Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Happiness & Immortality

Barry Thornton spoke at the latest bootstrap austin get together and he was absolutely profound. In an entertaining fashion covered topics on business, money, relationships, and life. Many of his topics I have thought about before on different levels. One topic in particular is a constant battle for myself and I imagine many others.

I can't fully quote him, but it went something like - separate yourself from the need for money and you are truly free. For most of my life I didn't understand the addiction to money that afflicts so many. I think it was a luxury afforded to me by being raised with no money. Without being able to enjoy nice "things" we learned to enjoy ourselves anyhow. I could build a fort in 3 afternoons that would rival the Hyatt. Then I landed my first high-paying job and I began to understand the addiction, though I refused to succumb. It's so easy to expand your standard of living to meet, or exceed as most retailers would have you, your earnings. Being very susceptible to suggestion and marketing, I have become all too aware of the pressures on us as consumers. But if you're not happy, the money loses all its value. We live in a land of incredible why do we act as though we are ruled by money?


Greenling Organics received its first round of investment, in the form of convertible debt, and should last us to profitability........should. First major investment I've received for anything. I'm trying to relish these days because I'm told that once I become "successful" I will look back at these days as the best. Once I have 20 employees and handbooks and manuals and "policies" it won't quite be the same. We'll see.

One thing for sure is that receiving the investment changed my mindset in ways I didn't fully comprehend beforehand. There was certainly some celebration and a couple of deep breaths, but I also felt an incredible drive take root. I never realized that this act of raising money that everyone talks about like cooking breakfast or buying a car instills a keen responsibility to deliver on your promise to your investors. You're not just risking your own skin anymore. You have convinced someone that you're so bright and your company has such a great concept that they have given you their hard-earned money. Whether they're a mechanic or a billionaire, you can only assume they have earned that money through hard work and are now entrusting it to you for growth. That, I say, is more compelling than any self-serving motivation.

This is old news to many.....but they never mentioned it to me before.

So I'm driven. Currently burning almost $10k/month. Driven. And loving it. Biggest challenge of my life and it's the most fun I've ever had.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tribute to Whole Foods (and criticism)

They have done so much for the organic industry, it's so hard to criticize them. As far as propelling the organic movement (what I call the longer-named Life Of Health And Sustainability) into the limelight and mainstream market, Whole Foods has accomplished more than any other organization on the planet. And yet it does seem that the experience you get there, while an altogether revolutionary shopping experience, has diminished in organic value. I appreciate and applaude a mix of conventional and organic products (there's really no reason to buy EVERYTHING organic), just hope they don't get any more deceptive in their marketing cause it's starting to push the limits.

They have numerous prepared food bars and yet finding a single organic ingredient can be very difficult. They have big organic signs in the produce section, but I would estimate 30% or less actual organic products. And their signs are all mixed up. The only way to be sure you're getting organic is to look at the sticker PLU on the item. If it starts with a 9, it's organic. But I recently browsed through their pile of "Organic"oranges and found at least 50% of them were conventional. YOu know they charge you for organic at the register, so you're basically being charged organic prices for conventional produce. Good luck getting an employee to tell you if something is organic or not when the product doesn't have a sticker (very common)....they just guess.

Anyways, I love em. People complain about their monopolistic ways, but it's how they've fueled the growth they've achieved. Supply in the organic industry is very difficult. Not only are there the regular problems of weather, disease, and pests, but demand is so high right now that there is not enough organic product to go around. Whole Foods purchased the largest, and pretty much only, central texas distributor of organic produce and groceries. THey proceeded to make the distributor a "Whole Foods Only" distributor. This left a rather large hole in the supply chain. That's an area is trying to fill.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A brief history of my time

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
---Steve Jobs

o far in my business adventures I've managed to heed this advice. My hunger is not for the money...I've learned fact, I don't know what will satiate my hunger or even where to look for it. Part of me hopes I never learn.

I was an entrepreneur long before I knew what that meant. Stereotypical lemonade stands and middle school candy empire always seemed like just ways to make money. Money that I'd stash away and never spend. I didn't really want the money, I just wanted to make money. I can't count how many different ways I've made money. The one certainty is that once I started making money, I got bored. My sense of achievement was based on the ability to make money in that particular fashion, nothing more.

I've created a few interesting stories in my short 27 years around here. At least they're interesting to me. As I post new experiences I'll probably relate some to past stories.......starting, growing, and selling businesses; selling everything and moving to Spain to start a business; failed partnerships; failed businesses; and never losing that hunger. Always supremely confident that my homerun has been in the cards all along.

One thing for sure is that I keep hopping on bigger and bigger rollercoasters. I hope to record my lessons in business and the life of business in this blog so that I may remember them for future encounters. And maybe you will learn a thing or two to avoid in your adventures.