I don’t talk about losing.
I don’t think about failing.
I’m totally aware that both of those outcomes are realistic possibilities from the moment each one of us rolls out of bed – but thoughts of winning and being successful tend to kick-start my morning with a little more gusto.
I’ve come to realize there are some people in the world who don’t think this way.
They give themselves nifty little titles – “I’m just being a realist” – or apply quirky descriptions to their pending thought process – “Let me play devil’s advocate.”
I’ve never been one to focus on the negatives.
This scenario recently played out when I was discussing e-Partners in Giving with one of my buddies.
I shared with him the concept of our business model and told him how I took the leap of faith – quit my “real” job and put 100 percent of my effort into e-Partners.
I told him: “It just seems like the people that really make it, put everything on the line and take a chance. They go for it!”
He quickly asked: “What about all the people that don’t make it?”
I’M NOT LISTENING! (If you can picture me with my fingers in my ears, humming “Take Me Out the Ballgame” it really helps to drive this home.)
I know there are stories of people putting all their metaphorical chips on the table and losing everything, but I don’t want to think about those people.
Let’s talk about the country music star who rolled into Nashville in their beat-up Toyota pick-up, $50 cash, their guitar, and a dream.
What about the former garbage man who turned a simple idea into a multi-million dollar, industry-changing corporation?
These are the stories that I want to hear!
I recently read an article in Entrepreneur magazine (“We Knew Them When”– May 2007). It told success stories of companies the magazine featured when they were just start-ups.
Entrepreneur referred to them as “big names” and “seriously successful.”
These stories embody what I’ve been ranting about for the last 342 words. They are about winners! I thought I would share some snippets of the feature. (I think you’ll be familiar with some of these companies.)
David Liu, 41
David Liu, 41
THEN: Founder Liu talked to us in 2000 about the challenges of finding office space to accommodate the explosion in his number of employees–from 28 to 200 in one year.
NOW: Today, TheKnot.com dominates the wedding website landscape, having just acquired WeddingChannel.com in September 2006. Crediting his New York City company’s success to its talented staff, Liu is now looking to grow its $72.7 million in sales by entering two new markets: In 2005, the company launched TheNest.com for newlyweds, which branched out into a magazine last year; and a site for new parents is planned for the first half of 2007. “The identity of the company, even as we get larger, remains very entrepreneurial,” says Liu. “We stuck with our business plan–we didn’t waver.”
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Reed Hastings, 46
Reed Hastings, 46
THEN: Netflix’s subscription service launched a couple of years before founder Hastings was profiled in Entrepreneur in 2002. The Los Gatos, California, company was just beginning what would be a phenomenal growth cycle.
NOW: Fast shipping, tons of choices and a powerful movie recommendation system have helped propel Netflix to the top of the DVD pile. In 2001, Netflix’s sales were $76 million. In 2006, sales were $980 million. In 2001, it had 600,000 subscribers; today it has 6.3 million. In 2001, it offered 11,500 DVD titles; today it offers 70,000. After innovating in the DVD-by-mail market, Hastings now plans to “expand the business to deliver movies to whatever viewing device consumers want while increasing margin and profit.” The company’s newest service component, currently in rollout, will allow users to access movies over the internet.
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Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr, both 33
THEN: In 2004, we covered the online marketplace for secondary event tickets co-founded by Baker and Fluhr. In 2006, we spotlighted how Fluhr had taken the company to $200 million in sales.
NOW: Fluhr grew StubHub.com so successfully that eBay acquired the company for $307 million earlier this year. Baker branched out in 2005 to launch Viagogo.com, an online secondary ticket marketplace for Europe-based events. “It was amazing to see the tremendous growth,” says Baker from his London locale. “StubHub has become a brand name, and secondary ticketing has become mainstream. The concept is not uniquely American, so there was a great opportunity to pioneer this industry in Europe.” In 2004, we covered the online marketplace for secondary event tickets co-founded by Baker and Fluhr. In 2006, we spotlighted how Fluhr had taken the company to $200 million in sales.