How I Wrote YDNTB

You Don’t Need This Book officially went on sale April 1st!

To commemorate this milestone, here’s the story of how I rolled everything I know about entrepreneurship into 37,456 words that spans just 200 pages.

Inspiration

Over the past 15 years, my own entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial and community building experiences created a baseline of understanding. Along with my own journey, I’ve extracted insight from thousands of students, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, mentors, investors and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders.

With all that bottled up brain power, I started to feel as if I may regret not passing my experiential wisdom on.

Catalyzed

This book started as an outline on my phone. Each of the chapters represented a pillar of entrepreneurship. It lingered there for around six months. As you’ll read in the Foreword of my book, Victor Hwang and I were talking about this literary project back in 2019. He shared a poem with me that really resonated. My interpretation was that everyone has a story to tell. When it starts to keep you up at night, it may be time to put pen to paper. I had reached this tipping point so on January 1st, 2020, I opened a blank Word document, dropped in my outline and began to write.

Composition

For the next few months, I focused on finding 1-3 hour blocks to write. Some authors jump around and write into areas they feel most confident about before stitching things together. I chose to write from start to finish in what felt like the most common path for an entrepreneurial experience. The ease at which this story started coming together energized the work and made me even more determined. Along with writing, I learned as much as I could about book publishing. Seth Godin’s advice for authors guided me, but a growing collection of bookmarks kept the research going. The COVID-19 pandemic hit so I leaned on more wisdom from Seth Godin to find my inspiration at home. EDM kept flowing in my ears and my written words continued to construct the story. After around six months I had reached my goal of 25K words, but then the hard work began.

Refinement

With my first draft written, I brought everything into software to simplify, clarify and embolden the manuscript. I also focused on removing duplicative thoughts and optimizing the overall flow. This process took way longer than I expected, but the result was a dashing manuscript ready for review. My brilliant wife read it first. I knew that if the most intelligent/thoughtful person I knew approved, I could move forward. She loved it and helped me improve the readability even more. I then sent the manuscript and a book summary to family, mentors and other early readers. I implemented their feedback and kept building into this document that really started to feel like a book.

Polish

With a solid manuscript in place, I reached out to Victor Hwang and asked if he would do me the honor of writing the Foreword. When he said yes, I asked Brad Feld if he would like to contribute into the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem section of the Community chapter. As you’ll read in the Acknowledgements, jamming with these rockstars was a special treat. Having two thought leaders complimenting the manuscript provided me confidence and their contributions added some remarkable credibility to the book.

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The manuscript was written without the Oxford Comma. Based on Brad Feld’s comments, a quick Twitter poll and both of the editor’s suggestions, the serial comma got woven in right before publishing.

As these contributions came together, Brad Feld introduced me to the developmental editor who worked on Techstars books in the Startup Revolution library. Collaborating with Pete Birkeland resulted in the addition of my Introduction section and the 20+ personal sidebars you’ll see throughout the book. I then asked Michael McConnell to be my final copy editor. He had worked with authors like Seth Godin and Todd Henry, so it was neat working with an expert to a polish every single word to make the manuscript ready to publish.

Publishing

It took an entire year for the manuscript to emerge. I had been talking with different publishers and researching the publishing process as the manuscript came together. With a project that became so personal, I often felt paralyzed by this foreign process. This paralysis was not from a lack of options, but instead, so many options that it made me question so many decisions that had to be made. To navigate through the fog, I kept asking questions, digging deeper and decided to create my own publishing company to wrap around this project.

I then began collaborating with Nathan T. Wright on cover art. This was a magical experience that became icing on the cake. With so much influence from Seth Godin, I also decided to reach out to my hero for the very first time. This interaction with my favorite thinker is something I’ll always remember and the epic result was the only blurb you’ll see on the back of my book! With caffeinated cover art in place, I learned how to design every interior page to give readers a exceptional experience. Pour Over Publishing unlocked preorders four weeks before the official launch, as I worked with Amazon and IngramSpark to finalize the softcover and eBook that are now about to ship worldwide.

Results

Whether this becomes a bestseller or not, You Don’t Need This Book: Entrepreneurship in the Connected Era is now something I can be proud of for the rest of my life. It was an unbelievable amount of work, but I’m thankful for the support of so many people which allowed me to persevere. I enjoyed sharing this first look video and have activated community-driven marketing as we prepare for launch day.

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Wanna help spread the word? Here’s a media library to make your posts pop. To say thanks, feel free to use the friendly coupon codes as well!

Publishing my first book and watching sales roll in provides a sense of accomplishment, but I’m most excited to hear how YDNTB makes an impact with people like you. I simply cannot wait to hear how this synthesized narrative helps you build that new business, improve an existing company, fire up a side hustle or evolve your own entrepreneurial ecosystem!

In addition to more caffeinated conversations, now that I’ve navigated the fog, there may be more ways to accelerate others by helping hidden leaders write their own book. I’ll leave you with an open invitation. If the story in your mind starts to keep you up at night, let’s chat about evolving your ideas into reality.

Table of Contents

We’re only one week from the official April 1st launch of You Don’t Need This Book!

Special thanks to ALL who have locked in their preorders. To celebrate the book release, here’s a sneak peek at the Table of Contents for You Don’t Need This Book: Entrepreneurship in the Connected Era.

FOREWORD

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE IDEATION
– Train Your Brain
– Find Problems
– Broaden the Horizon
– Listen
– Early Moves
– Talk
– Idea Burnout
– Die Empty

CHAPTER TWO COMMUNITY
– Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
– Communities of Practice
– Plug In
– Be Yourself
– Show Up
– Break Ice
– #givefirst
– Stand Out
– Follow Up
– Coworking
– Lead
– Event Management
– Connectors Become Connected
– Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builders
– Career Nirvana

CHAPTER THREE TEAM
– Lone Wolf
– Co-Founders
– Friends
– Family
– Mentors
– Advisors
– Investors
– Acquiring Talent

CHAPTER FOUR SIDE HUSTLES
– Balance
– Transparency
– Patience
– Be Realistic
– The Headline Trap
– Intrapreneurship

CHAPTER FIVE RESEARCH
– Lightweight
– Middleweight
– Heavyweight
– Reflections

CHAPTER SIX TESTING
– Early Adopters
– Stealth Mode
– What to Test
– Pivoting
– Incubators
– Accelerators
– Stay Curious
– Pure Wonder

CHAPTER SEVEN MARKETING
– Name It
– Logo Design
– Branding
– Content Creation
– Skill #1 – Writing
– Skill #2 – Photography
– Skill #3 – Videography
– Skill #4 – Graphic Design
– Skill #5 – Creativity
– Skill #6 – Organization
– Web Development
– Email Marketing
– Social Media
– Print
– Word of Mouth

CHAPTER EIGHT SALES
– Launch
– Early Action
– Don’t Sell
– Slow Down
– Stay Committed
– Travel
– Trade Shows
– Pitch Competitions
– Grants > Loans
– Jet Fuel

CHAPTER NINE RESULTS
– Milestones
– Celebrate
– Tweak
– Expand
– Exit
– Hobbies That Pay

CHAPTER TEN PERSISTENCE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

RESOURCES

Jargon vs. Understanding

Seth Godin is my favorite thinker, but I’ve been pondering the words of Naval Ravikant a lot lately. In this interview, Tim Ferriss and Naval riff on how Richard Feynman differentiated jargon versus true understanding.

This has me reflecting on how humans seek the ability to effectively explain our thoughts, but too often a lack of understanding leads to fancy words and long-winded rhetoric. Sounding smart may protect our perceived knowledge, but as Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

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This tweetstorm first introduced me to @Naval. I’ve since listened to his podcast, read the Almanack of Naval Ravikant and enjoyed this Joe Rogan interview where Naval says, “We have two lives, and the second begins when you realize we only have one.”

As I translate this collective wisdom, I’ve organized a few simple constructs to practice this mental mindset.

  • Be more succinct with my words.
  • Ask an increased amount of concise questions.
  • Get comfortable with uncomfortable silence.
  • Inspiration is perishable. Act on it immediately.

    When trying to balance this cerebral equation, here’s are two questions to ask: Can we deconstruct, expand, or compress what was just said? Can we then describe the exact same idea five different ways? If not, seek further insight to go beyond memorized jargon for true understanding leads to more confident, diverse, and transformative conversations.

    Connectors Become Connected

    In the connected era, building an engaged network is everything. This doesn’t mean you exchange a bunch of business cards at random networking events. An engaged network is activated when your connections care about you and you care about them. This mutual respect leads to improved collaboration through a genuine interest in one another. As we go beyond our immediate self-interest, it becomes clear that the only way forward is together.

    One of the best ways to unlock your engaged network is by introducing people to each other. This triangulates you into more relationships. The more people you connect, the more connected you become.

    Connectors eventually become the people who know everyone. When you know everyone, people start introducing themselves to you more often. This creates a cycle that inherently feeds itself. The social currency that comes with being a connector earns you the ability to keep connecting others. Over time, this cultural connectedness translates into an invitation to lead.

    Connectors who decide to lead should continue to help others succeed while allowing new leaders to surface. Being an active leader and the go-to connector won’t last forever and that’s a good thing. It can be hard to let go of a leadership role, but your work will not be forgotten and proactive succession is healthy for the community. Let others lead knowing you’re not losing control, power or influence. You’re gaining the freedom to pursue new ways that make an impact as the entrepreneurial ecosystem is refreshed and given the latitude to grow.

    Extra Shot

    My new book debuts April 1st!

    Social Audio

    Video may have killed the radio star, but our voices were never silenced and social audio is now connecting them.

    What does the term “social audio” mean? Social audio is an emerging subset of social media. Think talk radio with your entire social graph. Instead of a broadcast studio, everyone is able to speak their mind directly from a smartphone. The result is unscripted conversations that feel like a live podcast, with an endless amount of hosts, speakers and listeners tuning in from anywhere.

    These audible discussions strip away the text, photos, and video. Your spoken thoughts are everything in this realm, but sharing your voice is nothing new. Talk radio, music, conference calls, voice messaging and podcasts have been around forever. What’s interesting is how social audio companies are transforming one-to-many productions into synchronized, many-to-many experiences. The timing of this growing market also makes sense, as the global pandemic has created an isolated world craving new ways to stay connected.

    As Jeremiah Owyang shared in his comprehensive market forecast, a lot of attention has been given to Clubhouse, but there are signals of a market that’s getting much louder. Twitter Spaces, Locker Room, Sonar, Roadtrip, Yoni Circle, Quilt, and Cappuccino are a few more pioneering platforms that have each caught my attention for different reasons. Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Spotfiy are surely working on clones to catch up as well.

    After scanning the open airwaves, I’m betting people with large followings will be drawn back to social audio features that allow them to interact with their existing audience on established social media platforms. For talkative people looking to expand their influence, choosing to be an early adopter on a new platform could be a waste of time if the app flops, but with less noise, the reward could be the audience they seek.

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    It’s hard to tell if the race to win in social audio is causing this, but more social media companies are experimenting with different ways to compensate content creators. Twitch and YouTube have this somewhat figured out, but imagine spending the day talking on Twitter Spaces. Listeners could show their support with quick tips, while sponsored conversations and other shared revenue attracts more creative talent.

    If you decide to share your voice by exploring social audio, remember the words we use matter. These are live, decentralized discussions, but what you share with the world may be hard to take back as many of these conversations are being recorded in one way or another. While this data collection feels like Ursula stealing Ariel’s voice in the The Little Mermaid, we all know the social media landscape is not a private place.

    Privacy concerns aside, social audio provides an innovative way for humans to communication. Unlike edited writing, filtered photos, and polished video, our voices in real-time provide raw access to what people think. How might you use social audio to engage in more connected conversations? <End of Transmission>