There is some super crazy stuff coming up in the near future for me, but I like it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Next Wednesday I’m going to Texas for another trade show but this one is bigger than the last- exactly 20 times bigger. At the last trade show we had about 50 potential customers and nabbed 18. At this one there will be about 1000 so the pressure is on. We sink or swim; excel or rack up a whole lot of expenses. My employee Boston and I have been at it hard these last 2 weeks calling potential customers and sending out emails to invite people to our booth and buy stuff from us. He’s only been with the company 2 weeks but we made the decision to bring him to the Houston show because it’s 3 days long and we will really appreciate the extra help. His wife seems to be excited about it, too- she said Boston comes home really happy because he likes his work. To think someone works for me and likes it is a huge compliment, more on that later. I’m excited Boston will get to meet my partner Benjie, too. Benjie (Benjamin and now Ben, but to me he will always Benjie Be) has been the best business partner a person could ask for since day 1; we’ve been working together since 2008 and he never ceases to amaze with his smarts, work ethic, and lack of anything that looks like fear. I’m really glad he and his wife are still involved with Parker Planners and I look forward to each time we get to see each other. He lives in Boise now, but we’ll see how long that last with the growth rate of the company (crossing toes). Kinda crazy to think other people are involved in my crackpot idea of wanting to sell a product to stores across the nation . . . and liking it.
My biggest fear when Parker Planners was super tiny was employing people. I didn’t want other people to have to rely on me for their welfare. I didn’t mind risking everything I had or failing myself, but to have someone else’s livelihood come strait from me or be affected by my decisions was something that I didn’t want to be held accountable for. I’ve since come to understand that everyone is responsible for their own decisions and someone taking a chance by working for/with me is just doing what I do- enjoying calculated risk. It’s not being reckless. It’s asking “what’s the best and what’s the worst that could happen” and if you can handle the worst and you REALLY want the best then why not go for it?
So the pressure is on, big time. If we see the same success from this show (percentage-wise) as the last, Parker Planners will be well on its way to becoming a legitimate concern in the college market. We might see things like bigger companies stepping in to compete or someone sniffing around at acquiring us. Either way it’s way exciting. We are very fortunate to be able to stay with my sister in Houston, that really worked out nice. Also one of the opening sessions of the show is a keynote by the founder of TOMS shoes, the company that gives a pair of shoes away for each they sell. I love inspiring stuff like that. Stories of people beating the odds are cool. It’s because that’s what we all have in us. We can all beat the odds if we have faith and are persistent enough. It’s in our nature and in our blood because of where we come from.
This is a story about a team beating the odds. They rock. Those guys are big role models for me in the entrepreneur world. Mick especially, ever since I found his blog and read every single post in early 2009 he has made me feel like dreams come true and you can kick as much butt as you choose. His 2-sentence bio blows minds: All-state athlete in 2 high school sports, chess club captain, sterling scholar. Princeton drop-out and founder of a VC-backed start-up with rapid growth and consistently making national news. On top of that he’s really personable and was on a hip-hop dance team back at Princeton. But I’m not just a looker.
I want to be this person for other people. I’d like to be someone that liberates people from their fears with my presence like Marianne Williamson’s quote says. Lotsa people think Nelson Mandella created it for his 1994 inaugural speech but I guess it was really from one of her books published in 1992. It is our light, not our darkness that most scares us. This makes lots of sense to me because knowing what we could be frustrates us a lot more than our failed attempts. We sometimes even dislike those that have worked harder than us to achieve their potential because we know we could have had the same thing had we exercised more faith or wasted less time. Tyler Haws is a great example of working on a huge goal and maybe not having all the natural ability in the world.
When I was 19 I set a goal to become a millionaire by the time I was 26. I figured (as a 19 yr old!!! don’t take this as my opinion now) those that don’t get there until they are 30 didn’t use their 20′s right and those that get there before 25 probably stole it. It could still happen. I’m not saying it will but it’s possible my stake in Parker Planners could be that valuable before this June. I’ll be real here and say it’s not very likely but saying that it can’t happen would be to deny magic its magicalness. We could get into 400 more stores at the Houston show, have Office Max, Target, and Staples love us at the NY show, release a sweet iPhone/Android app at Techcrunch Disrupt in May, and poof! PP equity is worth a lot. I’d for sure sell some ownership, hire people, and stuff, but it would fulfill the 19 yr old dream of mine.
Yay dreaming on paper. For the year 2011 I would very honestly be content have this business pay my bills so I can still work on it. I love what I do and will fight like a rabid monkey to keep it going.