Storytelling, Transparency and Relatability

I know what my story is.

Correction: I thought I knew what my story was until I got an email a couple of days ago.

Emails open eyes

Gary Vaynerchuck is the man. I loved his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook and I took his Skillshare class about a week ago. During the class he told his students (me) to email a few others and ask them what they think our story is.

I’ve written that the best way to know what you’re great at is to ask people you’ve worked with what they think you’re great at. Same concept, but this time I’m asking about my story, not my skills. I sent four emails out and got one reply yesterday. Here it is.

What's My Story

TL;DR I might have the knowledge of a 30-year-old, but I don’t have the experience, and you must have the experience to have a story.

I love Tim. His bluntness is what I look for in people who I surround myself with. Just tell me how it is, be forward, that’s how I can best learn and process what my next move will be.

When I sent the email asking about my story, I was expecting positive responses, perhaps flat-out praise. I didn’t think it would turn out like this. I sat and talked to my girlfriend about it. Here. Listen. It starts with Briana asking me about my blog stats to try to make the point that my writing has gotten less relatable… fear not, my stats haven’t changed, but that’s not really a good thing either, is it?

(Listening to this recording reminds me of the StartUp podcast, and how Alex Blumberg’s wife is the one with real wisdom. Women. They have an act for knowing when we’re wrong.)

I hope this post is transparent enough. It’s my life… doing these things that make me uncomfortable is how I’ve expanded my comfort zone as far as I have.

For those who are interested, the interview went smoothly because I walked in there knowing I have done all I could to get the job, it was comforting enough knowing that. It made things easier.

I still choked on my saliva, spoke too fast at moments, and sweated a lot – all inevitable.

I got the job. When you truly try your best, you’ll get what you want – that’s inevitable too.


Stay Positive & It Always Works Out (If You Work For It)

What I Want

What I Want

About two and a half years ago I wrote a very short list of things I want. I open up the document containing the list every month or so, usually when I’m cleaning out my DropBox.

At the bottom of the short list, I have a motto. It’s more moving to me than the list of things I want…

Stop thinking about what you want. Think about how you want to feel.

Instead of looking for what will make you happy, focus on what you’re good at.

Rather than planning to get ahead, find a way to help others.


Stay Positive & People Over Platforms, People Over Things


Age Matters, But Should It?

Age Matters, But Should It?

Steve Jobs has more experience than me, but if I have read up on every single lesson he has learned from all his experience, then does he actually know more? or do we know the same amount? or do I still know less?

I’m toying with the concept of age and why it matters so much. I’ve had a number of experiences where I could do something, but my age got in the way.

While still in high school I applied for a newspaper job, a job people go through four years of college to do and number of internships to get, but I knew I could do it well enough or at least learn fast enough to do it as well as anyone else.

No surprise, I didn’t get the job. I was too young.

I wanted to run a seminar on finances, but was told not enough people would come because what 40-year-old is going to believe anything a 19-year-old has to say, regardless of the fact I’ve written more than 200 articles on money management, started selling at age 6, bought a Corvette at the age of 15, and graduated without any debt and studied everything all the financial gurus put out there.

Even with the experience, I was still too young.

Knowledge is power…so long as you’re at an age people will believe that

I’m constantly blogging about business, startups, and public relations concepts. I’m spitting out things I know to be true, part from experience, part from obsessively studying others’ success and failures and learning from other people.

If I’m not talking to someone about the marketing industry or a business idea either of us have, I have buds in my ear listening to others share their stories via podcasts, if not that, I’m lifting weights while thinking about trends or talking to my girlfriend about the next thing I’m going to chase. I’m a carrot guy, not a stick guy, and I’m still not as trusted as Steve Jobs, Seth Godin or Chris Brogan because, well, they’re older than me.

Knowledge, wisdom, insight are all very subjective matters. I’ve worked heavily the last year and a half to convince others I have all the above despite my (in the grand scheme of things) minimum amount of experience. Through that process I’ve lost connection with a lot of my readers. After an email from a blunt friend and conversation with my girlfriend (likely to be posted on my blog tomorrow), I’ve realized I stopped doing what I preach others to do: be personal.

Age matters, and fighting the perception others have is an uphill battle I’m exhausted fighting. Instead of sharing what I know, I will again be sharing how I came to know it. I’ll show how I’ve become a 22-year-old with a 30-year-old brain and why I find myself saying “I’m such an old man” more often than I like.

I invite you to stop by GarthBox more often. There will be more about my suffering, anxiety, nervousness, uncertainty, risk-taking, and lying to myself, and, of course, how I’ve overcome it all.


Stay Positive & Stick Around For The Ride

*In lieu of this sort-of announcement blog post, In The Box Podcast will be available on iTunes beginning of March. My cohost Michael Langlois and I chat about 6 themes, which you’ll know about in advance of each podcast so you can listen to just what you want to hear. I hope you find them all interesting and…personal.


Unlocking Potential #13: Q&A With Ryan Paugh

Ryan Paugh

When researching for a story centered on entrepreneurs under 30, a friend connected me with Ryan Paugh. At the time, Ryan was at Brazen Careerist writing, speaking and preaching about career-management. He was big into entrepreneurship… still is.

Like all the others on the unlocking potential series, Ryan is a linchpin. He is the source, the center of many entrepreneurial circles, providing resources and connecting people just as my friend connected me with him.

Without further ado… welcome, Ryan.

Q: You’re known for building epic communities. What does an epic community look like to you?

Ryan: An epic community is one that can help you unlock any door in your industry or trade. For communities like YEC and FounderSociety, we aspire to help our members gain access to everything they need to grow successful businesses.

Q: How did you get to where you’re at now? What’s your story?

Ryan: This is very geeky, but blogging changed my life. After I graduated college I started a blog with one of my best friends about Gen Y entering the workforce. Through the blog came my first business, Brazen Careerist, which was a free community for Gen Y professionals seeking career happiness.

Q: What’s the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur?

Ryan: The best part about being an entrepreneur is having control over your own destiny. The worst part about being an entrepreneur is the toll it takes on your personal life and the lack of stability.

Q: What gets you filled up with passion and ready to take on the world, to go the distance, to be in it for the long haul?

Ryan: My family. Now that I’m a father especially, I find that I’m more motivated to be successful than I have ever been. I want my family to live the best life possible. I want them to see me as their hero.

Q: What do you see people regularly failing to do while starting a business? What would you suggest they do differently?

Ryan: Spending too much time on one idea is a common startup killer. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they didn’t get it right on the first try. They had to iterate on their existing idea to make it work.

Q: What are four hacks you can share? They can be about life, relationships, getting a job, starting a business, whatever you would like.

Hack #1. Invest in a virtual assistant and outsource work that takes away from building your business. Challenge yourself to delegate at least one new thing per week to your assistant.

Hack #2. Perfect is stupid. Come up with an idea for a business. Build the minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as you can and get it to market. Iterate based on feedback from your early customers to get better.

Hack #3. Become an early riser or a night owl and you will get more accomplished than 99 percent of the population.

Hack #4. Take care of yourself. You physical and mental health are strongly linked to your success.

Q: Here’s an open-ended question for you: What are your thoughts on waiting?

Ryan: Don’t.

Q: What about failure?

Ryan: Embrace it.

Q: Would you tell us about a truly challenging time and how you got through it (or didn’t!)?

Ryan: Without going into too much detail, I had a health scare a couple months ago that left me feeling mentally paralyzed. It took weeks for me to feel better and get back to my business. The reason I was able to take the time off that I needed to recover was my amazing team. At some point in the future, you’re going to need to take some time off too and it will go a lot smoother if your company can operate with you missing. Being a great leader means learning how to delegate to your team and trust that they can get the job done. You should spend time early on in your career getting comfortable with this. You’ll thank yourself later.

Q: What are three lessons people should know about building a community?

  • Community businesses are are some of the most difficult businesses to run. I love what I do, but it’s not an easy road to riches. There are plenty of other avenues you could take to get rich quick
  • Great customer service can keep a paying customer loyal even when the product still needs work.
  • People will pay a premium for a concierge-level community experience.

Q: What makes an idea or a business or a person remarkable?

Ryan: Vulnerability. I’m drawn to people, ideas, and businesses that are not afraid to be what they are even if that might lead to them being criticized.

Q: Any last advice you want to give someone in marketing or someone who is thinking of starting a business?

Ryan: Share your ideas with as many people as possible.

Q: Lastly, where can people find you and the remarkable work you do? (Shamelessly self-promote here.)

Ryan: The communities I’m currently building are YEC and FounderSociety. We also run a great startup advice website for early-stage entrepreneurs. Follow me on Twitter. I try to blog semi frequently at


Stay Positive & Go Share Your Ideas, Be A Hero, Start Something

Marketing Close To Pain

Remarkable Or Pain

When someone is in pain, they’ll do anything and everything for relief, and if you’re in the business of relief, the more you can charge.

Pain is a strong word, but then again, so is need, which is exactly what marketers place themselves in a position to fulfill.

It blows my mind how any podcaster can charge $1,100 a month for a podcast webinar series. It’s crazy how much some marketing conferences cost.

Likewise, it’s never exciting to hear the burger at the airport is $15 or the beer at a hotel bar is $9 a bottle. Yet, owners and businesspeople and marketers and podcasters alike can charge that much because they are in the proximity of pain.

The marketers who invest in the podcast webinar series are in desperate need to get to the top. The starving traveller, well, is starving.

Want to charge more for your product or service? Get closer to the pain, the need.

Or… or… go to the other end, the end of desire and passion and love. The end of connection and bragging and giving.

You have two options. Sell a mediocre burger for an outrageous amount because you’re close to the pain or sell a remarkable burger for a price that matches its value (sometimes even less because it’s a burger you want people to talk about, an experience you want them to partake in, and joy you want to share).

Fortunately for you the market for remarkable is wide-open, there are people there waiting to be blown away with an experience. The market for pain, however, is crowded. Good luck getting in there.


Stay Positive & Yes, Fulfill A Need, But Know Which Need You’re Fulfilling First

Photo credit

A Different Kind Of Plan B

Off The Path Plan B

Working on every project like you would a jigsaw puzzle is essential if you want it to be a success. Lean the box against the wall and start putting all the pieces together, regularly looking at what the final product is supposed to be. But work projects (and life!) aren’t that simple.

You can plan everything out. You can have the perfect strategy. You can create a system that will get you from start to finish. But – and this is a big but because it’s always existent – things won’t go as planned, as strategized, as systemized.

Tactics will change. People will let you down. You will take an unexpected and uncontrolled turn toward the unknown.

Knowing your plan and visualizing the final puzzle, final product, final campaign has it’s value, but knowing what you will do when the plan doesn’t go as planned – that’s what proves a person is in it for the long run versus only if things go the way they planned.


Stay Positive & Yes, You Can Plan For Your Plan Not To Work

Photo credit
Conference Value Origin

Conference Value Origin

Let’s be forward… often marketing conferences, PR summits, and social media workshops rarely talk about anything you don’t already know. They are more of a review. Are you answering the question of who your audience is? Are you using Instagram the right way? Are you measuring, measuring, measuring?

Check. Check. Check.

At a marketing summit this morning, seated near the back, I could see nearly everyone’s attention wavering. People were surfing the web, emailing or Pinning things instead of engaging with the speaker. The speaker was providing solid, factual, and feasibly insightful information, but none of it was new or risky.

After the session was over I asked a couple of others what they got from the session. They had to rack their brains. (One didn’t come up with anything, but she did note it was a nice review.) Then I was reminded…

We create the value we walk away with from a conference, summit or workshop.

After each session I talked with folk there and took ideas to the edge of reality with them. The people around me became the real thought leaders of the conference, taking marketing ideas to a new level. (All the while making the time and experience worth it for both of us!)

Give this a try next time you’re at a conference that you find yourself not learning anything new. Talk to those around you. They’re feeling the same way, and they’re ready to make the value they went there to receive.

All it takes is, “Do you mind if I interrupt? What do you think about Instagram?”


Stay Positive & As It Is With Life, You Get Out What You Put In