Hello. This is Stoner

The entrepreneurial “leap of faith”

I was recently reviewing some old emails and came across one special email from an entrepreneur I was mentoring at the time. He had emailed me to let me know that he was taking his “leap of faith” and would be moving full time into entrepreneurial endeavors. It was something he had been planning for over six months, but he was growing more anxious as the date drew near.  His question to me and my response are below:

It would be greatly appreciated if you could provide some insight into the entrepreneurial lifestyle that would help me hit the ground running (anything to expect, avoid or seek out). 

MY ANSWER

As an entrepreneur you live days in extremes. You will be tested to a degree you have never been before and you need to wake up everyday loving what you do and enjoying the journey, while continuing to work as hard as possible. You need to have passion for what you are doing. You need to have persistence to deal with the realities. You need the energy to be consistent over the long haul. 

Being a leader is hard. Sustaining success as a leader is even harder. You need persistence, determination, boldness. If you give up when it gets hard, you will accomplish little, you’ll get nowhere. You will be learning on the job when people expect you to know your job and already be the expert. That means you should wake up each day with the goal of being a better person. Leading with gumption, grit, and guts. 

Some things that make the transition easier are making sure you have a clearly defined plan before taking the leap.

- What do you want to accomplish in six months?
- What do you need financially to cover personal expenses and survive for six months?
- How can you build the best product? You want to strive to be in the NBA, not the NBDL. But you need to build toward that goal in six to ten week sprints.
- Tell everyone you know about what you are doing. They will support you, network for you, and give you constant feedback. 

Lastly, fear is the biggest driver so embrace it, but try to find balance. Find a sense of harmony amongst the chaos before friends, family, or your own personal health become neglected.  And when you find yourself working around the clock driven by the desire to just “get there” remember that the truth is that you’ll never “get there.” There is always another scenario to tackle or mountain to climb. Entrepreneurs love the grind. It’s not about the cash out. We love what we are building and delivering value so when you take your entrepreneurial “leap of faith” remember to have fun, smile and enjoy the ride. 

How will native advertising affect consumers by the year 2020?

I posted this question to Quora today and I thought it was worth me stating my initial thoughts as well.

As it’s become increasingly difficult to get a brand in front of consumers more marketers have turned to finding ways to monetize users 1:1, connecting consumers to things they actually care about, which is relevant to their experience, is not interruptive and follows the natural form and function of the editorial environment where the paid advert has been placed.  We are entering a world where the future belongs to native advertising.

Read More

The best fitness devices strengthen offline social relationships

I received the following email from my dad yesterday letting me know about his forced-choice decision to leave the world of fitness trackers, which prompted my reflection on the social benefits of fitness trackers. 

image

We can always debate the merits of each device, why each is perfect for individualized needs, manufacturing problems, or the long-term benefits of quantified health, but what I would like to touch on is where I see immediate value, the social benefits that add value to our daily relationships.

I jumped on the wearable tech bandwagon with the initial Jawbone Up release, but didn’t become an active user until my father recruited me to join the Stoner family Fitbit group he had set up.  Social support plays a huge role. Being able to share the progress of my daily steps with my family members established a social environment that made it easier to stay in touch around our weekly activities. As a cross training fanatic my daily exercise routine is rarely reflected in step goals, but by sharing our habits I became more consciously aware of what everyone in my family was up to on a week by week basis. It didn’t matter as much that my father racked up his steps by raking leaves, plowing snow, walking to Starbucks, or playing tennis. What matters is that I have become more aware of how he has been spending his time each week, which provides greater context to our conversations whenever we happened to catch up over the phone.

Social relationships are just as important to health as other factors, and while we might not yet find tangible actions from the data we are collecting about ourselves, we can all immediately benefit from stronger social ties with the people around us that we can count on or turn to when we need encouragement, motivation or help coping with the various elements in our lives. 

Content is Eating The World and How Brands Can Win as Content Creators

Early this week Ryan Williams shared his latest blog post with me to see what I thought. Basically Williams makes the case that content is eating the world and brands need to become content creators in order to thrive. His thesis, roughly:

“We’re in the middle of a seismic shift towards content around everything that we touch in the physical world.  Whether its user-generated or professional grade content, everything in our house, TV screen or job has a supplemental piece of content around it. The world has been eaten-up, and it’s only the beginning.”

In response I dove into what happens when brands become content creators and how brands can make a specific distinction between the type of content produced and whether they insert themselves in the networks producing the content or create their own destination for content.

With virtually almost everyone on Earth in possession of a mobile phone, technology, and more specifically capturing content, has taken over our lives.  Everyone has an HD camera in his or her pockets. Everyone can create content. NBC New’s image capturing the difference between 8 years, as seen at St Peter’s Square Papal inaugurations, is proof that the paradigm has already shifted. Millennials, the first truly digitally native generation are here.

Content marketing have become essential. Social networks are content monsters, they must be fed to keep your users engaged and your brand relevant.  As a result, many brands are already creating multi-channel initiatives to create enough content so they can keep up.

First, brands need to understand the distinctions between the type of content they can produce:

  1. Professional produced content. Professional content is an important marketing vehicle in helping customers understand the importance of the key messages (benefits & features) presented by a brand.
  2. Compelling content that leverages user-generated content (UGC) or is submitted by an actual product user. User-generated content is generally perceived as being more believable and in doing so can help illicit more of an emotional connection to a brand.

image

Brands can benefit from using a combination of both professional productions and user generated content to amplify their reach and increase unique engaged users so the challenge then becomes identifying where and how you brands engage. To encourage customers to submit content brands identify where their loyal audience hands out and need to strategically create compelling calls–to-action on advertising materials, making it easy to send in content.

Whether a brand chooses to create a destination for their professional quality content or embrace new media opportunities to insert themselves in the networks their goals should remain the same.

Delivering targeted content to the right consumers at the right time.

Brands should be focused on developing content that is most relevant to their specific audience. The key is finding a real loyal audience and focusing on them to deliver relevant, high-quality content so they come back again and again.

Building your own destination or social community is about creating high quality stories or identifying and highlighting the most relevant user-generated content to create a hub where users can converse, share and interact.

With the evolving social media landscape it is about encouraging users to participate and contribute to the conversation. Tapping into social networks can enhance brand interactions and give brands the opportunity to acknowledge and thank customers for their support all along the way thus strengthening relationships.  Social media is also about storytelling and actively promoting yourself to the right niche channels to maximize buzz and virality.

People live by stories and narratives that give context to our lives. Brands need to think of themselves as storytellers and create the right type of content that people want and need. 

Thoughts on Opportunities for Growing Sustainability in 2014 and Beyond

I remember growing up as a kid experiencing rolling power blackouts as the norm. Having a cabinet full of candles or your own backup generator was a necessity when I was living in Senegal, Nepal and Indonesia, where power outages could last for more than two hours due to deficiencies in power generation capacity. 

And when you least expected it, sometimes in the dead of the night, the power would pop back on; light bulbs shining, TV blaring, computers restarting, air conditioner and appliances cranking, everything running full tilt again. The buzzing of electronics after the forced peacefulness of a blackout always made me aware of our aggressive use of energy.

Read More

Global energy demand increases mean it’s a critical time to dive into the the clean-tech sector. Taking a closer look at the 2014 Businessweek industry risk/reward profiles it appears that some of the worlds most innovative and promising companies will be in growing sustainability cross-over categories, such as utilities, transportation, infrastructure development, and household products in the renewable energy space.
Larger boxes indicate higher average returns. Pink denotes high risk; blue, low risk.

Global energy demand increases mean it’s a critical time to dive into the the clean-tech sector. Taking a closer look at the 2014 Businessweek industry risk/reward profiles it appears that some of the worlds most innovative and promising companies will be in growing sustainability cross-over categories, such as utilities, transportation, infrastructure development, and household products in the renewable energy space.

Larger boxes indicate higher average returns. Pink denotes high risk; blue, low risk.

Get up off the pavement, brush the dirt up off my psyche

"Get up off the pavement, brush the dirt up off my psyche" - Earl Sweatshirt - Chum

When I am look back at 2013, I’m reminded of all the times I have had to pick myself off the pavement. It was a tough year for me personally, one where I had a hard time seeing things getting better. Afflicted by stress, humbled by failure, and a cause for renewing my efforts and focusing critically on things that matter most.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the failures that overshadow and consume everything, but today I can finally look back and see all the positives that guided me through the year and remember the two lessons learned that can be applied to future challenges.

Habits and attitudes can make a real difference. I learned that I could not only handle failure, but I could successfully bounce back. I realized that “I” wasn’t the failure, but the processes/events/decisions/activities/etc. were a failure, and bouncing back is habit and attitude shift back to small wins. Getting started isn’t the hard part, maintaining your perseverance is. We choose the attitude which we approach challenges and control whether they define us positively or negatively.

Measure happiness in times you loved and approached life with a smile. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife, family and friends that support me in good times and bad. The simple support of having someone tell you “to smile before and during your next conference call” can change your perspective, stop anxiety and give you a fresh perspective to approach life when things seem stale. The times I smiled, laughed or loved strengthened my relationships, improved my health, reduced my stress and renewed my swagger to tackle life’s challenges head-on.

Certainly there are a lot of other lessons for improvements this year, but looking back on where and how things where during various points of 2013 I am ready to usher in 2014. New year. Fresh start. 

You can’t re-invent what has been. It’s time to look forward to invent what is to be.

Five Tips for Owning an Electric Car in LA

Owning an electric car in Los Angeles has its benefits; instant torque that results in nearly effortless acceleration, lack of maintenance, reduction of air pollution, free parking in Santa Monica, no oil changes & there is an app for everything you might need. 

Having recently gone through the process of leasing a Fiat500e, Road & Track’s best electric car of 2013, here are my 5 tips for things you need to know before deciding to drive electric.

Read More

JFK’s Perpetual Influence
JFK continues to inspire, even half a century after his death. My dad shared this photo with me today of my grandfather, Richard Burkett Stoner, with JFK when he visited Columbus, IN during the 1960 campaign. My grandfather devoted his time, from 1956 to 1988, to the DNC as a delegate, district chairman, and committeeman. Growing up I was always fond of the stories my dad would tell me about the whole family campaigning, and through those experiences my grandfather influenced a service oriented desire to look for opportunities to improve communities for many Stoner generations to come. He shared a passion for civil rights, a belief in the life-changing power of education and a world view that extended far beyond the borders of Indiana. Qualities I hope to pass down to my children.

JFK’s Perpetual Influence

JFK continues to inspire, even half a century after his death. My dad shared this photo with me today of my grandfather, Richard Burkett Stoner, with JFK when he visited Columbus, IN during the 1960 campaign. My grandfather devoted his time, from 1956 to 1988, to the DNC as a delegate, district chairman, and committeeman. Growing up I was always fond of the stories my dad would tell me about the whole family campaigning, and through those experiences my grandfather influenced a service oriented desire to look for opportunities to improve communities for many Stoner generations to come. He shared a passion for civil rights, a belief in the life-changing power of education and a world view that extended far beyond the borders of Indiana. Qualities I hope to pass down to my children.

Load More