Risk, reward, and passion to make something happen wake Jonathan Boyle, Chief Product Officer at AfterSteps, up in the morning. He loves the hurdles, the snags, the way some of the best happy hours come after a long day in the office -- and he always appreciates a good story. You can follow Jonathan @ProductJon.
YEC: Who is your hero?
Jonathan: My father, who passed from a two-year battle with cancer just over one year ago. I aspire to be half the man he was.
What's the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
A fairly common tip, but one that cannot be stated enough, is that business is about loyalty and relationships with people. A group of people that are committed to each other will be committed to the greater good. Commitment evokes constructive sacrifice, responsibility, and effort.
In the book "Good to Great," Jim Collins had it right when he said a great business is about getting the right people on the bus and then figuring out where the people will take it -- not the other way around.
Similarly, the book "Never Eat Alone" had great advice: the best way to connect with a person is to take their pain away or help their children. And my best days are when I've spent as much time learning as I have teaching.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Using emotion to make a decision, rather than making a decision to use emotion. Through many mistakes and triumphs I've learned how valuable that moment is between input and output.
Emotion is powerful; it's moving. It can move people apart and it can move people together. Emotion is the root of control, and at the core of navigating the rapids of a startup is understanding how emotion can be the greatest motivator and the greatest detractor.
In one case, we allowed emotion to get the best of us when starting Jogonaut.
Looking, back one of our investors might not have been the best choice, but we had a great idea, a great group of people, and we were ready to start. Looking back, we sacrificed we lost control, both figuratively and concretely.
Stay precise and decisive -- do what you can to prepare yourself and that will buy you more time between input and output. When you come from a moment of need, emotion will drive decision; when you are prepared, decision will drive emotion.
When decision drives emotion, you are in control.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
We won't always wake up as motivated as we should be for our day. Whether that's burnout, a hangover or a bout of bad news, I've learned to harness things that get positive endorphins flowing and utilize simple experiences to remind me that the body controls the mind as much as the mind controls the body.
My first hour will consist of 30 up-downs/burpees (body controls the mind and the mind wakes up), and a glance at my personal mission statement (mind controls the body and the mind reminds us why we push through the day).
When I enter the office, or prepare for work, I focus the first hour on touching the most imperative items of the day: Be present in the office, take a breath, and say hi to the team. Make the single most important phone call and send the single most important important email.
I also set my top three tasks for the day; no matter how simple or short they may be, it is always three. Some days that list could take 15 minutes, other days eight hours, but it forces prioritization. When the list is ready, shut down email, shut down AIM, etc., and tackle the list.
What's your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Investment comes from all sides and it is changing all the time. Investment isn't just money for stock. Investment is why the investor wants to be a part of your business. What do they want out of it? It's not always fortune.
Investment is why your team shows up in the morning. Investment is why some employees quit at the first bump, and why some employees are still there when you're liquidating assets. We all invest for different reasons and we all handle fluctuations in our investments differently. Be conscious of those reasons, and those fluctuations, as they are rarely the same as they were the last time you checked.
Understanding how everyone is investing or "selling" in your organization is your role as a leader. You're always raising capital is the mantra, but you're always finding investment is the truth.
Quick: What's ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Understand your routines. Routines are key; they teach us respect in the simplest form. Discipline is a word that can carry admiration or a stigma. But routines and tradition build character, character builds culture.
One of the most touching moments I experienced in my career was seeing a product of our culture have life long after our company experienced a painful valley.
After each employee at Jogonaut (my former company) passed their "probationary period" and became part of the team, they were brought to the common area and surrounded by the team and handed a challenge coin marked with their employee number. The challenge coin was carried with them at all times: workdays, weekends, holidays. It was a routine that told a story about the culture we had built. When the idea started we weren't sure it would catch on, but the routine -- the passion we had for the idea and the event -- was contagious.
Weeks after we had to go through a round of layoffs, members of the team were still returning to happy hour holding their coin challenging their former co-workers and friends. The story of the challenge coin and the chemistry created by a common bond formed relationships and investments between team members that will last a lifetime.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.