The Brutal 5 Lessons I’ve Learned With My Startup That Will Change Your Life. (Part 1)

Building a startup is not easy; in fact, it can be down right brutal at times. Life can be equally as hard!

I have learned 5 very valuable lessons during my journey with SocialCoaster. In this 5-part series I am going to apply those lessons to life and explain how you can change your future with a few simple adjustments.


Let’s talk truth for a second, running SocialCoaster has been really hard. Creating a business is hard, if it were easy to build a billion dollar business – everyone would do it. From the outside looking in it may seem as if things have been smooth sailing for our team, it seems that way SOLELY because it’s my job to make you think that 😉 . Reality is, since the day I started SocialCoaster there has not been an hour that passed that I didn’t face a major obstacle.

Here is the cliff note version of the SocialCoaster journey….

Cool I have an awesome idea. | now what? | I will build it. | Oh crap.. I’ve never built an app. | I’ll hire a contract team – It’ll be cheap. | Oh No, Not Cheap! | What do you mean you’re going to stop working on our project? | I will bring the work in house. | Time to hire. | Wait.. I’ve never hired before. | Hope I am Making a Good Hire. | Team in Place Let’s Develop. | Oh no.. It’s going to take team a while to learn code. | We need to hit Dec. 31 deadline! | Let’s hire another contract team to help. | Contract team charges 70k. | Contract Team Misses Deadline. | Contract Team Delivers Final Project in Worse Shape than Sent to Them. | Goodbye 70k! | January Passes. | February Passes. | March Passes. | My Awesome Team has Developed SocialCoaster BETA. | Hooray… Tons of People Download. | Oh no… The rush is over. | Where is the Android App we are asked? | Android Development begins. | Feedback comes in – people don’t understand the app. | cool.. We will just make adjustments. | Oh no.. these adjustments are going to take a while with our small team. | Let’s hire. | Not enough money to hire. | Let’s Raise the Money. | Cool.. We found a 500k investor. | Investor suddenly stops responding. | Let’s raise money. | Wow.. This is harder than I thought.. | Cool Some money raised. | Where is the Android app? | More money needed for development. | Now we don’t have enough to hire another team member. | Let’s Buckle Down & Get this thing done. | Power pole falls at office knocking out internet & power. | Let’s move to my garage. | Let’s Maintain our Culture & Fun Working Environment. | Awesome.. Team is ready to launch re-invented SocialCoaster 2.0. | Performance Issues, Bugs, and Crashes Oh My! | Fix them. | Team works really late hours. | Fixed Most of them. | Approval of Update take 12 days! – Finally | We need to make functionality adjustments. | Wait.. We need to make a lot of adjustments. | Ok.. These are priorities… | Keep Grinding. | How to we increase user base? | How do we encourage inviting? | How do we increase engagement? | Users giving positive feedback = yes! | What do they not like? | Keep Focused. | Move Forward.

Ok.. That seriously was only a very minor outline of what we have encountered to get to where we are. It’s clear running a startup is not easy but I have learned to get over it and focus on what NEEDS to be done.. And then do it. Dwelling on the issue at hand is not going to change anything, only ACTION & FOCUS can improve a negative situation.

Application to Life:  Life is tough for us all, trust me when I say you are not the only one with problems. Handling challenges comes down to preparing yourself mentally for them and EMBRACING them.  This is easier said than done, I realize that.  When I speak to groups about my entrepreneurial journey I always say a good entrepreneur wakes up every morning and lies to themself saying, there is no way I can fail!

In life you have to do the same thing!  No matter what you are currently facing you must wake up every morning and say, “There is no way I can fail.”  Take each challenge one at time and overcome them. A little biblical encouragement can be found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 .

From my own person experience, when I look back I can always see the purpose of all the bad things that have happened. Everything good in my life has came as a result of something that seemed horrible at the time.  When things are going great INHALE, BREATH DEEP, and store it — let that fuel you through the tough times. There is always light at the end of each tunnel and there are always additional tunnels in the horizon. You must make a conscience effort to remain mentally strong.

As soon as you can embrace challenges and hardships as reality, the faster you can suck it up and get over them. Life truly is what you make it, wake up tomorrow morning and say, this is what I set out to do and there is nothing that is going to keep me from succeeding. Period.

Coming Up in Part 2:
Lesson #2 – Learn to Solve Problems Unconventionally! 

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

I first must apologize for the cheesy “pun intended” title to this post. 

If it were easy to build a multi-billion dollar company overnight, everyone would do it!  After the success of my first business I knew I wanted to enter into the mobile space. I had the dream of creating a product/app that could help make the world a better place!

Little did I know when I started this journey the magnitude of the challenges that I would face. Perhaps the biggest of them all was managing expectations. Let me explain.. Many of us have Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts; however, most likely none of us were on these networks in the very early days. To properly grow a successful company you have to be flexible and adapt your product based on the feedback you receive and learn from users.  This principle is called the Lean Startup Model, and it has been used by all of the successful networks you enjoy today. In fact, most of the successful social networks  have “shifted” dramatically from their early concepts.

SocialCoaster has a small but extremely dedicated & amazing team of developers.  Like myself, these guys are extremely passionate about our product. Unfortunately, with a small team it can sometimes take quite a bit of time to make necessary changes to the app.  For the user, this “downtime” can be discouraging and lead to the belief nothing is happening.

It has been roughly 4-5 months since we initially launched SocialCoaster.  We looked at our first launch as our MVP (minimum-viable product). We knew that the product we launched on day 1 was not going to be the product that the world fell in love with; however, we had to start somewhere.  

One thing I have learned throughout this journey is that entrepreneurs feel ONLY two emotions, EXTREME HIGHS, and EXTREME LOWS… That is it.  

Over the last few months, I have personally experienced both feelings ( a lot ).  My daily responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Managing an awesome team.
  • Generating a clear vision for SocialCoaster and relaying that vision to the team.
  • Keeping an eye on product development and make sure it is progressing.
  • Form partnerships with influencers and organizations.
  • Raise funding. 
  • Manage expectations with our loyal followers.
  • Market the app.
  • Study the latest trends & techniques. (Lots of reading)
  • Public speaking.
  • Keep the office clean.

As you can see, running a company is not easy and requires my team and me to wear multiple hats. In order to do this, I have to look at where we are at as a company and prioritize what is most important. Recently, that priority has been focused on raising the capital needed to successful scale SocialCoaster once we exit beta.

Throughout the highs and lows of the last few months one thing has never changed, we have the most amazing followers!  Over the past few months I have picked up the phone and called users. We have brought several members into the office to see what they liked/disliked about our app. We have hosted focus groups and read over 100 encouraging letters with feedback for SocialCoaster.

This feedback is what we have relied on in order to make SocialCoaster better.  While to the average user is may seem like things in the SocialCoaster world are “slow”, I can assure you otherwise.

In the upcoming weeks we will release SocialCoaster v2.0!  This version will be released for iPhone and Android users. I am purposely holding off from disclosing the changes in this update but I will soon release that information.

What I can tell you is that SocialCoaster v2.0 is BY FAR the biggest update that SocialCoaster has ever released.  Based on the feedback we received we were able to shift directions and truly allow our users to define who we are.  If I could accurately compare/score our current app to the upcoming version it would look something like this:


                                                     SocialCoaster v1.0                       SocialCoaster v.2.0

User Interface:                                            6.5/10                       9/10                     

Ease of Use:                                                      5/10                       9.5/10

Reliability:                                                        7/10                       9/10

Ability to Grow:                                              4/10                       8/10

User Collaboration:                                      6/10                      9/10


As you can see, we feel that the product we have been working on the last few months is superior to the original version.  We were able to achieve this solely because of your honesty and feedback.

I am the type of person who wants to solve every problem in one night; however, I have realized that this is not always possible. My team is amazing, they take so much pride in what they do, and when you see the next update you will realize that behind the scenes there is a LOT going on in our office. They work long hours each and everyday… Not for the pay…  But because they are passionate!

Despite many hardships, struggles, and challenges we have had to overcome, I am feeling really blessed.  For every negative, there has been two positives and right now things seem to be on a good track.  I appreciate the continued support from each of you and I cannot wait until I am able to release SocialCoaster v2.0 in a few weeks… It is WAY different, and you are going to love it!



10 Tips For Success

10 Quick thoughts on what it takes to be successful:

I am constantly adding to this list.

1. To be successful you have to be able & willing to stand on your feet and take blow after blow without falling. During good times you must inhale deeply and use the fresh air to push forward.

2. To be successful you must surround yourself with successful people. Always be open to learn. You can never know enough.

3. To be successful you must know that it is better to have someone owe you a favor than money. Do nice things & help others just because.

4. To be successful you must be able to form relationships with anyone at any time. You can do this by genuinely caring about them and making the conversation about THEM!

5. To be successful you must want to grow internally. Live everyday trying to improve yourself, and always treat others with respect.

6. To be successful you must understand the importance of a strong team. Get those around you to understand your vision and take time to plug them into your culture.

7. To be successful you must be willing to LET GO and trust others. It is easy to want to micro-manage but you can’t do it all!

8. To be successful you must daydream. If you are not a dreamer, your a status-quo’er. No bueno. DREAM BIG!

9. To be successful you must see change coming and be WILLING to adapt to changing environments.

10. To be successful you must be willing take risks and then must lie to yourself each and everyday saying there is NO WAY I CAN FAIL!

Feel free to add to this list.

My Ever Evolving Definition of Success

Since the day I started running my own businesses I have learned a lot of lessons.  I have learned it is important to always remain humble and treat others with respect… There is no “I” in success. This year has provided me with many lessons that I hope to hold on to until that day I die… The definition of success should continuously evolve as you become a better person.  I have made plenty of mistakes but I always try to learn from those mistakes. But, I know many of you read this blog… So I thought I would share what I now consider to be important keys to success, enjoy!

Important Keys to Success:

Work hard, save, and only buy what you can afford.. Avoid debt at all cost! Don’t be afraid to sacrifice missing out on a fun opportunity NOW because your hard work can lead to a whole lot of fun opportunities in the future. Work hard at everything you do, become an expert in something, and treat others better than you’d treat yourself. You can go nowhere in life by yourself so meet as many people as you can, listen to their wisdom, treat them right, remember networking is key!

Most important, love your friends, love your family, and trust in God! Don’t make a decision unless you have received a peace about it. If your uneasy, say no. Being a happy person correlates with how other perceive you as a leader. Stay focused, believe, and don’t even look at failure as an option. Others will say not possible, let that be the fuel that drives you to prove them wrong.

Daydream always, figure out the steps to get there. Don’t think success happens over night.. To get to where you are going you have to take it one step at a time.. But as you do. Don’t look back. Real life doesn’t have green participation ribbons, you have to work hard and sacrifice to achieve goals!

Without risk, there is no reward. So take risks but only well informed and calculated ones.

Love what you do and never work with people solely looking for a paycheck.. Look for those who love what you do just as much as you do.

I have been blessed in my life but I also know that someday it could all go away. I was formed into who I am from those who raised me: parents, teachers, friends, bosses, and church members. Thank you all!

The Presentation Guide Book – A Book You MUST buy!

On my personal blog I normally wouldn’t spend time promoting products but I think this book deserves a special exception for a couple of reasons:

  1. I am a featured speaker on the CD that comes with it.
  2. The author of the book is not only a master of communication but is an amazing person/mentor of mine.
  3. Most Importantly… It is an amazing resource that can be applied to anyone’s life.

First, let’s start off by talking a bit about the author.  This amazing resource and guide is written by Dr. Crystal Rae Coel Coleman, an amazingly talented and professional woman who has her doctorate, masters, and is a licensed attorney (pretty impressive resume).  This woman is a distinguished communication professor at Murray State University in Kentucky and has personally touched my life with her knowledge and unselfish desire to help people improve their life.

When I attended Murray State University there were only a handful of professors that I can say truly transformed my life and Dr. Coleman was one of them.  When I entered her class Dr. Coleman recognized that I had unlocked-potential, she coached and encouraged me using her techniques (read the book to see), and ultimately gave me the confidence I needed that was previously lacking before taking her class.  As a business professional and owner of some very large and profitable online marketing websites I MUST give some of the credit to what I learned from this great teacher/mentor/friend.

I would highly suggest that EVERYONE travel across the world and take one of her classes at Murray State (would be worth your time and money), however, I realize that this option is not feasible for many individuals out there.  For those of you that this may be the case you are now very lucky because you can still experience and take in the vast-knowledge of such an expert in the field.   So what is the book about?  Although there are many tips and advice included in the book other than the main topic, the primary focus is to teach using SPECIFIC tricks/techniques/advice how to deliver a STUNNING presentation.  You may say, anyone can give a speech OR I’m too nervous to give a speech… I say.. Yep, your right anyone can give a presentation, but very few can give a GREAT PRESENTATION.  And if you are avoiding speeches because your nervous about them… Your not going to be a very big asset to your class, organization, or business.  In a rough economy it is already tough to get a job, and many employers are only hiring workers with great communication skills and presentation skills… Ps. A job interview is definitely a presentation, you are presenting yourself to the employers…  This book will give you the knowledge and skills to master the art of presentations and will show you so many things (many you probably never thought about) that can be applied to giving a perfect speech.

Credibility is everything when it comes to a book and knowing the author, I can tell you she is THE BEST presenter that I have ever witnessed and I have heard many distinguished speakers throughout the years.  You will be blown away by the knowledge that you will find in this book (I know I was), and I highly recommend it to EVERYONE!

So who can benefit from this book:

1. People in business – If you are management and work for a business, there is a very good likely hood that you will have to make some sort of presentation while you are there.  No one wants to be shaking uncontrollably and present a mediocre speech do they?  If your speaking with your boss won’t you want to sound knowledgeable and confident?   If your a manager, it is a must you buy a copy of this book for all your employees.  If your an employee and your manager hasn’t bought you this book, tell them to do so!

2. Students – High school, and college is filled with presentations… Most are utterly bombed by UN-educated and UN-informed students.  Most students are scared to death of making a presentation and if they would just read this book, that could all change very quickly.

3.  Clergy – Ok, if your a pastor and your making speeches… You should read this book… I don’t think an explanation is really needed here.

4.  Those looking for a job – A job interview is a PRESENTATION…. Those who present themselves the best are hired, those who lack confidence ARE NOT.. It’s that simple.

5. Any and everyone – basically if you exist on this good earth you are at one time or another going to have to PRESENT something..  Even talking to your children is a form of communication and I think most everyone wants to be a good parent and have a great relationship with your children.  With that being said, I can honestly say this book (along with the Bible and Who Moved my Cheese) are books that every people should read, study, and apply to their life.

With that being said, I want to end by providing you with a couple of resources that will help you to get one of these books (or multiple of them)…

Would you spend $50 if you knew it would change your life for the good?  I would.

You can view the books website at:
You can buy it right now on amazon:   Click here.