I am 30, I have a decent head of hair, the same waist size since freshman year of college and on average, I normally get 8 hours of sleep a night. Not too shabby.
What does age mean to you? To me, not too much. To me, age is not a definition of character or a sliding scale of expectation. To me, age is a reminder.
In a blink of an eye and to the kids at my child care program I am … old. Wow that sounds fun to say. I have been telling my colleagues, friends, girlfriend and family to round up my age after 25 for a while now. After a long day running a daycare and day to day operations of a start-up, some days I feel much older than 30. However, I always seem to bounce back and find a pit of energy and passion in what I do. No matter the smallest task. I don’t party or drink nearly as much as I did in college, 9pm on Friday nights are now aligned with sweat pants, a second cup of dark roasted coffee and bleeding fingertips from emailing potential customers and clients. 9pm used to be a lot different in my 20s.
I couldn’t see past a Friday night when in my early twenties. I suffered from FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out. As I look back on it now, I did miss out. I missed out on all the amazing opportunities to build my ideas and feed my passion. I chose to play beer pong over my studies, a night out over a night in and beer over coffee. I put money for a cover charge aside over my bills. I spent countless hours trying to be something I most certainly was not.
A prime example and true story. In 2009, my college roommates and I came up with an amazing idea to start a week by week fantasy football application. We sat around for hours and talked through the idea and immediately a fire was lit inside us for about a week. I think we opened the beer pong table soon after and quickly moved on thinking, “what a dumb idea, no one wants to change their fantasy football team weekly.” Boy were we wrong. FanDuel reported nearly $60 million dollars in revenue for 2015 according to the New York Business Journal.
I finally asked myself, what am I going to do? Who am I going to become? Is this all I want to be known for? I looked in the mirror and was extremely honest with myself.
I was honest about my abilities, my knowledge, my feelings, my physical appearance and most importantly the way I thought. I audited myself. A truly important duty to yourself is to strengthen from within. It is extremely difficult and requires your heart to catch up to your brain. Your heart wants and yearns, as the brain is more logical and practical. Finding a balance and rhythm of the two can be internally powerful and beneficial to your overall health.
Is this the piece where a 30 something tells all the people younger than him what to do and how to be successful? It most certainly is not. This also isn’t the piece where there are 5 tools to help find the gold pot at the end of the rainbow. Keep scrolling down Facebook and that article will surely pop up somewhere. This is the piece that is real and most certainly speaks to anyone with a dream and a burning desire to do something life-changing.
I love using sports as a reference and a mindset for business and in life. Business is a lot like baseball for me. A numbers game filled with chances, opportunities and appearances. Every season I played baseball, it was filled with small chances of success or failure that made up a bigger picture of your player profile. I knew every season I was going to strikeout, make an error and lose a percentage of my games. I also knew I was going to take my walks, hit home runs and win more games than I lost. The more I began to focus and believe in the latter chances, the better player I became.
As goes in business, I know we are not going to get every account we sit down and pitch to, I know we are going to have occasional production errors and I know we may lose accounts to better pricing. But, I also know we are going to develop strategic partnerships, build a book of business that is long-lasting and meaningful and by all will power have a net positive cash flow business by giving back.
After every season I would reflect on my player profile and contribution. Did I do enough to help the team win? Did I try to knock a guy in from third base by trying to make contact or did I swing for the fences and try to hit a homerun? I was able to honestly evaluate myself, not my teammates, not my coach and say I had an influence on the outcome of the season or I didn’t. I do the same as the CEO of my company.
Believe me, there were times I had little impact and those internal conversations are the toughest to deal with.
So how are you going to tackle your life? How are you going to design something that is meaningful and is every bit of what you envisioned?
If you work a full-time job, 40 hours a week, then there is roughly 37.5 hours of free time during the week that does not include sleeping. Think about all the possibilities with that time. What can you do? How are you going to create? You can work and build your dream at the same time if you are passionate enough. But don’t bother if you can just take it or leave it.
Wake up and be the best version of yourself and never stop learning or think you know everything.
Can you live with the bad days and the good days of your creation? The reality is, building a business or taking an idea to production is not as easy as landing a venture capital round and hitting the Forbes 500 list. It takes immense dedication, research, physical and mental energy every day. Not to mention you have to do all that on top of your job. Can you handle that pressure and debt of energy every day? Are you mentally well enough to handle the stress of the ups and downs of business? Three months after starting Twill, I developed horrible acid reflux due to stress. I advise seeing your physician before starting a business. Seriously.
Ask any business owner about composure.Your composure has to be exactly the same no matter if you are in peak season or when you are near the red line.
“I am too old though”. “I am not creative enough”. “I don’t know what to do”. “I don’t have enough time”. These are the excuses we make and we do it because it allows us not to fail. We don’t have to take a leap if we put a wall up in front of a path that is a bit more difficult to travel. We don’t take that path because we may fail and be embarrassed for doing so. What will people think or say about me? The tough pill to swallow is failure, you are going to have to fail if you want to see any growth or development in your life and/or business. You will also have to fail dealing with criticsm and doubters. Does that scare you?
Are you going to work until you die?
I was recently in New Zealand for a wedding with my girlfriend Lauren. I was honored to be part of one of my best friend’s wedding and make a vacation out of it as well. During my journey in Auckland I received some sad news from my Mother about my childhood friend's’ father and his sudden passing. It truly made me think deeply about my own life and really put things in a clearer lens for me and my mission in life.
At any moment we can vanish in a snap of a finger, so I am going to live this life doing what I love to do.
Age is not an expectation of success or a determining factor of what you should be. It merely is the alert you have on your phone that wakes you up every morning and tells you it is time to stop dreaming and live. Carry out your passions through dedication, focus and execution. Ideas are absolutely nothing without implementation. They will sit in your note app on your iPhone and never live to see the light of day until you decide to make a plan of action.
I started my business in a dusty basement with my brother and dear childhood friend. I am one of seven siblings and live in the ever-shrinking middle-class. Money was never easy for my family and it surely doesn’t come easy for many of families in this current economy. I live by a phrase called D.W.I.T. or Do Whatever It Takes. If starting a business meant that I had to sell my car, then so be it. If it meant staying up all night to write a business plan, or design a website, or draft a proposal, then I am sacrificing family time, time watching TV, time playing pickup hoops or going to the gym. It becomes binary and you eventually don’t even think about it, like brushing your teeth.
I know money is a key factor moving forward with any idea or passion. You cannot let that stop you. Figure out a way to eliminate that as a threat to your vision.
I guess after 30 years all I am trying to say is, if you are going to work and give time and energy to something and spend 90,360 hours from the ages 20-65, then do something you're extremely passionate about and own it. It is not going to be easy, there are days when you feel like a superhero and can conquer anything. There are also the days that make you question everything you’ve ever done. Live confidently that you are making the right decisions and listen to yourself and only the people that matter to you.
Thank you to my loving family, my girlfriend Lauren, my dear friends and colleagues for all your support over the past couple years. If I am busy, it is not because I am working, it is because I am living.
Founder and CEO of Twill