on life, ambitions, and dreams


Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur in training’

Hipster Entrepreneurs Have Taken Over GeekWire

Every once in a while you get a tweet from someone in response to something you wrote – and then they write about it.

Remember Sunday’s post, How to be a Hipster, in response to the New York Times article, ‘Generation Sells’? Today, Monica Guzman published an article on GeekWire and yours truly was quoted. (Yippee!)

The article is awesome as it carries the conversation about the ‘entrepreneurial generation’ one step further as Monica interviewed a number of startup founders and small business owners about how they have used social media to build an “one giant cocktail party” that’s helped them build a community of people who will help them launch their business by evangelizing their product.

That’s one party I’m excited to attend. Every single day.

You should read Monica’s article: You’re selling yourself, and that’s OK: Welcome to the entrepreneurial generation.

You’re selling yourself, and that’s OK: Welcome to the entrepreneurial generation

Sunday Serial: How to be a Hipster

My Hipster Impersonation

Last week’s most provocative and amusing thoughts were made possible by the letter “H,” specifically of the “hipster” variety.

The Hipsterfication of America

That’s right, hipsters are among us and as the NPR article, The Hipsterfication of America, declared, “Hipsterishness is a state of mind.” From the NPR article:

The Urban Dictionary defines hipsters as “a subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s who value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

According to this article, you might be a hipster if:

  • You are authentic in your passions.
  • You know “how to make the cheap chic, the disheveled dishy, the peripheral preferable.”
  • You come in all stripes and all political persuasions.
  • You are any age (“Not everyone who is hip is young, and not everyone who is young is hip,” though hipsterism is most prevalent in people born between the late ’70s and the mid-’90s, more or less)
  • You live anywhere, from the urban metropolises to small towns in middle America.

This first article is, among other things, hilarious and informative. When I read it last Friday on the bus I was two breaths away from a serious case of the LMAO IRL in front of every other commuter.  It took a deep look at the anatomy of a hipster and described that being a hipster is not about fashion and riding fixies but about how you see the world and your role in it. As a friend of mine pointed out on Twitter – we all have a degree of hipster in us.

You should read it.

The Hipster Entrepreneur Generation

Generation Sell or The Entrepreneur Generation, which appeared in The New York Times last weekend, went one step beyond just looking at the sociological tendencies of hipsters but figuring out what motivates them as a generation with regards to work. William Deresiewicz sums it up in these two paragraphs (bold is my own):

Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works, what have you — is expressed in those terms.

Call it Geneartion Sell.

Bands are still bands, but now they’re little businesses, as well: self-produced, self-published, self-managed. When I hear from young people who want to get off the careerist treadmill and do something meaningful, they talk, most often, about opening a restaurant. Nonprofits are still hip, but students don’t dream about joining one, they dream about starting one. In any case, what’s really hip is social entrepreneurship — companies that try to make money responsibly, then give it all away. . . . Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur.

I personally love this opinion piece. I am psyched to be part of a generation of entrepreneurs who are either starting their own businesses or are living as an entrepreneur-from-within, full of drive and passion to be an indispensable part of building an organization.

But all of us were not pleased with this new label.

Some of us grabbed onto the title of the NYT piece and got, for lack of a better word, defensive over our generation being labeled as one who is only interested in “selling.” For example, Justin Kan wrote this article on TechCrunch called Generation Make, which some of the most passionate entrepreneur-millennials that I know rallied behind.

The funny thing is both Generation Sell and Generation Make make the same argument, but use different words.

Why Hipsters Hate Being Labeled by People Other than Themselves

First off, it was incredibly bold of Deresiewicz to declare that the generation of hipsters and business starters are only motivated by one thing – selling. As someone who as dreams of starting her own business, making the first sale is not what’s on my mind right now, creating my business is. And even though if you want to start a business or a startup (perhaps that’s really what got these tech kids all bent out of shape – being lumped into a pile of “small business” starters, not “start-uppers”) – the question you need to answer before you launch is how you’re going to make your first $100,000.

We know that. We know that we can’t start a business based on free love, gold stars, and accolades from our friends about how cool we are just to be doing what we’re doing. Yes, we know we have to sell if we expect there to be a second quarter and a celebration of making it the first year. But that’s not what motivates us. What motivates us is our passion and our drive to make it happen.

What motivates us is exactly what Kan described:

We are a generation of makers. A generation of creators. Maybe we don’t have the global idealism of the hippies. Our idealism is more individual: that every person should be able to live their own life, working on what they choose, creating what they choose. If you want to build a company to change the world, go for it. If you want to be an independent knife maker, what is stopping you?

We follow our passions. If we do it as a business, then we can create the ability to support ourselves doing what we love, and with some measure of security and autonomy that no institution is going to grant us. The Millennial path to self-actualization is the individual path, each man to create it for himself.

It’s more than just selling or making or creating. It’s about thinking beyond each step and thinking about our idea, our life, and our business in a sustainable way instead of through a single transaction. It’s a feeling that every single person who is part of this generation feels but doesn’t need to explain because it is who we are.

It’s a hipster state of mind.

Update: This blog post was quoted in Monica Guzman’s article on GeekWire: You’re selling yourself, and that’s OK: Welcome to the entrepreneurial generation.

Photo Credit:

Entrepreneur in Training: Three Tips for Launching Your Startup


Back in August, I read Michael Karnjanaprakorn’s blog post, How to Launch Your Startup Idea for Less than $5K. I don’t know much about his startup and his company, but I love the approach he took to launching, mainly the following points:

Start with small ideas

“Entrepreneurs should start with small ideas and learn how to execute those ideas.” – Mike Karnjanaprakorn

Yes, we know you want to take over the world. But in order to do that, you need to start by taking over your local metropolitan precinct. So do that and prove to us that you can. Start small, kick ass, and then move to conquering the bigger fish in the sea.

Test small first, then grow bigger.

Just do It

“The secret behind launching your startup idea is to always move the ball forward on your ideas through execution. “– Mike Karnjanaprakorn

Strategizing how you’re going to take over the world is one thing, but let’s be honest here, strategy is a bunch of hot air. You are nothing unless you ship, unless you launch, unless you do.  So “do something,” and show exactly what you’re up to.

Ask for feedback, specifically, will it work or will it fail?

“Once I convinced myself this was an idea I’d like to pursue, I asked a dozen really smart people I knew what they thought about the idea with a small twist. Rather than asking them if they liked it, I asked them why the idea wouldn’t work, why it would fail, and why I shouldn’t work on it.” – Mike Karnjanaprakorn

When we have a great idea that’s burning in the back of our heads, it’s easy to ask our friends, mentors, and allies, “What do you think?” but it’s incredibly hard to ask, “Do you think it will work or how do you think it will fail,” that, my dear friends, is a whole other beast of a question and I love it.

In summary, when it comes to testing if you have a viable business and idea, start small, be strategic, and get specific feedback that will help you along the way.

What feedback would you give to an entrepreneur in training?

Photo Credit: justmakeit

Building My Brand: Laura’s Next Chapter

What is one thing that, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter have in common? It’s that all four of those sites were designed to tell other people about you. does it in a brief biography and by connecting all of your other personas around the web in one place. LinkedIn is tells your professional story. Facebook has an ‘info’ tab as well as the story of your likes, friends, and activity. And Twitter does this in the 160-character bio and through every single thing that you tweet.

All four of those sites were designed to tell others who you are and determine which box to put you into.

Up until last week, most people knew me as a nonprofit marketing girl. And before that I was a book-publishing girl. But I was never okay with that title either and that’s because in all of these cases, both labels only described one facet of my life and answered one question that people would ask of me, and that is: “What do you do?”

We are more than what our job titles and our job descriptions define us to be. And titles are kind of outdated anyway. It’s not so much who we are, but what we do that matters. As a good friend once said, it’s not how you begin or end a story, but what happens along the way that matters.

Find the common thread in your brand

You are not your job title and you are not your career. But you are the person who does incredible work within the functions and responsibilities of your job.

Whenever I advise people who are unhappy with their job, but don’t know what they want to do next, I ask them to write a list of all the projects they worked on in the past and especially the ones that they felt the most empowered and successful doing. From there, we’ll be able to see the common thread that connects their past positions and recommend the step they should take in the future.

I have had a professional background that covers a lot of job industries and backgrounds, but there’s one thing that’s in common in every single position that I’ve held. In each position where I was the most successful, it was at a startup or a new company that allowed me to build things. It was usually a marketing communications role (either officially or not) that was never filled by anyone else before. I had big goals to fulfill and it was up to me to figure out how to get there.

In the simplest words – I build things for a living.

I helped build Wordstock, Jolkona, and this blog. This is what I love doing. And that is why when I was given the incredible opportunity to help build another company, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Time to put on my Scrappy Face

Scrappy Face's Scrappy Dachshunds

Starting today, I am joining Scrappy Face, a small business consulting firm that is launching soon. My official title is social media strategy and community manager, but what’s more exciting is with this opportunity I will:

Build – their brand, their community, and their service offerings. I’ll be leading social media strategy for Scrappy Face and for their clients, product and service development, and another cool, super secret project.

Be a part of a company on a mission – Scrappy Face was born out of heart. It was created to help the dreamers and risk takers move from overwhelming stages of paralysis to action. Scrappy Face was designed, as the banner on their website says, to help “a person who is little but can really kick [butt].”

Continue to be an entrepreneur in training – three weeks ago I came out as an entrepreneur in training, and while I am not the founder or owner of Scrappy Face, my position on the ground floor of this firm will allow me to learn the skills I will need to launch my own business when the time is right.

Learn – from an amazing founder and CEO, clients, and community of thinkers, builders, and do-ers who are bootstrapping, self-funding, and side hustling to make their dreams happen.

Scrappy Face logoToday, I’m excited to put on my Scrappy Face and I hope you will too. Join us on Facebook and follow us Twitter, you don’t want to miss this.

For more about the journey that’s ahead, read this post from the founder and CEO of Scrappy Face, Kate Walling: Claiming Scrappy Face: The Story of Launching My Second Startup.

Sunday Serial: 6 Blog Posts to Start your Week off Right

First off, I want to thank each and every one of you for stopping by and reading this blog. I’m lucky to be a writer who blogs because unlike writers of fiction and epic novels that are published in a static journal or book, you and I get to speak to each other if we want to. I get to share my thoughts and perspective with you, and you, if you choose, get to share yours. No writer has ever had this direct-line to his or her readers before.

For that, I want to thank you.

6 Blog Posts to Start Your Week off Right

Paper, boy

It has been an enormous week and I’ve spent most of the weekend with my head down, recovering. And while I’m really getting into the flow of writing and blogging once a day, I want to take some time to share. So allow me to introduce the Sunday Serial, a weekly installment of the top blogs, articles, and essays that I read over the past week. Enjoy! (more…)