SECRETS OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP LECTURE AT UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO
Scott Kunkel: Ready to start? Good evening, everybody. Welcome. This evening we are very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to have a guest speaker who is absolutely a world class entrepreneur. His name is Mitch Thrower. Mitch and I met the first time when he was working on his master’s degree, his MBA, right here at USD. And he got his MBA at USD.
Mitch has gone on to be an extremely successful entrepreneur. There’s some little pieces of information that you ought to know. He has served as the entrepreneur in residents here at USD, he has co-taught the entrepreneurship course, the undergraduate entrepreneurship course.
Mitch is what we have talked about as a serial entrepreneur. A person who starts businesses, gets them up and running, turns them over to somebody else, and then goes off and starts something else. His companies include Triathlete Magazine. You’re going to see these. He’ll pass them around a little later. And, well, that’s--yeah, that’s Triathlete.
And then he also is one of the founders of Active.com, which is the Ticketmaster of participants in sports. He has founded a company called ActiveEurpoe.com, which is the European arm of Active.com, the College Connection, and The La Jolla Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that he has founded. He is a 17-time triathlon runner. Or what do you call it? Triathlete, which I consider to be slightly less than self-torture, but he manages to do it and he trains continuously at various levels when he’s getting ready. He just finished doing the Hawaiian triathlon.
Mitch Thrower: Ironman.
Scott Kunkel: The Ironman competition not too long ago. He’s an author. He wrote a book called The Attention Deficit Workplace and he has also written monthly columns in Business San Diego Magazine and Triathlete Magazine. He’s even appeared on reality TV shows. He was on the Fantasy Camp and The Bachelor, where he was one of the friends of the bachelor helping him select his mate.
He’s even going to be filmed this year playing a dating expert based on his next book, which is about ready to come out, called Attention Deficit Dating. So, anyway, if you will help me welcome Mitch Thrower.
Mitch Thrower: Thank you, Scott. It’s great to be here. You are very lucky to have Scott as a professor. I know he’s ranked pretty high on the professor rankings. One of the things I wanted to start with, and you’ve probably--we know about the fires, but I wanted to start with just a moment of reflection for what’s happened in San Diego. And going to put a song on for just a second. The song is actually the theme of my lecture, but see if anyone knows the name of the song.
Does anyone know the name of the song?
Unidentified Woman: Meant to Live.
Mitch Thrower: Maybe the right band, but it’s actually "I Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot. And so the theme for today, is I Dare You. I dare you to stand up right now. Please, stand up. Look down, grab a piece of paper and a pen, put everything else under your desks. Grab your mobile phones, as well. We’re going to need to move really quickly because I’ve got a lot of material for you tonight.
It’s great to be here. Piece of paper, pen, everything else under your desk, and your mobile phone, and now once you’ve done that, please close your eyes. Please close your eyes. I see some eyes open. Everyone close your eyes, and without saying a word, in under 30 seconds, without saying a word in under 30 seconds. This is going to be tough, probably the toughest class of the day for this to happen in.
I would like you to change seats with someone else. You have 30 seconds. Keep your eyes closed. Begin. Closed. No talking. This is kind of what happens in corporate restructuring, right? Everybody stand up, okay? Let’s take some chairs away. Okay, the last folks, you can open your eyes. Find a chair. Good job, everyone. Give yourselves a hand just for doing something crazy.
How many folks have sat in the same seat or within one seat every single class? Please raise your hand. So, the first word to write down is “perspective”. I would like you and ask you to change your perspective on tonight’s lecture. On what you want to learn. On how you will learn. I’d like you to begin to program your own brain as if it was a computer, because it is, and use something called object-oriented programming. So, to remember what just happened, just write down one word. And that word is “perspective”.
The theme tonight is I dare you, and the topic is the real secrets of entrepreneurship. I’ve had a roller coaster ride in the last decade or so since I’ve been an entrepreneur. And I want to share with you the things that I’ve learned so that you don’t have to go through them. So that you don’t have to make the same mistakes. But you’re going to make other mistakes, and mistakes are good.
This was a rainbow. The day I left California in January this year to go on a training trip and the day I landed in Hawaii to train, this was the rainbow. So, the first question I’m going to ask you to write the answer down to is, what is the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow? What are you looking for? What are you looking for in life? Maybe tonight? But write something down.
Okay, everyone take a deep breath. Happy Halloween. It’s Halloween. The concepts. An entrepreneur needs to understand the power of others and the power of you. What do I mean when I say the power of others? Close your eyes once again. Imagine you’re walking through a field. You’re with a friend. You look up and there’s a giant moon that’s rising on the horizon, and you look at your friend and you say, “Hey, let’s go there.”
How are we going to get there? Open your eyes. Think for a moment about the fact that we, as a human race, propelled ourselves through space, landed on the moon, walked around, planted a flag, grabbed some dirt, and came home. And then think about all the things that had to happen for that to occur. All the people that had to share what they learned. All the people that had to work as teams.
A volunteer. Any volunteer to write some things on the board. Volunteer.
Mitch Thrower: All right. Brian, come on up. Now--
Brian: Just which one?
Mitch Thrower: This one’s perfect. Tell me who your heroes are. The people you admire. I’ll start. Einstein. Throw them out. He can write really fast, so, heroes. Anyone? Einstein, Gandhi.
Unidentified Woman: Mom.
Mitch Thrower: Mom.
Unidentified Woman: Dad.
Mitch Thrower: Dad.
Unidentified Woman: Firefighters.
Mitch Thrower: Firefighters. We need 10.
Unidentified Woman: Mother Teresa.
Mitch Thrower: Mother Teresa. We heard Chuck Norris in one of the other classes. Athletes. Athletes.
Unidentified Man: Got to love Chuck Norris.
Unidentified Woman: Lance Armstrong.
Mitch Thrower: Lance Armstrong.
Unidentified Man: Pope John Paul.
Mitch Thrower: Pope John Paul. Couple more. Heroes. People that have achieved amazing things in life.
Unidentified Man: Michael Jordan.
Mitch Thrower: Michael Jordan.
Unidentified Woman: Bill Gates.
Mitch Thrower: Bill Gates.
Unidentified Man: [Unintelligible].
Mitch Thrower: Spell that.
Unidentified Man: I don’t know how to spell it.
Unidentified Man: Jesus.
Mitch Thrower: Jesus.
Unidentified Man: Number nine?
Mitch Thrower: Is that number nine? Okay. One more. We’ve got to get 10.
Unidentified Man: LaDainian Tomlinson.
Mitch Thrower: Tomlinson from the Chargers. LT. Great stuff. Thanks, Brian. A big hand for Brian for writing that down. [Applause]
Something you need to realize is that every single person on the board was just that. A person. A single human organism that achieved incredible things with the tools they were given. And guess what? You have the same tools, if not more.
When Einstein was around, there was no internet. But they marshalled the resources by joining with others, as an entrepreneur, to achieve things that are incredible, that are unfathomable. So, look up, say to somebody, “Let’s go there and beyond,” and then just do it.
Now let’s think about the power of you. These people inspire you. They have become perhaps your Ali’i Drive. Dr. Kunkel mentioned the fact that I participate in this crazy sport called the Ironman. Three weeks ago, I was in Hawaii. There’s a few folks in here from Hawaii. Raise your hand if you’re from Hawaii.
Great island. Magical island. And there’s a road in Kailua-Kona called Ali’i Drive. It’s a stretch of pavement. It feels like the end of the Tour de France, lined with bleachers and people cheering and you’ve just finished this incredible event. But to share with you what that event’s all about, I have a very short video.
And I’m going to stop on those words. Write them down. “You will do this.” And maybe it’s not the Ironman, but I want to ask you and challenge you tonight to figure out, what is your Ali’i Drive? And the Ironman is intertwined between the lines and the story of entrepreneurship for me, in a very deep and meaningful way. And I’m going to share some things with you that kind of lead me into this crazy sport called Triathlon.
I went to college in upstate New York. It was 40 degrees below 0 at St. Lawrence University. Does anyone know where that is? My undergraduate degree is half an hour from the Canadian border, 40 degrees below 0. A very different environment than the University of San Diego.
I went in as a jock. I was a lacrosse player, except I fractured both my knees. Fractured something called the medial condyle. If anyone’s involved in medicine, you’ll know that’s a very painful injury. Went through four years, four surgeries, on and off crutches, two surgeries on each leg. Luckily no scarring, but pretty bad damage to the bone.
And then my senior year, they said, “Hey, you can walk again.” Well, I felt like Forrest Gump, because I could walk. I didn’t have to have crutches. I mastered the art of riding around campus on a mountain bike with one leg. But I could walk again. The doctor said, “You can walk again.” And then they said, “You can run again.” So, I started swimming and biking and running.
Now, I was not good. But I was happy and so I would win some of the running races, because I was so happy. I found passion by having something taken away from me. And in life, you’ll see that as a recurring theme. It’s unfortunate that it’s also a recurring theme with people. The human mind wants what it can’t have, and when it has it, it tends to take advantage of it, which is a very unfortunate part of the human condition that you need to begin to master now.
So, had this crazy experience. It catapulted me into the sport of Triathlon, and then I graduated. I graduated and I started a company and I’m going to tell you a little bit about each of the business chapters. But let’s jump back into the PowerPoint. I actually shot this year’s Ironman with a camera. That’s a photo-over-photo image from under the water and over the water.
I actually did the race with a camera. I shot about 40 minutes of photos and video during the race this year, and it was just a phenomenal experience. To document it from within the race. Went through special training, had to get a special camera, special permission. But it was an amazing experience. And this was my 12th Hawaii Ironman. And I’ll come to the, “Why? Why do you do that?” In a little while.
What builds trust in your lives? One of the most essential ingredients for an entrepreneur is that of trust. If someone’s going to give you money to build a business, they need to trust you. Unfortunately, trust has a half-life of about a nanosecond. Or a click.
I tell a story in my book about a friend. This is a true story about a friend who had a girlfriend he was engaged to. And he suspected that she was having an affair, so he went to, let’s say Hotmail, and emailed the man with whom he suspected she was having an affair. One simple email. “Hi, honey. My computer just crashed and I’ve lost our year of correspondence. Will you please send it back to me?”
Well, it went back to him. Everything that she had said while having an affair with this person over a year. Remember that everything you say lasts forever. Forever. Pay attention to the details of communication. That’s critical. Listen. Close your eyes once again.
I met a guy named Charlie who did the Ironman this year and he is blind. He’s been blind since birth. He did the Ironman with swimming with a tether, running with a lead, and it’s part of an organization called See Different. Well, I asked Charlie. I said, “Charlie, you’ve been blind since birth.” And he stopped me. He said, “I know I’ve been blind since birth, but what that means is I’m not distracted by sight.” Open your eyes.
When you’re not distracted by what you see, you can really hear. And when you’re interacting with other people, try that on for size. Try on what Charlie wants you to try on, and that is try to really listen. Try to understand what you’re experiencing in life. Because if you listen, you’ll realize that personal knowledge, relationships--you can develop a back door into people’s lives.
I’ll tell you a quick story about the Chief Executive Officer of a company we were working with that was very hard to get ahold of. We went out to lunch and I asked him--I knew I would need to build a back door to get in touch with him, and I asked him, “What was the name of the first woman you ever kissed?” He gave me the name. Her name was Patricia.
So, months pass. I needed to talk to him. I had someone who worked in my office, a woman, call his office and say, “May I please speak to this guy, John?” “What’s your name?” She said, “Patricia Degnan.” Instantly he was connected. Instantly he was connected.
Now, this is a thematic story of how personal experience and personal relationships with people, which is all based on and founded in common experience, can dramatically improve how you interact with people. Understand that you have that power.
All entrepreneurial ideas come from needs. I can remember being on this campus in my MBA program, and it kept coming up. The topic of a valet parking service on this campus. You may have talked about it in this class before, but this is probably the one campus in the country where valet parking would probably work. People walk up, drop their keys off, get their car at the end of class.
I’ll talk about Eurail passes. Has anyone traveled to Europe? Raise your hand. Travel with a Eurail pass? Does the need that you identify as an entrepreneur translate into something that can make you money, and more importantly can be married to your passion? You’ve heard this expression, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” But people forget when they’re coming up with ideas for businesses that they need to be passionate about whatever they’re involved in. Because otherwise, they’ll get bored.
The most powerful word in the English language--and I want you guys to let the class here hear you say this word when I put it on the board. The most powerful word in the English language is--
Mitch Thrower: I don’t think they could hear you. Let’s try it again. The most powerful word in the English language is--
Mitch Thrower: Why? Well, a few reasons, one of which is, it’s easy to say no to the things and the people in your life when where’s a burning “yes” inside. Take a minute and try and write down what is your burning yes inside. It’s a very, very interesting question. Just take a second, try and write down. What is your burning yes?
Okay. Snapping back into practical things we can use. Someone walks in that door right now, and they say, “Jenna.” And they have a clipboard. They’ve got a clipboard. And they come in and say, “Jenna, I need to borrow that chair.” She’ll get up. She’ll move there. Someone will walk out of this room with the chair, can put it in their truck, and drive off campus.
Why? There’s a clipboard. There’s implied authority in the clipboard, like the little guys with the headsets down at the Ivy, right? There’s authority there. There’s all kinds of authority, but entrepreneurial authority or leadership comes from just doing it. There is no place else where “just do it” is more applicable than entrepreneurship. In particular, because if you really knew all the things that could go wrong in an entrepreneurial career, you probably wouldn’t do it.
So, you better do your entrepreneurial idea first and fast before you realize all the things that can go wrong. Because mistakes are great. Write that down. Mistakes are great, and criticism is great. Criticism is a fantastic thing. If I walk up to you and say, “Hey, that’s a great outfit. You look great. You’re amazing. You’re the most wonderful person on the planet.” I have done nothing for you, except for boost your ego just a little bit.
If I tell you something that I believe can constructively help your life, I’ve done some wonderful things for you. But it’s usually the person receiving the criticism that has an allergic reaction to the criticism. Because we think that one person in this amazing, massive human anthill with 6 billion human ants, that one ant’s opinion on this planet earth, which is spinning around the sun at 19.5 miles a second, that that one person’s opinion can affect us and make us feel bad. Don’t let it, but find criticism and then use it to your advantage.
So, let’s talk about sand castles. I love kids and I love building sand castles. And every time I build a sand castle, I only know how to build one sand castle. And that’s a giant pile of sand and then you take a board and you push it down and then you go like this and like this and like this. And you create kind of a Mayan pyramid in a giant pile of sand.
Well, kids are just like people that are a part of a company that’s getting started. Because you’ll build this massive mound of sand and the kid will walk up to you and kind of look at you like, “Guy’s building a big pile of sand.” But as soon as you start to give that sand shape and form and you start to show the kid that it’s going to be a Mayan pyramid, he’ll ask you something. He’ll say, “What can I do to help?”
And therein lies a secret human psychology. And that secret is, people want to help. People want to build something, to create something. Close your eyes for a minute again.
Every single thing in this room was once a neuron in somebody’s brain. Everything that’s touching your body, everything that you can see, you can feel, the chair you’re sitting on, was once nothing more than a neuron. And yet somebody made it a reality. Okay, open your eyes. Look at the reality that came from the brains of other people all around you, every minute. That’s the process of entrepreneurship. Taking a neuron and making it reality.
Kids building a sand castle. Sometimes someone will come along and say, “Hey, can I build a wall around the sand castle?” That’s probably the people in life that are going to be attorneys. But if you enlist, enroll, let people know about a need. We know the Tom Sawyer story, Paint the Fence. It’s really fun.
Build your entrepreneurial venture in San Diego, so people love the weather. Love to come there. Salaries can be lower in San Diego, because San Diego has something called lifestyle dollars. You’re not making as much, but hey, you live in San Diego. And stay away from people who drain your energy. Open your cell phones. Grab your cell phones, please. Open your cell phones.
We’re going to do three quick things. Everyone stand up and open your cell phone. Open up your text messages. Get your text messages out. Scroll through so you have an index of all your text messages. And now what I’d like you to do--hold on a second, we’re waiting for someone to grab her cell phone. We have an even number of people in this room, and I would like you to get your text messages out. Now, hand your phone to the person next to you.
I’m just kidding. I am just kidding. Boy, I really like the people that were so instant in handing it to somebody. You can sit down. There is a vulnerable thing that happened just then. But your cell phone has somebody in it, and it’s somebody who drains your energy. How many people know someone that drains them? Raise their hand.
Yeah, people that drain you, right? But you don’t want to delete them from your cell phone, because then when they call you, you’ll have to answer because you won’t recognize the number.
Unidentified Man: Exactly. Do not answer.
Mitch Thrower: Do not answer. Exactly.
Unidentified Man: [Unintelligible].
Mitch Thrower: So, why are you still interacting with people in your lives that are bringing you down? That are draining you? Why are you still interacting with energy vampires in your life? Life is too short. It’s a burning star. So, you need to--or, shooting star. Burn bright.
This is actually a copy of my book in Polish. I don’t know what this says. Is there anyone from Poland in here? I was really hoping in one of these classes that someone can tell me what that meant. I should type it into Google Translate. So, let’s talk about some new rules. You’ve seen the TV show probably New Rules.
In your life, reward doers and fire resisters. Start thinking about yourself as a corporation. You’re the Chief Executive Officer of You Incorporated. You’re the CEO. You are on the command deck of this corporation. You have a finance department. That’s your checkbook. This came from Tom Peters. “You are the Chief Executive Officer of your life.”
Well, how are you doing in the various departments? In your marketing department? How’s your dating career? Everyone please stand up. Pay very close attention. If you are not single, please sit down. Okay, you can all sit down now. I think the greatest thing is everyone looking at each other when that happens. Like, “Wait a minute. Are you single. Wait a minute. Do you know that person?”
There’s some revealing moments in truth. How many people want more email? Nobody, right? We get a lot of emails. I have email conversations from people that have lasted two years that are probably one paragraph. Because people like to have the last word. So, let other people have the last word. That’s another really good lesson.
We’ve opened our mobile phones, but we have never received a mobile phone bill that’s a pie chart. And the pie chart shows us, “You spoke to this person this much. This person this much. This person this much.” I would love for Verizon or ATT to tell me this. I spent that much time talking to them? What was I thinking?
But you can do it. You can go to your cell phone bill. Or you can think about the people that you’re spending time. When you’re on a long drive, who do you scroll through and then call? I always love it when friends call on a long drive. You always want to find out how far into that drive they are to find out how far down on their call list you are. “Hi, on a four-hour drive. I’m almost there. Oh, great. I’ve got to go.”
So, by the end of 2008, there will be 3 billion people with mobile phones. Think about that. Your human brain has, by a factor of 10 times, more neurological connections in it than the supercomputer over at UCSD. By a factor of 10. More neurological connections, which means you’re a supercomputer. By the way, you’re a supercomputer. Think about that.
And by the way, by the end of 2008, you can push a bunch of digits into that mobile phone that you’re using to talk to all those people you really shouldn’t be talking to on, and call 3 billion people on this planet. Who’s your number 28? An incredibly important question that changes over time, but who is your number 28? Write down just the number 28. Number 28. And when you have your 28th birthday, think back to this class and think, who’s my number 28?
Does anyone remember the game Chutes and Ladders? Number 28 in a game of Chutes and Ladders is this guy. He’s got a cat, right? So, who’s your number 28 in life? When you land on that person, as a friend, an acquaintance, a business associate, you get to take the ladder all the way up to number 84. You can probably anticipate the next question because your brains can move far faster than I can talk.
Who is your number 87? Write that down. Write down number 87. And then right next to the number 87, put the name or an initial of the person number 87. Maybe you don’t want the person next to you to know it’s them, but write that down. Who is your number 87? And if you can, just because you’ll feel better, write the name down and then scribble it out.
Right now, in this room, on this college campus, in your lives, you’re in a game of Chutes and Ladders. And it’s up to you to find the chutes and to bail on the ladders. But it’s hard. It’s hard to say no. That’s a very difficult thing to do. It’s much easier to say what? This word that I really don’t like. “Possibly.”
Unidentified Woman: Yeah.
Mitch Thrower: Possibly. Possibly. Or yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, maybe. Well, yeah sometimes means possibly. Do you want to do something on Friday? Possibly. Are we going to do this with our school project? Possibly. You’re hedging your bets. Don’t hedge your bets. Place a bet. Now’s the time to lose a bet.
This is an entire concept that has to do with your careers, and it’s fly first class. The Four Seasons is a very expensive hotel, but there’s nothing to stop you from going to the café at the Four Seasons and having a cup of coffee and talking to the people who are there who, by the way, own a business. In a social setting. Place yourself in the right place in life. Put yourself where successful people are.
There’s a conference called TED. Technology, entertainment, design. It’s an incredible conference. This is the website. If you take nothing away from this lecture but this, let it be what you take away from this lecture. And that is Ted. TED.com.
Some of the most inspiring, amazing, incredible things that I’ve heard and been inspired by happen at this conference which costs $5,000. But oh, by the way, they put all the lectures up on YouTube, on other sites, on their own site. They’re usually seven minutes, 10 minutes. It is incredible. Please go to TED.com.
So, where are you right now and who’s around you? There’s a concept that I like to present which is, it’s only so cool for so long to be a valet with an idea for a car detailing business. And then you need a bigger dream. And then you need to create something, because it takes just as much energy and just as much time to think about and do something big as it does to think about and do something little. So, think big. Write that down. Think big.
And if you can’t afford to go to a conference, volunteer for it. Okay, I need another volunteer from this side of the room. Volunteer. Anybody. Come on up. Big hand for the volunteer, Stevar. You guys need to throw at the volunteer superpowers. All right, I’ll throw one up first. To fly. The superpower. To fly. Superpowers. Throw them at him. Speedreading?
Unidentified Man: Mindreading.
Mitch Thrower: Oh, mindreading. Okay.
Unidentified Woman: Muscle memory.
Mitch Thrower: Which one?
Unidentified Woman: From that show heroes, that girl has muscle memory.
Mitch Thrower: Muscle memory.
Unidentified Woman: Where she can see something on TV and then do it.
Unidentified Man: Oh, that’s pretty good.
Mitch Thrower: Muscle memory. We need 20, so let’s go fast.
Unidentified Man: Shapeshifting.
Unidentified Woman: Invisibility.
Mitch Thrower: Shapeshifting. Which one?
Unidentified Woman: Invisibility.
Mitch Thrower: Invisibility. Oh, I’m worried about you. [Laughter]
Unidentified Man: X-ray vision.
Mitch Thrower: X-ray vision.
Unidentified Woman: Really good hearing.
Mitch Thrower: Really good hearing. Strength. More.
Unidentified Man: Super speed.
Mitch Thrower: Super speed. What was the woman in the Incredibles who could put her arm way out and grab things?
Unidentified Man: Stretchy.
Mitch Thrower: Stretch something. Mrs. Stretch. Mom stretch. Anyone else? Superpowers. What superpower do you want?
Unidentified Woman: The ability to heal yourself.
Mitch Thrower: Healing.
Unidentified Man: Self-healing. That’s--
Mitch Thrower: Self-healing. What else?
Unidentified Man: Breathing underwater.
Mitch Thrower: Breathing underwater. Let’s do two more.
Unidentified Man: Immunity.
Mitch Thrower: Immunity. Not one of the ones you get on a reality TV show, right? “I’ve just been granted immunity. I get to go to the next round.” Okay, let’s end there. Hand for the volunteer. [Applause]. Good job, man. Good job.
Two things come out of this. One is, when you leave here today, I’m going to give you a superpower that will let you break down walls for the rest of your life if you choose to put it on. And it’ll be a cape, and it’ll be a concept. But it’s a real life superpower, and it will change your life forever. But first, let’s look at these superpowers.
Can we fly? The answer is yes. It’s in an airplane, but guess what? We built the airplane. So I think that honestly qualifies for the fact that we can fly, right? Can we heal ourselves? Sure. You get a cut. If you watch that cut heal on time-release photography over two months, it’s a miracle, but it’s not happening fast enough for you.
You have almost all of these superpowers. You want to be able to read minds? Guess what? Study human psychology. You’ll be able to walk into a room, a bar, an experience, and you’ll be able to read minds. These are superpowers that you can access. You can get access to. But you know what? It takes effort to build a superpower, right?
Catwoman’s wishing right now that she had the superpower to turn off her mobile phone.
Unidentified Woman: [Unintelligible].
Mitch Thrower: So, you can get the superpower and you can build the superpower. Now let me give you a superpower. Become a writer. Scott, in this class, talks and emphasizes quite a bit about how important it is to know how to write and to write well. Now, let me enhance that for you. I pick up the phone as Joe Schmo to call Bob Iger, the President and CEO of Disney. And I say, “Bob, I would really like to sit down with you for an hour.” What is likely going to happen? I will get carted from assistant to assistant until I’m never heard from again, right?
If I pick up that same phone and I call Bob Iger, the President and CEO of Disney, and I say, “Bob, I’m with Triathlete Magazine. I understand that you’re a triathlete. I understand that you were involved in the sport of Triathlon since the beginning. I would like to interview you for this magazine for an hour.” The probability is he will say yes.
So, if you’re a writer, what do you have? You have a cape which will allow you to interact with anybody. And you don’t have to be a good writer. It’s a bonus. It’s a plus. It’s really, really important if you can. But you don’t have to be. You can just get a good editor. I wrote a book I think because I have a good editor. I don’t think I’m a great writer, but if you get a good editor, it’s a life changing experience for you to put your words out there.
You can write a blog right now about experiences that other students at the University of San Diego have had and then put it up on the internet. Let people get interview--you know, get interviews and tell people what it’s like to be a student at the University of San Diego so that other students can see it.
Write down on the piece of paper in front of you the magazine that you love to read. If it’s InStyle Magazine, if it’s Triathlete Magazine, if it’s Sports Illustrated. What is the magazine that you read? Magazines are, in fact, if you’re not sure what you’re going to do, the pinnacle of open doorways into an industry.
What do I mean? You can call a fashion company from InStyle Magazine and the doors will open for you. You don’t even have to be a writer at that magazine. You can be a public relations person at the magazine. Because people have an interesting reaction to the media and the press. So, put yourself in the media and in the press. Become a writer. Submit an article to the blog site or to the website of the magazine that you love. Become a published author.
This is a very important concept and this concept is a little scary. Has to do with paying attention to the details of communication, and that is, who in here remembers their grandparents? Raise your hand if you remember your grandparents and what they did, their lives. If you remember anything about their lives, keep your hands up.
Now, who in here ever met their great grandparents? Wow. Who in here ever met their great great grandparents? Wow. How about their great great great grandparents? Okay, none of us. Does anyone in here know what their great great great great grandparents did? Wow. What’d they do?
Unidentified Man: There was a bunch of them.
Mitch Thrower: What does the one that you remember do?
Unidentified Man: One of them was a Civil War veteran and another one fought in Union Side.
Mitch Thrower: Excellent.
Unidentified Man: Fought each other.
Mitch Thrower: And maybe there’s some remnants of communication between them, etcetera, but the point is, your great great great grandkids can access the comments left on your MySpace page even if they’ve been deleted, thanks to something called the Wayback Machine. Everything is forever. In fact, I have some friends from Austin who were involved in a divorce case, and the person who was in the divorce case actually said to the judge, “Well, the evidence for that was on a hard drive and I threw the hard drive in the river.”
They sent divers in. They got the hard drive from the river. Write this down. ADS Solutions, Advanced Data Solutions in San Diego. If your hard drive blows up, is destroyed in a fire, you can get your data back. Or at least a lot of it. ADS, it’s Advanced Data Solutions. These people actually go to computers that have blown up and pull data off of it.
So, if you think when you erase something it’s gone, it is not. And you’re developing a brand. You are broadcasting, and there’s a digital archive of everything you do that can be taken out of context. It has been said to only type what you are comfortable printing on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. And that’s challenging.
Are you personally a trusted brand? When you broadcast what you’re broadcasting on MySpace, on FaceBook, Orchid, or any of the other 93 social networking sites of note around the world. What message are you sending? Or what message are other people sending, and is there really a $500 Macy’s gift card? Unfortunately, there isn’t.
So, what is your brand? When you type in your name into Google, does your photo come up? Do you know how to make your photo come up? When you meet someone for the first time, do you Google them? Google is the new CIA. Digital is forever.
Now I’m going to tell you three stories. And the three stories are of different chapters in my entrepreneurial career. The first story is a story about a company I started in college called the College Connection. So, stand up. Stretch. It’s late. Relax. Take a deep breath. Introduce yourself to someone next to you, because since you’ve moved seats, you probably have no idea who you’re standing next to.
Okay, you guys can be seated. So, I had an idea for a company and it’s been--and people ask me before. And if you have a question, start to write it down now while I’m going through these three chapters. But I had an idea for a company, and the idea for the company came from the fact that I wanted to not go to law school. And so I started a business. I actually asked my dad for $10,000, if I could borrow $10,000 to start a company.
And he responded with the most powerful word in the English language. “No, get a job.” And so I went out and got a whole bunch of credit cards, 16 of them I think. Got $60,000 in credit card debt and I started a company called the College Connection. First concept. The key there is that there are different things that you’ll go through when you’re starting a business.
The first concept was, we’re going to create a postering network. We’re going to put posters up around college campuses. You know the stuff that people tape in the street out here? We were going to put posters up. We were going to be the marketing agency, put posters up across college campuses to help them market products and services. Well, this was a downright failure because we couldn’t get any clients.
In fact, we got one client called the Ticket Merchant in Fairfield, Connecticut, who gave us $500 to put posters up in this network. And his check bounced. So, six months into creating this postering network, we let everybody go and said, “Okay, well let’s create an idea.” And I’d returned from studying abroad and thought of, hey, I want to write a book about my experience studying abroad.
But I had never written a book before. So, instead of writing a book, I sent out a poster on the postering network that said, “Essay contest. Submit your essay about your college experience abroad and win $200.” 200 bucks. And we got stacks of essays. The essays that came back were fantastic, scary, a little bit racy sometimes. College students, as it turns out, have crazy times in Europe when we’re there.
And I took a highlighter. Went through. Picked out the best of the stuff that was--picked the best of what was written. We gave the award to a woman from La Jolla, California, is what I read it as when I first saw it. It’s actually how I ended up finding out and then moving out to La Jolla, California, was because this woman entered this photo contest. And then we took those essays, put them in a book, because we got the rights to them when they submitted them, and we published the book.
The book went to 50,000 study abroad office--50,000 students in study abroad offices across the country. But we needed to print the book. We needed some money. So, I approached American Express. They said no. ATT, they said no. “Hey, I’ll run an ad so you can advertise your credit card.” They said no.
Then I approached Eurail. The Eurail Company. And I approached a woman named Leslie Oliver [unintelligible]. She was great, and I can remember. Imagine me a couple of weeks out of college, talking to this woman about advertising to college students in a company I didn’t have with a book we hadn’t printed, in my first suit. She asked me, “Well, how much is this going to cost? It’s interesting. I’d like to sell Eurail passes to college students.”
And I had a little piece of paper, because I didn’t put it in the proposal. I had a little piece of paper behind me and I put it on her desk. And the piece of paper said $250,000. Now, she laughed. I didn’t laugh. She laughed. It went right through me. I’m like, “What? It’s not worth $250,000?” But she liked the idea so much that she let us start to sell Eurail passes to college students.
She did something that’ll happen to you in your life. Someone will say to you, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Which is what happened. She said, “If you think you can sell college students Eurail passes, go sell them. You can put our ads in your book and make a commission for every Eurail pass you sell.” So, we did it. And in six months, we went from zero to a million five in Eurail pass sales. In a few years, we made much more than $250,000. It was an incredible experience.
Couple of lessons there. One, don’t let yourself become terminally creative, which is something that I’ve battled for a lot of my life. And that is, it’s fun to create things. It’s intoxicating to create things. You take something from nothing and you build it into something. Well, you want to go do it again. But what you really should do is watch that something, watch the revenues associated with that something, and build it into something big and then harvest it. Write that down. Harvest.
Because you’re going to plant many, many seeds in your lifetime, and you will walk away from most of them. Be it a personal relationship, a business experience. But it’s the ones that you harvest that will help you advance in life. So, posters to passport to rail passes. Then I was getting my MBA at the University of San Diego. We had some topics in Scott Kunkel’s class. And Scott’s actually taught every--I don’t know if you know this, but he taught every MBA course one curriculum. I hope you told them.
And one of the topics was harvesting the venture. And so we started to talk about harvesting the venture. Scott did some consulting work with us, and then sold the venture to a company in Boston that didn’t have enough money to buy my business. So, they did what they do at Circuit City. We actually created--we did a leverage buyout. Write that down.
Leverage buyout, which means you don’t have the money to buy it, but you buy it anyway. Or you have a little bit of it and you buy it over time and you pay more and more money over time to buy whatever it is you’re interested in. That’s how I sold my first company.
In the meantime, I got approached by the owners of this magazine because I was involved in the sport of Triathlon, and as an obsessive compulsive, I love the sport of Triathlon. It was taken away from me for four years of my life, the ability to be athletic and outdoors, so now that I have it back I don’t ever want to let it go. And they said, “Well, will you come run this chip timing business?” And they have a little business where you put the chip on the shoe.
Has anyone run a marathon or a triathlon or a 5k turkey trot? They put a little chip on your shoe and they time you. When you run across the mat, it goes, “Beep.” So, this was their invention. Their idea. “Will you come run this chip timing business?” But it didn’t pass--write this down--my nightmare test. Those three words. My nightmare test. This business didn’t pass my nightmare test.
And you need to have a nightmare test. You need to know what your nightmare business is. For me, another nightmare business is owning a restaurant because I don’t want to have that many potential problems in the room. Now, restaurants are great. If you are passionate about restaurants and you love restaurants and you love people, it’s a great idea to have a restaurant. But restaurants, for me, are a lot of work.
Chip timing, for me, didn’t pass my nightmare test either. I have to get down, take the chips, have a team of people that take chips off people’s feet, put them on their smelly sneakers and then take these mats all around the country? No. Doesn’t work. But you have a magazine, and the magazine is in trouble. So, tell me a little bit about the magazine.
And I started to peel away the layers of what was going on in this magazine, which was about 10 percent of its current size in 1997. Formed a partnership, and did a leverage buyout of the magazine, where I convinced them and the owners to let our group buy more and more and more over time. But here’s the challenge. If you say to somebody, “I’m going to give you a million dollars. Do you want it?”
Unidentified Man: Yes.
Mitch Thrower: Here.
Unidentified Man: Thanks.
Mitch Thrower: Can I keep half?
Unidentified Man: No.
Mitch Thrower: That is exactly what will happen. But then I’ll think about it and I’ll say, “I’m going to give you a million dollars, but I’m keeping half. Okay?”
Unidentified Man: Okay.
Mitch Thrower: Exact human psychology. But then something else will happen. I’ll give him the million dollars. If I don’t put it in writing and it’s not intact in writing, what’s going to happen? See ya. That’s very unfortunate. Write down. Get everything in writing. There’s a chapter in this book called Get Everything in Writing. No matter what you get into in life, get it in writing. It’s an incredibly important part of your life and your careers. Everything you’re working on.
And understand what’s in writing. There’s another thing underneath that. Read all of the text in any legal document you ever sign. Nobody does that, except perhaps lawyers. And that’s why there are so many problems. Because people don’t read what they’re signing, or clicking to sign for that matter.
This was a challenge for me. Didn’t have the money to buy it. It was a personal challenge. Couldn’t run, couldn’t walk. And it became something that was contagious excellence in my life, because I loved being involved in the sport and I loved being involved in the business of the sport. And I remember, actually, when I wanted to be a professional athlete and I had my first Ironman. It was 1994. Been through 12 Ironman Hawaii’s since then.
And in 1994, I was sitting in the audience, and this was an incredible experience. I’m watching the awards ceremony, and they’re like, “And in second place, winning a grand total of $2000--“ I don’t remember if that was the exact amount, but I’m thinking, “I think I’m going to have to try and find another way to make money in this sport than winning first place or second place.” Because the money wasn’t that much for the professional athletes.
So, when you find your passion, map your way to the profits in your passion. You might want to write that down. Map your way to the profits that are in your passion.
But I was frustrated registering for the Ironman Triathlon. This is back in 1997, and it was a 12-page form. And then I received a postal mail from the Coronado swim, which I had done the year before, and it said, “Please come back and race in the Coronado rough water swim,” which I never would do, because the water was freezing cold and they didn’t allow wetsuits. I’m kind of a warm water guy. “And please come back, Mitten Thravovin.”
That’s a really bad rendition of Mitch Thrower. Mitten Thravovin. So, I knew there was a better data solution. And I called 56 event directors. Picked up the phone, called them. I said, “If I can offer you online registration for your event, will you adopt this service?” Every single one of them said yes. I didn’t have the technology. I knew we could build the technology.
I wasn’t the first person to come up with online registration. In fact, there was a company, Do It Sports, based in the Midwest that actually had been doing it since 1994, when they registered for the Chicago marathon. One person for the marathon online in 1994. There was not a lot happening in 1994 on the web.
So, had the idea. Approached the folks. But for me, formed another partnership and did it differently. And the way I did it this time is we, as a partnership, wrote a business plan, created a business venture, brought on some interns, and approached venture capitalists for money. Now, this is a very different experience.
We approached a bunch of venture capitalists because it was the .com, beginning of the onset of the .com boom. Said, “Hey, we’re going to raise some money.” “How much money?” “I don’t know. Five million dollars.” Put out a business plan trying to raise $5 million. Then went around trying to approach investors. We approached Enterprise Partners, which is here in San Diego. In fact, just down the street from our house.
But Enterprise Partners sent us a letter, and the letter said the most powerful word in the English language. No. In fact, they were polite about it. They said, “No, thanks.” I wish I still had that letter. And then I changed my approach and I went to the venture capitalist at a conference. And instead of asking him for money, we asked him for advice. And it’s really important, because it’s threatening when you’re asking someone for something. And so you need to diffuse that by saying, “Hey, can we look at this together?”
You’re side-to-side. You’re not asking them for something. His firm had already said no. And after a series of meetings and hiring people, our partnership raised $5 million from Enterprise Partners. Which means we went to the bank account one day with our ATM, put it in, and it said $5 million. That’s a good day, right? It’s an even better day when there’s a very intelligent venture capitalist behind you with his hand on his shoulder saying, “Go spend it wisely on building this business.”
Very different from a bootstrap entrepreneur that focused on revenue, built a company from credit cards, etcetera. And it’s different lessons. That was the idea. That was 1997. It’s now 2007. Active.com started in actually 2007, 2008 in my apartment, and then we merged with every company that had anything to do with online registration.
When we first started, our name was Race Gate. We merged with a company called Active USA. We merged with a company called Enter Online, Get Set Go, ETeamz. And now we do registrations for everything. You name it, we can register you for it. It works in teams and leagues and charity. Raising money.
Unidentified Man: What about the pillow fights?
Mitch Thrower: Yeah. If you want to register for a pillow fight. Want to get in a room with 3,000 people and have a pillow fight. It sounds pretty fun, right? Hopefully they still have pillows. Your ideas can change the world. There’s a slide about that in a minute, but your ideas can change the world. You have more resources than most of the people in history that have changed the world.
This company is now the Ticketmaster of participatory sports. We have 1,000--I think it’s between 1,500 and 1,700 people now. It’s growing so fast I can’t keep count. Customers. I started the European division of Active. Did anyone here study in Aix-en-Provence? I know USD has a program there. We met some students that were there at the time.
But those are all customers of participatory sports registration running down the Shanzelize in Paris. This is--I’m actually in this picture. This is Ironman Canada. I’m up here somewhere. 2,400 people in a mass swim start is a mess. You get beaten up in these mass swim starts, but these are the people paying money. Registering. That’s after the event.
Ideas can change the world. Everyone repeat that really quickly. Ideas--
Audience: Can change the world.
Mitch Thrower: One of our advertisements in France. Let’s talk about changing the world for a minute. So, I have these entrepreneurial experiences, but then I realize, because we were operating in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, that there are 27 places around the world right now, at least 27 places of note around the world where people are shooting each other in armed conflict.
And so I started a nonprofit called Project Active. It’s actually under the La Jolla Foundation, which is its legal name. And this foundation sends athletic equipment into areas of tension where there are bullets flying into flesh. This was a distribution we did in Northern Iraq, where they went into the village. As they were approaching the village, everyone boarded up, went inside and hid. And then when the kids saw the soccer balls strapped to the tanks, they came running out. It was almost a riot people were so happy.
I think sport is a unifying force. And someone in another class asked me, “What’s your mission statement in life?” And I’m sure Dr. Kunkel’s talked about mission statements. My mission statement is to be an entrepreneur by necessity, to be successful enough to nudge the world in the direction of peace.
Because I think it’ll take a thousand years. That’s a long time. I think it’ll take a thousand years for our planet to get it when it comes to peace. But it’s us that can nudge that planet in the direction of peace. So, this is my effort.
People have asked me why. And you understand a little bit about the participatory athletic side of my personality. Why I’m a Triathlete. Because it was taken away from me for so long. But, why am I so motivated in life? Why do I love to work, build, and grow? And it starts with a relatively personal story, and that is a long time ago, I lost my sister.
She was 16 years old. She actually died in my arms and it was a life changing moment. Things change when someone you love dies. You realize how short life is. And many people in this room have probably lost someone they care about. If not, you will. And the shock of being young and realizing that you can lose everything and all of your opportunity in a blink, made me want to go and build and grow and create and do and see and travel and interact.
But the only thing you need to do to discover that is remember that you’re alive. And there’s a lot that you’ve heard. The College Connection, Triathlete Magazine, Active.com. All these things have happened. But it’s taken a while. It takes a lifetime to build an overnight success, but just like you want superpowers now which are massive, you don’t want to spend the time building those superpowers. You also want to get the success immediately because we’re an instant gratification culture.
So, cast a wide net and catch and release. Catch and release is actually a concept from Attention Deficit Dating, a book that’s coming out. You’ve probably heard it before, but catch and release, you should apply to your lives. I say that you should know 100 people. When you get to 101, delete somebody.
Please look at Active.com. Go to careers, opportunities. We have internships, jobs, opportunities. Tons of things. I’ll give you my contact information at the end of the class if you’re interested. Lots of internships and programs.
You need to catch the people who matter and release the people who don’t, and you are the person who defines what matters. In other words, follow the fellow brick road. This room is a diamond mine filled with, as Scott says, future CEOs of corporations, the people who will be incredibly successful, and some people who won’t be incredibly successful. Some people may call you and ask to borrow money. Other people can get you a job. Other people, you’ll be a business partner of.
But it’s that diamond mine, that you operate in this very narrow existence. Probably have maybe 10, 15, 20 friends. This room probably doesn’t even know everyone else in this room; what they do, what their background is. This is a family business class, right? What are the family businesses? Maybe you’ve learned that, but have you really learned that?
Do you really know that you’re in an educational university, you’re in an educational institution, filled with diamonds, which are the people around you? And are you throwing away the coal? You’ll want to write that down. I’ll tell you what it means quickly, and then I want you to think about it.
The business concept is IRE equals EFT, which effectively translates into Information Rich Exchange that Ends in a Financial Transaction. Kind of like search for a race and register for it. Now, let’s go to this line. These two concepts. Whenever you get to your company, try and understand how this applies. This means reliable, renewable, high-margin, low-maintenance revenue. By the time it takes me to finish this sentence, 1,000 people probably just gave us their credit card.
That is--and there’s going to be the same race next year. That is reliable, renewable, high-margin, low-maintenance revenue.
Some other areas that Active can make some revenue. Sponsorship. So, how many revenue streams do you have as a corporation? Is it your salary? How are you making money right now? What are your revenue streams and how can you build more revenue streams into your life? Can you write a book? Have you had an experience where you can take all the photos and go to lulu.com, upload all those photos, and then print the book one at a time in a beautiful, glossy book? And if someone decides to buy it, great, and you’ve just made $25.
Second Life. Anyone here a member of Second Life? This is this online world that people are going into and buying land that doesn’t exist. They’re buying shoes. I got a phone call from a friend and she said, “Hey, I just joined Second Life and I bought an apartment.” “You did what?” “Yeah, and I paid for this guy. He’s going to protect me from the other weirdos that are in there.” I’m like, “You did what?”
There are people paying for land that doesn’t exist. Who knew that? Who knew? Money is moving around the world. How are you going to help it? How are you going to get it?
This is a bad day. How many people have ever felt like that horse? Finals week? But people will pay to make their lives easier.
Let’s jump into question and answers. We have a few minutes left, and I have some bonus material at the end if you have some time. But what are your questions? Your thoughts, your reflections. Ideas. Those that ask questions get a free book. Oh, the hands go up. I like that. Okay, what’s your name?
Unidentified Woman: Jenny.
Mitch Thrower: Jenny. Nice to meet you. Here you go. Pass that to Jenny.
Unidentified Woman: How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed?
Mitch Thrower: I don’t. The question is, how do you keep from feeling overwhelmed? And, you don’t. Life is chaos, but it’s surfing the chaos to feel better and understanding that it’s going to be chaotic. Priorities. Taking a deep breath. It’s one thing I’m really bad at, is not being so chaotic. Calming down. I need to do more of that. Because there’s a lot going on. Yeah. I think you were up. No, you were up. Pass this over there.
Unidentified Man: How much do you train for the Triathlon?
Mitch Thrower: There have been years when I’ve done nothing but training and there have been years when I’ve done very little training. And I think I have a lot of experience racing in the sport of Triathlon, but for me, oh boy. It’s a few hours a day, and sometimes on weekends it’s all day.
There was a favorite ride I had, which unfortunately was burned up in the fires on Highland Valley, and it’s in Ramona. Most beautiful place in the world. Gorgeous, winding hills going up to Ramona, and the road and all the houses on it, or most of the houses on it, are now gone. Yeah, another question. Russell Crowe, what do you got?
Unidentified Man: What is your greatest accomplishment and why?
Mitch Thrower: My greatest accomplishment and why? I’m going to back burner that and come back to you. Another question.
Unidentified Woman: At the time, did you think your knees were going to heel? Did you believe that they were going to heal?
Mitch Thrower: You know, that’s a good question. There was times when I didn’t know how I’d be able to walk, and there were times when I didn’t know if I’d ever run again. For me, and I’ll pass some magazines out as well. But for me, I took my rehabilitation very seriously and I got lucky because my knees actually healed in a way that made them stronger than a normal structure.
But I think the example is, if you are injured and you do take recovery seriously--and somebody wanted superpowers to heal. You have the superpower to heal. I mean you’re a waterproof, self-healing, self-contained supercomputer. But there were times when I was worried about it. Yeah?
Unidentified Man: Are you satisfied in life?
Mitch Thrower: Am I satisfied?
Unidentified Man: Yes.
Mitch Thrower: Like, right now?
Unidentified Man: Or do you think you’ll ever be fully satisfied? Normally, when people reach satisfaction, they just, “Okay, cool. I’m done.”
Mitch Thrower: You know, the human mind, we talked about a while ago. The human mind wants what it can’t have, and when it has it, it maybe doesn’t want it anymore. I think I’ve spent enough time. I was a philosophy major undergraduate, and I spent so much time actually thinking about what makes me happy that I can say that I’m happily dissatisfied, if that makes sense. Yeah?
Unidentified Man: I just want to know what kind of student were you in college?
Mitch Thrower: Like, grade point average? That’s a very personal question. I think I was some--I don’t even remember. Somewhere between three and four. Like, mid-threes.
Unidentified Man: Did you study a lot? You cared about school or you--
Mitch Thrower: There were times when I studied a lot. When I was getting ready to go back to business school, they said, “Hey, you need to go to UCSD and take these 16 classes in math and economics.” And I said, “Oh, great.” So, I went to UCSD and studied math and econ before I applied to my MBA at USD, and actually got a 3.98. But my undergraduate, no. I just, I really liked the interaction and--I mean I was a good student, but I had some classes that I did very poorly in. Yeah?
Unidentified Woman: Who’s the CEO or businessman that you really look up to?
Mitch Thrower: CEO or businessman I look up to?
Unidentified Woman: Yeah.
Mitch Thrower: The CEO that we hired to run Active.com is a former military guy, and he’s very inspiring. He’s very funny. Because I think corporate culture is this: when something happens that’s good. Something happens that’s bad. That’s what you’re going to find yourselves in. Corporate culture is a blame placing, credit taking culture. And that’s a minefield.
So, I think he has done a wonderful job managing the Active network through a lot of chaos, someone I look up to. I like the fact that Buffett just released so much of his personal capital to change the world for the better. So, I look up to him. Yeah?
Unidentified Woman: How do you keep yourself grounded?
Mitch Thrower: How do I keep myself grounded? I think, for me, the grounding experience is exercise. So, an incredibly long run or bike or swim in the ocean I could do forever. Yeah?
Unidentified Woman: What do you feel like your biggest sacrifice has been and how do deal with that?
Mitch Thrower: My biggest sacrifice.
Scott Kunkel: [Unintelligible].
Mitch Thrower: She was wondering what my biggest sacrifice was and--
Unidentified Woman: And how do you deal with it?
Mitch Thrower: And how do I deal with it?
Unidentified Woman: The sacrifice. Whatever it was.
Mitch Thrower: Tell me a little more about that. Sacrifice, giving up things?
Unidentified Woman: Right.
Mitch Thrower: That’s a--you guys are a personal bunch. That’s another personal question that I think I can answer. Did anyone see the movie with Nicholas Cage where he switched lives? What was that movie? And he was a Wall Street broker and then he switched lives and suddenly he was married to his high school sweetheart.
Unidentified Man: Family Man.
Mitch Thrower: Family Man, right? Saw family man where he kind of woke up and you chose a totally different path. Well, I’m not married yet. You know, I think I’ll go the family route and have kids and hopefully find the right person. But I think as I matured in my entrepreneurial days, I started to realize how important real relationships were with people, rather than just objectives in chessboard.
Because I was so motivated to be successful that you kind of go through it and you don’t really build the relationships. In the last probably five to 10 years, I’ve focused on friendships and people that you’re going to know for the rest of your life.
This is my dad. My dad passed away in 1999. He’s an amazing man. He was a hero to me, and he fought in World War II. He went up to the lines in Germany with the speakers and tried to talk the people into surrendering. And it was just an amazing thing to grow up as his son. Not without its challenges, but it was incredible.
And I don’t know whether it was learn behavior or genetic, but he was an idea man, and I think I’m an idea man, and it sounds like you’re an idea man. But he would say something to me. And, in fact, he had an idea for a fishing lure, and the fishing lure that he wanted to create, which was a little out of character because he was a very conservative person. He wanted to create a fishing lure that was a topless mermaid and he wanted to call it the Happy Hooker.
And so he’d say, “I’ve got this great idea but don’t tell anybody.” Now, the first part of that statement makes sense. The second part, I will tell you, does not. Because your fear is that someone else is going to do your idea. It’s not true. Tell everyone what you want, tell everyone your idea, take a stab on the dark and program the supercomputers around you.
Let me take that concept one step further. What was the first thing you saw this morning? What does your mom look like? What shirt am I wearing? What are you going to be for Halloween? When was the last time you laughed so hard that it was hard to breathe?
Your mouth is a mouse and you’re clicking things in other people’s minds. When you talk to them, you’re clicking on the hyperlinks. It’s a pretty incredible concept. That’s you. More questions.
The highest I finished in Ironman? My half Ironman highest finish is 10th. My Ironman top finish is 49th overall out of about--
Unidentified Woman: Overall.
Mitch Thrower: Yeah, overall. Yeah?
Unidentified Man: How much do you sleep at night?
Mitch Thrower: This is a strange thing. When I’m not training, I sleep a lot. But if I’m training, it can be four hours. It can be four-and-a-half, five hours. If I’m training. If I’m not--you think it’s the reverse. But for some reason, when I’m really training hard, I don’t need sleep.
And everybody says, “I want to be successful but I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do that.” And where’s the pen? There it is. “I’ve got to be successful. I have to be successful.” There’s a guy in our sport, Scott Tinley, and he came up with this concept. Probably didn’t come up with it. Maybe he got it from someone else, but I got it from him. And that is, if you sleep for eight hours--how many people sleep a solid eight hours in this room? Probably not many, right? Good for you guys.
And if you work for eight hours, if you work for a solid eight hours and nothing more, how many hours are left?
Unidentified Man: Eight.
Mitch Thrower: Eight. You already got sleep done, you got work done. You’ve still got eight hours. So, every day you have eight hours to do whatever you want, even if you’re working a full time job. So, this is a slide just to let you know that anything is possible, which is the motto of the Ironman.
This is someone who didn’t think he could walk at one point. Who had problems running. Through four knee surgeries, which were incredibly painful. But focus, and breaking things down into small steps. More questions.
Here’s my contact information if you want to write it down. If you want an internship, job. This doesn’t mean you need to contact me for something to smell. This is a café called Aromas here, as you know. I’m there all the time, if you guys want to sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk about your entrepreneurial idea because you’re with Scott, then just let me know. Send me an email. Put Scott Kunkel’s name in the message header, please, so that it can get sifted to the top.
Any other questions before I jump into some bonus material, if you guys want to stay for a few minutes of bonus material? Questions? Thoughts? Reflections?
Okay, you guys want some bonus material or you want a break? Because I think it’s over, right? Class is over?
Scott Kunkel: Yeah. Two minutes.
Mitch Thrower: Two minutes. Okay.
Scott Kunkel: And I think there’s a class in here--
Mitch Thrower: Right after?
Scott Kunkel: Shortly after, so we’re going to have to move.
Mitch Thrower: Okay, you guys want to go real fast? Want to go real fast through some cool bonus material? Bonus material. You’re the only class that got this.
There’s a new blur in life, and I’m going to go really fast, so follow me. There’s a new blur in life between fact and fiction. That blur can be mitigated by going to a site called snoops.com. If you don’t know what that is, if you get that email about the Macy’s $500 credit card or about the plane that flew into the World Trade Center or about something, and you check it. Check it before you send it on. In fact, it’s a really good idea in life never to send a forward.
Scott Kunkel: Is it S-N-O-P-S or S-N-O-O-P-S?
Mitch Thrower: I think it’s S-N-O-P-E-S, Snopes. I think it’s that one. If not, that’ll redirect you where you can find it. It’s the Urban Legend reference page. It’s amazing. You want to find out what’s real and what’s not, go there.
Do Not Date Him, Girl, is something where guys that cheat on women are being tracked and reported on. Right? Kind of a dangerous site. Some guys in here, like, why did you put that up? MySpace. Create something called a new form of cross-triangulation. What do I mean by that? I think my theory is, and this is as an internet entrepreneur and an educator, my theory is about 20 percent of all MySpace sites are fake.
What are people doing? People are cross-triangulating to find out who people are. They’re creating another website. If they’re dating somebody, they’re creating another profile of a woman and they’re interacting with the person they’re dating. It’s happening all the time. Cross-triangulation. People are finding out who other people are by becoming an echo in another world.
Anyone see this? The boat that’s getting built from all the steel from the World Trade Center. It was one of the forwards. It’s actually true. Does anyone get this letter? Everyone’s gotten this letter. “I be so happy talk to you. My federal government give me $15 million. Surely, you send me your account information I forward you immediately.” Obviously not true, but this is one of the most successful scams on the internet.
The Macy’s card. If you track back to the Macy’s card, what this is is a data gathering. It gathers your address. So, you collect basically a mailing list that they then sell to Macy’s.
Phishing with a p. Anyone know what phishing is? Phishing is scary. Phishing--this is an email I received. An actual email I received from Bank of America. Wait, it’s not Bank of America. It’s a phishing scheme. “Click this verification link because there’s been some dramatic security error and we need you to log in.” This then takes me to some site in Nigeria. I log in with my banking information in Bank of America. Within 30 minutes, my entire bank account is cleaned out.
Don’t ever click a link, respond to a website, and go somewhere and give them your account information. It’s very scary with PayPal because PayPal can be attached to your checking account.
Beware of phishing and please tell your parents about phishing. Beware of fake profiles, forwards, hoax, fake instant messages, fake email. This is a cutting edge concept in the form of internet security called inserted people, which is to say, you guys meet in a bar. You’re there, as well. You want to correspond with her. You know him. He gives you her email, but it’s an email he created as her and vice versa. You’re corresponding now through him.
Happens in business. Business people meet at a conference and then they insert themselves in between people, breaking all kinds of security rules and laws. Be careful of that.
Keystroke trackers. Does anyone know what that is? Keystroke tracker. You put it on a computer. It tracks your keystrokes, and then it emails it to another computer. Someone could come into your house, “Can I borrow your computer?” “Yeah.” They put a keystroke tracker on. Next thing you know, they’re getting a copy of everything you’ve typed every night.
The most popular video on YouTube is 62 million views for the Evolution of Dance. Has anyone seen the Evolution of Dance? Right? Some other--think about this. These are the most popular videos on YouTube as of yesterday. Evolution of Dance, then we get into music. Then we’ve got this little kid with a crazy laugh. 25 million people have watched this little kid laugh.
There are two worlds. One where people think about dieting and one where people die because they don’t have enough food. Find a way to change that. Or change something else. The earth is moving at 18.3 miles a second around the sun. Understand what a unique situation you’re in right now. Being alive. You are operating on the command deck of the only real time machine ever invented. Moving second by second into the future. And you are capable of perceiving your own passage through time. Really think about that.
Know that you can navigate your time machine to be anywhere and do anything you want to. Be in the future. And how do you start? My challenge is to ask you to be you somewhere else. Travel. Release the conventions that you’re tied to. And the concept that I started with, the song from Switchfoot, is I Dare You.
I saw these little kids jumping off a railing at Ironman Canada a few years ago in the sunset, and I shot this picture of these kids jumping off. And you just know that someone else said to someone else, “I dare you.” And they had an incredible experience.
So, guys, it’s been a pleasure to address you today. Thank you so much.
Scott Kunkel: Thank you so much, Mitch. As always. Great joy. All right. We will see you on--.