I tried to take shortcuts.
I’ll admit it, I was attracted to the get rich quick parts of the world of entrepreneurship. And I bought into the lie that you could simply setup a website and start making lots of money. I guess I wanted to make money without working too hard. I wanted the easy route.
But boy was I in for a strong dose of reality.
Over the last 10 years I have had high highs and crushing lows in my entrepreneurial journey. The world of startups can be both heaven and hell. It can be super hard but also so wonderful as well. It’s fast moving and full of incredibly talented individuals.
The ideas contained in this little book are a few selected from my personal approach to life and business. Some of what you see here are things that I read to myself every morning during my daily practice. They are often simple but not easy. You may not agree with everything I have written. But that’s ok. Everybody’s different.
I hope you give this a read and it makes you think about your life and work. Maybe it will catalyze some of your own personal ideas and principles and be a jumping off point that you can build upon. Like the “Yes and” theory of improv.
I originally wrote over 127 pages for this until I finally just threw away most everything and packed in the good stuff that I truly believe in. There is no need to read something with a bunch of filler it in. When we designed this document we also tried to strip away all the extra junk and just provide a focused, easy to read design.
I wish you the best on your entrepreneurial journey but more importantly, your life journey. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you out.
“Holy crap!” We should shout every morning upon waking up. We are so incredibly lucky that we are alive.
We basically won the lottery. The life lottery.
We have been so incredibly blessed. Here are a few things to consider:
The average world income is about $7,000 a year.
If you make over $43k a year you are richer than 99% of the world. Which is 6.9 billion other people. Yes, let me type that number out — 6,930,000,000 people have less than you.
Only 15% of the world has a car. If you have one (or two), you are lucky.
80% of the world doesn’t have their own computer. And yet most every entrepreneur I know was given a computer for free by their parents at a very young age.
We are blessed!
What is the focus of your life? What are you working towards achieving?
I personally have struggled with this for many years. Only recently have I started to make some sense of the direction I am trying to move in. What I did was take out two pieces of paper and write out what I am actually trying to achieve with my life.
The first piece of paper is my Ideal Day. It is a exploration of what my day would look like it I could design it anyway I choose.
The second is my Eulogy. Writing my eulogy has been an incredibly focusing experience. It has really stripped away all the extra junk in my life and helped me focus on what really matters.
Check the bottom of the post to see copies of both my Ideal Day and my Eulogy
And if you get a chance maybe you could write your two pieces as well. We even have an online FB community setup at IdealDay.net where you can share it with us.
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.
Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult.
Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
-M Scott Peck
Life is basically a bunch of experiments.
You go out there and just try stuff out.
You see what food you like by trying lots of different types. You date different people to try to find a great spouse. You test out different jobs and see what works and what doesn’t.
As Stephen Colbert says, “Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what is going to happen next and you are mainly just making things up as you go along.”
The only constant is change.
The average worker has 17 jobs in their life. They often switch jobs every seven and a half years.
424 of the companies in the Fortune 500 from 1914 (100 years ago) have gone out of business. That’s crazy. Imagine all those big buildings and all those people wearing suits. I bet they didn’t think that their business would be gone within a century.
It’s easy as business owners to think that our business will be around for a long time. But the reality is that it won’t be. It is impermanent.
Life is constantly moving and changing. It’s like a being a surfer, you just gotta keep surfing.
I realized the other day that I lie all the time.
Not like big lies, but more like small things and little tweaks of the truth.
I gotta stop doing that.
I am going to try to be more honest with myself and with others. If I don’t want to do something, I’ll just say it. I will be more honest about my businesses finances too. For years I have swept the truth under the rug and just convinced myself that everything is fine. I’ve skipped looking at my financial reports because I just didn’t want to face the truth.
From now on I am going to try to just be more honest about everything. If something is working out then that is great. But if the numbers show that it isn’t going very well, then I want to be able to honestly see that and proactively do something about it.
Oh, and I’m also not going to lie to myself and spend time with people or business partners that don’t add to my life. Life is too short to be around toxic people.
I don’t think you can really achieve great things by yourself.
You have to work with people. Really good people.
Good people bring you energy. They help you move towards your goals. They get you jazzed about the work you are doing.
But they aren’t always easy to find. You gotta search for them. You might hire the wrong people, or join the wrong group. That’s fine.
Keep looking. Find your good people.
The World is India
The World is India
It is broken. It smells. It has many many problems.
It is beautiful to0. The people are beautiful. The sights, the smells, the experience. There is beauty here.
Pain and suffering, yes. All over.
But also humanity. Beautiful things. Great people.
The 20 rule
Life is about giving.
One thing I have been thinking about a lot recently is the 20 rule. The way this works is say you want to one person to help you – then help 20 people out first. No matter what their caste is.
If you want to make $1, well then in order to achieve that you should strive to first give away at least $20 in value.
Give give give, and if you are lucky you might receive.
You are weird.
Heck, everybody is weird. We all have the unique things that we like and dislike.
That’s ok. Just be you.
Be honest with yourself. What do you like? What stuff don’t you like?
This goes for business as well. You probably aren’t going to be successful by copying somebody else’s idea. You gotta make your own path, your own brand. It may take you a number of years to really find it.
There have been about 108 billion people that ever have lived on earth. 108 billion different versions of life being lived.
Just be you.
The other day I looked up the word “compassion” in the dictionary.
It was pretty fascinating. The word literally means “to suffer with.”
A truly compassionate person is one who is empathetic to the sufferings of others around him. They literally “suffer with” the other.
I think we should strive to be more compassionate to others. To really love and care for others.
This goes for the tech centers of Silicon Valley and New York as well. Sometimes in the rush to maximize profits, I see people forgetting to be kind to others. I think this is something that need to be valued.
400 hour workweek
It’s not going to happen.
You aren’t going to find a magical product and quickly set up a business. And that business isn’t going to immediately run itself with only a few hours of work a week.
Building a business is hard as hell.
It takes years.
During many of those weeks, it is going to feel like you are working 400 hours a week.
It’s a grind.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
I’m gonna be honest with you. Startups are hard.
Trying to create a brand new business from scratch is always going to be a huge challenge.
If you walked into a big room and there were 100 people there, the typical number of entrepreneurs and business owners are probably less than 10. That means 90 people in the room would be traditional employees. And they probably wouldn’t really understand your drive to create something different.
Startups are business experiments. And an overwhelming amount of them do not work out. 90% of new businesses experiments fail. Only 10% work. The odds are stark. You have probably heard these stats.
But how about this one: Did you know that the average salary for a startup founder is just $35,000 a year. That’s not a lot. So it definitely helps to be doing this for the right reason and not just for money.
Build your sandcastle
Whatever it is that you have in your mind. I don’t care if it’s a book you want to write, a community you want to build, a non-profit that gives away all its money or if it’s the latest venture backed Silicon Valley wünderproduct.
Go for it.
Take a handful of sand and drop it on top of the pile.
Somedays will probably suck. It will feel like everything is roadblocked for you. Maybe you can only put one tiny grain of sand on top.
But go ahead, put that one piece of sand on top anyway.
As I write this there are 6 Mexican guys outside my window working to dig ditches in the hot sun. After working for hours they will go back home to their families that that work has helped support.
Work is valuable. Providing for oneself or a family is a honorable thing.
So instead of always trying to weasel our way out of work, let’s look at it a different way. Let’s try to do our life’s best work.
Let’s really care about the work we do.
Jobs and passion
A job is something you do for money.
A passion is something you would do for free.
I’ve had both. It’s not always easy finding the sweet spot in the middle.
I think it would be cool to wake up on Saturday and work on things that you enjoy that maybe also provided you with some money.
We run an entrepreneurship group and there is one question that we ask the new members that is fascinating. It goes, “If you couldn’t make any money from your business or project how long would you run it for?”
Some people would shut it down right away. While others say they would run it forever no matter what the income is.
So I think the way it works is like this:
- Do stuff you really love. If that also makes you some money then great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. Keep doing things you love.
Boundaries are essential.
The entrepreneurial journey can often be a bumpy and brutal road. Many entrepreneurs struggle with working too much, getting too little sleep, and all the emotional challenges that come with building something new. I personally have dealt with these issues over and over again. I often find myself checking my phone frequently. And I almost always drink too much internet.
But I’m working on it.
Here are a few boundaries that I have been experimenting with:
- Leaving the office by 5 PM sharp
- Exercising at least three times a week
- Not working on Sundays
- Turning off all screens at 9:30 pm
Not checking my phone in the morning before you’ve done your morning routine
And my most effective boundary setting technique so far has been Monk Day.
So set limits on the amount of hours worked. Set boundaries. Say no.
Thailand won’t make you happy
Thailand won’t make you happy.
I mean it’s a cool place.
It’s awesome actually.
You can fly halfway around the world and sit in a little hotel room by the beach — but you will still be you.
It’s taken me years to realize this.
Happiness and contentment don’t come from external things like parties and beaches. It comes from the inside.
It comes from friends, and family. And working on stuff you love.
What is success?
Many people define success simply as “being rich.”
Try it next time you are reading a magazine. Substitute “rich” for the word “successful” and it almost always fits.
But I think it is more than that. I think we can do better. Success with business is more than money. It’s learning from the failures and mistakes. It’s the whole adventure. And it is also about overcoming yourself. Becoming the best version of you. Grow a big wallet and an even bigger heart
Josh Kaufman writes in his book “Success is working on things I enjoy with people I like, feeling free to choose what I work on, and having enough money to live without financial stress.”
Adam Grant says “Success is not just what you achieve, but also what you help others achieve.”
India has ancient thing thing called the caste system. It basically works to classify people as being on different levels.
The thing is, we do the same thing here in our country.
We put people in boxes. We classify people into different levels. I do it. We all do it.
You go to a party and you find yourself judging the different people.
We need to strive to treat people equally. Even those people that can’t do anything for us.
This is something I am going to try to work on. To try to treat all people with respect and kindness.
“The true measure of a man is how he treats somebody that can do nothing for him.”
Nobody knows what is going to happen with their business. Or with yours.
Nobody can give you a proven formula.
My buddy was going to buy a bunch of cars to hire drivers to drive for him for UberX. But within the past 6 months UberX has cut rates by 40%. That would have been a huge blow to his calculations.
Our fashion website sometimes is blessed with thousands and thousands of visitors. And then at other times the winds of Google change, blow the opposite direction and our traffic drops.
Pretty much everybody is just winging it. Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen in the future. Nobody.
It’s wild. On the internet you can reach crazy amounts of people. Our fashion website has been visited by over 20 million people. That’s nuts.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. How do you continue to try to get in front of people but also stay humble and positive? How do you build a big audience and a small ego?
I don’t really know. But I think it might be good to pray this prayer every morning. I’ve been trying it.
“Dear God, please make me invisible. May I be truly humble and have quiet confidence. May I freely share my talents without any desire to impress anyone.
May I keep my head down and focus on doing great work without the need for a single person to notice. May I have 0 ego. If you wish someone to see my work, may I be grateful for the gift of being able to inspire another with the gifts you have bestowed upon me.
Please help me to have a positive attitude. People may disrespect me, the day may fall apart, and I may be tired, but please help let to remain positive and grateful through it all. “
Business is simple
Business is simple. It is not easy. Not at all. But it is simple.
Fortune 500 companies, startups, and lemonade stands can all be basically defined in 6 sentences like this.
Create valuable goods/services. With your people.
Get attention. Present the offer and price to your customers.
Sell and make a profit. Keep everything organized.
If any of these steps are missing the business will suffer.
Celebrate every win
Entrepreneurship can be rough. There are incredible highs, but also soul crushing lows.
But don’t forget to celebrate every win.
No matter how small, take the time to celebrate and be grateful for every small win that you and your team achieve.
Maybe even write out a list of a few things you are appreciative of. It’s so easy to overlook all of our blessings.
Think of it this way, even if you don’t make it to the NBA, you can still love basketball. You can love playing the game. And you can count all the shots that you do make.
Oh, and here is another thing: Celebrate other people’s wins as well. Get jazzed when other people launch new things, make more money, and grow.
Go for it
Most of my ideas haven’t worked. Maybe none will in the long run. But that doesn’t really matter. There is value in just putting it out there. So whatever you are working on. Or thinking about working on, then just go for it.
Get it out there. Start your project.
I’m rooting for you.
Keep putting those pieces of sand on top of your sandcastle. And remember to always be sure to try to “Build Great Things.”
Most of your business experiments probably won’t work out. Maybe it feels like everything you try doesn’t work.
That’s fine. That’s just the way entrepreneurship works. Believe me, I’ve been there.
As James Altucher says, “Ultimately, life is a sentence of failures, punctuated only by the briefest of successes.”
Persistence is vital when it comes to entrepreneurship. Steve Jobs said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
So keep working on it. Be determined to build things that work. Fall down 7 times, get up 8.
Thanks for giving this a read. It really means a lot to me.
If you would like to connect, please do so. I really enjoy meeting people. You can drop me a line on Twitter via @DaveCraige or by email at Dave@Tugboat.io and you can also check out more of my life’s work at DaveCraige.com
Additionally, if there is anything that you see that I could help you with please let me know. I love working with entrepreneurs and trying to add value to their projects and businesses.
About the author
Dave Craige is the director of The Studio, a marketing and design firm.
His flagship projects are a fashion website that 25 million people visited, a private entrepreneurship group whose members sites reach over 100 million people a year, and 3 books.
He strives to help other people build great things. Especially by using the web and technology.
He lives in Colorado and enjoys skateboarding, salsa dancing, and dirt biking.
There is just so much more to explore when it comes to life and entrepreneurship. Here are a just a few additional things and cool people that I think you should check out.
Nick Loper is a good guy who shares a ton of ideas about starting your own business. Check his work out at Side Hustle Nation and make sure you follow him. He also has a great list of 79 business ideas you can try.
Paul Jarvis has been an author that always creates high-quality, honest content. Check out his book, “Everything I Know.” The thing I like about him is that he focuses on marketing without having to sound like a used car salesman.
James Altucher has taught me so much about just being honest when you write. It’s challenging, but makes your work better. If you get a chance, check out his honest and straightforward blog and his latest book, Choose Yourself.
I think one of the nicest guys in Silicon Valley is Ryan Hoover. You should check out tireless work on Product Hunt. He also has some great insight for new entrepreneurs into seeing if startups are worth it.
Josh Spigford is an great guy to follow to see one guy who is a one-stop shop. He is one of those guys who has been using computers for so long that he can design, develop, and is also a very good businessman. And all-around professional. Check out his latest work at www.BareMetrics.io.
Brandon Turner and Rob Ludlow, are both impressive entrepreneurs that are doing great stuff. I think you should follow them as well. I’ve been so thankful for these guys as they help me along my entrepreneurial journey.
Oh, and if you don’t have accounts at Twitter, Medium.com and Quora I would definitely suggest setting them up. There is so much great free info there on entrepreneurship and life.
Dave’s ideal day is as follows. To Live peacefully in a simple apt or a little house. No clutter, just a nice simple place. The day starts the night before. Turn off devices at 9:30pm. Wind down. Maybe take a hot shower. Read and be in bed before midnight.
In the morning wake up at the same time everyday and feel refreshed. Make bed. Pray. Practice Spanish with DuoLingo. Review my Eulogy/Ideal Day. Make and eat a paleo breakfast. Make a green smoothie. After breakfast take a few minutes before cleaning the dishes. Shower.
Chill out time — enjoy the precious present. Twitter/FB on the retina iPad mini (but not too much to get burned out).
Eat a healthy lunch. Chill for a bit.
Drive a simple clean well maintained car to The Studio. 12 minute or so stress free commute. Enjoy the ride.
Walk into our nice clean studio. Work with a great team. Everybody enjoys working together. We crank through our projects for a few hours. We have upbeat but chill music playing through our high-end KRK speakers. Orchids. We keep moving our businesses and projects forward. We stay focused on growing and treating our customers extremely well. We work on designing cool-looking and useful products. When problems come up, and they will, we take them in stride and continue to move forward.
Green smoothie in the afternoon. Lunch. Do 10 breath meditations throughout the day.
My financial goal is to comfortably support a family. If I need more money I work part or full-time at a startup. Work on saving about 50% of paycheck. Keep over a year in savings account. Live well below your means and focus on amazing experiences. Use a 2x1 miles card for purchases to save up for free travel.
Have fun. Laugh. Don’t take it too seriously.
Go to a challenging but rewarding Yoga class.
Dinner with a great woman. Take an evening walk or dirt bike ride.
Read. Bed. Sleep well.
On Saturdays, the nice cleaning lady drops off food and cleans floors and does laundry. We speak in Spanish.
Go on a dirt bike ride. Get a great sports massage, go to the chiropractor.
Have a good simple life. Love people. Work diligently. Give. Have fun.
Dave Craige has died. He had a great run. He lived life to the fullest. We hope that after a really long time in purgatory he will be going on to go dirt biking in the green pastures of heaven. He is known for a few things. Here are ten of the most important.
Solid : Dave was simply a solid guy. He was solid in his love for people. He was steadfast in his focus on his life’s work. He was consistent, dependable, and strong.
Love : He was known for love and kindness. He was kind and loving to everyone. He always tried to smile at everyone he met. His personality was strong-willed but he worked hard to be kind. He loved everyone as best as he could, as unconditionally as he could. Love and compassion were central tenants in his life.
Wife : He absolutely cherished his bride. She was one of the most important choices that he ever made. He sacrificed all for her. He laid down his single-hood and freedom, and gave her a lifetime of deep love. They built up an incredibly strong marriage. They endured large challenges together. He fought back against the failures he had seen in his family, and brick by brick built a solid marriage. They went on wonderful adventures. They laughed and laughed and laughed. He deeply loved her in a wabi sabi way.
Family : He absolutely loved and cherished his children. He said they were the “best things that I ever helped create.” He spent extra time with them and patiently helped them grow. He always tried to put them before his work. He loved his two sisters. He loved his Dad and his Mother. He was loving and kind to his stepsister Gracie. He loved his step-mom Donna, and he loved his niece Lydia.
Provider : He focused and provided well for his family. He worked diligently to make enough money, and gave his family a nice, safe place to live. He was the leader of his family spiritually, physically, and materially.
Loyal friend : Dave was known for being a loyal and kind friend. He was always good to keep in touch with others. He would frequently reach out to people.
Humor : Dave loved comedy. He loved funny pictures, jokes, movies. Everything that had a light side to it. He shared many jokes with his friend Bryan. He laughed at himself frequently.
Easy-going : Dave was a first born. But he made a decision to be easygoing. He let things slide. He fully accepted people as they are. He worked to love people without conditions.
Giving : Dave always tried to find opportunities to give. He worked to help strengthen marriages and families in his mens group, JoeStrong. He was generous with his money like Brandon Lata showed him how to be. He worked to help business grow in his entrepreneurship group, The Bunker.
Fun : Dave loved fun. He loved his dirtbike and his skateboard. He loved to dance. He loved travel, loved to meet interesting people. He bribed traffic cops, skydived out of helicopters, and was almost thrown in jail in Mexico.
Written and produced at The Studio
Build Great Things