Work Harder than Everyone Else and You’ll Raise $37 Million

I ducked into a coffee shop in NYC during a January snowfall in 2012. We were meeting with TechStars to interview for their spring cohort. (spoiler alert – we didn’t get in, but later got in the Boulder program).

But in that coffee shop, that’s where I met Moisey Uretsky. One of the top tech entrepreneurs in the game today. And a guy who just raised $37 million dollars to take on Amazon.

Moisey, Ben & Jeff of DigitalOcean sucking up to Nicole Glaros! (Boulder Summer 2012)

This is Jeff, Ben, & Moisey of DigitalOcean sucking up to Nicole Glaros with flowers! (Boulder Summer 2012)


The story of this post is tenacity, hard work, and predictability,

We both got rejected from NY but met again a few months later in March. Long story short, we both got in and got to work beside each other for the summer.

Ben popping Champagne for a user milestone in the TechStars kitchen

Ben popping Champagne for a user milestone in the TechStars kitchen

I loved watching DigitalOcean work…and thought from Day 1 that they were going to kill it. Moisey and Ben’s Team were one of the two hardest working companies at TechStars that summer. They were there 6 nights/week until 10/11pm. The other hard working team was Ubooly. I like to think SalesLoft was up there with them.

So…DigitalOcean and Ubooly we’re the two hardest working companies at TechStars. They are now the two most successful companies from the cohort.

I’m not surprised, are you?

An investor came to visit us once in Boulder. He was hanging around late night and told me: “here are the three companies I’d consider investing in” When I asked him why he stated:

“Because they’re here at midnight on a Friday!”

I believe in ROWE and work hard not to burn out, but at the end of the day, the hardest workers win….and have the most fun.

Birdsong & Villager Jeff from DigitalOcean...also the proud owner of wit.com - hence the hand signs :)

Jon Birdsong & Villager Jeff from DigitalOcean…also the proud owner of wit.com – hence the hand signs :)

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If you are fan of the hustle, please share this

#sayyesgary

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Entrepreneur in Residence at SalesLoft

It’s been a great month at SalesLoft. We’ve more than doubled revenue month-to-month and have added over $140,000 in new ARR in January. Due to our growth, we decided to secure an awesome new suite at the Atlanta Tech Village.

But the office holds at least 16 people and we only have 9 right now (counting all interns and new hires). So we’ve decided to extend an invitation to the Atlanta startup community for an Entrepreneur in Residence.

This inidividual is ideally between startups and looking for ideas. We’ll offer a key card to our place along with all the energy and buzz that comes from being around SalesLoft and having a Village membership. In return we want the extra energy & benefits that come from having another entrepreneur around.

Here are a few pics of the office: 

We’re looking for someone who:

  • Has run a funded startup (successful or not)
  • Is positive, supportive, and self-starting (our core values)
  • Wants to start a new company
  • Can help us out in small ways here and there

We’re looking to manufacture serendipity. Who do you know that would be a good fit?

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Completing the divorce with salesforce.com

I was giving a presentation on sales best practices to a room full of SaaS CEOs. As we started to talk about CRM and one of the CEOs proudly stated that we was happily wrapping up his “divorce with salesforce.com”. I had never heard it put that way but I understood why he said it.

Salesforce virtually has a monopoly on the B2B SaaS software market. They have 100′s of connectors so you can use it with any other system and professionals are comfortable with it from a scale and feature perspective. It’s the #1 CRM.

The fact that it works with so many businesses scenarios is actually the reason a lot of business owners don’t like it. It’s bloated and feature rich making it hard to set up and configure over time…and it’s expensive.

Having been in this industry for a few years, I’ve heard of a handful of other CRMs. While I don’t hear near as much good feedback on these as I do for SFDC, the four “runner ups” I hear of are:

  • Close.IO
  • Base CRM
  • Pipedrive
  • Zoho

The CRM space is due for a Salesforce competitor but it doesn’t seem like a true #2 has emerged. It will be very interesting to see how this industry plays out over time.

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4 Poems to Start the New Year

I can write one hell of a marketing drip email but every once in a while I wish I was a poet. The ability to evoke mountains of emotion and imagery with a few sentences has got to be one of the most admirable skills.

Over the holiday break I stumbled upon some fantastic poems and wanted to share them as a great way to start the year. Hope you enjoy:

If— by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The Man in the Arena (actually part of a speech, not poem) by Theodore Roosevelt (wiki)

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

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Choose Anxiety-Driven Growth over Boredom-Driven Growth

There’s a fascinating discussion on Quora about self-improvement. The question is How can I accelerate my personal growth?

The first answer describes the concepts of Anxiety-Driven Growth vs. Boredom-Driven Growth.

The idea is that you can improve one of two ways:

#1. Do harder things that are outside of your skill set in order to improve your skill-set.

or

#2. Do easy things frequently until your skills improve and you can move on to something more challenging.

main-qimg-307add6b8883d02db6c1d174b791dbc9

Look at the graph above, with Anxiety growth you go from A1 => A3 => A4. With Boredom growth you go from A1 => A2 => A4. “Anxiety-driven growth” is the faster way to improve.

Here are a few Anxiety-Driven Growth plans examples.

1. Become a better leader by doubling company staff size and holding myself accountable for each member’s actualization.
2. Put required incremental goals for cycling and running on my calendar.
3. Make tough commitments for content creation and writing instead of just keeping up a rhythm.

This concept is similar to stretch goals or “fake it till you make it” but I loved the way it was presented on Quora (which I believe is one of the best sources of knowledge on the internet).

 

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Three Simple Exercises for Startup Offsites

This past Wednesday was a special day for the team at SalesLoft. We spent the first half volunteering for Junior Achievement with six graders who want to run businesses and we spent the latter half doing a team offsite.

We we went through three exercises, grew a ton, and had a blast. We modeled the exercises from ideas in the book, The Advantage.

Here’s what we did:

  1. First, we did a quick icebreaker. We wanted to establish the importance of trust and vulnerability so each of us gave a story about our childhood including number of siblings and where we grew up. The most important piece however was one of the challenges we faced as a child. This allowed us to get transparent with each-other.

    Here is an excerpt from the book:

    The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.”

  2. The second exercise was a little more intense we asked the leadership team to write down on a piece of paper the single biggest area of strength for each person that makes the team stronger. Then we did the same focusing on an aspect of how each person sometimes hurts the team. We shared these with each-other.

  3. Lastly, we answered the six questions from the advantageHere are those questions:

    Why do we exist?
    How do we behave?
    What do we do?
    How will we succeed?
    What is most important, right now?
    Who must do what?


I got a lot of value from these exercises and really feel like the team has awesome momentum heading into 2014. Have you done exercises like this? How have they worked for you?

Here are my notes from the event:

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 6.57.24 PM

 

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2 Startup Ideas I took from @garyvee’s New Book

I just read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

My good pal Gary asked me to leave a review ;)

… so here it is:

If someone would have told me the content of this book was a how-to for each social network, I wouldn’t have read it.

Fortunately, I’m glad I did.

In the end, nothing else in marketing matters than the actions you take. In the confusing and ultra important world of social media, this book gives you a good portfolio of things you can actual do to get ahead in social media:

“Jab jab jab, right hook” refers to the concept of building brand loyalty on social before asking your audience for something in return. It’s basically give, give, give, ask.

  • Post to someone else’s blog…jab
  • Funny joke about our industry…jab
  • Link to video of a great sales speech…jab
  • Invite to signup for our free trial…right hook

Make sense?

I actually took away two startup ideas from this book:

#1. Daily trends email

The book talks about the concept if “trend jacking”…I’ve also heard it called “news jacking” but basically the concept is finding out memes and themes that are happening in the world and parlay your content intro those angles. The best example is the Oreo Super Bowl piece.

So how do I put this in action? I’m a content marketer & want to wake up every morning, read the trends and brainstorm how to create relevant content.

So why not have a service I can sign up for and receive a twitter “trending topics” report through a daily email? Does anyone know if this already exists?

#2. Simpler animated .Gif creator.

These are so popular and effective as content. But really the easiest creators are vine and Instagram, but you can’t save files as animated gifs. That means I can’t text them or add them to emails or Facebook easily or even post them to this blog simply. I just want a simple gif creator so I own the file and can do what I want with it. I’ve actually been thinking about this for a while since I’ve been converting product screenflows into animated gifs. It’s a lot harder than it should be.


It only took me a couple of nights to finish. It immediately helped my social game and gave me two small business ideas (that I won’t be doing anything with so feel free to take them, btw).

If you believe in social media and purposeful content consumption, then read the book.

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How I got LinkedIn to Email Their Users with My Blog Post

This morning I got an email from LinkedIn showing the articles that mentioned my connections. Do you get this email? The section I’m referring to looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 10.24.38 PM

Notice the third entry? It’s a SalesLoft blog article that mentions David Cummings. Basically, every one of David’s thousands of connections received this article in their inbox.

So thanks LinkedIn for sharing our blog post!

It was unintentional this time, but it won’t be the next :)

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Rage Against the Machine Lyrics for Entrepreneurs

I ran my first Triathlon this past weekend and had a blast. I kind of suck at the running part so in order to get an edge I loaded up my iPod with Rage Against the Machine.

While listening to the rebellious, anti-establishment, basically ridiculous and over the top lyrics, I found myself drawing parallels to entrepreneurship (surprise) A 10 minute dive into RapGenius produced these lyrics:

The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
You are the witness of change and to counteract…
We gotta take the power back!

(Move quick with passion and take power from your legacy competitors)

RapGenius Link

Fight the war, FUCK the norm!
Now I got no patience
So sick of complacence

(Buck the system in order to make a difference)

RapGenius Link

Ya got to know, ya got to know
That when I say GO, GO, GO!
Amp up and amplify
DEFY, I’m a brother with a furious mind
Action must be taken
We don’t need the key, we’ll BREAK in

(It’s often better to ask for forgiveness than permission and action is always preferred)

RapGenius Link

Fist in ya face in the place and I’ll drop the style clearly…
Know your enemy!

(Get motivated by enemy, it could be the old way of doing things or a competitor)

RapGenius Link

Cause I’ll rip the mike, rip the stage, rip the system
I was born to Rage Against ‘em!

(Get up on stage and tell your story, share it with the masses)

RapGenius Link

Cheesy. I know. No wonder I’ve been called an overzealous entrepreneur.

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