worth to you if you could create within yourself the following skills to get it done?

  • Discipline
  • Self Worth
  • Fortitude
  • Grit
  • Self Control
  • Self Esteem
  • Confidence

Read those bullet points again and think to yourself, what kind of a person would I be if I had all these skills in my life? Well, you know what these skills will equal? They equal MENTAL TOUGHNESS. I believe if you possess these skills in your life, you will be on your way to living bigger. Guaranteed!

So, here’s the million-dollar question. How do I possess these skills in my life? Answer: Do hard things. What hard things? These specific hard things. For 75 straight days. Follow this program. Zero deviations, zero compromises. You cannot tailor this program to your liking or to your convenience. You have to follow it. And if you miss a day or miss a minute, you have to start over from day 1. Cool? Cool.

The 75 Hard Challenge was created in 2019 by entrepreneur Andy Frisella, a podcaster and CEO of the supplement company 1st Phorm. 75 Hard is not a trendy fitness challenge, but a “transformative mental toughness program.” This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done and once you complete it, you’ll say to yourself, this is the greatest thing I have ever done. But before you jump in and begin, listen to this podcast describing the program and what you are getting yourself into and once you make your decision to start, go to this page and sign up. There are hundreds and thousands of people doing it with you. You can also hashtag #75hard and hear their stories, their challenges, their questions, and even their answers.

Why are we doing this? Because in order to gain the skills of mental toughness, you have to intentionally put yourself in uncomfortable places. 75 days, 0 deviations, 0 compromises, 100% pure awesomeness. Are you ready? 

75 Hard Challenge:

  • Pick a diet and stick to it. Commit to your diet, whatever that is for you. Building mental discipline. No cheat meals. Eating clean…don’t miss the point. Choose a diet pertaining to your goals. No junk. No alcohol.
  • Drink 1 gallon of water everyday. Health benefits?
  • (2) 45-minute workouts. One has to be outdoors. It’s supposed to be inconvenient. Only did 44 minutes outside? Start over. Conditions won’t be perfect. Do it no matter what especially when no one else is doing it. (Don’t put yourself in danger tho…). This is empowerment. This will help build you. This is what champions are made of. Doing something when no one else is doing it. You can also do both 45-minute sessions outside.
  • Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book everyday. Learn new stuff time, not entertainment time. Not audio, not digital, not coloring, not 5 sentences on each page…lol.
  • Take a progress picture everyday. Not just to show your physical transformation…which is awesome…but so that you don’t forget the little details. The incremental changes you don’t want to overlook. Huge deal. Show your body in your picture. Keep it private. This is just for you. No need to share. 

Okay, are you ready for this? This is not the next thing…this is THE thing. Reply back and let me know you are in!


Do Hard Things

Okay, okay, I get it. If you’ve been following our latest series, it’s filled with a lot of advice that’s easy to say or write about, but a little tougher to live out. 

“The secret sauce of being awesome is Believing.” You’ve got to have confidence, you must believe in yourself, also expect great things, and for heaven sake, get out of suckville…blah blah blah. That all sounds good, but how do you do it? 

How in the world do you gain that confidence? Do you just wake up one day and say, “I got this”? Do you just walk out the front door thinking, “I am awesome”? Do you put on a cape, fly out the window and save the world through the sheer force of your belief?

Well, maybe some of you can. But for me, it takes a lot of convincing. I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem and self-doubt, and in a constant battle in my head trying to overcome my own limiting beliefs… I guess I’ve always been a mess. Something had to change.

Just recently I shared this story about my triumphant and courageous exit from a previous job that almost destroyed my soul (just being over-dramatic here). But what I didn’t share was what happened after. I was starting my career all over in a new place. I had to rebuild a network and establish credibility with people who didn’t know or care about what I had done in the past. Looking back, it was one of the most challenging times of my life. I needed a breakthrough. Bad.

In the midst of feeling sorry for myself, I was helping my brother-in-law find a new office manager for his architectural firm and I came across a resume. Something jumped out at me. Like it was screaming at me. On the Extracurricular section of her resume, she wrote: LA Marathon, Boston Marathon…and immediately I thought to myself: he needs to hire her, because…if she can run a marathon, if she can overcome the agonizing pain of 26.2 miles and if she can withstand the mental and emotional challenges of everything that requires…SHE CAN DO ANYTHING!

And Bingo. That’s just the epiphany I needed for myself. For my own breakthrough, I needed to do hard things. 

I needed to run a marathon.

Mind you, I’d never run more than 3 miles before in my life. But, I printed out the training schedule and followed it everyday. I slowly worked my way up to being able to run 20 miles without stopping. Some runs were in the heat of summer, but I was determined. This was my breakthrough moment, and when the day arrived, I was ready. I couldn’t believe it. 

I remember vividly, March 6, 2005, LA Marathon XX. I’ll never forget getting to mile 20 and thinking there is no possible way I could finish. I was physically and mentally exhausted. Everything hurt. But weirdly, something deep within me didn’t want to give up. So I looked down at my feet and just concentrated on putting my one foot past the other….over and over again until I eventually saw a glimpse of the finish line. Then I remember running past the finish line with both of my hands high in the air, tears streaming down my face, thinking to myself, “I did it! I did it!”

There was still something about this accomplishment that I didn’t quite understand. Yes, it was empowering. And yes, it was a physical and mental victory. And yes, it was a way of overcoming my own doubts and fears. But back to the resume that gave me the original epiphany – what I remember most about that moment was thinking to myself, “I just ran a marathon – I CAN DO ANYTHING!”

How do you gain confidence? How do you learn to believe? How do you expect great things? Do hard things. Keep doing hard things. Keep breaking your own barriers. Keep surprising yourself. For me, since then, I’ve ran (7) full marathons, (2) 200 mile relays and over 50 half marathons. I want to keep doing hard things….I want to be addicted to doing hard things.  

Are you with me? Our series comes to an end next week, and we can’t just end the series without a Call to Action, right? So, I’ll be introducing an awesome challenge that we can all do together. It will help us grow. It will help us out of suckville, it will help us beam with belief and confidence…we are gonna do hard things together. Are you ready?

Can’t wait to share more next week!


The Secret Sauce Of Success

If reading the subject line inspired you to open this email as fast as possible, you probably have just one question burning in your mind: “What is the secret sauce of success??” 

What if I told you the answer could be encapsulated in one word with seven letters? 


Why is believing so important? I am glad you asked. But first, a story.

When I was in high school playing on the golf team, a new superstar joined our team midseason. We lived on the same street and we became awesome friends!! I was still struggling with my game at the time but he wasn’t. He’d been playing since he could walk – his dad was a pro at the golf course that they owned, and he lived, loved, and breathed golf…and on top of that, he was just super talented. 

What intrigued me most about his game wasn’t his ability to hit it long or his perfect follow through or even his incredible good looks. But, what I remember to this very day is his confidence on the course. For instance, a 10-foot putt on the last hole to win the match? No problem. Right in the center of the cup. During our high school tournament on hole number 1, driving a fairway with a lake on the left while our entire team, their entire team, and the coaches were watching, he would blast one out there…right down the middle…long and straight…with so much sureness. Me? On that hole? During that tournament? I put 2 balls in the water.

So, what did he have that I didn’t? Well, for one, he had CONFIDENCE. He believed in himself. He believed that he had the ability to do what was set before him and he believed that he had the ability to do it well.

A renowned behavioral geneticist named Robert Plomin did a study 20 years ago. He took 15,000 sets of twins and followed them from birth into adulthood. In light of their identical DNA, he wanted to take a closer look at the element of confidence. So the twins had been given a standard IQ test at age seven and again at age nine. They were also tested academically in math, writing and science. Then, they were asked to rate how confident they were about each of the subjects. After much cross-referencing by the research team, they were surprised by their finding. 

So, what did they find?

The students’ self-perceived ability was a significant predictor of achievement. It was even more important than their IQ. What? Our perceived ability and our realistic sense of feeling secure actually overrides our IQ. It doesn’t matter how smart you really are…it doesn’t matter how great and talented you are…it’s the fact that you believe in yourself that helps you achieve success. 

So, knowing the importance of “BELIEVE,” how do I learn to start believing in myself? I would love to give you some of my thoughts on how we can achieve the confidence to expand a bit more on our series this month. So, stay tuned. 

If you haven’t been following, we are talking about the mental/psychology of success and happiness. Here are the last two topics that we addressed:

We can be our own biggest cheerleaders or our biggest critics. It’s not just about “thinking positive” – your level of belief is a real thing that is either helping you or hurting you right now. And the difference between the two will make all the difference in the world.

Don’t stop believin!!


When A Joy Becomes A Burden

Let me know if you can relate.

At some point in your entrepreneur journey, or somewhere in your professional career path, you lose the joy of it all. I mean like gone. Like you can barely get out of bed to go to work, and once you get enough courage to get in the shower, you stand still with your head down with the water coming down over your face and you can’t muster up any energy to even give a crap. Maybe not to that extreme, but I think it happens to everyone. And, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. I know this because it happened to me. 

For 15 straight years into my career, everything went right. I was told by Tim (our VP of Human Resources) that in all of his experience, he’s never seen anyone like me advance so rapidly in an organization. I went from an Intro Design Engineer to a Mid Manager to an Upper Managing Position with a nice big office and a personal secretary. That was the dream back then. So, was I ecstatic? No. My wife would say to me, “I think you are slowly dying inside.” And she was right. 

According to Dr. Bhrett McCabe, author of Break Free from Suckville, there are 3 phases that lead you to Suckville. And for reference, Suckville is where people get stuck. For athletes, they stop winning. For creatives, they stop creating. And for all of us, it is a place where we no longer find any joy, motivation nor purpose in what we are doing. So, how did we get here?

Phase 1: Joy. When it was fun. Do you remember when you were learning something new? Learning a sport, learning how to paint, learning a new video game, learning how to build. You couldn’t be stopped. You didn’t mind spending extra hours to figure it out. Especially if you found yourself being good at it. Mastering the skill was exhilarating and the winning was just the icing on the cake. I can do this forever. During this phase, hard work produces proportional results. The pursuit of competence and the mastery in your craft drives your focus.

Phase 2: Job. Then it becomes a job. Good things come to an end. Joy dims. Entitlements begin to foster during this phase. Expectations start to emerge. Over time, the rewards lose their shine. You want more. The relationship you had with your craft while you were learning it changes. Practice becomes a task rather than a training ground to keep improving. Mistakes become magnified. People’s feedback becomes a personal attack. 

Phase 3: Burden. Now, it’s a burden. When does this happen? It occurs when the rewards you receive from doing what you used to love to do no longer outweigh the sacrifices you must make to perform at your best. You start to focus more on the struggles rather than the benefits that it used to bring. What started as fun has broken you down with disappointment, frustration, and exhaustion. Your performances no longer validate your worth. 

But, here’s the good news. Suckville is a temporary place. It’s where you stay for a bit to regroup, refocus and recalibrate. It’s a place where you learn to see from a different perspective, learn to be grateful about the process, and learn to persevere. It’s where you break free, where you understand more of who you are, what you are made of and what you are willing to do to escape. It’s where you reach deep into your soul and say to yourself, I got this. I want to live. I want to find joy again.

For me, it took a courageous decision to write out my resignation and quit at the top of my game knowing it was a game I didn’t want to play anymore. And I started again from the bottom in a new place, in a new role, finding joy in learning..mastering a new skill with exhilaration and focus. That’s where I am today. Am I in fear of phase 2 and phase 3 around the corner? Not as much as before. Seems like it’s easier the second time around. Bring it on, haha. And how will it be different next time around? Well, for one, I am doing a lot of work within. I am learning to be mentally tough and learning to be more aware of and staying in the phase I am in now. 

I would love to hear your story as well. We are all in this together. Right? Email me back. Let’s chat.


How Not To Suck

Here’s an interesting thought. Picture an elite athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his or her success. They’ve accomplished the feat that most humans can’t even imagine to dream. Wouldn’t you think they’d now be completely free from the fear of failing, the sting of criticism and judgment, and ultimately have the power to rise above all the annoying hassles of life? 

I mean, shouldn’t their continuous success and legendary status erase all doubt? Well, not according to a study that was done. Even with the fame and fortune that come with being a champion in their sport, success does not create happiness. The research and evidence suggest that even an Olympic gold medal does not protect you from the struggle. 

Let’s deep dive into the research done in 1995 by a group of nerdy psychologists led by Thomas Gilvovich from Cornell University. They specifically studied silver medal winners vs. bronze medal winners. Surprisingly enough, the bronze medal winner appeared happier than those winning the silver. What the what? Why? It doesn’t make any sense.

The answer? One word. Expectations.

For Olympic athletes, they start off with such a low probability of winning a gold in an event that only happens once every four years, leading to life-changing possibilities… and added pressure. So for silver medalists, it means you lost to the winner. You are not the best, but the second best. You are the most successful loser. 

Can you imagine missing the gold by .005 seconds? Feeling like just one more rep, one more hour of work, one less indulgent in-and-out double double with cheese fries could have made the difference. It can be devastating and hard to accept second place and move on without torturing yourself with “if only I could have…”

But for the bronze medalist? You are walking away with something. You get to stand on the podium. While you missed the ultimate goal of winning, the struggle to get there was worth it. Why? Expectations.

I am starting a new series this month. Let’s discuss and unpack the mental/psychology of success and happiness. Let’s look at high achievers and the rise and fall of highly motivated individuals with huge expectations of themselves. And for funzies, let’s do a challenge at the end of the series to help us do hard things and grow. 

If you are asking what does this have to do with Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Business…etc…my answer to that is, everything. It all starts with you, so let’s all grow and learn together this month.

Back to managing our expectations. I believe there’s a way to set healthy, realistic and specifically-tailored goals that won’t lead to disappointment or frustration but keeps us challenged and motivated. It could be us directing our attention to process rather than outcome; it could be learning to embrace our failures; it could be practicing self-compassion and/or seeking support and help.

Please be ready to share your own thoughts and any wisdom you’ve found through the struggles – we’re all in this together! Not to overhype it, but this could end up being the beginning of the most important month of our lives. Or maybe to set the right expectations, let’s try to make it the 3rd most important month of our lives and be happy with that.


When You Have a Dream But the World Says “No”

Vicky Tsai is the founder of Tatcha, a line of Japanese beauty and skincare products.

She might be the most unlikely origin story that we’ve heard about this month, because from the very beginning she was told by everyone there was zero market for her. In the U.S., American retailers claimed they had no demand for Asian beauty supplies, and even in Japan the products were viewed as old-fashioned, like something your grandmother would use. All she heard was NO.

Undeterred, she trusted what she had – a skin-care miracle called “blotting papers.” They’d been used for centuries by geishas in Japan to remove oil from their faces before and after putting on makeup, and all the geishas she’d met had flawless skin. She tried them herself after years of suffering from dermatitis – in just a few weeks of using them and some other related products, her face was healed. Once she ran out of her own supply, she searched everywhere and discovered that Kyoto was the only place where you could find them, and they had no interest in exporting them. Already under a mountain of personal debt, she sold her engagement ring to purchase 10,000 packs of blotting paper and the company was born.

For the next several years, the debt only got worse, and the “no’s” only got louder. Unable to afford rent, she was forced to run the company out of her parents’ garage, and repeatedly had to borrow money just to make payroll. Finally in 20217, her perseverance paid off – following years of growth that everyone had said would never happen, she sold the company to Unilever for a reported $500 million.

A few things I take away from Vicky’s story:

First, no matter what business you’re in, the name of the game is solving a problem. Whether it’s a problem you have (like Vicky’s dermatitis) or a problem you see for others, the biggest question is: what problem are you helping solve?

Second, don’t underestimate the power of learning from someone who’s different from you. Our own perspective inevitably will have blind spots – what if traveling to another country or listening to another point of view holds the missing piece to your puzzle? In Japan, it was an old-fashioned idea that nobody wanted, a gold mine hiding in plain sight that just needed a rebrand. Could the key to your dream be waiting in some other cultural context that you’ve never explored before?

My favorite part of all is just her refusal to take No for an answer. Even when the odds weren’t in her favor, she just kept showing up and finding a way forward. Part of me wonders if it all traces back to one of her first jobs working for Starbucks Corporate – at one point she was the lead on a massive initiative to launch Starbucks in China, pouring her soul into the job to ensure the campaign was a huge success. At the end of that year during her annual review, the VP gave her an evaluation of “Meets Expectations;” shortly after, she was like, “Nope, I’m out of here.” Like she already knew there was something more in her, no matter what negativity she heard from others.

I love the quote from Vincent Van Gogh: “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” As we wrap up this origin story series, what voices are you listening to? If you’re hearing a no to your dream, or if someone is looking at your best efforts and saying it “Meets Expectations,” I hope this is the year you go out there and prove them wrong. 


Vision For 2022, And A Hunger For BBQ

David Anderson is the founder of Famous Dave’s, one of the largest BBQ chains in the U.S., with over 125 restaurants across the country.

Like many of the companies we’ve been examining this month, Dave’s origin story has a humble beginning. School was a struggle for him growing up – he was failing all his classes. Then a teacher came along and changed everything.

You would think that it was some BBQ chef who showed up and gave him some secret recipe, but it was actually an art teacher who made the biggest impact. One day, he set Dave aside to talk about all his failing grades. He said, “Dude,” (I’m paraphrasing here) “I know you are no good at school (including art) lol, but you have a very unique perspective in life. You see things differently and that’s going to take you a long way.”

Have you ever had a teacher like that?

For me, it was Mrs. Thomas my English teacher during my Freshman year. All of my teachers saw me as a troublemaker and a goofball who didn’t care much about anything. She thought I was actually funny and loved my writing. I was an energetic kid – and that energy expressed itself in other ways, like being the class clown. She just laughed along with the kids and allowed me to have my spotlight. She didn’t realize, I was already in training for all the relational connections through humor I would make through BOS Media! Who knew being funny would be an important characteristic in business?

That’s why I love Mrs. Thomas. Where other teachers saw a problem, she saw potential. The same qualities that I was using to disrupt class could also make me a leader.

It was a very similar shift in mindset that shaped Famous Dave’s life. For years, he tinkered with his own recipes for sauces and sides, before finally opening his first restaurant in the last place anyone would think to find a BBQ joint: Hayward, Wisconsin. But he trusted what he saw, and sure enough, the business started to grow.

Once the restaurant had become a success, Dave invested a lot of corporate money to train his employees – I’m sure he looked at them and saw himself at a younger age, just needing someone to believe in what they could become. His executive board was concerned about all this spending and confronted him, like “Hey, why are you training all these people? What if they take all this knowledge and LEAVE for a better job?” He chuckled and said, “But if we don’t train them, what if they don’t learn anything…and they STAY?” 

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Robert Kennedy: “Some see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” What if we had that perspective about our own dreams for this year? Or more importantly, what if we had that perspective about the people around us? What might they become if we believed in them? 

Here’s to seeing differently. And as Dave says, “May you always be surrounded by good friends and great barbeque.”


The Biggest Question To Ask When You Have A World-Changing Idea

James Park is the co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

Once upon a time, he was enrolled at Harvard (his parents’ dream for his life), but he dropped out to start his own business. Some time later, he had what he described as a “lightning bolt moment” when he first played the Nintendo Wii. The way they used sensors to track motion made him wonder: how do we take this outside? We now know that question led to the “gamification of fitness,” and put him at the forefront of a multi-billion dollar industry.

We’re kicking off 2022 talking about the origin stories of some of the most successful companies in recent times. It makes me think of this, aka our official origin story theme song. Hopefully you feel inspired knowing that every great success had to start somewhere, usually with pretty humble beginnings. An idea most people wouldn’t have thought much of, but that in the case of Fitbit was ultimately sold to Google for over $2billion. 

I have a few thoughts on this…

First of all, how awesome that it all started while playing video games! It just shows, you never know when inspiration can strike. Next time someone gives you a hard time for playing video games, just tell them you’re looking for the next industry-revolutionizing idea.

Second, let’s talk about him dropping out of Harvard. Imagine how that conversation with his parents went. But to put it in perspective – they themselves had immigrated from Korea with the hope of finding new opportunities for their family. So you could argue, the risk they took was actually much greater than the one he took to drop out (let’s be honest though, I strongly doubt they appreciated that point). 

This made me think: what’s stopping us from pursuing our new ideas? I’m sure we could all come up with excuses – a list of responsibilities that keep us from venturing out and trying new things… seriously, who has time to play video games and have a dream? Has your daily work become a “Harvard” that you wouldn’t dare drop out of?

However, the biggest thing that stood out to me when I heard James Park’s story is one little word that you probably skipped over in the first paragraph above: that he’s the co-founder of Fitbit.

The key question we need to ask about our world-changing ideas is: WHO? Who are you going to do it with?

James would tell you, without Eric Friedman, there would be no Fitbit. I love hearing him talk about their relationship. How in the most stressful times, they were able to help pick each other up, and being thankful that even though there were low moments of feeling down, “luckily we weren’t down at the same time.” 

Do you have that person in your life? Maybe what’s really stalling your big idea is not a what, but a who. There might be a partner out there you could collaborate with who would turn your dream into reality. Who is your co-founder?

In the words of our origin story theme song, “We started from the bottom now the WHOLE TEAM here.” Here’s to dreaming big, together.

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