Mike’s Mailbag: A Cautionary Tale About Entrepreneurship

Gooooood Morning,

Happy (almost) Canada Day Weekend!

Over the past year, I have learned a few things about entrepreneurship, relationships, and life in general from running my own business. I decided to write about it and chronicle some of my biggest lessons learned…

Driven by a thirst for entrepreneurship, I left my corporate job on my own accord last year to launch a coffee company and simultaneously build out a fast casual restaurant concept for the downtown business professional. This eye opening experience exposed me to a whole new arena of business fundamentals and principles in action.

It is very difficult as an entrepreneur, especially a solopreneur, to process ideas in a formalized manner and reflect because time is never on your side and you’re constantly putting out fires. Ultimately, I launched one business and advanced the larger of the two concepts to the 1-yard line but decided to take a knee.

I want to share some overarching lessons learned from dipping my toes in the waters of entrepreneurship. None of my reflections are specific to an industry, nor do I consider myself an expert on entrepreneurship. I’m merely a guy that left my corporate career as I knew it to captain my own ship as an entrepreneur.

This is what I learned…

Full Article Here via LinkedIn: A Cautionary Tale: What Few Tell You About Entrepreneurship

Go Canada,

Mike

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Mike’s Mailbag: The Scenic Route to Alaska

Goooooood Morning,

Apologies for missing last Friday, twas’ a busy week so we’ve audibled to Monday morning. Let’s put a little jump in your step to kickstart the week…

  • DISRUPTION Magazine. This is a new, hot off the press Canadian publication and is one of the best reads to get your fix on how disruptive technology is impacting the world we live in. The content is extremely relevant and explained in a way that allows even the non “techie” to digest and comprehend. I would highly recommend tuning in and spreading the word to other friends and colleagues inclined to stay sharp in this realm.
  • Do you have these 5 “super-skills” for the future? According to Fast Company, arming yourself with these will help you thrive in the evolving workforce. Agree or disagree?
  • This next interview is bold, humbling, and revealing. Dr. Michael Gervais is one of the world’s eminent sport psychologists and his recent interview with Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory is raw, rugged and packs a punch. The first time I tuned in, I was hook, line and sinkered. I hit replay and took notes. Michael’s words (and Tom’s) may fall flat on some (you may even flat-out disagree) but to others, his words will strike your heart and mind like a lightning bolt. If you’re seeking growth in any area of your life (personally, professionally, in relationship, etc), this video is worth every second of your time.
  • Love Gary Vee or hate him, I’ve come to realize that he has some pretty insightful things to say. At first, his brashness and tone didn’t really resonate with me. But once I got through some of the smokin’ guns and cliches, I realized he puts out some really solid content. This two-minute clip on rationality in business is one of my favorites.

Coffee of the Week: Interesting look as Bloomberg open the kimono on 5 tricks Starbucks uses to seduce you in their shops. No interior detail is left to chance…

Song of the Week: A great tune to start your Canada Day roadtrips -> “Coming Back” by Scenic Route to Alaska

Quote of the Week: “Sometimes you need life to save you from what you want, so you can get what you need.” – Tim Ferriss

Make it a Great Week,

Mike

Mike’s Mailbag: The Last Refuge of the Misfit

Gooooooood Morning,

Grab your morning cup of pipin’ hot joe, we’re going to jump right in.

  • In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit” – Anthony Bourdain. We lost a living legend this week. A man who brought people sitting on their couch around the globe through his culinary adventures and cultural curiosity. In a world that strives to be politically correct in all instances (perhaps to a fault), thank you for staying true to yourself and being a misfit in and out of the kitchen. The world will miss your unapologetically brash yet genuine nature. You’ve inspired us all. Rest easy, chef.
    • I would say that the angriest critiques I get from people about shows are when I’m drinking whatever convenient cold beer is available in a particular place, and not drinking the best beer out there. You know, I haven’t made the effort to walk down the street 10 blocks to the microbrewery where they’re making some fucking Mumford and Sons IPA. People get all bent about it. But look, I like cold beer. And I like to have a good time.” – Anthony Bourdain in an entertaining, no holds barred Thrillist interview
    •  A thought provoking reflection and important reminder about the lessons learned from this week’s unfortunate passings via The Globe and Mail
    • One of Anthony’s classic literary gems… His food essay to The New Yorker titled, Don’t Eat Until You Read This.
    • Last but not least, some raw insight into what outsiders might consider “the pinnacle of successin business and how/why things aren’t always so peachy on the inside.
  • Tom Brady. The GOAT. If you haven’t seen the mini-documentary Tom vs. Time, I would highly recommend it. It’s a raw glimpse into Tom’s life off the field and brings to light his unwavering commitment to greatness. If you ask me, watching the weird and wacky things Tom does to prepare himself to shine under the lights is all kinds of awesome.
  • As you might be able to tell based on frequency of articles featured, I am big fan of Mark Manson. His raw, brash, satirical introductory paragraphs can scare off the faint of heart but if you can get past his wild vocabulary, Mark’s insight into the shittier parts of life is refreshingly on point. He dives deep into the parts of life that few other authors and bloggers dare and does so in a very practical manner. Real life isn’t lived through an Instagram filter of glamour and perfection so why should the world of self help articles? Keep on rocking in the free world, Mark. This read, The Four Stages of Life, won’t let you down. And if you care to share what stage of life you’re in (or trying to transition into), let’s grab a coffee and chat about it. Coffee is on me.

Coffee of the Week: If you haven’t been to The Colombian in Edmonton, it is my favorite new shop in the city. The owner, Santiago, is an awesome guy with an even better back story, dating back to his roots and coffee heritage in Colombia. He roasts all of his coffee on-site with his partner in crime and wife, Kristin. They dial in a perfect medium roast every time. Nestled in the heart of Glenora, the best part is, the staff are all super friendly and love helping you pick out a great cup of joe. A sour free zone in more ways than one is my kind of place!

Song of the Week: Feel It Still” – Portugal The Man

Quote of the Week: “The possibility for greatness and embarrassment both exist in the same space. If you’re not willing to be embarrassed, you’re probably not willing to be great.” – Paul Angone

Rise & Grind,

Mike

Mike’s Mailbag: The People’s Champ

Goooooood Morning,

Extending a warm welcome to a few new Mailbag readers this week. Glad to have you aboard! Let’s get right to it…

  • Why swim in red, shark infested waters when you can find blue ocean to do the same? Seems like a pretty obvious theory… But have you ever thought the same notion can be applied in business? While there are some notable exceptions, a lot of successful new businesses and technology startups thrive in blue water, not by entering the dense, dangerous red waters full of top-of-the-chain predators. Great article by Inc. that features a Calgary based business that has since expanded to Edmonton.
  • Building on last week’s introduction to the lesser known perils of social media… At face value, the thought of an app or platform to share photos of one’s life with family and friends is pretty harmless. Heck it’s a great idea and medium to stay connected with one another. But what happens when these apps become more than just a simple platform to share photos? What happens when many users become obsessed with creating the perfect “highlight reel” of their life? Well, as it turns out, it’s having a pretty significant impact on society’s collective headspace. This interesting montage of a world leading brain expert, ex-Silicon Valley engineer and Facebook executive, along with a few other prominent thought leaders paint a pretty interesting and frankly grim picture of its widespread effects. I’ve been pondering the comment about social media’s effect on newer generations ability to achieve medium and long term goals having grown up in a world full of instant gratification. Are there any quotables that stick out for you?
  • This next video is all kinds of awesome and courtesy of a new Mailbag reader, Scott. It captures raw footage of the first time a world class music producer listens to an unknown artist for the first time (in a really cool new online learning platform, Masterclass, if you’re not familiar). The non-verbal reactions between the two musicians’ are really interesting to watch. I was never a huge fan of this song to be honest. That changed after watching this video…

Coffee of the Week: As I try to build more of a community among Mailbag readers, I want to introduce you to a relatively new friend of mine in Toronto with big dreams and an even bigger heart. Cody originally read about my coffee business a while back via a similar weekly note as the Mailbag (my friend Brett’s version, The Beer List), as Cody also shares a love for the freshly roasted good stuff. Low and behold, Cody became the first and only sponsored 4th Line Grind athlete (**apologies for the short term nature of that deal pal) on his quest for qualifying for Ironman Kona. The holy grail of triathlons.

My favorite part of Cody’s story is that he did not grow up an athletic kid. His mantra is “No talent. All hard work.” A few weekends ago, Cody and I did an 85km ride on the David Thompson Highway, west of Nordegg, into the Rockies. We rode together for the first 5km, then he said “Wilkesy, I’m going to pick it up if you want to try and stay with me“. Within 10 seconds, GONE. Not that it’s that hard to lose me on a road bike but I mean he was gone! Uphill, into a stiff Rocky Mountain headwind. I hammered out the remaining 80km solo and proudly waved the flag of a weekend warrior. Cody is racing this weekend at Ironman Eagleland in Cambridge, Maryland. He has a wickedly fun Instagram account, @thefulldiary, that is fun to follow along. He posts some awesome training and race montages on there and often finishes off his weekend training sessions with a token pint (like a true triathlete). We opted for some Freehold Brewing’s Big Chutes Lager post ride if you haven’t tried their suds. A couple great lads Matt and Tavis started this company and proudly tout their awesome branding, Alberta by Choice. Good luck this weekend Cody! Your Mailbag crew will be cheering you on from coast to coast, coffee in hand.

Song of the Week: People’s Champ by The Arkells. I would’ve classified myself as a middle of the road Arkells fan prior to hearing this. Then I watched the music video… What a jam and premise for a tune.

Quote of the Week:Experience is a hard lesson because the teacher gives you the test before you learn the lesson.” – Vern Law

Rise & Grind,

Mike

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Mike’s Mailbag: Back in the Saddle

Goooooood Morning,

Long time no talk mis amigos! Tis’ been a while since we last convened on the ‘Bag… Safe to say a lot of life has been lived on both ends. What is shaking in your neck of the woods?

I was recently e-introduced to someone in a semi-professional context as “quite possibly the most interesting 20-something I know”. Now, I don’t know if this is a compliment, a subtle dig, or simply resemblent of the somewhat unique path I’ve taken the last 14 months of my life. I went from suiting up everyday selling energized fracturing solutions to driving across our great nation to moonlight as a caddie at the #1 rated course in Canada (so much so it’s featured in the Lotto 6/49 commercial), while living in an ocean-side trailer with no Wi-Fi or cell reception (“patio” view below). Then one sunny summer morning in early August, my caddie loop was cancelled last minute so I posted up in the local coffee shop to work on my coffee business plan. This particular morning I was working on sourcing the supply of my coffee beans. A few hours into working, in walked a woman from the side door of the cafe that more than caught my eye and long story short, I went and introduced myself to her. Turned out she was from Calgary and on a solo cross Canada adventure of her own. 10 days later, we embarked on a 3-week road trip down the eastern seaboard, into the southern US, then ventured back northwest finishing up in Denver. Less than a month later, I finalized my partnership with a small local roaster in Calgary and started my own coffee company (having written much of my business plan in my Wi-Fi “less” trailer and at the local coffeeshop). What’s the old Steve Jobs adage “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever“? It certainly rang true for me looking backwards…

Fast forward to now, I’m back in Edmonton, my hometown and proudly touted as the City of Champions (even though the wooden sign entering our city from the south hasn’t seen a coat of paint or facelift since Mess’ hoisted the cup back in ’90). Wink wink, nudge nudge, Donny Iveson and council.

There’s no telling the route a rejuvenated Mike’s Mailbag will take in 2018 but I can assure you it will be entertaining, thought provoking, and authentic (even if to a fault). What I’m hoping to do moving forward is take our online community of Mailbag fans, readers and contributors and find ways for us to meet face-to-face in brick n’ mortar environments, from coast to coast (see “Flaked” Trailer here for modern day paradox of community, a-ha moment @ 2:08).

  • The 3 Levels of Self-Awareness by Mark Manson
    • This might be my favorite article of 2018 so far. Whether or not you appreciate Mark’s writing style (apologies in advance for the profanity), he speaks his mind which is rare in the politically correct society we live in. If there’s one skill/character trait that becomes increasingly important as one grows older (in every element of life – personally, professionally, in relationship, etc), self-awareness could very well be at the top.
  • Principles For Success Mini-Series by Ray Dalio
    • Five years ago, the majority of Ray’s following primarily consisted of the finance community at-large. Since amassing an astronomical amount of personal wealth through his hedge-fund, Bridgewater Associates, Ray has found more fulfillment in finding ways to give back and share knowledge rather than continue to solely pursue financial profits. He championed the idea of radical transparency within Bridgewater’s corporate culture (which we’ll surely get into down the road) and prior to becoming one of the largest contemporary influencers on LinkedIn, he published a free downloadable PDF titled Principles. His following has grown exponentially since taking this PDF and transforming it into a full on book. He has since pared down these concepts into an easy to watch mini-series on YouTube. Regardless of age, occupation, interests, I highly recommend taking 30 minutes to tune in.
  • Denzel Washington on Social Media
    • Interesting thoughts on the prevalence of social media by Denzel Washington. More and more media coverage is coming out criticizing the social media engines of Silicon Valley for their intentionally addictive products’ effect on the true well-being of society. It’s easy to believe and get caught up in the hoopla about how “connected” we are as a society in a technological sense but is at the expense of actually being connected to those around us in a real, tangible manner? I’m going to explore this topic in depth in the coming weeks but will simply plant the seed this week.

Song of the Week:Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves. Her new album released earlier this spring, Golden Hour, is one of my favorites so far this year.

Java of the Week: This is a new addition and will spotlight favorite shops and entrepreneurs from coast to coast, fun facts + myths, among other things. To kickstart things, “Blinded By The Light… Roast”, might be of interest to you as you wonder why coffee tastes different at different shops you frequent.

Quote of the Week: “If a book about failures doesn’t sell, is it a success?” – Jerry Seinfeld

Rise & Grind,

Mike

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