The Five W's Behind WiseWear

Welcome! First and foremost, we are beyond thrilled to launch our blog so you can get know WiseWear on a more personal level. After all, we’d like to think of ourselves as more than just a tech company… but rather, a resource in the community that touches on health, fashion, technology, and more. Our blog will feature a variety of content, ranging from advice on how to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle to exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage.

We’d like to dedicate our first blog post to the basics – get to know us!

WHO: WiseWear is a fashion tech hybrid company that creates luxury wearables. While we specialize in advanced sensing technologies, we also have a strong focus on fashion, design, and aesthetics – simply put, making things truly wearable. Our experienced team consists of top engineers and scientists, hailing from Caltech, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and the University of Texas, whose backgrounds include biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, and applied physics. We also collaborate closely with fashion designers, who have consulted for reputable brands such as CoachSwatchRachel Zoe, and Alexis Bittar.

 

A few of our team members, including (L to R): David Elam, Bennett Ibey, Brian Anderson, Jerry Wilmink, Ron Barnes, Jason Wilson, Jordan Ramirez, Ed Leahey.

WHAT: We recently launched our first line of luxury smart jewelry called the Socialite Collection (get it here, for an exclusive pre-order price of $299.95). This line consists of three smart bracelet designs, including the Calder, the Duchess, and the Kingston. The bracelets are fully integrated with advanced features such as activity tracking, mobile notifications, and distress messaging. Each bracelet is made of brass and plated in precious metals such as gold and palladium. Such brass material allows the bracelets to be water-resistant, antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and considerably more durable than other wearables currently offered in the market. We have plans to continue collaborating with top fashion brands & designers to offer more styles, as well as upcoming product lines that will appeal to both men and women.

The three styles of our Socialite Collection, including (L to R): the Calder, the Kingston, the Duchess.

WHERE: Our headquarters are located in the heart of the San Antonio medical district. We also have an office in Austin.

A typical day at our in-house research & development lab, testing sensing and antenna technology.

WHEN: It all began in September 2013 when Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Wilmink founded the company out of his San Antonio garage.

WHY: Health is important to us – it’s the root of all things. Without it, we can’t fuel forward to think, create, and make the world a better place. Dr. Wilmink founded WiseWear on the belief that healthy lifestyles should be easy to achieve and maintain with the ease of technology. That is, technology that is truly wearable and desired to be worn on a day-to-day basis. Our goal is to make healthy a habit so consumers can better understand their bodies, monitor their health & wellness, and ultimately, live a balanced lifestyle. Beyond technology, fashion and design also play a crucial role in the creative ingenuity behind our products. We strive to create wearables that serve a true purpose, without sacrificing style.

So what now? Visit us often and be on the lookout for exciting new content published on a weekly basis. Stay in the loop as we roll out new features, styles, designs, and product updates. And don’t be shy! We’re always happy to hear your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.

http://blog.wisewear.com/portfolio/the-5-ws-behind-wisewear/

How to Never Work a Day in Your Life

Do what you love.

Ph.D.-turned-entrepreneur Gerald “Jerry” J. Wilmink is the founder and CEO of WiseWear Corporation, a Texas-based digital health company that develops wearable technology products for fitness and medical applications. Every piece in its flagship line of “smart” luxury jewelry comes with distress messaging, mobile notifications, and detailed health and wellness activity tracking. The company holds seven patents and 10 trademarks and recently closed a $2.5 million investment round.

A biomedical engineer and self-described “mad scientist,” Wilmink also has experience as an inventor, startup business consultant for venture capital firms, and program manager for the Department of Defense’s $2 billion Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. In 2015, Wilmink was selected for San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list. He learned how to be bold early in life, as he explains below.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

At a very young age, my mother gave me the best career advice: “When you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”

My mom is my role model. At age 33, she went to college. Going to college is not a big deal to many families, but to our family this was huge news. My mom was the first person in our family to go to college. After earning her undergraduate degree, my mother then actively pursued her next dream. She enrolled in law school for night classes. To this day, I still have vivid memories of watching my mother and her college classmates preparing for law school exams. After finishing law school she proceeded to work at a mid-size law firm for a short period. She then moved on to her next dream: opening up her own law firm. Many people discouraged her from doing so, but she had an entrepreneurial dream, and she went for it.

Watching her through the eyes of a child gave me the courage to follow my own passions.

What was your biggest mistake to date, and what did it teach you?

The biggest mistake I have made is hiring people who did not fit the “SWAN” mold. SWANs are:

  • Smart: You need to hire smart people who are hungry to learn new things.
  • Works hard: You need to hire people who have grit and an “engine” to work hard. Startup founders and early employees put in insane work weeks, sometimes exceeding 90 hours a week.
  • Ambitious: You need to hire people who are devoted and make sure their interests are the same as the organization.
  • Nice: You need to hire people who are optimistic, know how to have fun and are nice. Startup founders and employees spend a ton of time together, and you want to have fun while you crush it at work.

What advice would you pass on to aspiring entrepreneurs?

To be best prepared for the “roller coaster” of startup life, I strongly recommend starting a business where your passion, domain expertise, and ability to make meaning in the world all intersect. To quote a conversationbetween Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen, in startups “you only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.” So I would also suggest that anyone launching a business try to get enough sleep!

Jerry Wilmink is a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, which has partnered with MONEY.com to help produce this series.

 

Wearables: Are Wrist Worn Heart Rate Sensors Ready for Game Time?

A close friend of mine recently asked me why we did not add optical based heart rate sensors to The Socialite Collection - www.wisewear.com. Given that both our CTO and I both have PhDs in Biomedical Optics, we explored this avenue. The truth is that after conducting extensive research tests, we found it is incredibly difficult to use optical sensors for accurate heart rate measurements from the wrist. Wrist worn wearables can provide accurate measurements of resting heart rate; however, the good old EKG-based chest strap is the only way to go for intense workouts. For those of you interested in staying in the orange zone during HIIT-like workouts, I recommend you stick with the EKG-based chest strap.

   Attached is some of our nerd data during high intensity workouts where I sought to stay in the orange zone.  http://www.orangetheoryfitness.com/

 

Attached is some of our nerd data during high intensity workouts where I sought to stay in the orange zone. http://www.orangetheoryfitness.com/

 

The Good news is that wrist worn wearables can provide an accurate measure of resting heart rate. 

On Our Radar: The Socialite Collection

On Our Radar: The Socialite Collection

This wearable tech startup is working to create a collection that combines many functions–from health to safety to fashion. We spoke with WiseWear’s founder and CEO, Dr. Gerald Wilmink to find out more.

Describe WiseWear.

WiseWear is a hybrid fashion tech company that is working towards making healthy a habit by integrating advanced sensing technologies into everyday items. Our company was founded with the belief that healthy lifestyles should be easy to achieve and maintain with the ease of technology.

Tell us about the Socialite Collection.

The Socialite collection, our first line of luxury smart jewelry, was created to inspire women to be smart, safe, and connected. We designed each piece with one goal in mind: to make women feel their most confident on the inside and out. By concealing advanced technology inside casual, yet luxurious jewelry, the Socialite collection allows women to monitor their health and safety in effortless style.

Complete with mobile notifications, distress messaging, and detailed activity tracking, our wearable tech-accessories are well-equipped to provide users with everything they need. Each bracelet is made of brass and plated in precious metals such as gold and true rhodium, offering water resistance and extreme durability. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with sleek designs, make Socialite a breed of its own in the world of wearables. It is the first of its kind to truly fuse fashion, form, and function into one sophisticated accessory.

 

What inspired you to create the Socialite collection?

Today’s tech industry is under the misconception that consumers will be satisfied with a product’s technical features, no matter what it looks like. WiseWear is determined to challenge this belief by concealing advanced sensing technologies into appealing luxury jewelry. Our mission is to create wearable tech in the form of impeccable jewelry pieces that people actually want to wear.

We want to empower women to have the best of both worlds and obtain that perfect balance of beauty and brains, without sacrificing their individuality and lifestyle. The form and function of our bracelets make this possible, so that women can stay on top of their wellness, be safe within their means, and stay connected to their loved ones, all with a gorgeous accessory on their wrist. We hope that women will be compelled to wear our bracelets everyday, so that they can look and feel their best and ultimately improve their overall lifestyle.

What sets the Socialite collection apart from other wearables?

The base of the bracelet (aka the “Brain”), which conceals the advanced sensors, is interchangeable with various tops. In addition to this, we have also designed our data to be stored alongside other types of wearable device data sets, so you can combine all your activity in one place, using Apple’s HealthKit and Google Fit.

Our advanced safety feature is another differentiating factor. Users can send a distress signal to the people they choose in an urgent situation. They can send a discrete text message with their geolocation and activate the sound/video recording on their phone to document their surroundings.

Lastly, our mobile notifications allow users to lose the screen, not the moment. Users can connect their bracelets to their mobile phones via Bluetooth to receive real-time notifications for incoming calls, texts, emails, calendar reminders, and the like.

What has been the hardest obstacle for you in creating the Socialite collection? What has been your favorite part?

We can’t put our finger on one specific “hard obstacle” throughout the creation of the Socialite collection. Everything has been a challenge, but a fun one to say the least. The wearables market is so competitive and is constantly changing, so it’s been a rollercoaster trying to determine which features will serve the best purposes for consumers.

 

Where can we buy your products, when are they available, and what is the cost?

The Socialite collection is currently available for pre-orders on our website, with each bracelet priced at $299.95. Orders will ship in November 2015.

What can we expect next from WiseWear?

Right now, we are focused on luxury smart jewelry. In a few months, it could be something as stealthy as undergarments or footwear. We believe that healthy lifestyles should be easy to achieve and maintain with the ease of technology. We are inspired to create innovative products for years to come with this idea in mind. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for us at CES 2016 this coming January!

To find out more about the Socialite Collection visit their website here.

Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave.  Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.


Through the Eyes of a Child - A Story of a Role Model

A Story of a Role Model -- My Loving, Courageous and Inspiring Mother

Independence, Ohio in 1992. 

I was feverishly smashing on my Sega controller trying to advance to the next level of Sonic the Hedgehog, when I heard a gentle knock on my bedroom door. It was my Dad. “Jer, do you have some time to talk?” I quickly replied, “You bet. “

For some reason, my stomach dropped. I felt something was not right. I proceeded to walk downstairs to find out. It was unusual. My parents were sitting on separate couches in our family room. After I sat down on the sofa with my mother, my Dad informed me that he had something to tell me. My brain was racing….

He then proceeded to tell me that his life was leading him another direction. A new direction. What does that mean? A new job. Not exactly. He then went on to explain that he and my mother were getting divorced, and that he going to be moving out in a few weeks.

I couldn’t believe it. My Dad was moving out. I could not comprehend the thought of not having him in my life. After all, he was not just my Dad. He was the cool Dad. He was my buddy, my coach. He was the Dad that drove us to the ice cream store in his pickup truck. My Dad was also the breadwinner. I couldn’t help to think about how my mom and I were going to make ends meet. 

Several weeks after my father moved out, my mother and I were sitting on the couch again. Only this time we were watching an episode of our favorite show, Golden Girls. My little Sicilian mother was down, but she was not out.

My mom then asked me if I would be OK if we both moved in with grandma and grandpa. Deep down I was scared, but given that I was raised in a small town where kid’s parents rarely got divorced, I was ready for a change. In addition to moving, my courageous mother also shared with me more exciting news. At age 33, she was going to go college!!

To many families this news would not have be a big deal, but to our family this was huge news. My mother was the first person in our family to go to college. Many people in this world crumble in the face of trials and adversity, but not my mother. At her lowest point, she dug deep and courageously took the boldest step of her life. A step that would change the trajectory of not only her life, but mine as well.

During her college days, my mother never missed a single ball game. Despite having a full course load and a very active teenager, my mother still managed to graduate valedictorian!!

After earning her undergraduate degree, my mother then actively pursued her next dream. She enrolled in law school for night classes. To this day, I still have vivid memories watching my mother and her college classmates preparing for law school exams. After finishing law school she proceeded to work at a mid-size law firm for a short period. She then was moving on to her next dream. Opening up her own law firm!!! Many people discouraged her from doing so, but she had a entrepreneurial dream and she went for it.

Thank you mother for dreaming big, and for always having the courage to pursue your dreams. Watching you through the eyes of child has inspired me to always shoot for the stars. I am eternally grateful for you. My role model, my inspiration, my mother.

12 Perks Your Remote Employees Will Love (As Featured in Inc.)

Link to Original Article in Inc. Magazine

 

From free coffee to devising a perk credit system, here are 12 creative ways to keep remote workers happy.

Just because some employees work from home (and more and more in a different city, state or even country) doesn't mean you aren't responsible for creating a comfortable and attractive work environment.

Since they won't be around for your next catered lunch, you need to get creative about offering perks that help your remote team members work smarter. Plus, benefits aimed specifically at remote team members don't just boost morale--they also help with recruitment efforts.

Twelve members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share which remote-work benefits have helped their employees the most.

1. Paid travel to headquarters.

We have offices in STL, KC and Columbia, MO. We reimburse our employees for gas any time they want to travel between the three cities. This enables them to work from any of the three offices and interact with different team members on a regular basis. It also makes the drive time a little sweeter when they know that it doesn't mean money coming out of their wallet.--Kelsey MeyerInfluence & Co.

 

2. Work flexibility, especially for parents.

Our remote team is made up of incredible senior-level talent, many of whom have young children. The ability to do exceptional industry-leading work in a flexible environment that promotes balance has significantly helped our recruiting efforts. This is especially the case for the many parents on our team.--Jennifer BenzBenz Communications

3. Starbucks coffee cards.

The vast majority of our team is in San Francisco. We love having folks work remotely, but we're afraid that they'll feel isolated. We fly them to SF, and they always speak first on conference calls to make sure they're heard. And to help get them out and in front of others, we cover all coffee expenses. It's a small thing, but fresh air and human interaction are critical to personal happiness!--Aaron SchwartzModify Watches

4. Ability to make their own schedule.

I manage people in four (soon to be six) different cities. Other than regular check-ins, our remote staff has complete control of their schedule to manage as they see fit. This helps them spend time with loved ones and relax or work as they do best and not on some arbitrary schedule, which keeps them happier and more productive.--Sam DavidsonBatch

5. Optional shared workspaces.

It surprised me at first, but our remote workers love the ability to go into a shared workspace a few times a week. We've had great feedback that this helps productivity and happiness. It's definitely become a selling point for recruiting. For those that are used to being in an office, having the flexibility to work from the comfort of home or in a professional office setting is reassuring.--Kayla Wagner FairesRevel Interactive

6. Unlimited days off.

We give all employees unlimited days off. This has especially helped remote workers, as they seem to always be working--literally around the clock. They now know that they have the flexibility to take a day off whenever they need. They can take off a month if they need. Since we offered this perk, our retention has increased significantly.--John RamptonDue

7. Full travel independence.

Remote workers can travel whenever they want and work as they wish, as long as they provide high-quality work on time. The mindset of measuring performance or evaluating people based on number of hours of input or work is incorrect. The correct way to measure is based on output or the work they complete. This focus on output provides the team with full control of their hours and travel.--Randy Rayess,VenturePact

8. Cell phone and cloud storage reimbursements.

We offer reimbursement on their existing phone plan and cloud storage. With smartphones so dominant and everything being in the cloud, it makes little sense to require employees to carry two phones anymore.--Ivan MatkovicSpendgo

9. A results-only work environment.

Everyone works where they want, when they want. That means unlimited vacation, no set hours and no babysitting. We also banned mandatory meetings. The results: near-zero turnover and nabbing top people away from top firms. Our client satisfaction has gone up, and we've grown 50 percent in the last six months.--John DillardBig Sky Associates, Inc.

10. Time for kids.

Work-from-home single parents have the ability to attend key events in their children's educational development. I make sure my staff always has the flexibility to never miss out on plays, sporting events and other activities their children partake in.--Timothy SchmidtSearchEngineOptimizationExpert.com

11. Perk credits.

Remote team members get a fixed number of credits each month that they can redeem for the benefits they truly want. We decided to be flexible since different people have different preferences. While some might prefer a gym membership, others might want a slick workstation.--Pratham MittalVenturePact

12. Gym membership.

We offer gym memberships because we really value the health and happiness of our employees. Hitting the gym for an hour can increase productivity tenfold. It's great for relieving stress and increasing focus, mental strength and productivity. We encourage our workers to get out there, be active, and lead a happy, healthy and productive lifestyle. -Gerald WilminkWiseWear Corporation

What is one metric I can use for measuring the success of my new social media hire?

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/10-best-metrics-measuring-success-social-media-hire-01182972?inf_contact_key=23aeee67c10c090c19047dbc67adf4e621684cbd114bbd1b33e415344b5bdf7e

1. Interaction With Your Brand Via Social

The key is to look at the overall “cohort” following and engagement with your company across all your social media channels. Do you have more likes, subscribers, followers and connections every day and is that cohort growing at a faster rate over time? At the end of the day, these counts are key for one thing: engaging with your brand. One million followers are useless if they don’t interact with you. – Joshua DorkinBiggerPockets, Inc.

2. An Improved Level of Engagement

Check the monthly reports for statistics such as number of new followers, comments, likes, favorites, shares and your overall engagement levels. Dig deeper by looking into the new followers: are they a part of your target audience? Don’t forget customer service queries and how they were handled. A social media hire should directly help improve engagement to strengthen your brand! – Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

3. Customers Generated

Recommended for YouWebcast: How to Create Content for Human Beings: A B2B Marketing Intervention

Social media managers today create content and engage with customers. And in today’s algorithm-driven social media world, they advertise. The metric to care most about is the answer to the question, “Is time and money being spent in the right place?” By focusing on the number of customers generated from each social media platform, you’ll be able to measure the success of a social media hire. – Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

4. It Depends on Your Brand’s Goals

If you want to track social media success, you have to be clear about your goals and how social media fits in. If you’re more concerned with branding, for example, then impressions and impression share plus follower/fan increase are key. On the other hand, someone who only wants more sales wouldn’t really be impacted by those factors — they care only about conversions. It really depends. – Jared BrownHubstaff

5. Increase in Searches For Your Brand Name

A big part of social media success is creating awareness for your company’s brand. If people are engaging with your social media efforts, they will become curious about your company and do a search on Google to learn more. An increase in these brand name searches is an indicator that you are achieving social mediasuccess. – Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift

6. Earned Media Creations

The best form of marketing is word-of-mouth (AKA earned media). You want to make sure you get people talking about your brand. This can come in the form of retweets and sharing your owned content and content that others are creating by you via prompt. The job of a social media person is to be the voice of your brand and get others to repeat the message. –Adam StillmanSparkReel

7. Effort to Engage

One metric that is important when measuring the success of a new social media hire is the amount of effort they put in to engage with the audience. I like to look at the frequency of posts, the overall content/quality, and ultimately in return, the level of engagement coming back from the audience. You can measure this by looking at the reach, number of likes, retweets, comments, etc. – Gerald Wilmink, PhD MBAWiseWear Corporation (C Corp, Delaware)

8. Bounce Rate Decrease

If your bounce rate (percentage of users who visit your site and leave after looking at one page) decreases, then your social media hire is likely doing a better job of attracting the right people to your site and managing that message better than before. The lower the bounce rate, the higher the engagement. But, we find that bounce rate is a quick and dirty snapshot showing the right tend lines. – Kofi KankamAdmit.me

9. Number of Customers Referred Through Social Media

If the metric is linked to sales, the hire will not only ensure that the messaging and content is right, but also that the target audience is relevant. Any other metric carries the risk of being gamed. – Pratham MittalVenturePact

10. Monthly Interactions

Regardless of whether your social goals are skewed more toward branding or conversions, it’s a good idea to average things such as likes, comments, shares and retweets into a single metric to measure at-a-glance progress. – Sam SaxtonSalter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs

How to Be Productive, Innovative and Successful

A few days ago in the WiseWear “Nerd Lab”, one of our most recent employees asked me what tricks I use to stay productive on a daily basis. Working for the “right” startup can be incredibly liberating. Startups are not a 9-to-5 gig, and typically require more energy balance than time management skills. Some love the autonomy, while others may loathe it. Either way, you still gotta get the job done! Here’s a quick digest on tricks that I use to keep things fresh and fuel me onward and upward throughout the week.

  1. Get out there and be active! Whether it be a quick walk, jog, run, bike ride, or trip to the gym, nothing makes me more productive than a good sweat. Studies show that exercising is proven to increase productivity, to enhance your mood, and even give you more energy throughout the day. So now you really never have an excuse to say “you don’t have enough time.”  

  2. Sharpen the saw. Take a 30 minute nap everyday. Yes. I try to nap everyday. By taking naps, I effectively break my work day into two full days. Click here for an excellent article that supports daily naps.

  3. Energy management. Create a schedule for yourself. I have found that I am most productive at work between 8:00am and 11:30am. I try to work on the most important items during this time of the day. I also have found that I am exhausted almost every day between 12:30pm and 1:30pm, so this is when I typically nap. But don’t forget to switch things up every once in a while! Respond back to emails for the first 30 minutes of your day, make a checklist of tasks you know you’ll be able to complete, spend an hour learning more about your industry and current/upcoming trends, monitor social media for another half hour, etc. I personally enjoy writing everything down and crossing things out - it gives me peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction to know what all I accomplished.

  4. Set attainable goals and deadlines for yourself. Set them by the day, week, or month - as often as you think you need to. Studies have shown that setting goals and making progress towards them directly correlate with improvement in well-being, satisfaction, and happiness. Measure your progress and take comfort knowing that you are getting things done! An awesome tool to track your progress is iDoneThis. It’s also neat to complete a monthly personal review with yourself. Assess your success and make sure you’re on the right track. Review your job description to see if your performance is up to par. Make a list of your proudest accomplishments you executed throughout the month.

  5. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! I can’t stress the importance of prioritizing; and I know it can be a difficult thing to do. Prioritize based on deadlines and rank your list of tasks/goals based on importance. Is your whole team relying on Task A? Is Task B due next week? Does Task C require lots of attention and focus?

  6. Identify and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to recognize your sweet and weak spots for your own personal self awareness. Acknowledging them can help you create a better structure for yourself and pivot towards better habits. Example: if you’re not a morning person, make sure you have a solid couple of hours throughout the day or night to get things done (i.e. try to avoid making plans in the mid-day like happy hour because it’s likely that you won’t be very productive afterwards). If you lack creativity, push yourself to produce a couple of creative ideas every month. Find out what gets your creative juices flowing, and execute!

  7. Find a “focus” space. Home might or might not be the best place to work from. Although I’m not opposed to the idea of working from bed, it might be a good idea to set up a small office space at home. Find a space where you can tune in without any distractions. I enjoy working from coffee shops, not only because espresso is only a few steps within my reach, but because it’s nice to get some background noise that’s not your TV. Seeing other people working on their laptops also gets me in a productive mood.

  8. Mingle, network, be social! Working remotely means less social face-to-face interaction. This might be terrifying for some of us. But even if it’s not, try to make it a priority to meet with one of your coworkers on a biweekly basis or go to an industry mixer event. It’s important to keep your social skills sharpened and interact with other humans. Go to industry networking events, raise questions, prompt discussions, exchange ideas, meet with other thought leaders - these are all things that will fuel your old or newfound inspiration.

  9. Make yourself and your work accountable. Because you aren’t chained to a cubicle for a straight 8-9 hours and because your boss isn’t breathing down your back, you still have to be 150% accountable for all of your work. When a person is accountable to someone else for doing what they said they would do, they get stuff done. Make no excuses.

It's All Grit, Not Glamour

As glamorous as it sounds to be the “founder” of a company, building a business from the ground up is not easily accomplished. For many, the first question that comes to mind when starting a business is - do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur? Who really is to say? What characteristics embody an ideal and successful entrepreneur?

Some might answer: an infinite supply of money, a strong network, tenacity, drive, ambition, a big dream to fuel you endlessly, charisma, the ability to sell anything, etc. To be frank, it does take a lot to become an entrepreneur (better yet, a successful one), but there is no specific mold that you need to fit into.

To me, I believe that having enough grit is what you need to succeed if you want to go anywhere in life. And anyone can develop that grit within themselves. What is grit, might you ask? According to a Forbes article, the “Grit dynamic” comes from several character traits: intensity, toughness, and a never-give-up, scrappy perseverance.

Grit is doing everything and anything it takes to get the job done, even if it requires blood, sweat, and tears. Grit is pushing through the day, even when the light at the end of the tunnel is hundreds of miles away. Grit is being able to withstand the harsh criticism and channeling that negativity into something positive. Ultimately, grit is staying motivated and focused on your goals.

Yes, the road to becoming an entrepreneur can be slippery, challenging, and discouraging at times, but if you truly believe that your passion can guide you through these obstacles, then you’re already well on your way to success.

From the Forbes article mentioned earlier - here are some questions to determine your current level of entrepreneurial grit:

1. Passion Quotient: Are you intensely passionate about what you do? Do you give it all you’ve got or clock out dutifully every day at 5pm?

2. Challenge Quotient: When challenges show up in your life, do you cower or do you face them head-on without flinching?

3. Result Quotient: Do you have a results-oriented mindset? Do you consistently create results or make excuses?

4. Production Quotient: Can you handle being defined by what you produce? Have you ever created anything of substance that you will be remembered for?

5. Whining Quotient: Do you create fear, excuses, or roadblocks in the game of work?

6. Phoenix Quotient: Can you fail with dignity and grace and rise again stronger, more humble, and ready for the next play?

What characteristics define a courageous & creative leader?

A few weeks ago an MBA student requested to meet with me to get my thoughts on Leadership. Humbled at the opportunity to meet with the student I prepared a few thoughts on the topic. Prior to our chat, I reviewed a few of my favorite books and articles on the topic of Leadership. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Level Three Leadership - Dr. James Clawson 

2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - Dr. John C. Maxwell 

3. Creating Magic - Mr. Lee Cockerell (thank you Lisa Corless for this Gift) 

4. Leaders Eat Last - Mr. Simon Sinek 

5. The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs - Mr. Walter Isaacson (Harvard Business Review 2012)

After reviewing my notes I then came up with a definition for leadership. Please note, I believe that Leadership depends on the context. What I mean by this is that leadership traits that may be effective for the CEO of a Fortune 50 company are going to quite different from those traits that are effective for a startup tech. company with 10 employees. Considering my context, I define leadership from the viewpoint or lens of a leader in a small, scrappy, and agile startup tech. company. 

First, a definition for Leadership.  Leadership is the courageous action to create and passionately communicate a clear vision that inspires one's team to bring the vision to fruition. 

Second, what are the keys to being an effective leader? In an effort to keep it simple, a task that I am not particularly skilled at, I identified 4 keys to leadership.

1. Inspirational vision -- a leader needs to have an inspirational vision comprised of Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). Without an inspirational vision the leader will struggle to have followers. Everyone desires to do something big, and dreaming big is the first step for doing something big. 

2. Communicate - a leader must be able to communicate the vision with their team. In recent years, I honestly have struggled in this area. I honestly prefer face-to-face meetings for most interactions, and in our current organization we have several team members that reside in cities outside of San Antonio. Virtual work relationships are particularly difficult to maintain, but given the age that we live in, are increasingly becoming the norm.  Consequently, leaders must be able to clearly communicate via email, googlechat, text messaging, etc. I struggle in this area and am making efforts to improve my written communication skills. 

3. Delegate roles & responsibilities -- in a startup environment this is actually very challenging. Startup folks must wear many hats and be comfortable with taking the lead on multiple initiatives at the same time. In addition, there are fewer lines in the sand between team players, and a leader needs to assist in trying to clearly define these ever changing roles. 

4. Be a positive, encouraging and resourceful coach -- anyone that has worked with me knows that I believe that a positive attitude is key to success. In fact, studies show that attitude and performance are closely linked. I have a very low tolerance for workers with a persistently negative attitude. A leader must maintain a positive attitude in order to keep the ship moving forward at a rapid clip.  Leaders must also be sure to provide their team with the tools and resources that they need to get the job done. 

One more key. In addition to the above elements, probably the most important key to strong leadership is the "The law of connection"--it is Wise to Touch a Heart before you ask for a hand. 

Finally, a few quotes from my favorite leaders. 

steve jobs.png

Are there any leadership elements that I should have included?

I would love to get your thoughts. 

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Several weeks ago I presented for a group of students at CodeUp in San Antonio. Many of the Codeup students are young aspiring entrepreneurs, and during our conversation they posed many compelling questions. Of the many questions asked during this visit, the one question that was asked several times was the following:

How did I come up with the idea for my first business? I am not exactly sure if my answer was  helpful to the students at Codeup but here it is:

Do what you love, what you are good at, and what can bring meaning to the world. It takes great passion and courage to follow your dreams and launch a new business. To be best prepared for the “roller-coaster” startup life I strongly recommend starting a business where your passion, domain expertise, and ability to make meaning in the world all intersect.  

 

What did I forget to include?  I would love to get your thoughts on this topic.