Entrepreneurship & Presenting Your Best Self Online
Hey everybody, how's it going? I'm Chase Jarvis, I'm the founder and CEO of CreativeLive, which is the world's largest live-streaming education company. We're focused on the creative entrepreneurial and thought leader spaces, helping people live their dreams in career, in hobby, in life. I have with me an esteemed panel, but before I get to those folks, I wanna give a shout-out to WeWork. There's an incredible overlap between the WeWork community and the CreativeLive community of people who wake up and think about creating something every day. And they are basically christening or welcoming their new space here at Westlake Tower in Seattle. So a big shout-out to Chad and the crew for hosting us. Can we give them a round of applause for welcoming us into their house? (audience applauds) Thanks a lot, man, appreciate it. And one of the things that we're gonna be talking about today and I think the key thing is putting forward your best online self. In addition to the spirits, which we ar...
e consuming copiously there, we're also shooting headshots for anyone who wants a headshots to put into your best online self after the panel today. But one of the reasons I feel like putting your best online self forward is critical today is because it's relatively new, it's in the sort of the five to 10 year like oh my god, this is actually a thing. And it's not just a thing that helps you get in the door, it's a thing that pretty much everybody looks everybody up before they go into a meeting. So it's very, very critical to start putting your best foot forward. These folks, I curated this panel here today based on people representing something a little bit different along that spectrum of their best online self from someone whose an artist at one end of the spectrum and a full-time employee, to someone who is in media and someone who's in technology. So there's a big range of people who, again, overlap with the WeWork community and the CreativeLive community, but hopefully they're all resonate with you in some way, shape, or form. So my first guest is Thig Nat, he's a rapper here in Seattle, he has a full-time job. I know him from the hip hop community here in Seattle, but maybe you can tell the folks at home a little bit about yourself, sir.
Yeah, of course. So my name's Thig. Pardon me, I'm just getting over a cold so I'm kinda losing my voice, but hopefully you can hear me. I wear many hats. Nine to five I work for Seattle Children's Research Institute, I'm also in a hip hop group called The Physics. We've been performing for 15 years now, have toured--
You look for being a 15 year long performer.
Thank you very much. Have toured the county, I am part of a collective called Rappers With Cameras along with Prometheus Brown from Blue Scholars. And I recently launched a clothing line called Selany, which is a unisex line inspired by travel.
Great, thank you very much. And Jenni, I met Jenni, I don't remember, we literally don't remember where we met.
It was a long time ago.
But I watched her before she watched me, I was watching her on TV where she's been, I think you've literally had some role at KING, KOMO, KIRO.
I've been to every station--
Are there more television stations that you've been on? (Jenni laughs) She's an Emmy award-winning media personality and so maybe you can give us a little background.
Yeah, I'm originally from Australia, so you'll here a little twang. I'm a mother of a six-year-old and one on the way in just under two months. So thanks Chase for bringing me right at my largest point, but it's all good. (laughing) I love relationships and I fell in love with my online community as a TV talent and felt a hole and need for technology to help me connect with them. Jumped from my TV career and launched a company and now am part of Tagboard, helping other people solve the same problem that I had with an amazing team as well.
Sweet. And TA McCann is one of Seattle's storied entrepreneurs. Not only is he a serial entrepreneur where he mentors and advises and invests in a lot of startups here in the Seattle, and I guess Seattle sort of the West Coast entrepreneurial community, he won the America's Cup sailing race. I also fondly follow that up by he also lost one year, but remember him for the win. (laughing) He's had several successful exits, most recently sold the company called Gist to BlackBerry for a nice chunk of change and it was probably an incredible ride. What would you add to that bio, my friend?
Just more recently started a company called Rival IQ. And spend a lot of time angel investing, advising other companies, and working on startup number seven.
Number seven, there you go. So without further ado, I think diving into the topic at hand around online personalities. I'm gonna start with you, Thig. One of the things that I think is interesting and why I wanted you on the panel is because you actually you have a nine to five, and yet you have so many other personality characteristics that you put forth in your social. And I don't really see your nine to five. I did see a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl here in Seattle where one of the banks featured you? I dunno, I don't wanna get derailed, but talk to me about not showing your nine to five and putting forward some of these other things that you want to be known for.
Yep, sure. I think like many people your career kinda starts off at one point and as you make the journey through it, you start to evolve and you start to develop your interests and become interested in different things. And for me, personally, my career path started with a business degree. And the way I saw myself going at is not necessarily where I wanted to be at 34. And so as I continued to evolve and my interests broadened, I got really passionate about things like photography and I stayed passionate about music and I became really involved and interested in fashion. And so as you become more involved and interested in these things, they take a greater hold and place in your life. And for me, that's been reflected through social media. So I think that the reason that you probably don't see a ton of references to my job at Seattle Children's Research Institute is because I'm evolving away from that field into more creative roles and things that I'm more passionate about. And those are slowly, slowly becoming a bigger part of my personality and my identity.
I think identity is ultimately at the core and the fact that for the first time ever, we don't require permission to shape our identity. And you get to do that at scale, actually. So TA, with the company that I referenced earlier, Gist, that was basically a social address book. Can you explain a little bit about that and why you built that and why you found it valuable, and ultimately BlackBerry clearly found it very valuable.
Yeah, so I was one of those kind of people that always wanted to build relationships around context. But finding context about other people, especially for the first time you meet them, was in the first early part hard, but it became easier and easier. And for the people that had a lot of context it was hard to aggregate all of that. So Gist was really a simple product that said for a unique email address, what are all the other attributes to that person? A Twitter handle, a Facebook, a LinkedIn, a news article, a mention of a blog post. And we effectively automated that process of googling somebody before you met them. And we would do that across your entire network every single day. So you'd start your morning saying who in my network is doing something interesting that I need to be aware of and can I use that to build a better relationship? And the more that our personas grew, the more that our own networks grew, the more a product like Gist was useful. And BlackBerry acquired it and became the foundation for their address book, and it's still the best address book on the worst platform (laughing) that's out there. And it's astounding to me that our address books on our iPhones and androids are still so bad that don't do any of this kind of context. Imagine your address book could immediately say oh, this is Chase and this is a blog post about him and these are his last three Tweets and this is what he looks like. (laughing) All that sort of thing is what Gist was all about.
Great. And when I think about shaping your online persona, there's something that feels a little dirty about it. Like hmm, someone's nodding over here. It's like 'cause there is a little bit an element of crafting something that's really that you're putting some sort of thing forward that for some reason we think of it as being inauthentic, and yet I find the people that are the most successful in not just social media, but using social and an online personality to drive like relationships and business in the real world are actually the people who are the most authentic. They are the most like what they are on their social feed. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that in your experience there, Jenni.
Yeah, so I started on social media when I was a news talent in Seattle on the morning show. And my boss called me into his office and he said try this Twitter thing. And I'm like okay, let me try it as Jenni Hogan, not as KIRO7 Seattle traffic. (chuckling) Just so we can experiment.
You don't look much like traffic.
Traffic, garage is what I say too when people make fun of me. So the next morning I woke up, there were a few hundred followers and I was like wow, we're not testing this, there's something really big here. And we kept trying to push people to follow me on KIRO7 Traffic instead of Jenni Hogan and Jenni Hogan kept growing. I asked him what should I do? He said just be you. Like if I was going to swear or do something that the company wasn't proud of, I wouldn't be hired anyway. So he gave me the freedom to just be me and I just started being me. It was that second voice in my head, if I was excited, if there was a moment. I didn't really tweet about traffic, I tweeted about my emotions. Like oh my goodness, this accident is so hard to get in front of the camera and tell you guys about. And then I had a wardrobe malfunction (laughing) in a commercial break and I tweeted about it. And the next morning my boss called me in and he said what did you do at 7:15 a.m.? Apparently our ratings (laughing) just spiked at that point. And I was like I just felt this power and the community. When you are really honest with them and they follow you because they connect with you at some point, whether it's because of your job or because you're a mother or because you love tech scene or the entrepreneur scene, and then you point them in one direction or to do one call to action together, it can be so powerful. And I'm just in love. Like it's priceless when you have a community like that that will do one call to action for you. Someone asked me like how much would you sell your community for and you just can't. It's so valuable. If you're truly being yourself and they're following you for you, it's great.
So TA, as someone who looked at this from a data perspective, what were some of the key attributes of the people that were successful in an online personality maybe relative to their offline, or what were some of the key attributes that you found when you looked at that stuff from a data perspective? Or different perspective, but I was thinking about the data side.
Well I think everybody who's interesting has multiple facets to their life. If you think about the conversation you started with here is like we're not uni-dimensional, in fact nobody's really uni-dimensional. So putting different facets of your life out there is I think important. Second is I think have a perspective, be known for something, have an opinion on something. And if you have an opinion on something, then people will say like oh, I don't necessarily have to agree with your opinion, but have an opinion on a certain subset of things. So people wanna be interesting, they wanna be interested, they wanna have a perspective, and they wanna have some form of dialogue around said perspective and that's interesting and fun. That's how I think the better online personas are built in the sense of it's partly crafted, because you have that's what I think the world is gonna be and I have a perspective on the world and I'm gonna put that perspective out there, and building that on multiple facets I think is more interesting. 'cause we're all just humans too, right? We have kids and we have wives and we have food that we like and travel that we do, et cetera. And so you can't be too sort of staid in who you are because people like to approach in that way too. We connected earlier about Australia. Like okay, it's not part of my persona per se, but it's a facet of my life that we could connect on.
And Fig, when you were, I guess again I knew you through one interest of music, and yet literally when I started following you online after a dinner party that we had hosted, an amazing dinner party where you performed along with a handful of other really interesting folks, but that really got me into you. And then to realize that you were a photographer, that you were a fashion blogger, doing stuff for Nordstrom, and you had your own fashion line, that sort of really opened my eyes. I think I know the answer here, this is maybe a little bit of a softball, but was that very intentional or were you just being who you were? Talk to me about which came first, sort of the chicken or the egg?
I think like TA said, we're all multi-faceted and we all have different parts of our personality, different things that we're interested in, and I think it's human nature to be afraid to put yourself out there for something different. And me specifically, I came up in the Seattle music scene, hip hop scene, and so I was known as this rapper, this musician. And I remember when I really got into photography for the first time, I was really excited about it, but there was this apprehension in my brain and this kind of fear of oh, are people gonna think that I'm trying to be this now or what are people gonna think? But really when it comes down to it, you shouldn't be afraid of what people think. And I linked up with Geo, who's in Blue Scholars, and we were both into photography and we both said hey, we're really into this, let's make it fun, let's not put pressure on ourselves, let's come up with this thing called Rappers With Cameras.
Very sophisticated title. (laughing)
Let's have people just come over and talk about photography, put up these pictures and let's not put too much pressure on ourselves. Let's just enjoy what our interests are and our passions are and let's cultivate that. And that kind of helped me move on to other things and kind of get rid of that fear of doing different things. So when it came to fashion and I was really passionate about it and wanted to create something in the fashion world, it's the same thing. I just kinda told myself this is something I wanna do, let me just put my best foot forward and create something. And we're all multifaceted, we all have these different things that we wanna do, there's no reason that we can't do whatever we want to.
Yeah, if you think about your relationship with your friends in IRL, in real life, they don't know you as like Bobby the real estate broker, maybe they do, but as soon as they get one layer beyond that, that's when a real relationship happens. And most of my experience with not just creativity, but with business is the people that you do business with are the people who you get beyond that first layer. So I think there's something there around the online personality reflecting the multidimensional human. I think one of the things that WeWork stands for, they're a community of creators. And that community, when you're in a community, you're in a community and people have different identities, but there's a lot of cross pollination. That's what coming to a place like this, why there is additional value is because you get people that are in different walks of life or people that are similar to you in one way and very, very different in another. To go back to TA, as you think about or as you thought about from a technology perspective, did you see a strong correlation of people meeting people who were the same or very different? I dunno, you guys studied this stuff pretty carefully, so what were some of the trends that you saw?
I think most people look for a shared context first. Think about when you meet people, you're like oh, where are you from? You're looking for a shared context or something you can understand. And then from that shared context you build trust, small trust, and then you look for something that's more interesting. It's like oh, you're a photographer, I'm interested in photography, oh, you're a rapper, that's interesting to me. I don't know much about it, but I'm interested in that thing so tell me about that. And if you're interested and interesting, that's I think the point of that. And so finding people look for context in familiarity and the simple ones are often the where do yo work, where are you from, where did you go to college? Et cetera. But if you can get past that 'cause those are generally kinda boring. If you can get past that. And the more that we have an online persona, the more easy it is for people to get past that. And say like oh, I heard you were a sailor, oh, I heard you were a photographer, oh, I heard you're this or did that. And that's a better shared context than a location which we're kinda like yeah, I'm from the Midwest, whatever.
Yeah, to circle back, I think then ultimately this sort of online personality that I think we were told at one point you need to be a thing, put sort of your business self forward, ultimately that it's actually better if you're more like you are in real life which is we're all multi-hyphenates. I consider myself a photographer, a director, an entrepreneur, I'm so many things. And you might think of it as a complex story in an internet world, but a complex story is devoureable in tiny bite-size pieces that I think can be of interest to so many people. So there's certainly some kind of connection there. While I'm talking to these guys next, I'm gonna go to you guys for questions in just a second. So be formulating those and I'll be able to call on a couple of you all.
Can I make a quick point?
Yeah, but go ahead and make a follow up point.
If you think about your content you're putting online, I think about this on behalf because my newer company's called Rival IQ and we do a lot of social media analytics for companies as opposed to people. So Gist was all about aggregating data, about people so you could understand them better, and Rival IQ is much more about aggregating social data about companies and comparing those companies. But when we think about creating content, I use a sort of rule like five, three, two. So for every 10 posts that I put online, five of them are about the stuff that I care about and amplifying other people's content, people I think are smart. Like this is something that the rest of the people who care about the same thing I care about should know about. Three of them are about me and my perspective on said thing, this is what I think. And two are just about me in a social sense, my daughter did this, I climbed Mount Rainier, I saw this band, because wanna connect on all those different levels. So I call it the social five, three, two. It's like kind of a meta thing, right? Because that thing's tweetable and this is social, five, three, two, meta.
Yeah, there you go. Which one is that, a five or a three?
I dunno, you figure it out.
All right, that's too hard. That's math, I'm an artist. (laughing)
I'm an engineer. (laughs)
So Jenni, I think one of the ways that I see people, I consider myself reasonably attuned to this world, I've been spending a lot of time in this world, decades or more, talk to me about how you think about the different platforms. Because I think there's a world in which oh, LinkedIn is my business self and Facebook is my personal self, and for the folks who are out there in the audience and sort of grappling with this, how do you think about your online self? How do you segment across these different platforms?
So I just wanna say I'm expert at being me, I'm not saying this is right for everyone. So I'm just gonna say what works for me, but you wanna find what works for you. And by the way, Chase is amazing on Snapchat. If you're not following him, you have to follow (chuckles) 'cause I learned a lot from watching him on there. I didn't do it on purpose with strategy, but as I was successful in other people's eyes they asked me how are you doing it? And so I analyzed myself more at that point to work out how am I doing it and I picked a hero platform, like the one that I was really passionate about. At the time that was Twitter and just started really spending a lot of time there. Facebook was more for me, I have never had a private profile, so my public profile is me. My family's on my Facebook, everyone who's following is on my Facebook, I don't spend time filtering who it is and that's just part of the being you online. But on Facebook I am probably not on there as much, it's more just moments or things to share with people. LinkedIn is, I do feel more professional. So I sort of will go towards my business side and do things that are educating people on that one. Snapchat I'm playing with right now. It's all just being you though, but I don't post the same thing on every platform. I do feel like there's a different community on there that wants different things. Part of the thing I realized I do is I really am strict on my posts and how they make people feel. So my three things are impact people in a positive way when I post, inspire them to impact people in a positive way or impact their life, and then inform them. So those are sort of the three things I do on all the platforms even though they're different posts on each platform.
Can you say that again in a Tweet for us?
So impact, inspire, and inform when I post.
You're welcome. (laughing)
126 characters in there, cool.
The engineer calculated the characters. Hold on to your questions, I'm gonna put a pin in some of those things you said, but I wanna hear from you, Thig. So how do you think about each of the different platforms relative to being a full-time employee, a rapper, a fashion blogger, a photographer, talk to me about it.
For me, personally, I'm an artist and I like to create as a form of expression. And so Instagram happens to be the platform in which I'm the most active, because I find that I can express myself and my thoughts and how I feel about things visually in a way better than I can in 140 characters or on Facebook. Your mom's on Facebook, (laughing) there's certain things you don't want people to see. But I think it kinda depends on who you are and what your medium is and exactly what you want to get out to people and which people you want to see it. But I think there's a time and place for everything. I thought that formula that you had was really interesting, because I think people do wanna see varying degrees and levels of what you're saying. And me, personally, I caught myself. Everything I was posting on Facebook was promotional and there wasn't enough personality in there. And I had a conversation with my wife and she was like well, you know, I think you should probably be a little more personable sometimes, people wanna hear about what you're thinking or what you feel. So I think having that mixture of personality and also information and inspiration, like you said, is really good. And I'm still trying to find my formula for that too.
TA, just the same question, how do you think about different platforms relative to what kind of content you put out?
My online persona is much more aligned to what I would say information. I'm an information sort of guy, I like to learn, I like to teach, so Twitter's my primary platform. And a lot of what I feel like I do is to learn a lot to try to synthesize and organize for other people. And so the five of the five, three, two, is really about hey, I paid attention to all this stuff, I think this stuff is important for people. And most of my online persona is entrepreneurially centric and that's what I think is important and here's my perspective on it and here's who I am as a person, connect with me on this sort level. So Twitter's my primary sort of level. I think I would say I'm interested in visual creativity, which is part of the reason why I love hanging around with you and other people like you. And so Instagram is a place for me to try and to experiment in sort of a simple palette, a simple set of tools in a way that feels creative for me. But Twitter's my primary platform.
So I think this will hopefully resonate with all y'all, but anybody out there ever feel like FML, like my life, versus the lives of all these people that I'm looking at socially, sucks? Anyone? I'll just ask for a show of hands. (laughing) 2,000 hands just went up if you weren't on TV there. So one of the things that I'm really weary of and I would sort of inject maybe as a little grenade here in the conversation, is that comparing A, I have a friend named Marie Forleo, who call this, so you guys are familiar with Goldschlager? Which is like the worst alcohol you could possibly (laughing) ever drink, unlike Bulleit which we're sipping here tastefully. But Goldschlager is the worst and when you drink that stuff, not only do you feel terrible, but you look terrible. (laughing) And she calls this Compareschlager. So do not compare yourselves to others, because what you're really comparing is your real life, 'cause only really you know what your day to day is, and then what you're comparing yourself to is the highlight reels of your friends. So anytime you're comparing your real life to a highlight reel, it's gonna feel terrible. One of the thing that I feel like changed the trajectory for me personally and so many people that I know that are like our panelists, is when they started sharing some sort of things about vulnerability and some things like having hard days. I'm seeing a lot of head nods in there. So I'll put this to the panel, what are some things that you guys, you already mentioned it briefly, so I'll go to some of the other folks here, I'll start with you, Fig, is there anything that you talked about that's been especially hard that you might've been weary about sharing because my boss is gonna see this, my next interviewer is gonna see this, my community folks here at WeWork are gonna see this, or whatever, anything that you've shared that has actually you were scared of, but came around in a really positive way for you? And, no, is not an acceptable answer. (laughing)
I think for me in stepping into this fashion world, it's something that I was kind of apprehensive about and scared and nervous about a little bit. And I think not being afraid to put yourself out there and reach out to other people and say hey, I'm looking to learn more about production or I don't know much about marketing in these areas, not being afraid to tell people that you don't know it all and that you need help and that you're willing to learn, I think.
It's demonstrating sort of vulnerability of not knowing, I think that's asking for help.
Asking for help, exactly.
What about you, TA?
Well some of you guys might have read the post that I wrote in the fall last year. So left Rival IQ in the fall to go and start a brand new company.
That was the seventh, it didn't get started. But I had built a plan, I built a prototype, I put together the most awesome set of investors that I could think of for this particular idea, and the day before I took all their money I blew up the company and shut it all down. And I wrote a long blog post about that process, about why I killed the company, 'cause I knew that the day I took their money, I was into it for seven to 10 years of that particular idea and the sort of calculus wasn't right at that point in time. But that particular post was picked up by a lot of different people because I've been successful in the past. From every sort of vantage point it looked like a pretty good idea from most people's perspective. Investors were great, they clearly thought it was a good idea, a lot of people wanted to join me in that good idea. So writing that post, well, first of all, making the choice was super hard. Still super hard, like I still feel grief over losing that opportunity and to be able to work with the people I was gonna be able to work with, I feel grief on that. And writing that post was pretty hard, but I think putting that out there hopefully will help a couple other people do the same thing, kill an idea before it becomes a real company. And hopefully that gives me opportunity to go do something better.
Sweet, and what about you? You talked about being in front of tough traffic, but maybe there's something more?
I think I didn't get into TV, like I wasn't I wanna be Katie Couric, like a lot of the peers, that's what they wanted to do when they grew up. I wanted to get into banking and I studied economics 'cause my dad was a banker and you idolize your dad. But I lived with 10 football players in college in a house, and they got in trouble with the law. I heard their side and the TV put out a totally different side and I realized I can help change the world (chuckles) by getting their stories out. So I realized that social media I could show my cracks and could show other people that you don't need to be a perfect talent with boufy hair, that you're real as well. And so I think just showing your cracks. Even now as an entrepreneur going from a tiny company through almost 50 now, we have offices worldwide, I'm first time at being a leader at that size of a company. And if I can show my cracks on what that's like and that I'm not perfect, maybe it'll inspire someone else to jump and do it and realize I don't have to be this person in a business suit with driving the nicest car. I can do it where I am now and get to that level as well. Even things when thinking about this, could be in the world forever, I could be going for a job interview and get this. I remember one recently was I emailed a job applicant and I was doing it from my phone and the phone (laughs) changed the words to let's do shlater. (laughing) I didn't see, I just pressed send. I wrote touch base, let's touch base later. And then thought oh my goodness, I just sent this to this job applicant. I googled the world to make sure that it's exactly what it said, and then I was like I'm just gonna tweet this. Other people are gonna be at this level and have this happen. And I wish I had a friend that did this. (laughing) But just posting that you're not perfect, like spelling errors and things like that. I hate that Twitter doesn't let you edit them, but yeah, you were just a normal person as well.
I think there's a sense of adding value and whether that value is information, inspiration, or hey, we're all in this together. I think adding value is one of the things that as you're sharing things to the world that you know, hold on to that. I think that's actually there's a thing there in trying to add value to the world. And the not perfect. I also try, and online, just as a small detraction from the conversation here, most people either like me or don't like me. I'm very rarely in the gray. And I try and point people, people who are very critical of me, I point my audience of a million people at those people or at that comment because there are two things. One, the fact that hey, I don't wanna try and hide behind this, because as soon as you try and appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. And second of all, we all are in this together and to be able to not take one another so seriously, because that's one of the biggest crimes of humanity is that we all take all of this a little bit too seriously. So as you're putting forward your own online persona, there's a couple of a nuggets. I'd like to go to the audience and take a couple of questions. Hands up. All right, we'll go to the front row 'cause it's nice and easy and you're close and I can see ya.
Is there a point where you think we should delete old posts (laughing) where the person that you were is no longer the person that you are?
Is there a point at which you should delete old posts as if you were no longer the person that you once were? We'll go to the panel. We got a head shaker here, we're gonna go with the head shaker, let's bring up some controversy. You're gonna do a rap here pretty soon, we're gonna refill your bourbon, (laughing) and we're gonna stir up some controversy. Go ahead, TA, take it away.
No, because you were that person at some point in time and you had that perspective. And if you change that perspective, fine, talk about changing the perspective. Did we all do stupid things online? Probably. And in that sense if somebody who's gonna judge you of that is probably not a person that's done their own stupid thing online. And oh, by the way, life's too short to spend time doing that shit. (laughing)
'cause you'd have to delete a lot of posts or? (laughing)
I would say yes, only because I had media training before I got on social media. And I feel sorry for the--
You're deleting all the good ones, all those media trained ones, not the bad ones.
So I started knowing how to put my persona out there. I feel sorry for the younger generation who experiment online. By the time they work out who they are, there may be some things that it's not the best to have on there. (chuckles) So I would say I may advise that. Miss Seattle posted, this was a few years ago, posted some things about not liking Seattle and then she won and the media just went at her. And she realized wow, it's such a powerful medium, deleted it, and then went around speaking about that to help others realize that their voice and what they say lives forever. So I do think everyone should look through their history and work out who you are and what you want out there. It's really powerful and it can affect your life.
I would agree, I would say yes. I think if you're looking for a job and a couple years ago you said some really stupid stuff and that's living on the internet, I reserve the right to delete that. Also, I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to photography, so if three years ago I was posting some photos that I now think are trash, I might remove them.
Interesting. All right.
It shows you how far you've come.
That's right, the progress.
How bad you were and how good you are.
The progress, progress. We'll go to you in the gray blazer. Yeah, go ahead.
Going back to vulnerability, I think artists sometime struggle with lots of doubt and negative self-talk. So I'm always curious how artists handle that and overcome that. So if you have any tips on how to get motivated despite--
All right, this is a great question around do we have any tips or tricks around how to get motivated to share a vulnerable side of yourself, as artists and entrepreneurs there's a lot of self-doubt and a lot of negative self-talk, and how does that play into the equation?
Let's go right back to you, Thig.
I really love that question, because I personally struggle with self-doubt all the time. I think everybody does. I think for me, the key is looking at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is I wanna be happy, I wanna do things that make me happy, I wanna do things that make me a better person. And life is short, so why not give it my all and actually try and attain that? And when I kind of keep that bigger picture mindset, it helps me kind of get past those fears and insecurities. And also, knowing that every single other person has those same fears and insecurities helps me as well.
I do think it's tough to put yourself out there, especially when you're raw and you really are being you and then you could get negative feedback. But if you're evoking an emotion, that's awesome. If they're saying your name right, if they know your handle, they're spending that time to do it good or bad. So being on TV in America with the Aussie accent, I had the most emails of any TV talent in the station and they were all negative, you said this word wrong. People wake up grumpy. (laughing) And my boss said you're evoking an emotion, you're getting them to write your name. Go to the computer. And so I started writing back to them and then they would write back. I'd be like what word did I say, I'll work on it. And they'd write back and be like oh my goodness, great.
It was all the words.
Yeah. (laughing) I would say defense instead of defense, it was like little things like that. And these people became my friends. And then I realized it wasn't me that they were really trying to say something negative to, I evoked an emotion in them and it's an honor if they do that. So don't be scared and don't take it personally even though it's really hard. Embrace it. And when they're quiet is when you worry.
As an entrepreneur you need three kind of people in your life and there will be one person for each category. One is you need someone who loves you for you and will always support you regardless of your success or failure, whatever. And they're the people who say it'll be okay, honey. You'll figure it out, even when they have no idea on actually how to figure it out. Number two is you need somebody who's experienced who likes you or likes your idea or some blend of the two. That's maybe an investor, might be an advisor, somebody that connects with you a little bit on a personal level, but sees the dream you're sort of chasing. And then third is you need the customer you're trying to solve. And when it all gets messy, you can always go back to that person and say like you still have that problem, right? That's the problem I'm trying to solve, that's the one I'm working through. And if you blend those three, then you can usually make it through the difficult times.
And I'll put a bow on that question with a friend of mine named Brene Brown. I don't know if you guys are familiar with Dr. Brene Brown's work, but she is incredible. She is a shaman vulnerability research person, like people flock to her, I'm sure you can imagine. And she said that there is no creativity without vulnerability. And if you think of whether your idea, you're trying to get your startup off the ground, whether you're trying to make music or photographs, whatever your sort of passion is, that without vulnerability there's literally a gap between you and creating something that hasn't already been created. So it's that piece of you that I feel like that Brene talks about is the differentiator, and so how can you put that into your work. But awesome question. There were some other hands over here. We're gonna go to the back in the purple, go ahead.
So, how do you put your best face forward in communities online and don't have it come across as you trying to market yourself or promote yourself or attract an audience? How do you participate?
So how do you participate and the question is a good one. I think how do you participate in the community, put your best food forward, but not be an overly sort of edited self-promotional side of yourself? Awesome question and I think there's a lot of nuance in there. TA, we'll go right back to you.
Yeah, I would say it's a modification of the five, three, two rule. And so for every five things you put in there, every 10 things, how many of those are things that you found that you think can add value to that community? They're not about you, they're not about your perspective, they're certainly not about your products or your offering, it's the difference between what I call sales and customer advocacy. So if my job is to make my customer successful, whether or not they use my product or not is a secondary thing. My job is to make you successful in what you're doing, that's advocacy or customer advocacy and you do the same thing in an online community. Add value to that, make them happy, look at the questions that people have and answer their questions. That's an add value kind of advocacy sort of scenario.
What about you, Jenni?
I read somewhere yesterday the best form of marketing is not you talking about yourself, it's someone else talking about yourself or talking about you. I think just adding value to the community. My best followers have been from Seahawk games, like just screaming and cheering and just having fun with them. And then you're giving them that feeling as well. So I think just finding whether it's a conference and you're passionate about it, sharing the quotes that you love, so now you're adding value to them. Or a topic that you love. I'm really passionate about Social TV and I would rather help other people lead the industry in that, then tell them about our technology. And then they with their examples, that is how it's gonna come back to oh, they just happen to be using our technology, but we're helping them do something, rather than talking about what we do as well.
What about you, Thig?
I think for me it's injecting that personality into whatever I'm saying. For example, my clothing line, Selany, was inspired by travel, specifically in traveling I found a need for a good travel bag and I didn't have one. And so I wanted to personally create something that was functional, sleek, sexy, looks good, something that anybody could use. And so in my promoting this, I tried to inject a little bit of personality and not just say hey, this is my product, you should buy it 'cause it's really good. Try and giving people a look into why I created this or why I wanted to. Hey, I was traveling and I really wanted to throw my laptop and my pair of shoes and a sweatshirt in a bag and be able to breeze through the airport and I couldn't do it. So I decided to do this and I decided to go about it this way. And I think giving people a glimpse into that perspective and that view kind of humanizes you, it doesn't make it seem like your just somebody that's trying to get somebody to buy something.
I think context, you started out the conversation with the word context around Gist, that's what Gist did so well with your address book. And I think the context about what you're promoting and not just the what, but the why, because you care about it. I've endorsed products, I endorsed Nikon with Ashton Kutcher, I endorsed Polaroid with Lady Gaga, and the why that I was able to put forward because I'm a photographer at heart. I looked at all of the cameras in the world and I fell in love with Polaroid. No, it's not the slickest technology, it's not the newest thing, but it feels interesting, it feels real, there's something there. And the why connected with people so much more than the what or that I was sort of selling something. So I dunno if you feel like those things are a good answer, but I think the A word, the authenticity word gets used a little bit too much. First of all, if you're selling something you don't believe in, God bless ya sister. But if you can sell something that you believe in and that thing is you or a product that you actually care about, putting that and injecting that in there, I think there's a lot of value. So we'll take one more question if we can. One more. Someone over here had there hand, all right, go back. We'll go back to you sir in the great suit.
Mentors, I'm interested in what kind of mentors you have and are you mentoring other people?
Great, the question was what mentors do the folks on stage have. And second question, like are you mentoring other people as well?
Yeah, I'm an advisor for I think eight different companies and mentor a bunch through the different Techstars programs, which is the one I'm sort of most affiliated with. So I spend a lot of time doing mentoring. I don't have at this point a formal mentor, but in the first two companies I did and when I did Gist. And I recommend to all the entrepreneurs that I work with that after you finish raising your first round of funding, you look at what voids you have in the company that you think you need or what voids you have as an entrepreneur and find two mentors to add to the company. And so in that sense I'm entering into a new space and at the time when I actually will start a company, I'll end up doing that too. So getting one or two mentors that tend to be aligned a little bit more personally toward whatever void I have, and then as that maps into whatever company I'm trying to build.
Yeah, I look for my dream person in a hole that I have or something that I wanna learn. When I left TV to be an entrepreneur, I reached out to Geoff Entress, he's a local angel investor in town, and had coffee with him. That was over three years ago, I just had coffee with him today, I have coffee every three months with him and he's taught me a lot. I reached out to Blake Nordstrom from Nordstrom 'cause he was a past rower, so I had the connection there, and said I wanna learn from you. He quickly passed me to Bob Schwartz who launched nordstrom.com and I have now probably been Bob's biggest pain in the rear, (chuckles) but he keeps answering my calls, so honest with me, so thankful for him. And then Michelle Goldberg, she's a local VC here too. Being a female in technology I am cast as a role model and I don't really know won't I'm doing, so I wanna be a good role model. And so I reached out to her so that I could be on this venture. As far as paying it forward, I never say no to coffee. It sorta got a little bit ridiculous at one point and so the entrepreneur in me was like we gotta scale this. (laughs) And so I tried launching Go Girl Academy on the side and we turned that coffee into a 10 week course for females and we graduated 50 females. It was just purely not for profit, just for paying it forward. And yeah, I would advise everyone reach out and ask for mentorship and also pay it forward too, because no one gets to where they are without someone helping them. And they hopefully will pay that forward as well.
Yeah, honestly this guy has been a big mentor to me. I remember having drinks with Chase about a year and a half ago and just kinda pickin' his brain saying I'm looking to get into more creative things and I have this idea for this clothing line and blah, blah, blah. It helped to have someone who has gone through these same things in creating something, kinda help you see things that you don't see and things that you don't know. And so I think having a mentor is extremely valuable, I want more mentors. Yeah, I would echo what you said, try and find someone who can help you and someone who's knowledgeable and someone who you can sit down and have coffee with or have a drink with.
Drink, yeah. (chuckles) And just kinda pick their brain and I'm very grateful for the guidance that you've given me.
And it's appreciated it.
Let's keep this sort of paradigm rolling 'cause how do you all, what connects with you as a mentor when someone reaches out? Because presumably you all get about, I dunno, 80 emails after tonight. But what's gonna resonate with you, how do people go about finding a mentor and what are some of the strategies that have been effective on you? Is it seduction, is it an interest being aligned, is it like adding value back to what you're doing? TA, tell us.
Yeah, I'd say the best ones are people who take the dating analogy, which is really don't ask for too much too soon, understand what I can help with. Like my online persona, what I'm good at, what I blog about, what I think about, what I'm doing is very easy to find out. So ask questions of me that are of things that I know about and that's relatively easy for people who are good mentors. That's one. Go slow in building the relationship, add value back to the mentor himself or herself. And most people just take, take, take, and never give back. But if there's anything I can help you with, is there a problem you're struggling with, is there someone in my network that I can connect you with? That opportunity is to really create a bidirectional relationship between good mentors. Tell people the stuff they told you mattered. I asked you for an opinion on this thing, you told that that was your perspective, I did that thing and it worked or it didn't work. Because most mentors wanna know that their stuff actually mattered and most times you have no idea. People ask you a question, you give them some feedback, and I dunno whether it was good or bad advice, whether it worked or it didn't, but most mentors who are good at it, want to get better. And so those would be the things I would say.
That's great. Jenni.
Yeah, I feel like being a mentor is the best way to teach you how to be a great mentee. (laughs) because you learn. And so I think just setting expectations, saying why you want someone to mentor you, and asking them to mentor you on something that they actually know, because they want to give knowledge that they know and if they don't know it, it doesn't help either party. Also, it's up to the mentee to keep pushing. So realize the person you're asking is busy and you have to be proactive. I mean you say that everyone's gonna write, but I go to the University of Washington and speak at their classes, I say anyone can email me, maybe one person does. So it is really that hustle and you really have to just keep trying. Michelle Goldberg, I stalked her for three months (laughs) until she said yes. And then she said yes and I haven't let go. So it is just about being a hustler, I think.
Even if you as the mentee have nothing to offer, you should at least understand what the mentor is interested in learning about. 'cause you might say like oh, I met this other person, like I'm not a photographer, but I know a great photographer and if you're interested in photography and you're my mentor, I can help you connect to a great photographer and I might leverage my network, my personal relationship to try to help you. So make sure it becomes bidirectional at some point by asking good questions, by understanding what the other person wants to learn. 'cause good mentors, they're wanting to teach, but they're also wanting to learn.
As someone who's super senior in the hip hop community here in Seattle, clearly you've mentored a lot of folks. Talk to me about that for a second if you can.
Yeah, I have a lot of artists that come up to me and they say hey, Thig, can you check out this song that we did or can I have some feedback on music? And for me, it's an honor to be able to impart whatever wisdom I have in music and creating. Just the fact if someone has come to me and expressed interest in my opinion and my feedback, I take that seriously and I give them very honest, genuine feedback. So I think it's important as a mentor and a mentee.
Sweet. What about one more question from the audience here? We've got just a couple minutes left. There you go, go ahead sir in the fine hat, Mr. Cornicello.
Mentoring, is that always a pro bono back and forth, is there ever someone whose mentoring for a charge? Or how does that work exactly?
So the question is is mentoring always pro bono or is there sometimes where you have a fee associated with your guidance? Fees?
No, maybe a cup of coffee. (laughing) That's really about it.
It's something that I have no idea, but just to be honest with the people I've said to them I value them, tell me if you need something from this. They've never asked for anything. I will help them however I can 'cause they've given so much value, whether that's me hooking them up with connections or helping the other companies they're invested in, but even if I offered, I do not think they'd take any money from it. And as far as me, I don't take money for mentoring.
Yeah, I think you need to differentiate the word mentor from advisor. So mentor is helping people pro bono, just making it sort of better. At some point in time you may evolve into an advisor relationship. And that advisor relationship feels more like an investor relationship. Which is if I want you to be an advisor for my company, and this usually moves from being a personal relationship to more of a corporate relationship, but as a CEO I might want you to be an advisor to my company and in an advisory sort of capacity I want to compensate you and I also wanna contractually obligate you for a long period of time. So normally speaking an advisor relationship might be a two year long commitment where you're granting somebody options in your company as you would an employee and you're vesting those options over time with a certain level of expectation of expertise and time. It's up to the CEO in that case to leverage just like they would an employee that advisor. But I would differentiate those two functional differences, but in terms of mentorship, no, that's really about giving back to people who helped all of us be successful. We've all been successful because people have mentored us, given us good feedback, made this community better by mentoring other people. And so that all should be totally free and for the good of the world.
Tell the folks at home here in the cameras and those of us here in the room how to get ahold of you, how to pay attention. What are your feeds, your preferred handles? Tell us how to follow you.
So I'm at TA McCann everywhere, so tamccann.com, @tamccann on Twitter, mostly at TA McCann in different places, but those are the two best places to find me.
Two Cs, two Ns.
What about you, Jenni?
I'm at Jenni Hogan on pretty much every platform. So it's J-E-N-N-I H-O-G-A-N. I'm actually Jennifer, was born Jennifer, but when I was like eight years old I cut off the fer and it just made sense to be Jenni with an I. (laughing) And I kept it ever since.
Cut off the fer. (laughs)
There's something in there, I'm just gonna leave that one. (laughing) Cut off the fer and Jenni from here on out. And what about you, Thig?
I am Thig Nat, T-H-I-G N-A-T on Twitter and Instagram as well. And also the website for my clothing brand is selanycollection.com.
After Seattle, LA, New York?
And Selany Collection.
Sweet. I'm just @ChaseJarvis. We're on CreativeLive, huge debt of gratitude for WeWork for hosting us here today at the Westlake Tower space here. Super looking forward to what you guys build here with this community. For the folks here in the room, I think there is cocktails, headshots, and some great music. So thank you all very much. Please give a warm round of applause to these guys. (audience applauds)