Photo Credit: tumblr
Quote by Bob Bitchin
Photo Credit: tumblr
Originally published on The List @ Medium
I’m a member of a listserv that’s full of entrepreneurs. We recently had a long conversation about quitting. It’s an interesting topic. Here are my thoughts:
The Fighting Spirit.
When someone else tells me that I can’t do something, everything in me rebels against their words. If they tell me I will fail, I’m determined to succeed. My skin bristles, my muscles grow tense, and my heart flames. It’s called the fighting spirit. And it’s what makes us entrepreneurs.
The Mental Battle.
Interestingly enough, when the voice in my head tells me I can’t do something, it doesn’t bring out the fighting spirit. This is why the voice in our head is more dangerous than any external voice we could ever hear. And this is exactly why people say starting a company is a mental battle.
A Formula to Win the Mental Game.
I have a set of 5 (logical) questions I ask myself during times of stress, irritation and discouragement.
Click here to read the 5 magical questions...
I've met so many incredible people on my entrepreneurial journey. On the East Coast and West Coast, in this country and other countries. We've met through Twitter conversations, blog posts, emails, Skype calls, and in-person meetings at a slew of coffee shops. Some people are just getting started in their careers and some are so established that I'm starstruck in their presence. Both are fabulous. Meeting all of these people is one of my favorite parts about being an entrepreneur.
One of my online friends (I call him that because I've never actually met him) sent me an email a few weeks ago that said "When is the world going to hear from Jody Porowski again?" Translation: When are you writing another article? I guess it had been a little while since I'd written. (We just opened a new round of funding in September and I'd been even more busy than usual). But I took his words to heart and sat down one Saturday to explain why I love being an entrepreneur despite the crazy schedule and emotional roller coaster. Here's what I came up with…
On the Flip Side: The 8 Paradoxical Traits of an Entrepreneur
Originally published on The List @ Medium
I’m convinced that developing, marketing, and growing an Internet consumer product is one of the most amazing experiences a person could ever have.
Creating something from nothing and watching other people use it, love it, and share it is simultaneously the most empowering and humbling feeling. The satisfaction that comes from watching numbers climb as you tweak and improve your product is indescribable. The exhilarating triumph you feel each time you solve an unsolvable problem is your very own version of winning the lottery. And the relief that floods over you when a risky decision pays off mirrors a brush with death and results in similar feelings of invincibility and extreme gratefulness.
When it comes down to it, there is no one perfect word to describe the bizarre experience of being an entrepreneur. Call it love, call it an addiction, whatever you want to call it, I’m hooked.
On the flip side, I’m also convinced that developing, marketing, and growing an Internet consumer company is one of the most challenging, frustrating and painful journeys one could possibly choose to embark on. The marketplace for consumer platforms is insanely crowded and the expectations from users are astronomical. Without recounting every excruciating detail, let’s just say that the highs are closely rivaled by the lows.
A rollarcoaster of highs and lows. All-consuming, and never-ending. Who would ever choose that job? And who could possibly succeed in such role? It turns out that the personality traits of successful entrepreneurs are indeed, by necessity, complex.
CLICK HERE to continue reading the 8 traits that help an entrepreneur succeed….
Entrepreneurs are constantly required to make decisions based on what they know (and despite what they don't know). They are constantly forced to take steps forward without having all the facts. Especially in the early stages of their company, an entrepreneur lives their life believing in something that's currently "unproven", yet they stake their livelihood and reputation on it. Why do they do this? And how?
To me it's pretty obvious that entrepreneurship requires faith in something. I suppose the difference between each entrepreneur is what they have faith in. It might be faith in their idea. Faith in the patterns they see within a particular market or industry. Faith in themselves and their skills and abilities. Faith in their experiences. Faith in mankind. Faith in their team. Or maybe faith in all of the above.
My entrepreneurial story is rooted in two types of faith: situational faith and spiritual faith. I'll try to explain…
First of all, I have a very situational, logical type of faith in Avelist. This is the kind of faith that I share with investors and the kind of faith that many of my entrepreneurial articles are written about. I believe that Avelist will be successful for many reasons.
This belief in my team, my product and my understanding of the market gives me courage to move forward into the unknown. So where does spiritual faith come in and why do I need that too?
Here's the thing, daily rejection and failure is a very real aspect of entrepreneurship. And it's during those times of rejection and failure that spiritual faith kicks in and grounds me. Imagine believing - really believing - that there's a strong and loving God who will never leave you or forsake you, that He is powerful and in control of all things, and that He loves you enough to literally die for you. Imagine believing that you were created with a unique and beautiful skill set and that your life has purpose. When you're rooted in that kind of belief, you can move mountains.
Let me clear, I know God isn't some kind of magical voodoo. I know I won't succeed in everything that I attempt, but I also know that no matter what happens, I'll be ok. I understand that snags in my plan aren't a snag in the master plan. This type of faith strengthens me against the fear and the loneliness that often strike the mind and spirit of an entrepreneur. This type of faith gives me confidence to move forward in business despite all of the tremendous challenges and inevitable setbacks. It's my anchor, my compass, and the identity of my soul.
Spiritual faith is rarely a topic that I hear entrepreneurs talk about and I'm sure there are many reasons, but this blog is a place to tell my real, honest, entrepreneurial story. And the truth is that my ability to jump into the unknown is rooted in not one type of faith, but two.
I read a really cool article yesterday in the Washington Post. Someone mentioned it on Facebook. I read it, loved it, wanted to write about it. And then I realized it was an article from last year (oops - missed that)! But it was such an interesting article that I decided to write about it anyway. Couldn't help myself, you know how it is.
Ok, why'd I love it so much? That's easy.
The article was about Christian Louboutin's new (er- now one year old) line of shoes called "Les Nudes." Who's Christian Louboutin, you might ask? He's a designer famous for the red bottomed soles of his shoes. But really there are just two words you should know when it comes to Christian Louboutin: "Pricey" and "I want". Ok, three words.
Speaking of words, let's talk about the name of this collection. "Nude" in terms of fashion usually refers to a pale peach/tan color. But this particular collection is called "the nudes" - plural - and there are five shades of nude. That's incredibly significant. Nude, as the article puts it, is a spectrum.
This new line of shoes does't say one person's skin color is the right shade of nude or the fashionable shade of nude. There are many shades of nude so there should be many shades of nude shoes. It just makes sense. And there's something so profoundly beautiful about that.
There's an app you can download to help you pick your shade of nude. If I didn't love these shoes before, this tech shout out would've sealed the deal.
Here's the full article if you want to read more. I'll just be sitting here in my happy place...
Entrepreneurship is trendy, exciting, sexy, you name it. When I tell people about Avelist they usually respond with phrases like "Wow - you're living the dream."
Ok, yes. I am living my dream. I wouldn't want to be doing anything different. I can say from the bottom of my heart that I am grateful for my job every minute of every day. But let me tell you, sometimes the dream is a nightmare. And I guess that's the beauty of it. If you're really passionate about your company, if you really love what you're doing, you stick with it even on the bad days, bad weeks, and bad months.
As Steve Jobs so eloquently put it, "People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you're doing. And it's totally true. The reason is because it's so hard that if you don't have passion, any rational person would give up. It's really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don't love it, you're going to give up. And that's what happens to most people actually…"
Every day (but especially the hard days) I'm grateful to have a team who has the best sense of humor. My cofounder, Josh, in particular is hysterical. Whether he's sending me a comics via g-chat, making victory trumpet sounds on the phone after we push a new feature at 3am, or yelling at me over the top of his multiple monitors, he has me laughing most of the day.
Here are 5 glimpses into a day in the life of Avelist...
1. Team Pictures
Let's just say that getting my team ready for a photo shoot has probably been the best preparation for parenting that I will ever receive.
2. We're so fancy...
Josh and I haven't taken salaries since the middle of December (8 months and counting over here). Josh's Tweets about our financial situation crack me up to no end. Especially those related to our cars. His AC is broken and my squeaky brakes announce my presence in every parking lot and at every stop light.
3. The t-shirts
Josh is on the hunt the find us good t-shirts. A few days ago he proposed:
Why don't we make the t-shirts. Yours can say "I have dreams" and mine can say "I make dreams come true."
Thanks, Josh. Now we know how you really feel…
4. Things might Break
From broken elevators to broken code to broken hearts, it happens.
5. But we still believe!
(artwork by Josh)
Moral of the story? Anyone who says startups are easy is lying to you. And anyone who says startups aren't fun is lying too. Or they don't know how to laugh.
Almost ten years ago (actually I think it was nine) my friend Breck and I were featured in the News & Observer. It was a print version of the newspaper because, well, it was ten years ago. And the article was "back to school" theme. My favorite quote? "Breck Fisher and Jody Porowski were frugal but went over their budget."
Today the News & Observer published an article about Avelist. Did college pay off? I think so. And it was really fun. Check out today's article below...
Durham startup Avelist to add crowd-sourcing feature
Originally published in the News & Observer
Written by David Ranii
Durham startup Avelist is betting that a new crowd-sourcing feature it is introducing on its website will add up to significant gains in visitor traffic to its list-centric website.
That, in turn, would help the fledgling business reach its ambitious fund-raising goal: $1.2 million.
That money, said co-founder and CEO Jody Porowski, would be used to hire developers, build a mobile app “and also to put more marketing juice into the site.” Avelist previously raised $300,000 in funding in a friends-and-family round.
The Avelist website was launched last August as an online home for lists created by visitors to the site about anything and everything. A current sampling from the website: “Top 10 Questions for Deep Talks on the Beach”; “Best Quotes about Perseverance”; and “Best Books for a Ladies’ Book Club.”
But next week Avelist intends to launch new “community lists.” Instead of a list created by an individual, these lists will be crowd-sourced. After somebody initiates a list of, say, “Best Books to Tote to the Beach,” others will be able to add their own contributions.
When someone who contributes to the list posts it on Facebook, people will be able to link to the list on the Avelist website through the Facebook post.
“I think that’s actually going to take off,” said Armistead Sapp, senior vice president of research and development at business software giant SAS. “I think she has a good idea here.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article...