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- 11/27/12--12:39: _INSTANT MBA: You Ha...
- 11/28/12--07:36: _3 Productivity Secr...
- 11/28/12--08:03: _9 Ways To Make Bett...
- 11/28/12--13:24: _What To Get Your Te...
- 11/30/12--13:24: _INSTANT MBA: Tackle...
- 12/01/12--13:27: _The 'Avon Ladies' D...
- 12/02/12--05:30: _Kleiner's Mike Abbo...
- 12/10/12--12:55: _INSTANT MBA: 'There...
- 12/12/12--17:35: _Entrepreneurs Are K...
- 12/14/12--10:11: _One-Third Of Americ...
- 12/19/12--08:28: _The Billion-Dollar ...
- 12/24/12--09:49: _Ideas Are Worthless...
- 12/27/12--08:33: _4 Characteristics A...
- 12/27/12--10:12: _7 Habits Of Self-Ma...
- 12/31/12--11:21: _INSTANT MBA: You Ha...
- 01/08/13--07:03: _7 Essential Traits ...
- 01/09/13--13:08: _INSTANT MBA: Compan...
- 01/10/13--11:42: _29-Year-Old Sells T...
- 01/15/13--12:27: _How US Immigration ...
- 01/18/13--11:41: _How Sudden Celebrit...
- 11/28/12--07:36: 3 Productivity Secrets From Silicon Valley Startups
- 11/28/12--08:03: 9 Ways To Make Better Executive Decisions
- 11/28/12--13:24: What To Get Your Techie Friend For Christmas
- 11/30/12--13:24: INSTANT MBA: Tackle The Problems That Need Solving Right Now
- 12/02/12--05:30: Kleiner's Mike Abbott: Venture Capital Must Change
- 12/14/12--10:11: One-Third Of Americans Are Working For Themselves
- 12/19/12--08:28: The Billion-Dollar Question About Tony Hsieh's Las Vegas Experiment
- 12/24/12--09:49: Ideas Are Worthless When They're Just Sitting In Your Head
- They're idle. You haven't built anything people can take for a spin.
- They're bulletproof. You haven't put them in front of anyone who can shoot them down.
- They're invisible. If people don't know about your idea, they can't feel anything about it.
- Your target consumers to find out if they would buy what you plan on selling. Listen--really listen to them--and act on their feedback.
- Some down-the-line potential backers to see how they react. (But be careful with this bunch. If you waste their time, they won't want to hear from you again. Be prepared, with a concise pitch and any questions you may have.)
- Solo entrepreneurs who are on at least their second venture. You want to learn from their failures--and they'll be the most honest with you. They'll tell you, "Here are the challenges I see with that."
- 12/27/12--08:33: 4 Characteristics All Successful Founders Possess
- 12/27/12--10:12: 7 Habits Of Self-Made Millionaires
- 12/31/12--11:21: INSTANT MBA: You Have To Believe You're Number One
- 01/08/13--07:03: 7 Essential Traits You’ll Need To Become Your Own Boss
Passion. I began my career in staffing as a receptionist. I was given a multitude of tedious tasks and took every chance I could to ask for more work. I worked hard and I was given more assignments, but with what seemed like little appreciation and acknowledgment from the management team. Because I truly loved my job, I didn’t let that get me down. My heart was in it to win it. I continued to take on payroll, sales and recruiting tasks, and within a year, I was promoted to a recruiter. Success is not easy, but when you love what you do, the stress, challenges and bumps in the road are easier to overcome. Passion serves as a driver, the thing that sustains you when things get tough.
Tenacity. There were over 30 staffing firms in my local market with a maximum of three sales reps in the county per company, and I was just one person from an unknown mom-and-pop company that turned national. I worked long hours and heard “no” many times. The VP of Human Resources at one company — a company that eventually became my biggest client — told me never to come back, that they’d never use my service. I spent hours researching and practicing different pitching techniques, and I continued to call the VP of Human Resources and finally decided to show my face again. I found the HR manager, pitched my seminar and, to my amazement, she signed right up! Less than a month after that meeting, we had placed 20 temporary employees and were working on filling 30 more positions. Don’t give up when faced with negativity.
Learning ability. Become an information junkie. You cannot be successful without reading. I read as much as I could to develop my skill as a speaker, writer and sales and staffing industry expert. It’s important to invest in yourself. There is always something you can improve on; make daily deposits in your personal development bank.
Relationship building. Relationships are the bread and butter of success. We need people to buy our products or services, and vice versa. The more connected you are, the more resources you will have access to and the easier success will be. Social media can help, but I still believe face-to-face interaction is the best. Start by becoming a leader in your local community — join the local Chamber of Commerce, join the board of a local nonprofit organization. Make a point to get connected and stay connected. Everyone knows someone. Word of mouth is the fastest and easiest way to build your business, brand and bank account!
Vision. I was adamant that I was going to either start my own company or be a partner of a staffing firm by age 30, and due to my hard work and determination, I was an owner by age 25. Every day, anywhere I went, my goals were in sight. I put Post-It notes all through my house — on the fridge, on every mirror, at the office, in my car and on my nightstand. Seeing my goals everywhere motivated me to constantly do things that would get me one step closer to making my dream a reality.
Discipline. Out of all the key essentials, this one was the toughest for me. We all have to make sacrifices to get what we want. It’s important to have a work/life balance, but I missed out on many college happy hours to work at home or attend a networking event and build my brand. Founding a company is like marriage: it’s a lifetime commitment. Any commitment that big requires discipline. Are you ready to make the sacrifice?
Time management. The only thing we will never get back is time, so make the best use of it. Try this trick: every evening, jot down the 10 most important items to do the following day, in order of importance. Make room in your daily calendar to get the top two items done first thing in the morning. This way, no matter what else the day brings you, you have spent time on the two most important items of the day!
- 01/09/13--13:08: INSTANT MBA: Company Chemistry Begins With Clockwork Communication
- 01/10/13--11:42: 29-Year-Old Sells Toys That Inspire Girls To Become Engineers
- 01/15/13--12:27: How US Immigration Policy Is Holding Back The Tech Sector
"The best thing about the unknown is the meaning itself: If success were guaranteed, the journey wouldn't be the same. And the journey is actually what inspires and shapes us to understand that success isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be worth it."
The only way to achieve your dream of being an entrepreneur is to take the first step to make it happen, says Chahal. It might seem daunting, and the natural reaction is fear of failure, but Chahal says not to be afraid.
Instead, focus 100 percent of your energy on that first step, and once you get there the second step will come naturally. By working up to the bigger picture in increments the whole dream won’t seem so far away. If you do end up hitting a road block, you’ll have an easier time finding another route and the fear will subside.
“Many people believe they can take that entrepreneurial leap and still keep their day job, but would you be happy if you achieved only 50 percent of your goal ⎯ half a dream? If you don't go all in and let your intuition guide you on which risks to take, then I say don't go in at all.”
These companies didn’t just hit upon a good idea. When their inventions spread like wildfire, they were able to keep up and roll with it. At these companies, every individual engineer is able to support a staggering one million users or more. Instagram’s 16-person team, for example, scaled to support 30 million users and a one billion dollar valuation.
What does this tell us? Hot Silicon Valley companies are so successful because their employees are crazy productive.
To build your company up to similar super-success, you’ll need to also attain incredible levels of productivity per employee. Here are three secrets of Silicon Valley productivity to get you started:
1. Track your progress and productivity
Google built their own internal productivity tool that encourages employees to reflect and share their progress, a practice that later spread throughout Silicon Valley to other successful startups. That tool was created by Google software developer Larry Schwimmer and called Snippets. With Snippets, employees receive a weekly email asking them to write down what they did last week and what they plan to do in the upcoming week. Replies get compiled in a public space and distributed automatically the following day by email.
Google’s Snippets process has helped them grow like crazy because it makes it easy to look back on team productivity and track progress on projects, all with minimal disruption to work. If you want to track and hack your team’s productivity as well, iDoneThis is a simple service that companies like Zappos and Shopify use to bring the Google Snippets idea to their employees. (Full disclosure: I work for iDoneThis.) The service asks each of your employees what they got done that day and then compiles and shares this information with the team for review the next morning.
2. Create a culture of autonomy, transparency and openness
If you want your team to produce more and build more, cut out the traditional manager. In a traditional company, managers communicate what’s been done, accumulate and disseminate information as they see fit and dictate what employees work on. This is inefficient. If a manager fails in any way, it debilitates the entire team.
When the big Silicon Valley engineers built their companies from the ground up, they avoided the need for managers by creating cultures of autonomy, information transparency and openness. Their employees always know what others are doing and have the autonomy to manage their own work. As a result, they are incredibly self-motivated and productive.
Give each individual employee at your startup information about the whole team, and support their decision-making authority over their work. Tools like Asana can help you achieve transparency in your corporate culture. Asana is a task management application that creates a system that allows everyone in a company to see each others’ tasks and objectives, from the CEO on down.
3. Have fun and be happy
Silicon Valley startups focus on enjoying the work they do. This is the last secret ingredient in their recipe for productivity and success, and it’s an important one. Happiness and productivity go hand in hand.
Employees are happiest (and most productive) when making deliberate progress every day towards a meaningful goal. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile calls it “the progress principle.” To leverage the progress principle at your startup, build a company culture that values the inner work life, intrinsic motivation and engagement of employees over all other considerations. Silicon Valley companies have long emphasized these cultural priorities, and it’s made a huge impact on productivity and their culture of work.
These three secrets of Silicon Valley productivity and success all focus on enabling and empowering your employees to do what they do best. They’re also easy to implement. Focus on building a culture of transparency, autonomy and happiness, and your team will fuel your company’s success.
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Small-business owners have to make a wide variety of important decisions every day. As much as we’d like to think we’re always rational and making the best choices for our business, that’s often not the case.
A variety of behavioral and psychological biases affect the way we think, interact with others and make choices. Here are a few to be conscious of and avoid, as well as some tips to improve your business’ decision-making process.
1. Searching for the “best” option can be a waste of time. When trying to make a decision, our first instinct is often to gather as much information and as many options as possible. At a certain point, it can become a crutch used to avoid making a hard choice. Research shows that people frequently spend so much time looking for alternatives that it outweighs any benefit of having more options.
Try giving yourself a predetermined amount of time for decisions, and stick to it.
2. Don’t think you can read someone’s mind. You perceive yourself very differently than how others view you, and vice versa. People tend to look at themselves in a very microscopic way and with a long-term view, while they view others in a more short-term, general way. That can lead us to make errors when we try to imagine what other people are thinking. Try being aware of that the next time you’re attempting to take some else’s perspective.
3. Think like a weather forecaster. Anyone who’s stuck outside without an umbrella after bad advice from a weatherman might find this surprising, but weather forecasters actually have some of the highest risk intelligence ever measured. The secret is in that they constantly have to tack a probability onto their opinions (a 75 percent chance of rain, for example) which keeps them more honest about their biases.
4. People don’t know as much as you think they do. When they are feeling uncertain about what to do or dealing with a new situation, business owners tend to look at other, more established competitors and imitate them. That’s often a mistake. People have an ingrained tendency to overestimate the value of the information other people have. Research has found that tendency can persist even when people learn that their counterparts have bad information.
5. Watch out for false consensus. When deciding when others are trustworthy, we imagine ourselves in the same situation. That means trustworthy people assign trustworthy qualities to people who may not deserve it. This ‘false consensus’ effect is particularly powerful, it persists even after someone’s been contradicted in their assumptions. Use outside information when deciding whom to trust, not your own feeling.
6. Close your eyes for a minute. It sounds odd, but it turns out that closing your eyes really does lead to making better decisions. Research found that when people close their eyes, its easier for them to act out decisions and their consequences in their heads, which leads to more ethical choices.
7. Don’t overestimate hot streaks. Behavioral economist Matthew Rabin finds that people underestimate short streaks but overestimate longer ones. When things are going well, be extra cautious.
8. A small reward can make a tough choice easier to swallow. When making a difficult decision, like whether to invest in a near-term but lower-payoff investment for your business or a more distant, higher-payoff one, it becomes easier to make the long-term choice if you move a small amount of that payoff up front as a gift to employees or yourself. Splurge a bit now, but use that to make the tougher choice.
9. Don’t just confirm what you want to hear. You often hear about the danger of “yes-men” in business, the people who just tell you want you want to hear to curry favor. The worst “yes-man” is yourself. Whenever people get new information, they tend to mold it to fit their current viewpoint, and become overconfident because they think they’ve backed up an opinion with fact. Look at information objectively, not the way that’s most comfortable.
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If you want to really wow a budding entrepreneur friend or family member this holiday, consider Founderscard.
Think of it as a club for people with an entrepreneurial spirit. It's a way to meet like-minded people, trade ideas, and collaborate.
In practical terms, this means you pay an annual membership fee to get ritzy discounts on hotels, elite status on certain airlines, and invitations to exclusive parties around the world.
It costs $495 per year, or $295 if invited by an existing member.
Today's advice comes from Jill Shah, serial entrepreneur via The Daily Muse:
"You have to think through what is ready to be resolved now."
Shah created Jilllist.com, aimed specifically for healthcare, because she faced health problems and knew they needed solving fast.
When Shah was pregnant with her first son she lost a third of her blood and was very sick. At the same time, her father and mother had cancer and her husband was facing a threatening family history of heart attacks. Her challenge was clear: She needed to find reliable doctors to take care of herself and her family.
After becoming frustrated with sites like Yelp that have a broader base of reviews she wanted a list that was easier and more specific to her medical needs, so she started Jill's List. Shah says it's important not to back away from solving a specific problem that needs to be addressed right now.
"Don’t be too far ahead of the problem, because there are lots of problems to solve today."
In the late 19th century “Avon ladies” started to knock on America’s doors to sell beauty products.
In the early 21st century “phone ladies” began offering phone service to rural Bangladesh by renting out their mobile phone.
Now a growing number of women entrepreneurs in poor countries are combining both distribution models to sell everything from soap and nutrition to medicine and solar lamps.
Most get their wares from social enterprises.
Living Goods, which operates in Uganda, offers a smattering of 70 products, including clean-burning stoves, anti-malarial drugs and toiletries (see picture). Also in Uganda, Solar Sisters has women sell solar lamps in rural communities.
And in India InVenture hires “maitris” (means “trusted friend” in Hindi) who get a commission for signing up locals to use InSight, a money management program that uses text messages (it also helps users to build a credit score, which makes it easier to get a loan).
Chuck Slaughter started Living Goods in 2007 after working for a charity in Kenya that runs small shops on street corners selling medicines. He realised that conventional storefronts can only reach a limited number of consumers, especially in rural Africa.
“Distribution is often the missing link between design and impact,” explains Mr Slaughter. One of Living Goods’ products is Sprinkles, a mix of micro-nutrients designed for anemic children. Although widely acclaimed when it was invented in the late 1990s, only a quarter of the 300m of the children who need the product worldwide have access to it.
Another advantage of the Avon model is that it is based on trust. “By having people at their doorstep from the local community, people they can relate with, telling them about this new product, they’re more likely to consider it,” says Shivani Siroya, founder of InVenture.
Women entrepreneurs can also top up their income — and decide themselves how much they want to make. “Solar Sisters”, for instance, are not pressed to sell as much as they can. If a sister’s needs are met by selling four solar lamps that month, she does not need to sell more, says Katherine Lucey, the founder of the charity.
Although the Avon model has proven to be a success, its adopters are already trying to improve it. In August Living Goods, for the first time, hired male entrepreneurs in a pilot project to see whether they will perform as well as women.
It has also introduced a mobile service to help its agents manage payments and communicate with their customers. Nearly half of Living Goods’ female entrepreneurs now use the technology, for instance to send text messages to remind customers to take the medicine they have purchased.
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Mike Abbott, the brilliant engineering leader who turned Twitter around, has been a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins for about a year now. And he's learned a lot.
He's now determined to change the venture capital culture to be more helpful to and respectful of entrepreneurs—because he's been one himself.
Abbott is perhaps best known as the guy that killed the Fail Whale at Twitter. If you don't recognize that term—the nickname for the mascot that appeared whenever Twitter had an unexpected outage—that's because Abbott turned Twitter into the much more reliable service it is today.
He never forgot how hard it was to raise money and how the venture-capital world was either ill-equipped to mentor him, or downright disrespectful.
That's given him a different perspective on his role.
"I had to learn the hard way, by making a lot of mistakes, I would like to help others avoid those mistakes," Abbott told Business Insider. "There's a little bit of redemption in that."
While Abbott left both of his companies on good terms, he saw friends "ripped out" of their startups "in a bloody way," he recalls.
"I don't have a chip on my shoulder like other VCs I've seen, who live vicariously through others because they didn't have the guts to go out and do it themselves," he says.
That said, he realizes that "I'm not leading a company. At the end of the day, I have to just be able to influence. So far I'm cool with that. A lot of [ex-entrepreneurs turned] venture capitalists can have problems with that."
He also wants to bring more respect to the money-pitching cycle.
"Starting a company is incredibly hard," he says. Abbott never leaves a startup hanging, as some venture capitalists do, in a strategy for keeping their options open and avoiding offense.
"Something I'm trying to do [is that] I want to say no in a respectful way, but in a way the doesn't give people false hope," he says.
For the companies he funds, he wants to help them with the kinds of management issues they don't have a clue about, like helping them win the war for interns.
With the shortage of qualified computer-science majors graduating from U.S. schools, companies need to nab them early on. (Take, for example, the story of Flipboard CEO Mike McCue's ardent recruiting of a 19-year-old Brown University student.)
Startups often forget about looking for interns. By the time they remember, "all the good interns are gone," Abbott says. "And even if you are on the ball, you are not going to have the dollars to go compete with the Twitters, the Facebooks, and the Googles of the world."
That's where Kleiner's putting its resources together to help all of the companies it's backed recruit interns through formal fellowships. Kleiner began last year with a program for engineers. This year, Abbott and another partner, Megan Quinn, put together an effort to recruit designers.
>Today's advice comes from Nina Vaca, CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources via Inc.:
"I grew up watching my parents fail and fail and then fail again. I watched them fail and lose homes and have and have not, and through that I'd like to say I had a front row seat to entrepreneurship. I had a front row seat to watching what it really takes to build a business."
Vaca, now the CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources, a firm that provides workforce solutions for Fortune 500 companies, attributes much of her success to being able to observe the struggles and accomplishments of her parents after they emigrated to the U.S. and became entrepreneurs.
She says it's essential to allow your children or others close to you to see the entrepreneurial challenges at face value so they can can learn from you, especially your professional struggles.
"There's nothing more important than that silent example. So don't be afraid to let your children see you sweat and let them see you cry and let them see you fail over and over and over again."
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Entrepreneurs often see themselves as a worthier alternative to big companies. They frequently see large corporations as slow moving, impersonal, bureaucratic, or worse.
Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup" which is among the most influential books on starting a successful company, had a great response to that attitude when he spoke to Fast Company for their Lessons for 2013 series.
He told Fast Company:
"I used to think that only big companies and students had to study entrepreneurship. 'Real entrepreneurs just do it.' A lot of entrepreneurs hate big companies. But if you hate them so much, why are you trying to build a new one? The truth is, as soon as a startup has any kind of success whatsoever, it will face big company problems."
So not only is the attitude self contradictory, it can be self defeating. When their businesses grow, as Ries said, entrepreneurs have to learn to "systematize things that they do naturally."
Big companies are big for a reason, and they take a very different skill set and mindset to manage. Entrepreneurs need to be ready to grow and be prepared for success, otherwise they run into serious issues.
When the economy became unreliable, people decided to rely on themselves to propel their careers.
“We see the labor market itself following the trend that we call ‘the individualization of work' — people working for themselves,” says Iain MacDonald, CEO of SkillPages. “People are increasingly either moving jobs more often, doing what they love, or doing what they really like to do, rather than what they have to do.”
Nearly one in three workers in America are freelancers, contractors, or contingent workers, according to the Freelancers Union, and 19 percent of them say that they've doubled their income within the past year.
According to a survey by Elance, the average freelancer expects to earn 43 percent more in 2013 than they did in 2012. Furthermore, 70 percent claim they're happier and 79 percent say they're more productive working as a freelancer than a full-time employee.
Entrepreneurs like MacDonald understand that this workplace trend isn't halting any time soon, so he created a business model aimed at connecting people based on their skills.
And SkillPages has proven to be useful to the public.
“At the beginning of this year we were growing at a rate of about 100,000 users a month. Now we’re up to about 1 million new users a month,” says MacDonald.
“Without a doubt the statistics would already show that that is occurring. The kind of traditional lifestyle of joining a company and staying for 20 years is all but gone,” he says.
This year, the country produced 400,000.
Companies aren't creating enough jobs to sustain the high number of unemployed individuals, and it will take entrepreneurs to help drive the economy.
“The changing dynamic of corporate America has bred a generation of professionals who now put their faith in their own skills and expertise,” says MacDonald. “It’s why the web needs a central point for connecting people with skills to the people who need them.”
“People are businesses now,” he says. “They consider themselves to be their own sources of profit and loss. The whole concept of individualization of work... is a trend that we’re very excited about and that we see growing.”
DON'T MISS: The 50 Coolest New Businesses In America
There are only a few cool bars on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, and on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has hit up most of them.
He made his way from Commonwealth, a pub that just opened, to Le Thai, where he shared a round of shots while talking to its owner. Now Hsieh, 39, is on his way to Downtown Cocktail Room (DCR), his favorite bar, on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Before he reaches the doors, a couple of young guys yell over to him, "Tony!" So does Jamie Naughton, Zappos' Speaker of the House. Within a few seconds, there's a small crowd circling Hsieh, not to mention those who were already bar hopping with him.
For Hsieh, it's a regular night, except that he's dressed up in a dark blue suit coat and bowtie, because he just returned from the Las Vegas Philharmonic, where he narrated Aaron Copland’s "Lincoln Portrait."
DCR is packed this evening because there's a huge birthday party for Augusta Scott, Zappos’ Life Coach and one of Hsieh’s close friends. She walks outside and Hsieh tells everyone they're heading over to the Drink & Drag nightclub just around the corner in the Neonopolis. On the way over the founders of Tech Cocktail join the group, as does DCR owner Michael Cornthwaite, who along with his wife Jennifer, are good friends of Hsieh's.
Everywhere he goes, he attracts followers. Some work for him. Others have received investments from him. Many were drawn from the other side of the country to Las Vegas, whether for a visit or to live there full-time.
Hsieh is investing $350 million of his own money to transform downtown Las Vegas. He's been successful so far, but the billion-dollar question remains: Can the community survive without Tony?
TAKING 1000 VAN NESS TO VEGAS
Earlier this year, Zappos signed an $18 million deal to move its corporate headquarters and 1,500 employees from Henderson, NV into Vegas' old City Hall.
"It was almost too good to be true that City Hall is a few blocks away from Michael's bar and all of that," Hsieh tells us. "Originally, we were just saying, any plot of land anywhere. We'll just build our own campus like Google or Apple or Nike. Michael convinced us not to do that. Apple and Nike have great campuses for their employees, but they're not integrated and don't contribute to the community around them. They're kind of like these little islands."
Hsieh lives in the Ogden, a luxury apartment complex just a few blocks from City Hall and DCR. He leases 37 rooms in the building, which he rents out to Downtown Project and Zappos employees and the startups he’s investing in. Several rooms are used as "crash pads" for hosting guests and visitors. Hsieh has a huge apartment on the 23rd floor with stunning views of Las Vegas. It’s actually three apartments combined, with large-scale maps of Vegas, architect's sketches and Post-Its on the walls with ideas for investments.
The Ogden is a lot like 1000 Van Ness, the San Francisco apartment complex Hsieh lived in just after he sold his first company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million. At the time he was only 25, but he owned the penthouse suite, and he and his friends and family owned 20 percent of the building. In his book, Delivering Happiness, he describes it this way:
I bought the 810 loft, not because I wanted to own more property, and not because I thought of it as a real estate investment. I bought 810 so I could architect our parties and gatherings. Owning the loft would ultimately enable more experiences. ... I envisioned 810 as being the afterparty meet-up spot after a night out at a club, bar, or rave. And I envisioned converting 810 into our own private nightclub.
“In a way, he’s just taking 1000 Van Ness to Vegas,” says Erik Moore, an early Zappos investor who also lived at 1000 Van Ness. He met Hsieh in the elevator after a night of partying, where they shared a bag of Doritos. "What Tony is doing is out of the box, not typical, not normal," he says. "Most people would wonder why he doesn't ride off into the sunset with the amount of money he's earned."
Hsieh's goal is to make Vegas the most “community-minded,” smartest city in the world. He also wants to make it a tech hub. These are hugely ambitious goals for a city that is run by casino tourism, and is famously a place, especially after the housing crash, where few people want to live. Hsieh says CEO Jeff Bezos of Amazon, which owns Zappos, considers his project “one big experiment.”
There is nothing like it on this scale in the US. "There's Dan Gilbert in Detroit, and the analogs are pretty similar," says Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America. "Dan has taken 1,500 Quicken Loans employees and moved them into Detroit. But Tony and Dan are very different people. The biggest thing that separates Tony from others is his capacity to take on something as ambitious. It's really the scope of his vision. It's an extension of his work, trying to take culture from inside a company inside the walls of a city."
THE MAVEN, CONNECTOR AND SALESMAN
In Malcolm Gladwell’s terms, Hsieh is a Maven, Connector and Salesperson — a rare combination. While he’s famously shy, people are drawn to him. His philosophy is "to invest a lot of time and energy upfront," he tells us. "Once you've developed a meaningful friendship or relationship, then maintaining them is relatively less time consuming." Throughout the course of night, Hsieh can expand a person's network several times over. And these relationships aren't just surface-level; often they lead to meaningful business and personal relationships, which has everything to do with the types of people he invites into his circle.
“It’s like magic,” says Amanda Slavin, who met Hsieh at Summit Series last January. He invited her to Vegas, and over a two-hour breakfast, he pitched her on moving there. "Tony always sees the bigger picture," says Slavin, a partner at Paige Management Group. "I was totally intrigued." Over the next few months she launched her events company, Catalyst Creativ, with funding from Hsieh's Downtown Project.
The culture he is trying to curate in Vegas looks a lot like Summit Series, Burning Man and TED, while also keeping the vibe of downtown Vegas currently. Hsieh's whole theory for building a real community in Vegas is about creating “serendipitous” interactions, or getting people to connect with each other and then collaborate. Slavin's company is part of that vision. She's in charge of Catalyst Week, a monthly speakers' series where she invites creative thinkers from around the country to give talks and get to know the Downtown Project team.
Hsieh’s idea of success is getting smart people to come back, and visit often. As long as they’re creating “1,000 hours per year of serendipitous encounters," he told the New York Times reporter Timothy Pratt, they’re helping grow the city.
This unique ability to create a community is why Hsieh has a shot at being the first person to save downtown Vegas. People want to follow Hsieh, literally, wherever he goes – whether on the streets of downtown Vegas today, or, going back a decade, from San Francisco to Vegas when he moved Zappos to Nevada.
But at the same time, this magnetism could also be his biggest obstacle.
Hsieh is the top motivator and chief architect for the transformation of downtown Vegas. He has tons of talented people working for him, and as much power as he gives them, he’s still at the center of what’s going on. This is all amplified by the fact that it’s downtown Vegas, not New York City.
"He has a lot of admirers but he's also very self aware," says Alfred Lin, who co-founded Venture Frogs with Hsieh back in 1999 and is a partner with Sequoia Capital. "This is not a new phenomenon. The following of people who want to hang out with him all the time has gotten bigger and bigger in the past five, six years. But I haven't seen him change."
Hsieh's hiring philosophy at Zappos is that he only hires people who he likes. It’s the same thing for Downtown Project. “He’ll only work with someone he’d want to have a drink with at the bar,” says Cornthwaite. But that poses its own set of problems. Researchers from the University of Michigan and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management say that this can lead to "biased strategic decision making." At the end of the day, Hsieh is the reason most people have a job, whether at Zappos, Downtown Project or a small business or startup he’s invested in. He says that the difficulty is not so much about having friends as colleagues, but rather, him being CEO creates that barrier.
"People dance around him a bit," says Jenn Lim, a longtime friend and CEO of Hsieh's separate entity, Delivering Happiness. "But the reality is just be true to yourself. Because I went in with that kind of attitude, and that's how I treat everyone, with that kind of realness, we connected. Once he feels he's been put on a pedestal it's more difficult."
Her first impression of Hsieh wasn't a good one. They met through mutual friends "in the late 90s during the first dot com, when there were tons of parties," she says. "He was hosting one at 810, and it happened to be his birthday. The DJ said, 'Let's bring Tony up and all the ladies in the house.' And I thought, too bad, he's one of those guys. The second time I went back and he came up and was outside of his shell. I saw more of who he really was."
Hsieh is single and will hold meetings over cocktails at DCR at 11 p.m. on a weeknight and over brunch on Sunday mornings. “He’s like a ninja,” says Andy White, who manages the $50 million Las Vegas Tech Fund. “Sometimes I’ll think he’s been out all night and then I’ll get an email from him at 5 AM.” White doesn’t drink, but he’ll stay out late entertaining guests who are potential startup investments. “The early part of week is slowest for us, and it builds toward Friday and Saturday,” he says.
At the Drink & Drag, Hsieh heads to the dance floor with Scott and a few other friends. The night took everyone downstairs to another bar, where Hsieh met up with more friends, including a musician from the band Rabbit and his girlfriend, and he ordered a bunch of food for everyone.
"You can tell when Tony's not in town by the energy," says Scott. "You can feel the vibe and you see it. It's like a movement when he's in town."
Back at the Ogden, a Downtown Project employee was DJing in his apartment that he shares with a colleague; and some of the Catalyst Week speakers stayed out until sunrise. A few hours later, Hsieh hosted a working brunch at a new restaurant, E.A.T., where DJ Dray Gardner, who's also a yoga instructor in the Ogden, was mixing. For Hsieh, work and play overlap, and that philosophy extends to those around him.
Downtown Vegas, if it turns into what he envisions, will be his ultimate playground. In some ways, it already is.
'PLAYING WITH BIGGER NUMBERS'
So far Hsieh has been incredibly effective at getting people to move to Vegas.
"Step one is convincing people to stay for a few days," he says. "One of our best recruiting tools is offering a free crash pad. It's pretty universal people leave having a completely different vision of Vegas. They visit regularly and let their network of friends know about it. And then a percentage of people end up living there. It's just a matter of time. We've already seen that formula work. It's just scaling."
Over a bottle of wine, he convinced Zach Ware to leave his job as Zappos' head of product management and spearhead the company's move to City Hall, even though he has no background in urban planning. Hsieh also convinced his cousin Connie Yeh and her husband Don Welch to leave their Wall Street jobs and manage the $50 million education and $50 million small business funds, respectively. "Tony doesn't just put you outside the box," says Zappos' Naughton. "He throws you outside of the box."
Many small investments in local tech have also done wonders to grow the local community. "The tech community didn't exist before Zappos," says Lin. "Small bets are a great way to get people into the city, even if none become significant. You've got to starting with developing an ecosystem."
But even as things are going well, some people wonder if the grand experiment will work. In a recent PE Hub article, "Who Can Stand Up To Tony Hsieh?" reporter Connie Loizos interviewed Lin, who said that "I've always been concerned about Tony’s risk tolerance. But that’s what it takes to do what he does." Back when Zappos was in its early days, Hsieh sold off a bunch of real estate, including the penthouse at 1000 Van Ness, to keep the company afloat.
"I'd say that if anything my risk tolerance has gone down," Hsieh says. "We're just playing with bigger numbers. But I don't see what I'm doing as that risky. My personal lifestyle has pretty much been the same for the past decade. I'm not spending more now, but I have more capital for bigger projects. Maybe the difference is, even if I lost 99 percent of it, my lifestyle isn't going to change."
Cornthwaite says that Hsieh has already hedged his bets by investing so much in tangible assets: "If he's investing $350 million, and he still owns half of downtown Las Vegas, it will be worth twice what it is today in five, 10 years. He's not holding a lot of debt service. When you're investing in real estate in the center of a metropolitan area, you're mitigating quite a bit."
PE Hub's Loizos also argues that Hsieh is surrounded by too many admirers, and that Lin is one of few who can stand up to him.
Lin tells us that, right now, it's crucial for Hsieh to be surrounded by an immediate circle of people he trusts. "Tony is in the creation process," he says. "Of course there are thousands of reasons you shouldn't do it. Founders and entrepreneurs get things off the ground by ignoring everything else."
THE OPPORTUNITY AND BURDEN OF BEING A BILLIONAIRE*
One evening in New York City, Hsieh met up with Slavin, Moore and Greg Besner, another friend and Zappos shareholder, at the Ainsworth near Gramercy Park. They took the upstairs room, and Hsieh ordered drinks and every food item off the menu. The night took everyone to the Ace Hotel, where more friends, and friends of friends, gathered over by the bar in the main lobby. It was a diverse group, including celebrity chef Todd English, Golden Glove boxer and fashion designer Jillkerry Ward, and two young entrepreneurs who are opening another branch of their West Village pizza shop, Slice, in downtown Vegas. Next door at the Breslin restaurant was "Arbitrage" director Nicholas Jarecki, whose premiere Hsieh attended that week.
Ward met Hsieh a few years ago while at a party in Vegas. "We were two-step line-dancing, and Tony was the last one at the table. I finally pulled him up to start dancing." Now Hsieh features Ward's clothing line on Zappos.com, and he's asked her to create a brick-and-mortar shop in Container Park, which is set to open in downtown Vegas in 2013. "But I'm such a New Yorker," she says. "Tony invites his favorites to move to Vegas."
And that's what he does, everywhere he goes.
“Tony is both simple and phenomenally complex,” says Moore. "Most people see a building. But Tony sees above, around and behind the building." Earlier at the Ainsworth, he and Hsieh were talking about the merits of getting eight hours of sleep. Hsieh says that you can sleep much less and still be productive. "It's basically the number of sleep cycles you get," he says. "The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes. You need about five sleep cycles, and there's a thing where you can take a 20 min nap every four hours. Your body learns to dive into deep sleep." That's for the most part impossible for any working adult to pull off, but he says he tries to take naps during the day so he needs less sleep at night.
He also has a meta perspective on the order of the universe, which influences how he builds communities in Vegas, and anywhere he goes. "People have different definitions of religious or spiritual," he says. "I don't really use either of those terms. Instead, I believe that there are emergent properties that come out of things such as a flock of birds. From a distance it seems like it's a single organism instead of a lot of individual birds, so the same type of thing probably happens amongst humans or the entire planet that we as humans can't perceive, just like the cell in the human body doesn't necessarily perceive the entire human."
Lin says that "Tony is a creative genius and a mad scientist in a way. He's very detail- and data- driven. He can see the world through a completely different set of eyeballs than most people in the world. And it's very positive. If you have that view of the world, it's magnetic."
Having this separate view of the world can be a barrier for Hsieh; so can the opportunity and burden of being a billionaire.*
"Money is just a way for Tony to get to his endgame," says Moore. "Money just doesn't matter to him. If he only had a million dollars left, he'd spend $999,999 to make Vegas work. He would be just as happy with a dollar in the bank and being around people he cares about and care about him."
Hsieh tells us that he has no plans ever to leave Las Vegas. But success will be defined by exactly that: the moment he can leave and people still want to move there.
* Tony Hsieh emailed us after this article was published to say that he is not, in point of fact, a "billionaire." We were using this term loosely —to describe a person of dynastic wealth rather than to pinpoint a particular net worth hurdle — but we apologize for implying that Tony actually possesses $1 billion. In our defense, although Tony does not disclose his net worth, he has been frequently referred to as a "billionaire" in the press (see this 2012 article in Time, for example, which is entitled, "The Billionaire Who Wants To Remake Downtown Las Vegas"). Tony also sold his company, Zappos, to Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion, a purchase price that was composed of a modest amount of cash and around 10 million shares of stock. At the time, Amazon's stock was trading at about $90 a share. It is currently trading at about $260 a share, an increase of nearly 3X. The Amazon stock that Zappos shareholders received, therefore, is now worth about $2.5 billion. We don't know how much of Zappos' stock Tony owned, or how much of Amazon stock he has held on to. We also don't know what Tony's net worth was before he sold Zappos. But assuming Tony owned a significant minority of Zappos (say, 40%) and kept much of his stock, he is probably almost a billionaire. Regardless of precisely how much he's worth, moreover, he is a phenomenally successful businessman who has made more money than most people can even dream of. So we'll stick with the general description!
Ideas. They bubble up all day long, when we're sitting at stoplights or standing in line for our mocha-lotta-frappa-no-whip concoctions. And, I've noticed, the idea supply chain goes into overdrive after a few shots of tequila.
But ideas alone aren't worth squat.
To turn ideas from air into something of value, you first have to admit that you're not special.
I'm not special. It's probably the most difficult lesson I've had to learn as an entrepreneur. I'm fallible just like everyone else. The day I stopped thinking all my ideas were brilliant and my business practices above reproach was the day my company started to take off.
I realized that, in their infancy, my ideas are just things bouncing around in my noggin like the last three gumballs in a glass globe outside the grocery store. On the surface, I had nothing. Ideas that sit in your head are worthless for a few reasons:
It's easy to pick up a copy of your favorite magazine (this one included) and marvel at the finished products. What we rarely think about is how those ideas got out of the inventors' heads and in front of other people--the only place where they have a chance for success.
So, a starting point for making that idea special: Find brains to bounce it off. We're not talking about Facebook blasts to family and friends. Instead, seek out:
So instead of sitting around with your idea, thinking about how pretty it is and how much you love it, start thinking about the people who can help you add some weight to your thinking. The doing: That's the path toward special.
No two successful people are the same.
But Inc's Mehdi Maghsoodnia, who has spent 20 years investing in and starting companies, came up with four common characteristics the best entrepreneurs possess.
Adventurous - "Starting a company or investing or joining a startup is like embarking on a four-week backpacking journey with enough food for one week," Meghsoodnia writes. "You have to be comfortable with uncertainty."
Patient - There are a lot of articles about startups getting 9 million unique visitors in seven months, and Facebook getting 90 million monthly pageviews two months after launch. But overnight successes aren't real. "You need to understand that the problems truly worth solving, the big industry problems, will not be wrapped up neatly in a year or two," Meghsoodnia writes. "It may take decades, and you will almost definitely have to make many adjustments to your initial vision."
Not perfectionists - People who are great at one thing may struggle more at entrepreneurship. Founders have to be adaptable. They need to work on a lot of things at once, and try a number of solutions without knowing the outcomes. "Embrace the messiness," Meghsoodnia writes.
Salesy visionaries. If you can't sell your company's vision, you'll never get investors, employees or customers. Meghsoodnia says the best entrepreneurs are also their company's best sales people. "Everyone wants to hear about your passion from you," he says. "Cut out the jargon and speak to the heart of the matter."
For more advice about what makes a successful entrepreneur, head over to Inc.
First, understand that you no longer want to be just a millionaire. You want to become a multimillionaire.
While you may think a million dollars will give you financial security, it will not. Given the volatility in economies, governments and financial markets around the world, it's no longer safe to assume a million dollars will provide you and your family with true security.
In fact, a Fidelity Investments' study of millionaires last year found that 42 percent of them don't feel wealthy and they would need $7.5 million of investable assets to start feeling rich.
This isn't a how-to on the accumulation of wealth from a lifetime of saving and pinching pennies. This is about generating multimillion-dollar wealth and enjoying it during the creation process. To get started, consider these seven secrets of multimillionaires.
No. 1: Decide to Be a Multimillionaire.
You first have to decide you want to be a self-made millionaire. I went from nothing—no money, just ideas and a lot of hard work—to create a net worth that probably cannot be destroyed in my lifetime. The first step was making a decision and setting a target. Every day for years, I wrote down this statement: "I am worth over $100,000,000!"
No. 2: Get Rid of Poverty Thinking.
There's no shortage of money on planet Earth, only a shortage of people who think correctly about it. To become a millionaire from scratch, you must end the poverty thinking. I know because I had to. I was raised by a single mother who did everything possible to put three boys through school and make ends meet.
Many of the lessons she taught me encouraged a sense of scarcity and fear: "Eat all your food; there are people starving,""Don't waste anything,""Money doesn't grow on trees." Real wealth and abundance aren't created from such thinking.
No. 3: Treat it Like a Duty.
Self-made multimillionaires are motivated not just by money, but by a need for the marketplace to validate their contributions. While I have always wanted wealth, I was driven more by my need to contribute consistent with my potential. Multimillionaires don't lower their targets when things get tough. Rather, they raise expectations for themselves because they see the difference they can make with their families, company, community and charities.
Related Video: Grant Cardone on Closing the Sale
No. 4: Surround Yourself with Multimillionaires.
I have been studying wealthy people since I was 10 years old. I read their stories and see what they went through. These are my mentors and teachers who inspire me. You can't learn how to make money from someone who doesn't have much. Who says, "Money won't make you happy"? People without money. Who says, "All rich people are greedy"? People who aren't rich. Wealthy people don't talk like that. You need to know what people are doing to create wealth and follow their example: What do they read? How do they invest? What drives them? How do they stay motivated and excited?
No. 5: Work Like a Millionaire.
Rich people treat time differently. They buy it, while poor people sell it. The wealthy know time is more valuable than money itself, so they hire people for things they're not good at or aren't a productive use of their time, such as household chores. But don't kid yourself that those who hit it big don't work hard. Financially successful people are consumed by their hunt for success and work to the point that they feel they are winning and not just working.
Related: How to Conquer Your Sales Fears
No. 6: Shift Focus from Spending to Investing.
The rich don't spend money; they invest. They know the U.S. tax laws favor investing over spending. You buy a house and can't write it off. The rich, in contrast, buy an apartment building that produces cash flow, appreciates and offers write-offs year after year. You buy cars for comfort and style. The rich buy cars for their company that are deductible because they are used to produce revenue.
No. 7: Create Multiple Flows of Income.
The really rich never depend on one flow of income but instead create a number of revenue streams. My first business had been generating a seven-figure income for years when I started investing cash in multifamily real estate. Once my real estate and my consulting business were churning, I went into a third business developing software to help retailers improve the customer experience.
Lastly, you may be surprised to learn that wealthy people wish you were wealthy, too. It's a mystery to them why others don't get rich. They know they aren't special and that wealth is available to anyone who wants to focus and persist. Rich people want others to be rich for two reasons: first, so you can buy their products and services, and second, because they want to hang out with other rich people. Get rich—it's American.
Related: Inside the Mind of Your Buyers
"You can't do everything we've done in such a short period of time without being the best... I like to say we're 'justifiably confident.' But really, who wants to work with number two?"
Lamm attributes the success of his startup to his and his partners' confidence in their abilities to do the work they do in their mobile applications development studio. But it's not just about big talk, it's also about big actions.
If you're looking to really step up your game, nab the big clients, and dominate in the market, you have to believe you're the best out there. No one wants to settle for number two when they can have number one, so it's up to you to be number one.
"If you don't believe you're number one and don't believe you can build the best products and services, why would anyone else want to work with you?"
Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.
When I decided to leave my job as a receptionist, I was exhausted and burnt out from making my job a number-one priority — and to top it off, I could barely pay my bills. I loved what I did, but I didn’t care for the people in charge who showed no appreciation and no passion. I felt I had enough experience and fresh ideas to start my own company and work for myself.
Although I faced a multitude of long days and nights, time away from friends and family, missed gatherings, and the overall feeling of being an overworked lunatic at times, it was well worth it to go from wages to profits — and from being told what to do to running my own show.
Whether you’re thinking of starting a company from scratch or buying into one, you need to be ready for the challenge. Here are seven essential character traits that led me from the cube to entrepreneurship:
Read more posts on Young Entrepreneur Council »
Today's advice comes from Sir Terry Matthews via Discovery 12: The Secrets Of Business Success on YouTube:
"It's like clockwork. You have to come up with a high level report saying what the hell is going on, and then all the employees read it and then you get alignment of interest. But that communication part has to be every quarter like a sync pulse!"
Matthews has founded or cofounded more than 80 companies in his life, and says that all you need for great company chemistry is clockwork communication. A CEO may only get 8-10 hours with his employees each week because he's traveling or has meetings, but long as communication is timely, a company's interrelations are manageable.
These reports help both employees and CEOs see exactly what is getting done, how departments interact, and what can be improved upon. But this only works when reports are handed in promptly and with clear details. If that happens, productivity will increase and a leader will have a great handle on his company chemistry, alignment and progress.
"You have to put the energy into getting that top level view and then in the report, which may be eight or ten pages, you have to get depth for those people in the report — in R&D, those people in sales, those people in marketing, those people in finance. You have to line them up. So it has to be absolutely like clockwork. If you do that you get much better chemistry, much better alignment."
GoldieBlox Inc. is a toy company founded by 29-year-old Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling that’s in an enviable position at the moment.
The company has already sold out for the first pre-order delivery of its signature toy, scheduled for February.
It’s currently taking orders and quickly selling out of toys for the second delivery in April.
What’s even more interesting is the company’s purpose: inspiring the next generation of female engineers.
GoldieBlox is built around a series of interactive books and construction toys starring Goldie. She’s a young, curious girl who, like her creator, loves engineering and wants to build things.
The book and toy combo uses a series of lessons to introduce girls to engineering concepts, and it was designed based on a year of research that included prototype testing on more than 100 children.
The first toy was awarded the Editor’s Choice award at the World Maker Faire in New York in September.
A GoldieBlox Kickstarter campaign raised more than $250,000 in 30 days, which helped production get under way on the first book+toy.
“I’m creating GoldieBlox so that girls, from a young age, can learn that engineering is for them, too,” Sterling said.
Sterling, who studied engineering at Stanford, writes and illustrates the Goldie stories.
Her inspiration comes in part from her grandmother, who was a creator, too – she was one of the first female cartoonists at Disney and helped create “Mr. Magoo.”
For all of the lip service that gets paid to promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology, the government can be surprisingly slow to take steps that could help the companies and people that create it.
One of the most telling examples is our immigration policy. According to a new paper from Darrell West, Allan Friedman, and Walter Valdivia of the Brookings Institution, it's one of several barriers we maintain that keep us from taking full advantage of the digital economy.
This chart, which shows the proportion of foreign born tech founders in Silicon Valley and the United States from 1995 to 2005, is a clear illustration of how we're holding ourselves back:
We should be doing everything we can to encourage people who have the capacity to create tech companies to stay. Instead, we make it difficult with things like per country visa caps and limited student visas.
The paper suggests a couple of solutions, namely that we give visas to foreign born students that get graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math, pass the DREAM act so young people can stay in the country, and take steps to make it easier for entrepreneurs to stay here.
Right now, if you invest $1 million in a new startup and create 10 new jobs, you can get a green card. The authors argue that that's too high of a threshold, and that lowering it to $250,000 would create more opportunities.
Crisis management may have been the only policy we could manage during the recession, but we can and should be more ambitious now.
Find the paper here
Amber Atherton certainly isn't the first celebrity to own a business. Many of those in the limelight become their own brands and start companies.
But unlike other celebrity entrepreneurs, Atherton — a model who has appeared in magazines like Vogue, and the star of the UK-based reality TV series Made In Chelsea— started her luxury online jewelry boutique MyFlashTrash.com long before she was being recognized on the street.
Still, My Flash Trash really took off in 2011 shortly after Made In Chelsea first aired, and Atherton, now 21, has plans to expand the business to the American and Middle Eastern markets this year. Celebrity is a surefire way to quickly spread news about your brand and gain followers and trust, and this is something Atherton recognizes.
We caught up with Atherton, in her first US press appearance, to talk about the impact of fame on her business.
Tell me about the start of My Flash Trash.
Various sort of entrepreneurial ventures throughout my teen years led me to Flash Trash when I was 16. Initially I bought some costume jewelry in Hong Kong where I grew up, and I came back to boarding school in England and started selling it, but I wanted to reach a wide target audience. So I started writing a fashion jewelry blog and sold jewelry on there, and then it sort of grew organically.
While I was at the London College of Fashion I decided that I wanted to do luxury brand management after meeting different people in that realm. So I started a fashion management degree, but by this point I was struggling to keep up with running Flash Trash and filming the TV show, so I decided to take a year out after two years, and it was then that everything kicked off.
What caused that take-off?
I think it was various things, because I started it at the same time I was modeling, so it gained sort of a small cult following in the fashion scene, and then in that year suddenly we had a lot more designers and a lot more press; more celebrities were wearing the line, and then ‘Made in Chelsea’ started coming out, and that was when it became much more of a commercial success as well.
And how did you start bringing the initial attention to Flash Trash?
Through modeling I got to meet insider contacts who work in magazines, or stylists and other models. It started organically with the blog gaining a popular following, and then through modeling and getting the jewelry placement in magazines and on other models and celebrities it started growing that way.
So you were able to wear your own jewelry during photoshoots?
Yes. Either I wore it myself or other models did, or if I was shooting with a bigger model or celebrity I would talk to them about the line as well. It was at that time that I started getting more out on the scene, so I was bumping into a lot of celebrities, and I would introduce the line to them. But it happened so naturally as well; it’s not like it was premeditated or anything. It was just like I was doing this or that, and it fit.
Do you think you would have had the same success without the fame?
It would’ve, because even when I was doing it at school I was modeling, but not loads. I was probably doing more business, and then modeling. So I think it would have naturally happened anyway, but modeling sort of helped with it.
When did you start filming ‘Made In Chelsea?'
I started filming the pilot for that in 2010. At the time I was interning at an agency called The Saturday Group, and a friend of mine working at same company knew a TV guy, so we started talking him about the show, and that’s when we started filming the pilot, and then it got picked up. I think it must be on the fourth or fifth by now, but I left after doing one episode in season three to focus on my business.
Was the business a big part of the show?
Flash Trash featured heavily on the show because that’s what I was doing in my life, and it was a reality show. I had to balance my day like I did when I was modeling. It was difficult, though luckily at that point I had two employees at that stage, but it was all about time management.
When did you really start to become well-known and recognized, and how did it affect the business?
It was 2011 when it started. The show was on TV, and people were recognizing me in the street. I was becoming more involved in the celebrity world with parties and charity events and working with brands, and in that year that’s when my public profile started to get bigger. I started to go from just a model “it” girl into a celebrity. It feels very strange talking about myself like this, but that’s kind of what happened, and that’s when I started getting profiled more by magazines about high-end style, and Flash Trash started getting a lot more attention at the same time.
Has being famous ever been a hindrance to the business at all?
No, not really. I think it’s only done good things for it, because it just put more attention onto the business—more press, but at the same time we had jewelry mentioned in many fashion editorials that were very separate from anything having to do with me, so it almost just captured another market.
Has being famous made you more aware of yourself as an entrepreneur?
It has made me more aware, but fame in general I think makes you more aware of yourself. You’re kind of on a pedestal, and even just the way people interact with you in public changes. It does make you feel slightly alienated, in a way, but that was sort of okay with me, because I could still run my business. I almost found sanctuary in my office because that’s where I was just normal-business-owner-Amber, in my office with the staff.