I never fail at making resolutions

Most of you made some sort of resolution this New Year’s Eve. Some of us have not admitted to them yet, but you know there is something you have thought about making better in your life for 2015. We don’t admit to these resolutions because we don’t want to fail. This is pretty typical, no one wants to be a failure or give their friends ammunition to tease them.

I am in this resolution boat almost every month. When you look up the definition of a ‘resolution’, it has nothing to do with New Year’s or some damn ball falling from the sky. All it really means is you have made a significant decision. However, we now use New Year’s Eve to make a resolution to do something better for ourselves. But why are you not setting resolutions all the time? And why are you worried about failing at your resolutions?

I am an a ‘A to B’ type of person. You know, the person who just wants to get shit done:). Usually, I make firm decisions quickly (a.k.a. resolutions) and try to get from that decision to a solution or failure as soon as possible. My tolerance for failure is pretty high. I could rattle on for days about all the business ideas and decisions I have had that failed. Losing family time, money, happiness, and relationships.

This all adds up to a lot of failure for some folks, but for me it adds up to how I make resolutions.

Failure is all about perspective and prioritization. When you are an ADD entrepreneur like me, you become superb at prioritization. One thing I have not prioritized recently is my health.

When I look at my busy schedule and family life it can be hard to make my health a priority. This has been the case since my second son Matthew was born. I set career and family as my top priorities, allowing health and fitness fall to the wayside.

Before I had a family, I was an athlete. I ran 50 miles a week and cycled another 100 miles, at my peak. I was single, partied hard, worked hard and worked out harder. Running was my escape. I put on my headphones after work every day and ran for more than 2 hours. That was back when I had time to be selfish and could keep my weight at 175 -180. It didn’t matter what I ate; I could burn off 1,400 calories in one run.

skinny dan mcgaw


Since then (2012) I have put on over 65 lbs.

fat dan mcgaw

I come in at a cool 245 on the scale and couldn’t run a mile if I wanted. This is the heaviest I have ever been. Fixing my weight has been a topic my wife, and I have talked about multiple times. Luckily, my bombshell 115 lb. wife doesn’t mind my weight. We both agree fitness and health are important, but our priorities have prevented me from making a resolution to do something about it.

But this year is different, and coincidentally New Year’s just happened.

A few weeks ago an opportunity dropped in my lap so I could make a resolution to lose weight. My best friend Neil told me that our buddy’s gym, American Combat Club, needed some business and marketing help. This MMA gym has fighting, kickboxing, and fitness classes. I had been to their MetCon class about ten times and it kicked my ass, so much so that I stopped going because it did not fit my priorities or schedule. I frigging loved the workout; it was only 30 minutes, but I could not commit due to other priorities (other resolutions).

Now, my gym owning buddies, Vinnie and Mitch are amazing fighters and could kick my ass in about 2 seconds. They are some of the nicest, most patient people I know. The visual experience of the gym is not the best, but the customer experience they provide is exceptional.

When I finally met with the AAC guys to learn about their needs, I saw a unique opportunity. Here are two founders who have run a gym for eight years, have a loyal following, but don’t know how to make it a success.

They were also about to set out on one of the biggest investments of the company’s lifetime. AAC will be moving from the east side of Orlando (Semoran and Colonial area) to a space downtown that is twice the size. Their decision for this move makes sense, location is everything, and their current location is not the easiest to get to. On top of that, there is no direct competition downtown.

When I looked at the business model I got really excited, it is a subscription model with multiple pricing tiers. Kind of like all the technology companies I have worked for and currently consulting. To toot my own horn, I kick ass at subscription models but have only had a chance to work on digital subscriptions. This is a chance for me to use my skills for a real world service! The subscription model was exciting; the founders kicked ass and they needed support.

Ok, back to the resolution stuff.

What is the best way to get back in shape? You go to the gym and workout!

Well, I have a gym membership to Planet Fitness and pay them $20 a month. I never go though, haven’t in 7 months. Excuses of course are to blame, but it has more to do with my priorities on time. Going to Planet Fitness sucks because of its location and I can’t do intense workouts there. They have rules that prevent me from going hard.

These things add up to me just not going to the gym. By becoming an investor and partner in a gym, I get to kill two birds with one stone.

First, I get to use my skills to help some awesome founders grow their business and prove that I can be successful with any subscription model, online or offline.

Second, which is probably the most interesting to me. I don’t have an excuse to not be at the gym. By investing time and money into a gym I will need to be there to track its success. To ensure I can provide the most value, I will be working from the gym at least three days a week.

My biggest problem with going to the gym has always been efficiency of time. If I drive 10 minutes each way to the gym, I lose 20 minutes a day. When I do workout it takes me a long time to cool off, upwards of 2 hours. I don’t lose the whole two hours, but being sweaty prevents you from putting on nice clothes and attending meetings. These are my two biggest complaints about my current gym experience.

With the AAC gym I do not have those excuses. I am driving to the gym, as my office is at the gym. When the new downtown space opens, I will be moving my company’s offices to a space next to the gym. I can’t use the excuse that the drive wastes time. With my office being next to the gym I can easily walk downstairs and do my workout at any time of the day, early or late. Since the gym has dedicated showers, I can take a shower before or after cooling off. I can even store clothes, shower supplies and whatever else I need in my office.

Simply put, I have no excuse to not take advantage of the gym.

Even with these positive attributes, there are also some big negatives. By getting involved with the gym, I will need to invest time and money. This means less time spent on my other businesses and family.

With this comes a new resolution I need to make. Do I prioritize my health by investing in the gym or do I skip the gym and focus on continuing to grow my current business??

I am choosing to make my resolution to become healthy. Being healthy brings quality of life and isn’t that why we earn mo
ney in the first place? Even funnier, if you ask an entrepreneur why they want to start a company, it is usually because they want money from the business to improve their quality of life.

For me, I already have successful companies and the money is not a concern. My health, right now is a concern and with my new obligation to the gym, I don’t have a way to get out of becoming healthy.

This, my friends is how to commit to your resolutions. The moment you make your resolutions ingrained with your life, the more likely you are to succeed.

What is going to be the obligation you create to ensure you never fail a resolution again?

The Curse of Entrepreneurship

I know, most of you are going to be like WTF?

But let me explain myself before you get your panties in a wedgie, ok.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane on how I became an entrepreneur, and then we will get to how it can be a curse.

TLDR, skip to the summary.

Ahhh, the good old days. You know, the days when you lived in your parent’s house, ate their food and didn’t have any real bills. When I was a kid we were not that well off, my mom was on welfare from the time I was zero till I was like 9. Things were tight, we lived in the ghetto and my mom was not very active in my life. I am thankful for this now because I learned so much, but as a kid it simply meant I needed to keep myself occupied with my boundless energy. If you have been around me, you know how exciting and full of energy I can be :P

Well, when you have to occupy yourself and have no money, it means you need to figure out how to make something out of nothing. I remember the first things I always tried doing was building things, kind of like boys should. I also had to take things a little farther and wanted to build my first empire when I was 9 (1994).

I received a package in the mail about some boy band group and that they needed a street team. I was like “hells to the yeah I am in!” I got signed up and involved, tried to promote this boy band, but was met with the harsh reality that people in the ghetto don’t like boy bands. It probably took about a week, and I quit because it was easy to get distracted back then. At this point in my life I didn’t see this glimmer of entrepreneurship coming out, I just wanted to do something and be in charge of my destiny.

A few years later my mom got her act together and moved us out of Pittsburgh and to Youngstown, Ohio. Like really mom, you could have chosen a better place to move, but I understand that is where our family is from, and she could lean on our family to help her.

This was a game changer for me; I was now surrounded by white people, middle-class white people! I was still some white ghetto kid who did not fit in. Oh, the troubles of not fitting in.

With that aside, I ended up making a few friends in a few years, and when I was 14, my good friend Doug took me to my first rave. You might be asking yourself “What the hell was a 14-year-old doing at a rave?” My friends new the promoter and snuck me in and my mother didn’t really care, as long as I was not dead. The rave was called Focus, and the event was great, except for only 50 people showed when they needed 1000 to break even. The promoters lost their ass on the event, and these were friends, so I felt kind of bad. However, I fell in love with the party, the people and the community I had never been a part of.

At this point in my life I was pretty impressionable, I mean come-on, I was 14. Even though I was young and new, people were just nice and helped me, made friends with me and took me under their wing. All in 12 hours of being at this rave I had made 10 or so new friends who wanted to hang out and take me to another rave. This was awesome for a kid who has never fit into his surroundings, so I latched on!

The next day I got home from the rave, mildly hungover but started searching the web (1998) trying to learn everything I could about the rave business. Man there was a lot of cool stuff I found, not to mention how raves and drugs go hand in hand. All I could focus on was how did these events make money, who was in charge and how could I become one of the people in charge.

Within two weeks, I decided I was going to open up a record label for this new music I fell in love with. Back then, I was getting into house and trance and figured I should do what I love. I came up with the name Shattered Records and started telling my friend to find me all the best DJ’s. I looked all over the web, put out listings on forums and bulletin boards and the CD’s started flooding in. I had DJ’s all over the country sending me CD’s trying to get bookings or get a record deal. It was crazy, I was 14 and put this info out there and within a month or so I was already getting traction, or so I thought.

When you have no clue what you are doing and things start moving forward anyways, you need to go learn what to do, so I bought some books and read for weeks. I learned so much about the music industry and all the mechanics, from signing an artist, to how royalties and residuals work. There was one gleening thing though; record labels are banks that loan money to artists and then collect it back with interest.

“Shit, I am 14 and have no money.” I said to myself. What was I going to do now, I had no money to give these DJ’s, but the CD’s kept rolling in. I was three months into my first business Shattered Records, and it was already doomed for failure. I was crushed.

Then it hit me, I can work my way up to being a record label. All I needed was a way to make money and then that money could fund my record label. But how was a 14-year-old going to make money, I could only make $6 an hour at a restaurant, which I was already doing, and this didn’t make me enough money. I had to find something else!

I kept reading the books and studied the music industry and rave industry to see what may be out there. I read a lot about these managers who protected the artist from record labels and booking agents which managed the booking for the manager and artist. Neither were something you needed money to do; I was offering a service in which I was paid if I was successful. I changed the company name to Shattered Records Management and started signing artists to my management for a 15% stake in their earnings.

At the time, I was just communicating with folks via email or the phone. I never admitted my age and told these people I was new, and they only needed to pay me if it worked. Funny enough, I knew no one in the business and now had artists willing to let me do their bookings. Friggin crazy I tell you.

Once again, I turned to the internet to help me and used those same forums to find answers. Kind of neat how forums were the first social network, but no one thinks of it that way.

On these forums, I started promoting the DJ’s I was working with and sending people digital versions of their mixtapes. Back then (1998/9) people did not do bookings this way. It was still a relationship business, and you had to know someone. Our competition did everything in person, over the phone and some email. They worked directly with promoters or club owners to get the artist booked.

We accidentally did it differently, and it worked pretty well. I am proud to say this, at 14 I got really lucky with starting a business because I did not know how it was always done in the industry. On the bulletin boards and forums we communicated directly with the people who attended the raves and parties. If you could get them interested in an artist, they would then tell the promoter or club owner to book the artist.

At the time, I did not realize what I was doing, but somehow it worked. The artists I managed started getting requests for bookings. Promoters would call me and ask who a DJ was and their availability. The DJ’s would get bookings from across the country and wonder how someone there has heard their music, all I could say was the internet.

Over the next three years, things took off. We were the first online booking agency and started doing sub-bookings for bigger agencies. At the height of things, we had 160 DJ’s on our roster and we were throwing our own events. It was a great time in my life.

When I was 19, I wanted to take things to a new level and started investing the money we were making into other events. Investments started small with $250 and then grew larger. At one point, we invested a whole bunch of money, way too much money in an event called Solstice. Partially because the promoters had a big following and the event was on my birthday, and I could have main stage at midnight.
As expected, the event had some hurdles, but we never expected to lose our asses on the event.

A few major things went bad for us, and I will explain.

First, another competing event was announced on the same night across the state. This hurt ticket sales, but not enough to shut it down.

Next we had a massive rain storm which ruined our parking lot. At Camp of America, we had planned to use their football field and some other grassy area to park over 200 cars. With all the rain, these fields were flooded, and there was no way to get a car on them. Everyone had to park 2 miles away in a small town and then be bussed in by two rented greyhound busses. HUGE expense we could not afford.

Then the final blows came in. The promoter we invested in was so loved by the community because they had a huge flaw. They gave all their friends tickets to their events at no charge. Not just normal tickets, but VIP tickets that should have been sold at $300 a piece. Around 200 of those tickets went out for free, and we lost so much money on those it was stupid.

At the end of the night (8am June 22nd 2003) we did not have enough money to cover our bills. As a person who signed off on most of the bigger deals, my company was the one left holding the bag. Within seven days, I had decided I had no other choice but to sell off all of our contracts for future booking to get rid of the debt. We in essence sold the assets of the company, but I like to say we exited :)

I did leave the company with a good amount of money left over, but I still had to close the company down.

This was an important life lesson for me. I started my own business, all by myself and made it pretty far. No one taught me what I was doing, I just figured it out and did it. Just like when I was 9, I wanted to build something.

Since then I have started five businesses, which 3 have failed in some form or another. All of them I started with something I knew little about and just went out to solve the problem. This is what we do as entrepreneurs, we go build stuff that solves a problem.

In Summary

Being an entrepreneur is tough, there is a lot of ups and down. As an entrepreneur who has started six businesses, which 66% of them ended in failure, I have seen the good and bad.

Entrepreneurs are not normal people, especially the good ones. Even the entrepreneurs I know are all weird in some way and not many of them are my favorite people to hang out with. Overall I don’t like people too much, but that is because I grew up in front of a computer. Either way, there are some I like and a lot more I don’t like. I think this has to do with the fact we are strong personalities and sometimes things just don’t mesh well.

Back to the point! Entrepreneurs think differently, and when it is so engrained in your life, it can be controlling.

At times, I am cursed for being an entrepreneur because everything to me is a business idea. I just can’t think of anything other than starting businesses. Every problem in the world is something I can fix, I just need enough time and enough money. I will keep testing until I fix it and make it better than anything else anyone might create. This is how an entrepreneur thinks.

See this the where being an entrepreneur becomes a curse. I think I can do anything! Just give me enough time and money, and I can accomplish it. At the end of the day, this may sound great to you, but man does it get annoying.

I stay up late at night drilling into a problem with no light at the end of the tunnel. Over the years of doing this, I have learned to prioritize my entrepreneurial conquests. Unfortunately, I still am in love with trying to fix things, even things I have no business fixing. Kind of like how I am trying to disrupt the convenience store business with Fuelzee, but I have never worked in the c-store industry.

I have at least 4 or 5 businesses I could start right now. I don’t do it because I have control, but I know if my current company Fuelzee was to fail I would immediately pick up one of the other ideas and start running.

Getting a job might be a good idea and you might tell me that. Where would that get me though? I wouldn’t be solving the problem or have control of my destiny.

Having a regular job where I work from 9-5 would be amazing. I have always wanted that and have tried to do it. It only takes a few months, and then I start to get frustrated at the pace of things and then get distracted.

Being an entrepreneur has made me spend less time with my family and I only have a few friends. This is how being an entrepreneur has cursed me. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely place.

Am I saying I hate being an entrepreneur? No, I love what I do for a living. I still yearn to slow down and maybe work less, but that is just not how I am wired. Being an entrepreneur is just who I am and thankfully I love it.

What about you, have you been cursed by being an entrepreneur?

(Orlando Sentinel) Lose your bank branch? Blame mobile, online growth

Dan McGaw rarely sets foot in a bank branch, but he may be more in sync with his accounts than his grandparents ever were. Armed with remote deposit and online bill paying, the 29-year-old Orlando entrepreneur sees little need for the teller line.

“I only go to the bank when I need to take out cash, which is almost never,” he said. “I don’t have a checkbook; I use mobile apps or websites for more than 90 percent of my banking.”

As the popularity of mobile and online banking grows, more bank branches in Central Florida and elsewhere are starting to vanish.

Since 2009, Central Florida’s branch total has fallen 6 percent, for a net loss of nearly 60 branches, as closings have far offset openings, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which regulates banks.

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