A little over 2 years ago I launched Silverback Social from my home office. I spent the first few months chained to my desk, head down, plowing forward. I needed to close business, and kickstart my new venture. I had no income, no financial backing and money was running out quickly. I had borrowed money from my parents & in laws. I was pushing as hard as I could. Working 15 hour days became my normal (all while training for the NYC Marathon).
I didn’t have the money to hire a developer so I taught myself how to modify a wordpress theme and I created a website. I leveraged tools like Elance to create our first logo.
I went on a working binge of three days where I failed to bathe, brush my teeth or change my clothes (seriously).
My wife was understandably worried, but I believed in myself and my vision. I had been working with a business partner for the previous two years, and I had stagnated. The final straw for me was when I conceived of creating the Westchester Digital Summit, he flinched. I knew the idea was a game changer. I also knew that I had to dissolve the partnership as soon as possible. I recall vividly what he said when I told him I’d purchased the URL for the summit,
“that will take a LOT of work.”
I recall how my blood pressure hit the roof. No kidding? I thought to myself. I had to get out, and get out fast. I needed dramatic change. So I threw myself off a cliff knowing that I had to learn how to soar, or I would plummet.
You Have to Have Thick Skin
The people that are willing to get into the trenches, hustle and push forward will win. Always. I push myself every day. If I feel like things are going smoothly I get nervous. I start to seek out the bigger issue, dig deeper and try to improve myself and my business. I also see the bigger picture. There are so many people out there that want to call themselves entrepreneurs who will run away sniveling at the first sign of trouble. Because I’ve lost so much money, and because I’ve had my ass kicked so many times, none of it phases me. I recall a few months ago I receivedsome amazing advice from my friend and fellow entrepreneur Justin Brown. A key executive on my team had abruptly resigned leaving our team scampering to salvage a few key clients. I was d-o-w-n, and feeling very frustrated. I had given this executive the proverbial keys to the kingdom and she ditched us. Justin didn’t give me an inch for self pity or complaining. I’m paraphrasing:
“Feel that pit in your gut? Get comfortable with it, and learn how to operate from that place. If you don’t, you’re going to fail.”
Look Yourself in the Mirror
Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the hard questions. Is this really what you want? When you start to finally make money, do you have what it takes to reinvest that money back into your company so it’s sustainable? Do you have what it takes to pay yourself last? Or not pay yourself at all for the greater good of your company? Do you have what it takes to find, cultivate, train and support the right talent? Will you take projects over the finish line? Will you push, stay up late, wake up early, do it all, and still end your day with a smile on your face? If there is even an inkling of a “no” in your gut. Don’t do it. A few months after I closed my first piece of business for Silverback Social, I launched the Westchester Digital Summit. I was told to focus on Silverback, and that taking on too much was a mistake. I knew they were wrong. I knew that I had to create the summit right then. In our first year Forbes named the event one of the “4 Lesser-Known Conferences That Deserve Your Attention in 2013” this year they named it one of the “Must-Attend Marketing Conferences For Leaders In 2014”. Now we’re rolling out additional summits into major metropolitan cities like Nashville and Las Vegas. In the second year of operating Silverback Social we grew close to 3000%. In two years of business we’ve been approached by two major companies who want to acquire us.
Passion Always Wins
I created the Westchester Digital Summit because I wanted to educate people, and because I love teaching. I speak to large companies and help to train their sales teams how to leverage social media to close deals. I love being on televisiondiscussing social media too. I’ve been in digital for 14 years. I’ve seen it all, and I have the uncanny ability to take big ideas, whittle them down to easily digestible bits and make it very easy for anyone to understand. It’s my super power. There are so many things that I am horrible at. I can’t do math in my head. I can’t do anything having to do with accounting. My wife has to calculate tips for us at restaurants (seriously). I’m smart enough to hire the right people who surround me. They know where my super powers fall short, and the help me.
When I do the things I’m good at I have fun, when I have fun, I want to do it more, when I want to do it more I get excited, when I’m excited my excitement spreads, when my excitement spreads magical things happen. Do whatever you’re passionate about.
You Have To Be Hungry
I’m 39 years old and I have more energy than some of the 24 year olds that work for me. I religiously listen to business audio books every day. I listen to them during my commute and in the gym. I’m always thinking about my business and my amazing team. I’m constantly looking for new opportunities. My hunger has steadily grown throughout my career. I’m not one of these guys who started off as a natural born entrepreneur, and you don’t have to be either. But you have to be hungry. Starving for it. If you don’t know where you want to end up, it will never work. I won’t stop. I’ll write more books, I’ll leverage technology to grow and I’ll see the bigger picture which is why I win. I love this. I would do this if I wasn’t making money. In fact, I wasdoing this and not making money. I followed my passion and the money came. I’minfinitely passionate about technology and how it shapes our businesses and our culture.
Go Get it
There is no reason why you should be doing a job you don’t love. Lock yourself in a dark room and confront yourself. What do you want to do every day for the rest of your life? Now go do that – immediately.
Over and out.
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