December 21st, 2014
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.
This has been a profound year for me.
Professionally, I finished a five year run as an executive at one of the most innovative content marketing companies in social advertising and started in my current role as President of Jumpstart Foundry, one of the world's top business accelerators. I now spend every day working to change the way investing in early stage innovation works, and helping the entrepreneurs who bring this innovation to market be more successful. It's amazing.
Personally, I married the girl of my dreams in the most fun wedding ever, and spent a wonderful honeymoon with her in magical Bali. I've spent more time with my two sons than I have in years, and they are constantly blowing my mind as they evolve into the people they will become. And finally, I re-engaged with my spirituality through the concept of Tikkun Olam, which means "repairing the world" in Hebrew.
That last part has become particularly important as our collective faith in progress in America has been deeply challenged through recent events that have touched us all. I've been thinking about what my role is to make things better, knowing that I need to have a role but not necessarily knowing exactly what that role should be.
I normally get about 5-10 emails a week from aspiring entrepreneurs looking for guidance on their business in a variety of ways. I feel grateful that my journey has led me to a place where others look to me for guidance, it is truly an honor when people trust you with their dreams. I noticed something lately though that really helped clarify my purpose. I started getting inbound requests from friends who have felt compelled to action by what's going on, want to start an initiative, and have reached out to me for advice on how to get started. They want to build businesses to help society and change the world.
I came home to NYC two weekends ago and was greeted by friends and family, some of which I hadn't seen in 20 years. It is so grounding to be around the people who knew you when you were a child. As I would share with them what I was doing with Jumpstart Foundry, they all glowed with excitement and shared how perfect they thought this role was for me. And then they would tell me about someone they wanted to introduce me to who could use my help. The thing is, Jumpstart can't help everyone. We just announced that we are increasing our investments from $15K to $100K per company and we are also focusing on healthcare, so that leaves a lot of great would be entrepreneurs that I won't be able to work with through Jumpstart.
One of my best friends sent me a message recently saying that his son was doing a Kickstarter and asked me if I could help him guide his son on his entrepreneurial journey. He wants to be there for his son, but he never learned much about entrepreneurship in school. And as I thought about it, who actually learns about what it takes to be a founder in school? Most schools just don't teach it. And yet, the people who care and want to do the most good in the world truly need it. The ones who want to help their children nourish their passion to create. The ones who see a problem in the world and want to create a solution for it. The ones who want to "repair the world". And no one is teaching them, so they keep reaching out to people like me.
Then it hit me.
I am here to help founders, period. I am here to help the brave people who dare to do, and want to make something better. And that's what I'm working on now.
But I can't meet everyone for coffee or lunch or answer everyone's email in a truly meaningful way. I can't work with everyone in a one-on-one setting. It just doesn't work at scale, and quite frankly it doesn't deliver the greatest impact possible either.
I need to make this way of helping sustainable by design.
I believe that the world needs change and I believe that entrepreneurs will be the ones to usher in that change. We can't keep doing things as we have. We must design differently.
I want to help grow as many entrepreneurs as I can. If you are one of those entrepreneurs, please subscribe to my email list where I will begin sharing more on what this all means in early 2015.