Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he began at age 26 and built to more than 30 properties in California alone. In 2010, Joie de Vivre was awarded the #1 customer service award in the U.S. by Market Metrix (Upper Upscale hotel category).
Conley has also been named the “Most Innovative CEO” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, and I’m proud to call him a friend.
We’ve shared many glasses of wine together. He doesn’t know what I’m about to tell you, but it’s true (Hi, Chip!). When we first met, and after reading his first book on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I wondered “Is this Chip dude for real? Implementing self-actualization in a company?!?” My curiosity drove me to visit a few of his hotels, including Hotel Vitale, where I eventually concluded: these are the happiest employees I’ve ever met.
He has figured out what makes people tick.
The following post is a guest post by Chip and based on his new book, Emotional Equations. Be sure to read to the end, as there is a chance to win an expense-paid trip to SF to spend an entire day training with him.
Deal-making? Empire building? Self-fulfillment? He’s your guy.
Happy New Year, all! I’ll be putting up a “Lessons learned in 2011″ post soon. In the meantime, here is a taste of things to come.
I can come across as anal retentive, even severely Monk-ish. One reason for the madness: with rare exceptions, I’ve come to believe that how we do anything is how we do everything.
I’m not alone.
The following is a short excerpt from The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, also reprinted by Tehelka magazine in India. In it, we learn the logic of David Lee Roth’s famous obsession with brown M&M’s:
Listening to the radio, I heard the story behind rocker David Lee Roth’s notorious insistence that Van Halen’s contracts with concert promoters contain a clause specifying that a bowl of M&M’s has to be provided backstage, but with every single brown candy removed, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation to the band. And at least once, Van Halen followed through, peremptorily cancelling a show in Colorado when Roth found some brown M&M’s in his dressing room. This turned out to be, however, not another example of the insane demands of power-mad celebrities but an ingenious ruse.
As Roth explained in his memoir, Crazy from the Heat, “Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, thirdlevel markets.
We’d pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move thegear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.” So just as a little test, buried somewhere in the middle of the rider, would be article 126, the no-brown-M&M’s clause. “When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl,” he wrote, “well, we’d line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error… Guaranteed you’d run into a problem.” These weren’t trifles, the radio story pointed out. The mistakes could be lifethreatening. In Colorado, the band found the local promoters had failed to read the weight requirements and the staging would have fallen through the arena
Do you have any similar tests that you’ve found helpful in business, hiring, life, or love?
Kevin Rose and I go deep on a few subjects in this longer-format episode of “Foundation,” on which he’s interviewed many of my favorite entrepreneurs and investors, including Jack Dorsey (Twitter, Square) and Chris Sacca (Lowercase Capital), among others.
I had a great time, as should be clear from the wine and laughter. It’s quite different from The Random Show and more of a Larry King-like format… but with more cursing.
Once or twice in the past, I have referred to “someone” who has earned $5,000,000-$10,000,000 per year with e-books and cross promotion.
For that, I should apologize, as it’s not accurate: his numbers are now closer to $1,000,000 per month, and “e-book” doesn’t begin to explain what he does. That someone is named Mike Geary. He prefers to keep a low profile, skiing powder and refining his “muse,” or automated business, to a precise science. From strategic customer service in Germany, to testing for trending, it’s all piece of a well-planned puzzle and well-oiled machine.
For the first time, this post will explain how he built his business, some of the key lessons learned, and common mistakes with digital products.
As you read, keep in mind two things:
- He is, without a doubt, considered one of the smartest online marketers and traffic buyers (a key differentiator) in the world.
- He started off knowing nothing and got there through intelligent testing.
As Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, is famous for saying: “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” Planning is valuable, but–long-term–it’s your ability to improvise and adjust that makes the difference.
Michael Ellsberg has been a good friend since 2000.
In the last few years, he has made a study of self-study. How do the best in business do what they do? Using his findings, he has:
- Overcome a debilitating case of bipolar II (here’s how).
- Landed one of the most powerful literary agents in the world.
- Published not one but two books from major New York publishers, the second scoring a 6-figure advance.
- Found the woman of his dreams and married her.
- Built a well-followed blog on Forbes.com with zero prior blogging experience.
Most recently, Michael has interviewed the likes of fashion magnate Russell Simmons, Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook founding president Sean Parker, WordPress lead developer Matt Mullenweg, and Pink Floyd songwriter and lead guitarist David Gilmour. Dozens of iconic figures pepper his list of case subjects.
Why? Because none of them graduated from college, and he wanted to learn how they educated themselves. His findings were then encapsulated in “The Education of Millionaires.”
In this post, Michael will discuss how uber-successful people leapfrog their peers without any formal credentials. By the end of this post, you’ll have a roadmap for hacking “job requirements,” degrees, and the lot… Read More
Noah Kagan built two multi-million dollar online businesses before turning 28. He also looks great in orange. (Photo: Laughing Squid)
I first met Noah Kagan over rain and strong espressos at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, CA. It was 2007. We were both in hoodies, had a shared penchant for the F-bomb and burritos, all of which led to a caffeine-infused mindmeld.
It would be the first of many.
The matchmaker then introducing us was the prophetic and profane Dave McClure, General Partner of 500 Start-ups, which is now headquartered just down the street from Red Rock.
Mr. Noah has quite the start-up resume.
He was employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, had previously worked for Intel (where he frequently took naps under his desk), and had turned down a six-figure offer from Yahoo. Since we first met, Noah’s helped create Gambit, an online gaming payment platform and a multi-million dollar business; and AppSumo, loved by entrepreneurs and moms everywhere. He also helped pour fire on both the 4-Hour Workweek and 4-Hour Body launches.
The purpose of this post is simple: to teach you how to get a $1,000,000 business idea off the ground in one weekend, full of specific tools and tricks that Noah has used himself.
It was sensory overload from the beginning: Olivia Munn was seated on my left, Mark Cuban was across the table, and everyone was drinking too much wine. Then, a Polaroid camera appeared in my hand (thank you, time travel) — in fact, multiple cameras were placed at every table — and creative chaos ensued.
Chase, as creative MC of that dinner, knew exactly what he was doing when he architected the bonding exercise. He’s become a superstar in the world of professional photography by showcasing his mastery of the craft (best known for sports and lifestyle pics), while using PR and branding to further his art instead of compromise it. He’ll go off-the-grid indie one week, and the next week, he’ll be the only person besides Lady Gaga to join the Polaroid creative team.
How does he do it?
How do you balance — nay, OPTIMIZE — artistic purity and commercial success as a “creative,” whether a photographer or otherwise? “Optimize,” in this context, for the best combination of lifestyle, integrity, and income?
Chase and I explore this topic and many others in his beautiful studio… and don’t miss his very Punk’d-like surprise for me at the end. It’s related to my first-ever photo shoot as photographer, which he walks me through.
Hint #1: Sweaty palms. Hint #2:
I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. Here are some more of the pics from our little experiment.
Whom should Chase interview next, or whom should I interview next? Let us know in the comments.
Odds and Ends: Room to Read library names
I’m still blown away that you all helped raise more than $30,000 for a $20,000 project, which has therefore become $60,000 after matching. As promised, 30 of you will be thanked by name on plaques, 10 names on each of three schools. Here are the “winners” — generous contributors and fundraisers:
From the fundraising competition:
Grand prize: Melissa Rachel Black = Grand-prize winner of RT ticket anywhere in the world (watch your e-mail, Melissa!)
Second place: Rachel Rofe
Third place: David Turnbull
Thanks to all who competed! Every person made a difference, and you should be proud of your real-world karmic capitalism.
The top-30 most generous donors, in no particular order:
Hrag Richard Toutikian
Spiderhost, Inc – Dale Frohman
You all rock. More coming as soon as I start to get status updates on the school construction in Cambodia, Laos, and Nepal
For the last two years, one name has come up again and again when talking with A-class start-up investors: Pivotal Labs.
See, Pivotal Labs quietly helps dozens of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world, including freight trains like Groupon and Twitter. If your start-up needs to get good coding done quickly, as in lightning fast — or if new hires need to get good at coding quickly — top venture capitalists are likely to look over their shoulder and confide: “Call Pivotal Labs.”
I first met the Founder of Pivotal Labs, Rob Mee, when one of the start-ups I advise, TaskRabbit, began working with them.
One thing is immediately clear: Rob is obsessed with how to get obscenely high output. But that’s nothing new. Here’s the differentiator: he’s obsessed with how to get obscenely high output with sustainable effort. One of his first remarks to me was “3am with Jolt and pizza can be fun, but it’s a myth that it’s the fuel behind scalable success…” Read More
Once upon a time, two entrepreneurs had an idea: what if we used traditional bookbinding to make iPad cases?
It was a fun idea.
Then it suddenly became very, very profitable. The two entrepreneurs, Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton, named the idea DODOCase and soon had sold more than 10,000 iPad cases at $60 a pop.
Soon thereafter, they were featured in The New York Times and had a multi-million dollar business on their hands, to the tune to $4-5 million a year.
That could be you.
See, DODOcase was far from alone. They were part of a simple experiment, a business-building competition I launched jointly with an incredible start-up called Shopify.
The results were amazing:
Revenue PER HOUR for the duration of the contest: $696.38
Total number of orders placed: 66,503
Most important — Total businesses created: nearly 1,400
1,400 &^%$ing businesses, created by people just like you.
People who’d become comfortable in a routine. People who’d dreamt of starting their own company… someday. People who just needed a quick slap to get off the tranquilizers of their 9-to-5. But did I say “people just like you”? Scratch that — 1,400 businesses, many of them created by people far less capable than you.
$100,000 Grand Prize
VIP trip for two to New York City, where Seth Godin will cook you dinner
One-hour power session with Gary Vaynerchuk
VIP trip to San Francisco, where you’ll visit the Googleplex and have dinner (and wine, of course) with yours truly at one of my favorite restaurants in the world… Read More
What did Twitter look like before it was Twitter? Let us begin the story with an image…
Jack Dorsey’s first sketch for what would become Twitter (Photo: Jack Dorsey and d0tc0m)
This photo was first shown to me by Peter Sims, a former venture capitalist and now friend.
Pete and I share a number of common interests: wine, K-os, long dinners, and above all… little bets.
It’s a favorite topic of conversation.
Perhaps a year ago, after a quick tour of the Stanford Institute of Design (d.school), Pete and I sat talking about start-ups in Tresidder dining hall. He was working on a new book about innovation, which he wanted to bridge different worlds, to explain the shared traits of the game changers.
The question he posed was simple: if you look at the biggest successes in the world, whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, or award-winning architect Frank Gehry, what do they have in common?
Answer: the bigger they are, the more small bets they make.
Becoming the best of the best is less about betting the farm (a common misconception) and more about constant tinkering. Within Pixar or within Amazon, there is a method to the madness, but it’s not haphazard risk-taking.
In the following guest post, Peter will look at the unlikely evolution of a little tool. It’s a little tool now used to overthrow governments, and a tool that’s become a company some value at more than $10 billion: Twitter.