Ross Mason

from my conversation with Ross Mason….

“I was in a meeting, actually a speech at AT&T with one of my hero’s and that General Larry Ellis. He’s the sixth African American four star in the United States history. As a 68 year old man, he ran forces command here in Atlanta, and he’s on our board of regents here in Georgia. I knew him before his injury, but he had his spinal cord injury surgery that resulted in him being paralyzed for about 8 months as a 68-year old man. And I watched him with more courage and determination and moxie than anybody I’ve ever seen learn to walk again and just incredible courage.

And someone asked him that question recently. He’s doing a company called VetConnexx where he employs homeless and disabled veterans or unemployed veterans in a call center that AT&T, in partnership with AT&T that is just phenomenal, but he was asked that question which you can imagine as a four-star veteran, he was G3 in the Army reporting to the chief of staff of the Army. For him, it was [inaudible 00:01:07]. He got that question all the time. And what he said was I think was great advice, and it’s something I heard about marriage as well. It’s more important that you become the person, find out who it is that you want to marry and become the person they want to marry rather than being just focused on what you want or need in a marriage.

And I think the same goes for mentorship. I think that people that are exceptionally passionate, committed, driven, tremendous service leaders, I think people step forward and recognize those people, and want to help them succeed. And so I think you become the sort of person that people want to mentor which is kind of an odd thing to think about.

But he said, you know people would come to me all the time, and I’m happy to coach people. But the people I mentored were the people that I felt were truly exceptional. And I think Gandhi said pretty much the same thing. Be the change you want to see in the world.

And I think what the world needs is people that are truly alive and that are following their passions, using their gifts to be a smile on the face of God and those in need. And whatever that means for an individual, I think if you’re doing that, then you’re going to attract people who want to help you succeed.

Well, that’s a very personal question, and I’ll answer it personally. I can just tell you about my own life. As you know, Jim, I’m a C-6 quadriplegic. I was training for the Iron Man New Zealand here on the Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna, Atlanta, and got a bee in my helmet and broke my neck and was paralyzed, classified as a complete injury.

There are people who are serving the nation’s military who have much more severe injuries than I could ever imagine, burns, triple amputations, etc., who are my heroes, and they’re much better people to me to ask about that kind of question. They’ve overcome so much more than I have, and they’re in a position where they volunteered to serve us and were put in that position because of their service. I was simply a guy who didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. But in my case, I see it honestly as an invitation and intimacy with God, and I really believe the brokenness in our lives is an invitation to greatness.

With the President, and this is not meant to be partisan. I just happened to attend this a few weeks ago. Regardless of what you think about his politics, President George W. Bush was being interviewed by a young lady who was disabled as part of the Miracle League which Dean Alford, he’s on the Board of Regents, has done with his family over a hundred little league baseball fields around the world for people with disabilities, and it was fascinating.

President Bush is being interviewed by this young woman. She was 23 years old who was born with a bone disease. And he looked at her in the course of that interview, as a former President of the United States and said to her, you don’t realize how much you inspire people and how much they admire you by your tremendous attitude, and your desire to love and serve other people. You are an inspiration.

And I think each of us, when we go through challenges which we all do in life, we have an opportunity to rise above those, if not physically in our circumstances, emotionally, mentally, and with our attitude. You do have the opportunity to choose how you’re going to react. We don’t necessarily control what happens to us, but how you react to that is your choice. And that’s your opportunity to inspire, motivate, and show compassion, love, and empathy for others and lift them up.

And I think brokenness and challenges in life is an invitation to that kind of a life. And I met so many people like General Ellis, like this young lady, like our men and women in uniform that we work with every day with the Warrior Alliance who inspire me like Scott Rigsby, the double amputee, the first double amputee, the first double amputee to do the Iron Man is now the national spokesman for Holiday Inn.

Those people have overcome more difficult things, or ending sex trafficking, the wonderful people at Mercy Ministries. I met a young lady who kept in a basement until she was 16 years old, never been to school. She was a genius, now graduating from Harvard Medical School. People that have been the victims of the worst forms of sexual abuse violation and exploitation imaginable who are overcoming that with the love of God. You’d think people like that, and my goodness, I don’t have any [inaudible 00:06:08] complain about my life is a bed of roses. And it inspires me to do a better job in loving and supporting others.

That’s a wonderful question. There are two things that I would say. Number one, there was a Times magazine article in 1992 that asked a hundred people that were 90 years old or older in the United States, if you had your life to live over again, what would you do differently? And they said three things. We would risk more. We would reflect more, and we would leave more here that would be here behind us when we’re gone. So risk, reflection, and legacy.

And if you’re 18, 20 years old, that’s one of the most incredible times of life to discover who you are, and take risk. I love the Kiwis, the people from New Zealand. When you travel around the world, they’re always there. They always take a gap here, or two years and travel the world, to see the world, and discover who they are. And I think that’s so important.

And the second piece of advice hero, one of my many hero’s in life is Jim Elliott who died in the service of others in the jungles of South America, in his case, trying to bring the gospel of Christ to the Stone Age tribe. His sort of epitaph to me or philosophy was he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. And we are all going to lose our health. We’re going to lose our finances. We’re going to lose our lives. There’s a lot. You know there are things that we try to hold onto that we can’t keep.

But the legacy that you create in the lives of others that is eternal. The impact that you have in the lives of other people, that’s the ripple effect across generations that transforms communities, societies, etc. I mean think about Martin Luther King, Jr., he could have had a wonderful life I’m sure as a pastor. But he saw injustice around him and he stepped forward, and he sacrificed his life in the service of others. And he transformed civil rights in this nation and around the world, or Mother Teresa, or Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela. Those are the people that changed the world that we admire. And we all have an opportunity to do that by loving the people to our left and to our right.

When I was in college, I was student body president at Georgia Tech, and we had the student body president speak to us when I was a freshman, and she at that time said look to your left and look to your right, one of you won’t be here in four years. And when I was writing that speech as a freshman, I had a friend show up unexpectedly. He was in the Medical College of Georgia. He said let’s go pan for gold. And I’m like, what are you talking about? Sure enough, he had taken some shovels with him. We hopped in his car. And on the way, he picked up a hitchhiker which I didn’t want to do. The last time he did that these two women got in his car who turned out to be men and forced him to take them to Connecticut at gun point.

So I wasn’t excited about picking up hitchhikers. But nonetheless, we picked up the hitchhiker. We shared our faith with her, the gospel, what we felt was the most meaningful, bought her a meal, took her to the China Star Hotel in Lawrenceville, went and panned for gold, whatever. Sort of forgot about the hitchhiker. Turned on the news and on the news, they said there had been a fire at the China Star Hotel in Lawrenceville, and four people had been injured and one person had died and it was Lynn Jordan, the hitchhiker we picked up six hours before. And I shared that story with a freshman. And I said this is what they told me when I was in your seat. Let me tell you something different.

It doesn’t matter if you’re student body president, homecoming queen, captain of the football team, you graduate with a 4.0 from Georgia Tech or you fail our three times and graduate from somewhere else. That doesn’t matter. Look to your left and look to your right. What matters is the person to your left and the person to your right. That is an eternal child of God, and that is what matters, the impact you have on that person.

And I’ll tell you one other quick story and then, I know our time is limited. One of our sort of founding principles with Henry is based on a woman named Etta Mae Budd, and this is a great example of that.

She was at the University of Ohio, I believe it was a hundred years ago or so. There was a black teenager who was eating in the kitchen, and she got to know him and said, you come out here and eat with me, which was somewhat controversial then, unfortunately, because of our racial past. And he’s drawing these plants, and she said, do you want to be an artist? And he said, no, I want to study agriculture, but I don’t think I can get a degree from this university. And it turned out her father with the president of the university. She said, let me speak to my dad. So she got him a scholarship. It turns out that was George Washington Carver. And he [inaudible 00:11:05] a six year old was helping him take agriculture samples.

And he kind of mentored the guy. He was interested in agriculture, that ended up being Henry Wallace who later became Secretary of Agriculture under Roosevelt and Vice President of the United States. Because of the passion in agriculture, he approached the Rockefeller Foundation and got a research center funded in Mexico City and recruited Herman Borlaug, who did rust resistance and crop resistance in corn and wheat. They were very worried about overpopulation, and won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize and was credited overtime for saving the lives of over 1 billion people. He won the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Peace Prize, one of only six Americans at that time who achieved those three great honors.

But the point of the story is Norman Borlaug never would have been in that research center if Herman Wallace hadn’t been Secretary of Agriculture. He wouldn’t have done that if he hadn’t been mentored by George Washington Carver. But George Washington Carver wouldn’t have been in that position if one day a young woman name Etta Mae Budd had not taken a personal interest in him and his future.

And that one act of kindness set off a chain of events that eventually saved the lives of over 1 billion people. And that’s my point. You say, well, I’m not Herman Borlaug. I’m not George Washington Carver, and I’m not Henry Wallace. But I can get up every morning and be Etta Mae Budd. And each of us can.”

Passion and Growth with Jeff Galloway

from my conversation with Jeff Galloway……

“I go back to my original idea for the store, which started everything, my Phidippides store in Atlanta. And that idea was how can I help people to get all of these amazing benefits that I have gotten from running and fitness and without aches and pains. And I’ve been working on that for than 40 years now and I’m very proud to say that the research now is just rampant and showing the brain benefits from regular running and to some extent, fitness in general, but the brain circuits that are turned on for a better attitude, for more vitality, so that you have more energy to do things, and personal empowerment to be able to go on and face challenges are more pronounced in running than in any other areas that have been studied.

So it’s really exciting to have identified these things early and then has been somewhat preaching this as we, you know, work with people who wanted to get into it. And we found ways to keep people from getting injured so that they can just enjoy all of the good stuff and not have to put up with the bad stuff. But getting back to your question about passion, if you find something that you can do that will help others, improve the quality of their lives, then it will take on a life of its own. I don’t expect to retire. I love what I do, I keep fully engaged mind, body, and spirit every minute of the day. I mean, I am just clicking and it’s wonderful. It’s involving. There are challenges and so forth.

Now in terms of business expansion or any of this sort of stuff, we have a solid core of things we’re doing that people love and people benefit from, our treats at Carmel and on the Panhandle, Florida, Lake Tahoe, and Italy and so forth. These people tell me allow them to be motivated for months or a year. And so I’m getting this constant feedback and I don’t have any desire to going up and do hundreds of these and make myself totally exhausted. I want to focus on after the good ones and help people individually at each one of these sessions. For the masses, we are able to help a lot of people at once. We have a newsletter, a free newsletter that folks can sign up with at that goes out to more than 100,000 folks.

Jeff Galloway

Jeff Galloway

And I get just amazing feedback on that because relatively speaking, per person I don’t spend a lot of time in composing that newsletter each month, but a lot of people tell me that they benefit from the various tips in nutrition and how to avoid aches and pains and how to push through barriers and do things that people never felt they could possibly do. So it really is an entrepreneurial moment as I sit down to each one of my projects every day. And it is a certain part of the brain that gives me focus and I mainly focus on who can I tell with this.

Well, the first is, you got to find something that really turns you on that other people can benefit from so that, you know, it has to be some substance there. Secondly, you need to want to keep learning in that area. It’s a key thing. I’ve seen a lot of business people who has simply wanted to set things up and just let them run and they don’t tend to do as well as the years go by. Third, if you really believe in it and you are active and learning and helping people, then you’re going to attract people who want to help you, who want to be a part of this thing, and you’re going to need them because if you really do want to expand the benefits to people that you’re serving, you got to have good people and you can really make major inroads in any field that you’re in with the right people.”

10 Things Every Startup Should Avoid

by Guest Blogger Isabella Ramos

Starting a business from scratch is a difficult task. It is time-consuming and you are likely to encounter many problems along the way. However, just because you may experience teething problems, it doesn’t mean that you will fail. Knowing the main reasons for the failure of startups can help you to avoid making the same mistakes or at least give you a plan for ways to counteract these potential difficulties should they arise. Here are ten of the most common reasons for the failure of startups.

  1. Setting the wrong goals

Having goals gives you something to work towards. However, the goals you choose are the difference between success and failure. You cannot be too conservative or too ambitious. You must set goals at a level somewhere between the two.

  1. A lack of direction

You need to know what you are expecting to achieve and who will play what role in helping you to launch the business. If you don’t know these details, you are on the fast-track to failure.

  1. Poor marketing

Marketing is the key to raising awareness of your business and increasing sales and profit. If people do not know about your business, then they will not buy your products or use your services. It is important to allocate some of your start up budget to marketing. Consider using the professional services of a marketing company as they will have the knowledge and expertise to help you carry your new business forward.

  1. No diversification

Only one product and one investor may indicate that your business is too narrow. It is better to have several people involved with different types of input and to consider a range of products and services.

  1. Wrong technology

You need to think about your target demographic when deciding what your best options for technology are. For example, if your target market is predominantly teenagers and people in their twenties, then social media is a great way to reach them. However, this might not be the best technology to use if you are targeting over sixties. While some of them may use the computer and access the Internet, others may feel more comfortable with having telephone conversations.

  1. Choosing a marginal niche

A common mistake made by business founders is to look for a gap in the market, but then choose a product or service that is so obscure that the opportunity to sell it will be limited to targeting a very small group of people. While it makes sense to be unique and stand out from the competition, it obviously doesn’t pay to be so unusual that your products or services will never sell.

  1. Wrong launch time

Launching too early or too late can lead to a very quick end to your business. It is important to make sure that you launch your business at the optimum time. Launch too early and you might not be fully prepared. Launch too late and others may have introduced your ideas to the market or you could have missed some great opportunities.

  1. Choosing the wrong platform

If you are planning an online presence, then a website for your business is essential. You will need to find the right platform for your business as the wrong platform and tools could end in disaster for your start up. WordPress is a great platform on which to build your online presence. Once the suitable domain names have been purchased, this content management system will help you get up and running with ease.

  1. Lack of focus and time management

As the founder of the business, you will have a lot to do, but you need to make sure that you are focusing on the right things. Failing to manage your time well and focusing on the wrong aspects of the startup might cause you problems. If you personally do not need to do a task, then delegate it to someone else so that you can concentrate on more urgent matters.

  1. Insufficient funds

Another major cause of failure is insufficient funds to properly start up the business. You must make sure that you have all the necessary finance in place to start your business. If you do not have the cash yourself, then you will need to consider asking for financial backing or taking out a loan. Business founders often make the mistake of underestimating the cost of setting up a company, so it is important to do proper research and sort your costing out first.

By taking into consideration the top reasons for startups to fail, you can make plans to avoid these mistakes when you start up your own business. If you have a good business idea, you plan carefully in advance and you make all the necessary preparations, there is no reason why your startup should not be successful if you are willing to put in the time and work necessary.

Julia Ling

from my conversation with Julia Ling….

“Oh, absolutely. I mean, I was really attracted to it as a filmmaker, because we’re developing a lot of stuff, but I just fell in love with Ally Loop. Ally Loop, Ally Loop, people say it both ways. It’s spelled A-L-L-Y, like Ally, and then loop, L-O-O-P. But, it’s so much bigger, you know. Its social media platformed like we’ve never seen before. It’s already attracting users from like, all around the world, and it really caters to small businesses. It’s something that we’ve never really seen before and there is a niche for it. It’s really small business friendly, so when I saw it, I just fell in love with it and I just wanted to be a part of it.

Ally Loop, one of the biggest things that sets us apart is that we have a calendar system that allows business owners from all around the world to post events, like special dates that they have, or fundraising events that they have, and really, really encourages that face-to-face interaction. You know, like [inaudible 00:01:06] socializing online nowadays, it’s so important, but they’re absolutely needs to be that human component. And, through Ally Loop, like, people can really meet face-to-face. It allows people to potentially promote to millions of users all around the world for free.

Yeah, you go online and you can register your profile. It’s free to join, and you put up whatever information that you need. It’s really fantastic in that you can actually integrate a whole bunch of other social medias that you have. So like, if you’re on LinkedIn, if you’re on Facebook, you know, you can see all of that in one place. So, it’s like pretty cool. It’s really fun and it’s convenient, and you can post, it really helps increase brand awareness because of the way you set a profile, you set your images, and you can do everything through one site.

So, you can eventually, we’re working on a ticket sales feature, so you can eventually go… yeah, we’re launching a ticket sales feature that will allow businesses to sell a ticket to any event that they host through our ticket sales feature, and it’s great because it allows the small businesses to sell tickets, even if their event is really small. And, we allow really tiny events. So, a lot of competitors, you know, they take higher percentages for ticket sales, and they’re not as small event friendly. So, our ticket sales feature will be really, really fantastic for the small guys.”

Japanese Pictures

I referred to these pictures during an interview with Julia Ling on School for Startups Radio today. They are of me in Japan in 1988. You have to listen to the show to understand the significance!

Me running a Japanese marathon.

Me running a Japanese marathon.

I was supposed to be in school but this picture proved I was hundreds of miles away!

I was supposed to be in school but this picture proved I was hundreds of miles away!

Rod Kurtz

from my interview with Rod Kurtz….

“Yeah. I mean it’s interesting. I have been covering this as a journalist for a long time, now and over a past couple of years I have built a media strategy firms of my own. So, I am talking the talk and walking the walk and over the years I have found that there are a lot of economic indicators and statistics that you can point to about business ownership and job creation. Typically over time we’ve seen that there are actually more small businesses created coming out of a recession. Yeah that sort of logical that if people lose their jobs, often they take their experience and expertise and get out there and start their own firms.

So, you know it is a mixed bag of numbers right now. I think you could say that about the economy at large that, you know, we are out of the recession and it doesn’t always feels like it. You see the stock market surging but, you know, jobs number are not always, but they are up. So I think the takeaway for entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs out there is that you know there’s a saying that the best time to start a business is right now. You can’t always achieve that great idea. You can’t always look at the macroeconomic picture and say oh maybe I should hold off on this right now that if you’ve got this winning Idea and a plan to support it there are more tools and resources and in some cases capital available to prospective entrepreneurs right now. I also kind of go against the grain and I’m always optimistic about the state of entrepreneurship right now.

Yeah so I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now where as you listed at the top, I still work with a lot of media companies and brands in a big way because it is such a great megaphone could be able to get the word out about entrepreneurship and help entrepreneurs. But you know, what I have been doing informally for years, what I started doing more formally over the past couple of years is actually working directly with entrepreneurs, start-ups and fast-growing companies, helping them primarily with their media push that as you know these days anyone can be a publisher, everyone’s in the content business and a lot of companies big and small are realizing that they can create their own media and that’s a way to have a conversation with their customers and prospective customers. So I kind of come in as their in-house journalist and help them create a media strategy that’s not really traditional PR that you are used to but it’s creating content for their websites and redesigning their websites to showcases this content and helping them with presentations and public speaking engagements.

Yeah the smartest entrepreneurs realize that they can really position themselves as thought leaders in their individual spaces and that’s something that I help clarify their message as a journalist who, to this day, still receives dozens of pitches and goes to conferences and talks to the entrepreneurs. They are often so passionate about what they do and believe in what they do but they’re not quite sure how best to articulate it and that’s where I come in and help them.

Yeah I think there are definitely a lot of boxes that you want to check these days. If you are creating content and do you want to try and amplify it through social, that kind of thing. But what I drill down to from the very first meeting that I work with some of these companies is understanding what message you are even trying to get across because the problem is that there is a lot of noise out there and I like to say the good news is these days, anyone can be a publisher. But the bad news is these days anyone can be a publisher.

So there is a lot of noise out there and what you really want to avoid, the number one thing, is creating content for contents sake. You really have to understand what is the message, what are we trying to articulate and who are we trying to reach with that message and if you don’t have those questions answered effectively, that’s where you are begin to run into trouble because you’re spending a lot of effort on creating stuff that may be falling on deaf years. So I don’t think it’s about trying to do everything all at once and trying to become the New York Times or professional media organization. Its picking your spot and identifying where are our customers and how can we reach them authentically through content.”

Ooops – Look like something went wrong….

Our ski boat…..


The Seed w Pas Niratbhand

from my interview with Pas Niratbhand….

Pas_Niratbhand1‘Okay, so what The Seed is, is plant-based and vegan lifestyle event. Right now we have an annual event in New York City. We are hoping to go to other cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago in 2015. So we created The Seed three years ago. Me and my buddy.

At the beginning it was just we thought we see the trend, we bought an event business, the trend of vegan and plant based that’s coming up, a then we see that there’s an opportunity to do something and make some money. Anyhow, that has all changed for me. After I learnt about the information that they have and once you become vegan, eating plant-based food for the health reason, compassion reason.

So right now I’m just doing this to spread the message and get people to read the information, so they can make their own decision.

I’ll start from the beginning then. So, I went to a fine arts school in Thailand in Bangkok. I learned graphic design, advertising, commercial design. So I came here 20 years ago to get my Masters at Pratt. There was a turn of technology. When I was at Pratt, we were still talking about CD-ROM, internet had not even happened yet. So a lot of things have changed.

When I was studying, my goal was, okay, I’m gonna do this CD-ROM authoring and then that market’s disappeared. Then it become internet. So then I thought okay, internet, so now what should I do? So I had built up my internet and then do the design for the web. After I graduated I started the publication company, doing New York City guide books.

That’s how I connected to Chris Hoffman from Shecky’s, because he also had his own Shecky’s Bar, Club and Lounge Guide, that was a thing 15 years ago. So after 9/11, I had shut down my company and then started working at Shecky’s publishing guidebooks. After 9/11 the city was sold out, and we had a book launch party coming up.

Chris came up with the idea for the event called Shecky’s Girls Night Out, just to make something fun, just to lifting the spirits of the city. So that’s the first time we actually do this kind of event. And it stuck. The girls like it.

So then we started doing more and more events, and finally we stopped publishing the book, because the event business was making so much more money than the publication. So that is how I get into event business. Then I also realize that I like to entertain people. I host a brunch party at my place very often.

So then, it clicked for me that an event is fun, and I get to connect people together. I enjoy when they come to events and they have fun and have a good experience. It’s all about creating a unique experience for the attendees. So that’s how I got into event business.’

Helping your Friends w Judy Robinett

from my interview with Judy Robinett….

Judy_robinett‘I used to bean introvert too. I was in Fortune 100 companies and we’d have these meetings and evening events. I’d go run for the corners. I used to just hate them. I was shy. Then finally I figured out most people felt the same way that I did. So then I started getting a little braver. You could hang out at the food table and talk to people about the food, but it’s good to do research ahead of time and find out who’s going to be there so be a bit targeted.

You know frankly, Jim, I would just walk up, put my hand out, and say, “Hi, I’m Judy,” and take it from there. So I usually have what …I teach people, I call it my two golden questions. You say your story, where you’re going in life, and then you ask, “What other ideas do you have for me, and who else do you know I should talk to?”

That’s the mistake people make even with those 50 that are already their friends. They also are the last to know that somebody in there’s critical, because they haven’t had that conversation about who they know. Well you can certainly do that, but usually what I tell people is to be focused. I mean, it doesn’t help you to know your friends. Everybody knows six hundred people, and so do you. What you need is who can help you, so you start with “What is your need, what is your story, what is your goal in life,” and then say “What other ideas and who else do you know?”

I’ll share a quick story. My agent introduced me to Mike Muhney. Mike is the co-founder of ACT! Software. It sold for $48 million. He’s the inventor of that entire category. She told me he had this great app called VIPorbit. It was the number for contacts and free on the iPhone. I’d never heard of it. He flew up here, and I said, “Mike! I’ve never heard of this. What kind of marketing are you doing?” He told me, and he looked kind of pensively, and he said, “What I would give if I could just get introduced to Darren Hardy who publishes SUCCESS Magazine.”

I looked at him, and I said, “Mike, when you go home, I want you to call Wendy, who you’ve known five times longer than I have, and one of her friends is Darren Hardy.” His mouth dropped. His jaw dropped, and he said, “You mean to tell me I had to fly to Utah from Texas to find out I should be talking to somebody I already know.”

My goal is to help people. I love to make things happen, and so I acquire great folks, and I think your goal is to have a robust network of people who can help you move forward either personally or professionally in your life.’



Entrepreneurs and their Cars

My car hit 250,000 miles today. For a Toyota 2003 Highlander, pretty good cost per mile, say $37,000/250,000 = $.148 per mile.










The number one car selected by entrepreneurs is the Ford F150.  Number 2 is the Ford Explorer. Entrepreneurs don’t care what they drive; they just want it to be practical and functional.