What Is Your Fearlessness Quotient?

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At work, when we talk about hiring (which we talk about A LOT nowadays), I usually tell my co-managers that I am very interested in hiring "entrepreneurial-minded" people. Then I'd get often asked: What does that mean? That's a question I've been mulling about for ages. What exactly is it? How do you evaluate if someone has it? How do you know if someone has the potential to have it? There are so many theories on what entrepreneurship is. Here's one of mine. I think, when you distill it, when you boil entrepreneurship down to its basest levels, entrepreneurship is all about fearlessness. Entrepreneurs just conquer fear. Innovation, a word long synonymous with … [Read more...]

Big Picture? No, Look at the BIGGER Picture

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These past few months have been crazy in STORM. We started the 2014 with about 16 employees. We're ending the year with around 50 employees and 60 more job openings. After 5-6 years hovering at around 10-15 employees, we're now scaling at an unprecedented level. It's been all sorts of crazy, but its been fun. It's a riveting challenge to see just how far we can push this. This sudden shift in scale started when we realized two years ago that, "Hey, we can be more than a niche player in the industry - we could help EVERYONE out with flexible benefits." We widened the aperture. Stepping Back for a Wider View Every once in awhile I would talk to an entrepreneur about ideas or … [Read more...]

5 Reasons Why You Should Quit Your Job Now and Work for a Startup (With Traction)

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So, you want to put up a startup. You want to take the leap. But it's sooooo hard to let go of the cushy job you've spent numerous years cultivating... You worry about the sudden disruption of that bi-monthly cashflow you're now so accustomed to and built your life around. So what now? Here's a solution - work for a startup. But don't just work for ANY startup - work for a startup with traction. What's traction? I like Naval Ravikant's (Angelist founder) efficient definition of traction: "Quantitative evidence of market demand." A startup has traction when it has increasing numbers - revenue, users, profitability, engagement, traffic, etc... These are evident signs … [Read more...]

Thursdays Unplugged Postscript (July 31 Edition)

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  See that bottle of Pepsi in the picture? I started this Thursdays Unplugged session by accidentally dropping the closed bottle, and then proceeding to absent-mindedly open it. The result was an explosion of cola and pride, mostly on my shirt (which, incredibly, looks the same in the picture). It was all uphill from there though! With the third participant calling that he couldn't make it the last minute, this became a 3-person session. Of course, I loved the result, as Jode, Gerome, and I not only got into the technicalities of the their startup ideas, but more importantly, we got to talk about their journey, and the softer parts of the startup life. The thing I love … [Read more...]

Risk Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

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The older we get, the more permanent our decisions become. In high school, the biggest decision we made was probably what school to take (a lot of people I know didn't have a choice in this matter as well), or perhaps what course to take. We could then easily shift courses. A lot of people I know even shifted schools. We also choose who to hang out with. This can change easily as well. Then one day, we graduate from college. Then we have to face the next big decision in our lives - what job to take. Not quite happy with our first job, perhaps we transfer to another firm. It isn't as easy as changing courses, but this decision is still flexible enough that for a lot of us, … [Read more...]

JGL Thursdays Unplugged v1 – So What Happened?

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Last week, we held our very first Thursdays Unplugged in the STORM office in Ortigas. I was with John, Gelo, and Ethel. We were supposed to be 5 people but the last participant couldn't make it at the last minute. In retrospect, it was better suited for 4 people - more on this later. So what happened?  I had no idea what was going to happen, so it was a bit awkward to start - it seemed too intimate at first. Then I laid the rules - 15 minutes per person, with an ideal 5-minute pitch, and then everyone can supply ideas and advice. And just like that, we started. It was pretty cool. Everyone had a very different idea, with each at different stages of the startup process. One was … [Read more...]

Soft vs. Hard Entrepreneurship and What to Prioritize

HARD vs SOFT

You can divide all the elements of entrepreneurship into two distinct categories: hard and soft. Here's what the HARD column can be populated with: Valuation Product-market fit Lean Startup Methodology A-B Testing Seed, Series A, Series B, Series C.... Pivot Runway Dilution MVP Growth Hacking Strategies Here's what the SOFT column can be populated with: Passion Founder Dynamics Culture Maturity The entrepreneurial spirit Mentors Perseverance Following the heart Following the dream Motivation Taking a leap of faith Now, ask ANY successful entrepreneur what the reasons are for her success. Do you think most responses will fall within the … [Read more...]

Introducing Thursdays Unplugged – And Why I’m Limiting It to 4 People

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While I like organizing events like Startups Unplugged or Open Coffee, where I really get my kick is when I go on one-on-one coffee-talks. In the bigger events or in some of the speaking events I've done, I may be able to impart knowledge and help out, but obviously, the learning cannot be customized to the individual. Sure, after the event there can be informal networking and getting to know people, but I don't really get to KNOW people that much. This is why I like doing one-on-one coffee-talks. More than just the startup idea, I get to know the entrepreneur's story. I get to know his motivations. I get to read body language. I don't just shoot from the hip and comment on just the … [Read more...]

The ONE book you need to read this year

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I'm a big fan of Reid Hoffman, Linkedin Founder and Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist. When he released Startup of You, a few years ago, I gobbled it up and came away quite impressed. He recently released The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age. Naturally, I grabbed a copy. As an HR guy who's also an entrepreneur, the subtitle piqued my attention even more. I chose to finish it off yesterday, during my Glenda-imposed house arrest when this tree blocked the only road going out AND took out the electric wires. (yes!) Now, I've read a lot of good books over the last few months. I've read a few page-turners (Hatching Twitter can only be described as Game of Thrones for … [Read more...]

I Forgot I Was On Vocation!

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The past few months have been some of the most rewarding for me as an entrepreneur. At the start of 2013, we made a crucial decision to split STORM Consulting, my startup baby, into two, distinct, laser-focused firms: STORM Rewards was going to focus on flexible benefits. I was going to lead the efforts as its CEO. STRATA was going to focus on HR competency frameworks. The big difference here was that I really wanted to source an independent management team to lead Strata - I didn't want to be involved in the day-to-day operations. In hindsight, it proved to be a very pivotal decision. (yep, focus is everything) Armed with a new business model which allowed it to offer Flexible … [Read more...]

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