“Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Carthon the creator of FollowMyCal. His platform is a social calendar that centralizes your personal, professional, and social events into one location. A serial entrepreneur at 24, Richard has successfully created a tech company without knowing how to code or having a technical co-founder. He quit his corporate job to embrace the life of entrepreneurship, and is not looking back!

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

While in college I was a dual sport (Football/Baseball) athlete and was involved in 5 organizations on campus. I lived by my calendar and if and event was not on there, then it did not exist. I was balancing 3 different calendars on separate platforms and I could not find a seamless way to organize all of my obligations into one place. So, I decided to create my own platform to do just that.

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Attention to detail. We have been working directly with our beta users for the past year to make adjustments on the platform to enhance their experience. We are agile and make adjustments as quickly as possible.

We were very fortunate to go through two accelerators in New Orleans: the Idea Village and Propeller. They were great free resources that gave me the tools to learn and grow my business at a much faster rate than I ever could have alone.

I believe my company’s ability to take constructive criticism and adapt quickly helps us stand out. For example, one of our first users had an issue getting their community to RSVP to their events. We’ve since enhanced functionality and added an easier to use interface that allowed their community to more seamlessly RSVP to events.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are proud to be working with the local nonprofit Son of Saint. They help provide mentorship to young fatherless boys and help them get into college while providing them with experiences and resources that they otherwise would not have access to. They have their entire community using our platform (staff, mentees, mentors, board of directors, volunteers) and they have been providing invaluable feedback to us.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. My father recommended I read this book and I am grateful that I did. It was published in 1936, but it is extremely relevant to present day.

It is a book filled with lessons and stories on how the way you speak, listen, and react to people have long lasting impacts on them. By just making a few minor adjustments to how you interact with someone, you can make a long term monumental difference. I have taken these lessons to heart and apply them in my everyday life.

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1 - You do not need everyone to believe in your idea, you just need one person, and that one person just needs to be you.

I received 56 no’s before I received my first yes when I was fundraising for this company. I believed I would get a “yes” as long as I persisted on, not taking “no” as a final answer.

2 - You have the resources to be successful right now, you just aren’t using them.

A mentor of mine told me this and it means that we are constantly trying to find new resources to help us instead of tapping into the ones we already have. He told me to go through all of my contacts in my phone and make a list of people who could potentially help me with my goals. It made a huge difference in the trajectory of success in my life, because you never know who can help you until you tap into your resources.

3 - Do not fear failure; embrace it and fail fast.

Fear caused stagnation in my life and kept me from moving forward on opportunities because I did not want to fail or be rejected. With FollowMyCal, I embraced rejection and the chance that I could fail. I would have never envisioned having the success I have today had I not tried. Action cures fear, so keep moving forward.

4 - Never be afraid to ask for help.

I have learned that people can help you progress faster than you can alone. More people are willing to help you than you would expect them to, you just have to ask.

5 - There is no textbook or playbook for certain challenges, you just have to figure them out.

There are plenty of resources that can get you started in moving in a direction. However, nothing teaches you as well as throwing yourself into the fire and figuring it out as you go. It’s okay that you do not have all the answers before starting, sometimes starting is all it takes to get the snowball formed. Eventually you will find a hill to roll your snowball down.

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

Ken Coleman with Entreleadership. I have been subscribed to his podcast for over 2 years now and I have received nothing but valuable information from him and the various speakers he has brought onto the show. I would love to pick his brain on some of the best lessons he has learned over the years.

Jean: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

— Published on June 27, 2018