Why There’s a Need for Business Stories “From the Trenches”

When I decided to write a book about co-founding BushSmarts.com it wasn’t because I was famous, rich or had some secret sauce that allowed us to get to the top. In fact, we are so very much in the thick of things that even though we’ve crossed some major “fail” benchmarks there’s still no certainty of light at the end of the tunnel.

I decided to write it because I find there’s a huge deficit of in-the-trenches business books that comprehensively assess the vital nuances of starting out.

 

For entrepreneurs, you're often wondering if there's anyone else out there.

For entrepreneurs, you’re often wondering if there’s anyone else out there.


In my case, I had just gotten married and found out my wife was pregnant 6 months after saying “I do.” She had a contract job that was ending mid-way through the pregnancy and I had just started out on my own as a freelancer, that meant our income was about to get cut in half with very little warning. It wasn’t the smartest and most prudent time to partner with someone else in a business venture but we made it work. Besides being #blessed, I attribute our survival to my lifestyle design addiction, allowing us to navigate some very rough seas–for at least 3 years now.

It’s been a little over a month since I started the book process and I’ve already seen two major podcasts interviewing businesses during their pre/post inflection point. 

Huckberry on The Art of Manliness

Coincidentally Bush Smarts and Huckberry have worked together on a few projects in the past couple of years. Their company is a little bit older than ours and has experienced significant growth, despite also being bootstrapped. Their founders Richard Greiner and Andy Forch come from a finance background and filled the need in the market for discovering mens brands riding the line of heritage and style. They discuss their reasons for launching, how they funded and what competitors rose up in the process. A highly recommended listen, as they are also very much in the thick of it. Listen here >

Tracy DiNunzio of Tradesy
on Tim Ferriss Podcast

Her story is fascinating: no business background and a wandering artist with no interest (initially) in tech. She leveraged her understanding of the sharing economy to fund her ideas and was eventually accepted into the LA-based incubator LaunchPad. From there she received $1.5 million in initial funding and has grown since. It was especially interesting to hear how she decided to take the funding route, how it changed things and what her opportunities are for continued growth. In true Tim Ferriss fashion he digs deep and it’s a 3-part podcast. Listen here >

The value of in-the-trenches stories

In childbirth, at the final moment when a woman’s pain is most severe, there is an intense release of oxytocin which not only numbs the pain (barely) and bonds the mother to the child, but also scrubs her memory of the agony. Women joke that this is the only reason that they are willing to have a second child.

When founders acquire their wealth and write in hindsight, it’s almost impossible not to gloss over the fog of war, the fear, the ecstasy and hardships that can go into building a business. Were decisions based on data? When there were equal opportunities or challenges, how were decisions made? What was your family like? There’s so much texture in hearing things first-hand.

Since launching Bush Smarts, I’ve been approached by multiple friends, associates, students and sometimes strangers about what the process looks like, how to fund, how to leave your job, have kids and all sorts of topics. They could easily read the whole business section of Barnes & Nobles but again, that doesn’t give the same effect of someone telling the story at “step one.”

Quitting has its merits

There’s a growing trend highlighting stories of founders, CEO’s and other successful business persons explaining why the left their ventures despite significant income prospects. These don’t often become books, but maybe that will change too.

Marcus Nelson left his startup: Addvocate

Tech Crunch Article
I found Marcus via his brother, in a Dad Blogger’s network that we’re both in. He wrote a magnificent story “Facing Hard Truths” about his decision to leave the Bay Area, specifically to build a better life for his family.

CEO Mohamed El-Erian Quits After Receiving Note from his Daughter

TIME Article
He resigned with much speculation in January, but it just came out that he quit after receiving a note from his daughter highlighting the missed moments of her life. Granted he’s not a small business or startup founder (PIMCO is a trillion-dollar business) but the principle stands that his most-memorable career takeaway will be choosing his daughter over seeing his business endeavors go to full fruition – if such state applies at that level.

Where Things Are Going

Principle, will always matter. Life and business will always require constant reminders of things we already know, because we’re apt to forget, and those texts will sustain as “classics.” They’re the Druckers, Buffetts, Welches and Ferriss’ of the world. But the detail gaps they establish will be filled at one level by the 15 Godin books, the 3 Vaynerchuk books, etc. and at an emerging level by the stories of Huckberry, Tradesy, and I hope soon, Bush Smarts. Written in the youth of their ventures, the stories grow and emerge–providing insight, relevance and direction along the way.

If you want to help make my story happen, I’m publishing through Tucker Max’s Lioncrest outfit. You can sign up here.

For more in-the-trenches on Bush Smarts, I highly recommend our: Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Tumblr

Guest Post on : Good Men Project

5 Awesome Side Effects of Becoming a Dad

 

Charlie was my Obi-Wan Kenobi before he even had a brain.

Charlie was my Obi-Wan Kenobi before he even had a brain.

Why Dad’s Fitness Matters,
and It’s Not About You

Everywhere I go I can’t shake my favorite thought leaders touting the importance of working out. #STFU it’s like the freaking 80’s all over again. Back then I worked out all the time via Big Wheel, He-Man, running from Freddie Krueger and imaginary Indiana Jones boulders.

When I was in college, fitness was easy. I was a landscaper and stone mason most summers and could spend hours at the gym pumping iron, running laps and going home to watch…Pumping Iron. Shit was easy.

RESPECT and LAX. #MLIB

RESPECT and LAX. #MLIB

I’m a self-employed, business-owning Dad. Do you really think I give two wanks about my physical activity level? I’m a New Yorker, I walk to the train, I walk to work, I schlep crap all over the place. That’s fitness, right?

Well, damn you getaways and the introspection that comes with them. My fitness habits are not just about me, they’re about my two year old son – who’s watching me.

I was a fat kid.

You can’t blame your parents for how they raised you (unless they did some crazy shit, in which case let ‘em have it), but for the average person, parents do their best and back then they didn’t have the internet.

Early life, I was svelte like most 80’s lads, had the platinum blond and alligator polo thing happening and then in third grade my parents got divorced and I got the chicken pox. That equated to months on my ass drinking soda and eating Twinkies, coupled with both parents waving the olive branch in the way of bologna sandwiches and snack cakes.

Long story short, I got real fat. Had some sick moobs, rolls for days and even a mullet to top things off in my Bugle Boy parachute pants. My Dad was in the National Guard for a bit and I remember him doing crunches and taking jogs to pass his PT, but as a Methodist Minister fitness was not in the lexicon. After hanging out with some of his colleagues I even postulated an idea that a pastor’s communion with the Almighty was directly proportional to their gut or “center of power.”

I even had moobs when I got married. #fail

I even had moobs when I got married. #fail

Being overweight can be awkward

For most of my childhood, I attributed most of my social disconnects to being overweight. It became the reason why I didn’t have cool friendships with the childhood crushes I wanted and why I absolutely wouldn’t swim with my family or friends (other than guys). As a young scout, I hated taking the annual swim test and often found reasons to get out of it.

You have to buy husky clothes when you’re a fat kid. Husky is a kind of dog. Why has no one raised the crimes against humanity flag for this?

There was a silver lining

My grandparents were old school, Depression-era, not-a-shit givers. My grandmother straight up told me I was fat and needed to lose weight. Her rudimentary understanding of nutrition and fitness (from a career house wife) was that I was eating too much bread and corn chips. In retrospect she was a “pioneer” in the low-carb movement and per her advice I started to eat more salad…

I picked up soccer and eventually lacrosse and hockey, and descended back into the normal weight spectrum. Still to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever been “where I want to be” but maybe that’s rooted into my general lack of complacency. But I don’t think it always has to be this way.

My fitness example and legacy

When my wife was pregnant with our son I definitely strapped on some pounds, not only from our newlywed weight “let’s go out for drinks” but the stress of having our income cut in half while I was still self-employed. Oh yeah, and we lived in an awesome Polish neighborhood with wonderful beer, kielbasa, pierogis and other treats to help you survive the Soviet Union.

We're both pregnant in this picture.

We’re both pregnant in this picture.

Last March we applied for a health insurance incentive for being healthy, and I almost disqualified us because I was considered overweight. It was a big values decision – is my body reason enough to make my whole family pay a premium for our health insurance? As a self-employed guy scraping by I said absolutely not, it’s time to drop some LB’s.

Goodbye poundage

From June to September’ish, I lost about 30lbs via Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb diet. It’s easy and simple and because I don’t need lavish variety in my meals–perfect for me. I went on the PAGG stack for a while, and then in August added Bulletproof Coffee into the diet. I haven’t control group tested it yet, but I have a suspicion that the coffee may have been a huge catalyst in the fat loss.

Cheat day's great when you lose 30 lbs.

Cheat day’s great when you lose 30 lbs.

Unfortunately even though I lost weight to make sure I would save money, none of my clothes fit so I had to start buying a new wardrobe thereby eroding a lot of the savings. Making sure I stay the same size is actually a huge incentive to not regain any weight – I would feel horrible if I gained back any weight and had to buy clothes again, for the “wrong” reason.

It’s been about a year now since I lost the bulk of it, and I feel like things are under control. My son is older though, and he watches me. He sees how I brush my teeth, comb my hair, shave my beard. He understands that I go somewhere everyday to work.

But now I’m nearing a cross-roads. Do I show him only the minimal amount of fitness necessary as pertains to daily life, or do I show him that there is no standard, fitness exists only to optimize our individual humanity?

I’m honestly not at a point yet where I’m ready to adopt a fitness regimen outside of walking, but it’s on the agenda. It’s contrite to say he saw me do some pull-ups at a friend’s house, but I know he’s watching. The other day he insisted that he carry a grocery bag home by himself. In his broken English he told me that he had to carry it because he had so many muscles. He might not get it yet, but he’s totally on the way to “getting it.”

Raising chunks/champions

A few weeks ago I told my wife that I would never allow our son to become overweight. That may sound like an absolute terrible bastard thing to say, but I feel like I know too much about nutrition and fitness to guide him into that condition. My job as his father is to give him the best that I can, and I want to spare him from what I experienced.

I will help this champion stay svelte, as long as he wants to.

I will help this lad stay svelte, as long as he wants to be. Credit: Half Pint Kids

I don’t regret in any way how I’ve turned out. And honestly, becoming a dad really has brought out the best in me, but I do wish that someone had pumped the breaks as I went through a “phase” of being very overweight. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t productive and the only upside was that it taught me to be funny, clever and resourceful because I couldn’t socially acclimate the way other kids could.

Fitness, will soon be foundational in my life. My wife and I want to have another kid soon, and fitness and fertility go together…like protein powder and dead lifts. Our son needs to see that daily fitness is vital to a healthy life, and we want to be around for the long haul. My Dad is retired now, and is actually a gym rat – he texts me his numbers on the leg press. Maybe it will run in the family?

I’m writing a book about my experiences, not only about losing weight but about surviving that big jump into marriage, having kids and launching a business. We crammed them all into 1 year but I will teach you how to stay optimal along the way. As an avid performance-junkie I want it to be a guide to help my fellow top-performers, when and if, their time comes to “domesticate.” You can sign up for updates here.

The iron beckons me.

The iron beckons me.