Game for your Life – Gamificatio­n Trends & Innovation with Chris Gore

Chris Gore, with joke-infused fashion, shared stories with Friday Coffee Meetup (FCM) about his success, methods, and ideas of how to write-books and market yourself successfully. Chris shared about the popularity of Pokémon Go and how it didn’t come with any instructions. Pokémon Go went viral and was adopted by countless people despite not coming within any instruction manual. We had to discover and figure it out as we played. This concept has been central in Chris’ career and success as he has “figured out” his own path to success as a writer, comedian, and speaker.

The idea of writing a book is in-sanely intimidating, but Chris shared how to help discipline himself he awarded himself “mini-rewards” after achieving small goals. He shared how breaking large tasks into these bite-size pieces with rewards, is a great way to motivate and discipline ourselves. He also shared the amount many of us write in one week between e-mails, social media, etc., is roughly the same amount as a full-book!

Chris shared how the benefits of writing books go beyond the book itself and passive income but is a distinguisher to you as a person and creates a number of additional opportunities for you as an innovator and expert in your field.

Chris talked about how he typically spends around 6 months building an extremely detailed outline of his book, then about 2 months of actual writing. His prime writing hours are early in the morning (often before the sun is up), for around 3 hours. Beyond 3 hours he talked about how the quality/quantity of work tends to decline. Chris shared how a great way to start thinking about a new book idea is to write the summary paragraph that is on the back cover of the book.

Other helpful resources Chris recommended: Use https://www.grammarly.com/, and listen to audio books. Chris recommended looking up Stephen King’s top 10 recommended audio books list to start!

The Q&A provided a broad range of questions (to say the least) ranging from creative liberties as a comedian to pricing margins and building a strong social media foundation!

The Trials and Successes of a SaaS startup with Dr Alex Backer

On Friday morning Alex shared with us a collection of stories and lessons learned from his own journey creating and developing “QLess”.  Below is a recap written by Brandon Burroughs.

            Alex was born and raised in Argentina, and while he was accepted into both MIT and Harvard early in his College career, his early college years were spent in Argentina. With some helpful pushes from his family, he eventually decided to attend MIT. Even though he was beyond the “late enrollee” period, they accepted him and he began pursuing his degree at MIT. This acceptance process beyond the late enrollee period illustrated one his first points that we shouldn’t always accept rules as they are given, but we should look beyond always “following the rules”. This was the first of 19 lessons Alex passed on. A summarized version of the others are below (But you should really watch the video to get the character and feeling behind the stories!).

Lesson 2: Never say no to an invitation to give a talk. You never know where it will take you and who you will meet.

Lesson 3: Don’t take money from anyone you wouldn’t take from your children. Don’t trust people just because they have the funding you are looking for. You are the best defender of your business so don’t trust too easily. Keep an advisory board that you trust.

Lesson 4: Create products you want to use. Alex shared how the idea of QLess came to him while waiting in line at Knott’s Berry Farm. The idea occurred to him that waiting in line is a huge waste of time, and he had a solution that would revolutionize the way many businesses and government entities are now addressing this problem.

Lesson 5: Don’t assume someone must have done it before. If you have an idea, pursue it!

Lesson 6: Starting a company is hard work. Make it worthwhile. Alex shared that the average American spends 2 years waiting in a line. The goal of his solution is to literally save years of peoples’ lives.

Lesson 7: Diversify until you have a winner. You never know which client/idea/project is going to be the right one so give yourself options.

Lesson 8: Go global. Don’t limit yourself to a local/regional market. If your idea is good, take advantage of the global reach that is now available.

Lesson 9: Whoever said it’s hard for startups to go after government customers? Some of QLess best clients are government entities, so don’t count them out of your potential customer base.

Lesson 10: It’s seldom too late. Alex shared the story of how they were late on a tight deadline and decided that the best option was to fly one of the sales reps out to hand-deliver the contract on-time. While it was an additional expense with no guaranteed return, they got the contract which would not have happened had they settled for, “we’re too late”.

Lesson 11: You’re never too small (Even for Texas). Even though Alex’ company was small at the time, their solution was a great fit for the state of Texas.

Lesson 12: Not too small to be crowned the best in America. Size doesn’t matter of the solution and execution is right.

Lesson 13: Put the company before yourself. Alex shared how for the success of the company he had to go without a salary for 8 years. While everyone doesn’t have that ability, the concept and follow-through of putting the company first is huge!

Lesson 14: Invest in redundancy: Alex shared how he wished he had shared more company knowledge within the organization among the staff. When a key employee transitioned out of the company, they were left in a position of lacking important company knowledge because there was not diversified knowledge share for that specific role.

Lesson 15: How to replace anyone: Use LinkedIn to target “people like” the candidates you are searching for!

Lesson 16: A lost deal is simply a deal waiting to be won. Patience and persistence pays off so don’t give up too early!

Lesson 17: Build tech that even non techies want to use. Usability for all consumer segments is crucial to enable mass adoption.

Lesson 18: You can do anything remotely. The SaaS industry has a huge advantage of being accessible from anywhere. Use this to your advantage in reaching new prospective clients and servicing existing clients!

 

Lastly, Alex shared with us Lesson 19- a poem entitled, “Don’t Quit” encouraging persistence and drive behind the challenges we face. QLess has had amazing success with 2,000% app download growth over the years and it has already eliminated 2,000 years of waiting in line. His story of success and persistence is absolutely an inspiration!

 

 

 

Ryan Williams: Reinventing Your Career in the Influencer Economy

Reinventing your career is a daunting task. You cannot afford to wait to be hired by the right company, nor can you wait for the perfect job to find you. The modern professional needs to take charge by “laddering-up” their career to launch their own business idea, build their influencer network, and thrive as an expert in their business field.

In The Influencer Economy book, Ryan Williams teaches his three step business launch framework, complete with lessons and actions for anyone to reinvent their career. He offers insights into how to launch a passion project, grow an online business, and take any entrepreneurial company to new heights.

To learn more about Ryan’s story and the process to be successful in the influencer economy, see the video below.

Bio:

Ryan Williams is a media strategist and professional speaker who coaches executives and entrepreneurs in how to reinvent their careers. He is a former Media Relations Manager at Disney, and Director of Marketing at Machinima.com and State.com. In early 2014 he launched his Apple “new and noteworthy” podcast, Stories from The Influencer Economy and in 2016 published his book “The Influencer Economy.” He currently runs his own consulting business and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two girls.

 

Website: http://www.influencereconomy.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanjwill

Click here to purchase The Influencer Economy on Amazon.

Brian Nolan and Michael Ugino: Grit – What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur

There are so many factors that can contribute to an entrepreneur’s success. For Brian Nolan and Michael Ugino, the one factor that has proved essential for success is grit. According to Angela Duckworth, “grit is the passion and perseverance of a long term goal.”

These entrepreneurs have hit so many obstacles on their journey to build their product, maintain a team and grow their business. Virtually all their endeavors took longer than expected, and presented challenges that were painful and disheartening. Despite these obstacles, the Sellbrite team continues to thrive.

Whether you are an established business owner or an aspiring employee with a good idea, the journey of the Sellbrite entrepreneurs will inspire anyone to hold strong to their vision and keep hustling through. If you would like to learn more about Sellbrite’s story and learn about how you can improve your own personal grit, click on the video below.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” -Mario Andretti

 

Brian Nolan and Michael Ugino are co-founders of Pasadena-based Sellbrite, a SaaS platform that helps retailers build, manage and grow their multichannel ecommerce business. The two met while working together at another company in Pasadena, and instantly became friends. Brian and Mike started Sellbrite after experiencing pain points in doing their jobs at that company, and realized there was a huge opportunity in the market for a simple solution. They found themselves back in Pasadena after being funded and incubated by Idealab. Sellbrite now has a team of 17 people and an office on Green St. in Old Town.

Interested in learning more about Sellbrite, click here.

Adjoa Skinner: How to Give a Good Presentaiton

There are so many different ideas about the correct ways to give a speech.  It can all be overwhelming trying to follow the dos and don’ts of giving a good presentation.  Whether being concerned about your hand-positioning or the tone of your voice, most individuals walk into a speech with reservations and anxieties.

Adjoa Skinner walks us through a simple acronym W-A-T-E-R to help relax and rest ourselves before giving a presentation or performance.

Wait  Actualize  Thankfulness  Effort  Relax

The acronym reminds us to get some water as well.  You’re voice is your most valuable asset and water is essential for any speaker or vocalist.  Adjoa’s engaging and immersive presentation gives us guidance and techniques that inspire peace and confidence before going into a presentation.  To get the full details of the process and some helpful exercises, see the full video below.

 

 

Adjoa Skinner is a 25 year music veteran and vocal coach. Nominated by the Readers of Backstage Magazine as one of the top 5 vocal coaches in Los Angeles in 2016. Adjoa has been the vocal coach of Katherine McCormick of “So You Think You Can Dance”, Bryce Soderberg of the band “Lifehouse” as well as numerous other rising stars. Skinner’s additional honors include: 100 Best Live Acts to Watch in 2013 by Music Connection Magazine, Top Female Performer and Highest over all score in the in the Socal Live Acoustic Music Competition.

 

For information and to check out her music go to: adjoaskinner.com

 

Local to Los Angeles and interested in attending Friday Morning Coffee meet up or similar events? Click here for a schedule.

 

 

Social Media Panel Discussion at Apple

 

The discussion, called “Extending Your Brand On Social Media,” featured a panel of social media experts from top companies of various sizes, including Senior Brand Manager Peyton Moore, who also moderated the panel, and Director of Strategy Nicole Rohrer from Echo-Factory; Malcolm Gray, who handles digital marketing at the global leader in entertainment and ticketing, Live Nation; Paul Meyers, director of digital and social media marketing at Pabst Brewing Company; Taryn Rothstein, creator of the popular lifestyle city guide, Pasadena Charm; Tara Cunningham, who manages partnerships and business development at the Venice-based social software developer, Epoxy; and Jonathan Jordan, business specialist at the Apple Store.

 

Mind Control APIs and the future and ethics of persuasive machines

 

Mind control has gone from sci-fi to API. Now AI in the cloud adjust mathematical parameters and cause fitness enthusiasts in real life to run more and diet better. A high-five here – an optimization there – we now share a world with increasingly intelligent machines designed to shape our behavior. How the heck did we get here?! In this surreal present, human behavior is an engineering problem. So is it time to panic? Or time to celebrate? Is this new generation of tools a harbinger of dystopia or the latest in a legacy of public health and thriving?

At Dopamine Labs we’ve built the world’s first API that helps apps hack users’ habits. By optimizing positive reinforcement we help apps keep users engaged, retained, and thriving. Here I explore how we all got to a world of persuasive machines, what role my team and I are playing in setting the tone for the field, and what’s coming next.

Bio:

Ramsay Brown is an mad scientist, creative technologist, and co-founder of Dopamine Labs in Venice, California (https://www.usedopamine.com.) He uses design, neuroscience, and code to explore the interface of humans and our increasingly intelligent machines. Ramsay’s enthralled by the reciprocal causality between humans and machines, and the implications of their ever poorly-defined boundary. The Modernist conviction that we can build our way to greater human thriving drives his work and play. When he’s not making APIs, he and his co-founder are making IPAs.

Patterns of Fundraising from the Perspective of an Investor

 

Scaling and growing a company is about recognizing patterns. This is especially true when it comes to fundraising no matter whether you are seeking early stage venture or growth capital to scale and win your market. Gaining insight into the patterns as seen by an active career investor can provide valuable insight for any entrepreneur into the frameworks they are using to gauge their success.

Building and scaling a company successfully is about the decisions you make as an entrepreneur.  What informs those decisions is experience, frameworks to tackle tough issues, and the pattern matching around the game of growing an idea to a  feature to a product to a company.  Entrepreneurs should be seeking these frameworks wherever they can find them, and after 20 years in Venture Capital through terrific successful investments and wipeouts, Jim has a few to share.  Whether it is thoughts on a great fundraising pitch, how to think about product and team, or how to hack the all expensive go to market, the questions entrepreneurs ask is the most important function.  Of course it all comes together when a company is raising money, and that is where Jim will focus his thoughts on the patterns of success.

Currently Jim is a managing Director with March Capital, a $240MM Tech focused venture fund that is headquartered in Santa Monica, but that invests globally.  He focuses early stage but does growth investing as well.  Practice areas include B2B marketplaces, consumer internet and Enterprise Software.

 

A successful and experienced early stage venture investor in enterprise and consumer technology, Jim Armstrong has established himself as a leading investor based in Southern California. Jim has over 20 years of technology investment experience, and has generated multiple large exits through IPOs or mergers and acquisitions from companies he either incubated or participated as the first institutional investor.

What innovation means at JPL

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech and based in Pasadena, is well known for being on the cutting edge of space exploration. So what keeps JPL in this pole position? A key part of the answer is innovation: both in what we do and in how we do it. In conceiving the missions we will attempt in the next decade, we make a deliberate effort to ‘swing for the fences’, but in doing so there is a lot of careful preparation and forethought. We may swing for the fences, but we carefully check our bat is properly oiled and finely balanced, we use a brand new, unblemished baseball, and make sure that the fences are freshly painted too.

In JPL’s Innovation Foundry, we help JPL’s creative workforce and our collaborators conceive of and mature ideas for new space missions. Different tools and methods are employed depending on the maturity of the concept. The end goal is to fly the mission, so we assist teams in making compelling arguments as to why their particular mission should go forward at this moment in time. This process has resulted in many exciting JPL missions such as the Asteroid Retrieval Mission and our next mission to Mars – Insight. Further illustrative examples will be provided during the presentation.

Dr. Anthony Freeman is the manager of the Innovation Foundry – JPL’s incubator for new ideas – at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Formerly, he was the program manager of the Earth System Science Formulation office, which resulted in several new projects at JPL. Dr. Freeman received the B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Mathematics and a Ph. D. in Astrophysics, both from the University of Manchester (formerly UMIST).

Dr. Freeman joined JPL in 1987 as a member of technical staff in the Radar Science and Engineering section and was responsible for the end-to-end calibration of the SIR-C imaging radar mission, and formulation of the LightSAR instrument. He subsequently managed the Mission and Systems Architecture section at JPL. His technical interests include the architecture of innovative space missions, especially novel radar observing systems and techniques.

He taught the class on ‘Remote Sensing Systems from Space’ at USC from 2003 to 2012 and now teaches Aerospace Engineering (with a focus on nanosats), Systems Engineering and Program Management at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).