I recently found myself eating breakfast on Richard Branson’s private island, Necker, sipping an Americano under the palm trees to the beat of Richard’s morning tennis practice (he’s pretty good, if you’re wondering.) I would turn twenty-six in two months.
To understand how a twenty-something became an entrepreneur leading over 50 employees around the globe, we’ve got to take a few steps back first.
Back before my education in digital and interactive media, where I fell in love with web design. Before I co-founded a company with little more than some friends and a few laptops. Way back, to an exasperated school boy.
Grade school isn’t easy for the best of us. For me, well, it was downright torturous at times. Teachers insisted I simply wasn’t trying hard enough. In school I worked my ass off, but when report cards came, I was frequently disappointed.
I was smart enough, but struggled with a learning disability. On top of that, I was immersed in outdated curriculum completely disconnected from the real world– the world I’d soon be thrust into after graduation. I was stuck in a system that didn’t reward my efforts with success. The system, for me, was broken.
At the age of ten, I started tinkering around with computers, oblivious that making low-fi snowboard videos of my buddies would lay the groundwork for a career path that landed me in places like Necker Island, surrounded by the world’s entrepreneurial leaders. Those snowboard videos turned into a lifelong passion for the art of web creation and design.
After graduation, while studying interactive and digital media design, I somehow convinced the college to let me take my internship at… my own company. Why let a stranger teach me while I worked (for free) when I could learn from my team and make us all money?
I get asked all the time what success means to me. My company, Mindable, derives our success from never feeling we’ve quite reached it. To me, success is in the process.
When I’m travelling for business, how do I feel about coming home? On the sun-drenched shores of Necker Island –arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth–I was happy to leave.
I couldn’t wait to get back to the office and swap ideas with the team. I couldn’t wait to jump onto the next project. That feeling taught me that success is never an individual effort. It stems from the team as a whole. You’re only as great as the team around you. And I’m damn lucky to have a great one.
I’m the co-founder of Mindable, one of Canada’s most exciting marketing optimization companies.
Back in my early twenties, I built a business. My partner Nolan and I didn’t yet have a name, an office, or know what our first year was going to look like. But we did know exactly how we wanted it to feel.
Like most of the world, I was no stranger to jobs where I watched the slow rotation of the minute hand for hours. Jobs at which passion was a foreign concept. Jobs that felt like jobs.
Almost 70 percent of your waking time is spent at work–and time is the most valuable thing in the world. Why waste it on something you don’t love? I refuse to waste it running a company I don’t absolutely love spending my time on. More importantly, I refuse to waste our employees’ time at a company they don’t love coming to, day in and day out.
Luckily for us (and our growing employee base) running a business with that philosophy turned out pretty damn well.
Mindable was founded with a focus on untapped markets because we don’t believe in wasting time with things that have been done before. Over time, we’ve shifted our focus to software as a service. We’re growing bigger, smarter, and better every year.
In under a year, our largest website became one of the top 6000 websites viewed online in the US…with a 100 K visits every single day.
In other words– with over 1 billion active websites today– we built a site with views in the top 2% of all websites.
We advertise in almost all English-speaking countries, and we’re expanding into other languages. We’re plotting to take over the world.
We’re taught from a young age that success earned = study hours logged. I’ve invested hours of my time into the top business books, and studied the greats, and tried to replicate their lessons when I began in business– but it never seemed to fit together. It didn’t flow. It certainly didn’t feel natural.
It was only when we decided to scrap the business books — to start to build our company’s future how only we saw fit — did things really start to come together. Because sometimes, you have to write your own manual.
We don’t have time or energy to get bogged down in micromanagement. I figure out the why and the what, and let the team take the reigns for the how.
Our process is based on trust. I fully trust our team’s ability to lead themselves by relentless curiosity and creative drive.
Each team member has their own process — and trying to change their way of getting shit done is only detrimental. If we’re clear on the end goal, have established a timeline, and the trust is there, no one has to waste their time on micromanagement.
I know mistakes happen. When you stop fearing mistakes, everything changes. you move quicker—way quicker—than the other guy. At Mindable, we embrace those mistakes. And we learn from them.
From Day 1 our team experiments relentlessly (some would say obsessively) to uncover the greatest ideas.
Because when you stop trying to control your route, you reach more exciting places than you ever could have guessed.
To be the best, you have to surround yourself with the best.
Why waste time trying to figure things out when you can consult a master? We really take this philosophy to the extreme.
Mindable will spend $200K+ on education this year alone, and will spend close to that on travel. At the core of this philosophy is this: we’re never afraid to ask for help.
Nothing kills a company faster than founders too inflated by ego (or insecurity) to allow themselves to ask for help. It wastes time, and more importantly, invaluable advice from those who have learned the hard way, already.
We push our team to attend the best conferences. We pay them to read books. We want them to strive to find the best and brightest in their business as mentors and consultants.
Data, Data, Data
Success is, as they say, in the numbers. Every failed startup founder could look back and in hindsight, pinpoint the crucial moments along the way. Had they looked at the data along the way, those make-it-or-break-it moments could have been dodged.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a math person or not. To say I was never a math geek is putting it lightly, but I’m anal about data. I leave the hard number-crunching with the pros, but it’s absolutely crucial to understand every aspect of data. You never know what you might find.
I was blessed with some amazing mentors and consultants along the way who got me to where I am today. Now, I would like to share that knowledge with you.
We’ve had our share of struggles on the road to success. We can help your business cut the fat, progress faster, and make more money.
We’ll tailor to your needs, and make a plan to get the most out of your consulting sessions. Whether you’re an independent business owner or a team leader, we’ve learned the hard way so you don’t have to.
We offer expert advice on:
There’s nothing like hopping on a plane to electrify your creative sense, expand your worldview, and amp up your motivation. I learn something new on every single trip I’m on. Whether talking to a Shark at a conference or a Colombian cafe owner, everyone can be a teacher–that is, if you’re willing to learn.
My goal is to explore 100 countries before I kick the bucket.
So far, I’ve explored twenty-five countries…and I can’t wait for the next 75.