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Tech.co reached out for some insight on possible uses and examples of URL shorteners in marketing campaigns.

make advertising great again
Fellow Advertisers and consumers of the world.

We, the professionals of advertising, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our industry and restore its promise to all consumers.

Together, we will determine the course of advertising and the industry for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

Every few years, we gather at meet ups, in subreddits, and Slack channels to discuss the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to the social networks and ad exchanges for their gracious aid throughout this transition. Your algorithm updates have been magnificent. Thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one platform to another or from one tech vendor to another, but we are transferring power from all advertising powers and giving it back to you, the consumer.

For too long, a small group of networks and ad exchanges have reaped the rewards of advertising while the consumers have borne the cost. Google flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Facebook prospered, but the kids left and the organic reach suffered. The ad exchanges protected themselves, but not the consumers of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated on Wall Street, there was little to celebrate for struggling consumers all across our internet.

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone reading this today and everyone listening online. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this is your internet.

What truly matters is not which network controls our internet experience, but whether our internet experience is controlled by the consumer.

January 6th, 2018 will be remembered as the day the consumers became the rulers of advertising again.

The forgotten men and women of our audience segmentations will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now. You came to the internet by the hundreds of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the industry has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that an industry exists to serve its consumers. Consumers want a good user experience for their children, safe websites for their families, and uninterrupted streaming for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous consumers and a righteous internet.

But for too many of our consumers, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in pop-up cycles on our squeeze pages; call-to-actions scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our internet; an advertising system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the CPMs and the CTRs and the CPCs that have stolen too many dollars and robbed our internet of so much unrealized potential.

This advertising carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one internet and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath I take today is an oath of allegiance to all consumers of our products.

For many decades, we’ve enriched industries at the expense of consumers; subsidized the growth of our clients, while allowing for the very sad depletion of user experience. We’ve defended platform updates while refusing to defend our consumers.

And spent billions and billions of dollars on ad exchanges while the internet’s user experience has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other companies rich, while page load times, user experience and accessibility of our internet has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, kids have grown blind to advertising and left our banner ads unclicked, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of impressions that were left behind. The wealth of our online shoppers has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed to ecommerce businesses across the internet.

But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every agency, in every ad exchange boardroom, and in every social platform of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our industry. From this day forward, it’s going to be consumer first. Consumer first.

Every decision on budget, on placement, on creative, on copy will be made to benefit consumers and the consumer’s families. We must protect our consumers from the ravages of the exchanges promoting products, stealing clicks and destroying our internet.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.

Consumers will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our internet. We will bring back our social networks. We will bring back uninterrupted browsing. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new platforms and apps and websites and communities and technology all across our wonderful internet. We will get our consumers out of pre-roll videos and pop-ups and back to sharing their favorite memes, rebuilding our internet with a consumer first approach.

We will follow two simple rules; what the consumer wants and where the consumer wants it.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the brands and clients, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all consumers to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our business, service or products on anyone, but rather to let it shine on its own. We will shine for everyone to discover naturally.

We will reinforce old relationships and form new ones and unite the online shoppers against radical advertisers, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our industry will be a total allegiance to the consumer, and through our loyalty to our consumer, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When we open our heart to our consumer, we find there is no room for intrusive advertising.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In advertising, we understand that an industry is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept advertisers who are all talk and no action, constantly disrupting, but never providing a proper consumer experience.

The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of a marketer. We will not fail. Our industry will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of data, to free the earth from the miseries of clickbait, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

We all enjoy the same glorious opportunities and we all salute the set of advertising ethics.

So to all consumers in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our advertising destiny. And your courage and goodness and clicks will forever guide us along the way.

Together, we will make advertising strong again. We will make advertising wealthy again. We will make advertising proud again. We will make advertising safe again. And yes, together we will make advertising great again.

Thank you.

Notorious BIGs ten crack commandmentsBusiness and marketing are so ingrained in my DNA that almost every experience, story or song I hear in someway gets tied back to my work. I can’t help it. The other day, one track in particular jumped out at me. Ten Crack Commandments by The Notorious B.I.G..

If you know me, you know I love me some straight up gangster rap. The energy. The hype. The struggle. The rawness and realness. It’s all there. And, when it comes to my Mount Rushmore of gangster rappers, The Notorious B.I.G. is my George Washington.

That might sound weird coming from a digital marketing nerdlinger, right? Much to the dismay of my office mates, there’s little I love more in life than getting down on some pivot tables and audience segmentation with gangster rap blasting over 90db.

So, what was it about this seemingly ominous track that stood out to me?

Here, I’ll let Biggie explain:

I’ve been in this game for years, it made me an animal
There’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step-by-step booklet for you to get
Your game on track.

If there was ever a voice of reason in business, a central go-to figure of guidance, a North Star of good advice – it’s probably Biggie…

So, let’s break down Biggie’s infamous crack commandments and see how they make sense in relation to digital marketing…

1) “Never let no one know how much dough you hold.”

Additional Context: “The cheddar breed jealously.”

Clients with big digital media spends are hard to come by. It took until 2017 for digital advertising spends to finally outpace television ad spend. While TV spend is nearly stagnate – expected to grow only 2.5% in 2018 – digital ad spend is expected to increase 13% to $237 billion. All positive signs for the long-term health of digital marketing.

Even without numbers to support this idea, I feel comfortable saying the majority of that digital ad spend belongs to a handful of global agencies. This leaves the remaining scraps to be clawed at by the rest of the 20-100 employee agencies scattered around the globe.

My recommendation to agencies looking to grow in the digital space – keep your spends, channel-mix and performance metrics close to the vest. We all like to brag with our fancy case studies and website animations of numbers counting upwards really fast and really high. But, the more your competing agencies can garner about what you’re doing, for who and how those tactics are performing, the more vulnerable you become to their same-industry clients, or them poaching your clients outright.

I speak from experience, having used competitor’s own case studies against them in new client pitches…

2) “Never let them know your next move.”

As digital marketing changes faster than any marketing channel before, people who to try solve problems with yesterday’s instructions will be rewarded far less. The future belongs to the marketing professional who can draw a new map and solve problems that didn’t exist yesterday.

Big problems are rarely solved by the people coming out claiming they are going to solve said problem. More often, the problem solving is done in silence, with little encouragement from anyone else.

My biggest breakthroughs (or solutions to my biggest problems) were accidents or late night experiments. These same solutions are things I apply every single day to garner results for our clients. Some of the stories behind how I found these solutions often get perpetuated to win new business. Yet, my drive to solve these problems was never for these reasons.

I simply saw a problem, couldn’t find a known solution, then set out to develop my own.

3) “Never trust no body.”

Additional Context: “Your mom will set that ass up, properly gassed up.”

Much like commandment number two, be careful about who you’re arming and with what kind of information. We have to remember the human brain is specifically designed to do what is best for the long-term survival of the vessel it operates.

After all, sympathy and empathy are relatively new evolution’s.

I can speak from personal experience here of working with a national journalist to write a story about a client. This journalist found a more click-worthy story to tell, or in Biggie’s words, became “gassed up” and used my words as the setup for his clickbait article.

This was only able to happen due to my misplaced trust.

4) “Never get high on your own supply.”

digital marketing commandmentsWhile obvious in Biggie’s industry, not so obvious in digital marketing. Instead, I’d phrase this as, “don’t develop an emotional attachment to your idea.”

Business. Never personal.

When you’re too emotionally attached to an idea, especially if it’s your own, it’s easy to develop a bias when discussing the outcome. This creates an unwillingness to adapt the idea as better opportunities emerge, client demands change, or the industry changes around it.

In poker terms, this is a classic example of sunk cost fallacy. Throwing good money after bad money.

Your “own supply” in Biggie’s words is your ego, your pride and your attachment to your own ideas. Don’t get too high on any of those things.

5) “Never sell no crack where you rest at.”

It’s not uncommon for a freelancer, hoping to one day pull in some big name clients, to take on family and friends as their first clients. Quick cash from low hanging fruit has a way to cloud a freelancer’s judgement.

Family and friends are not clients – they’re family and friends. They have unrealistic expectations, they’ll provide skewed feedback, and you’ll likely over service their accounts at already discounted rates taking valuable time and resources away from attracting more lucrative new clients.

I once had a family friend’s restaurant as one of my first freelance clients. Every time I’d go into the restaurant they’d discount my meal, throw in dessert, send me home with frozen pizzas – you name it. It was great!

The time came to grow the account through additional ad spend, additional services and of course a higher monthly retainer.

“Well, we’ve been giving you free food for months. That should cover some of this, right?”

Ayyyyyyy…..

6) “That goddamn credit? Dead it.”

Additional Context: “If you think a crackhead paying you back, shit forget it!”

Cash flow is the heartbeat of a business. Delaying cash flow is delaying growth.

The problem in digital marketing – especially when it comes to media buying – it’s not often clear what the final invoice will look like until the ad spend is spent or the hours are logged.

So, what happens is agencies and freelancers aren’t able to send an invoice until the work is complete. Commonly with a net-30 clause, resulting in the agency or freelancer carrying upwards of 60-days of debt.

The risk here is the potential for clients and their business’s to fail, taking their debt with them. Or, as is always the potential in digital marketing, clients unhappy with the results of the completed work and refusing to pay. It happens. Especially when expectations aren’t properly managed.

The lesson here is that until your business is large enough to mitigate the associated risk of carrying a client’s delinquent billings, focus on upfront cash generating services and billing practices.

7) “Keep your family and business completely separated.”

This one is a throwback to commandment number five in my book – but it’s worth repeating.

Don’t mix family and business.

Take it from me. Growing up, my mom owned a restaurant almost entirely staffed and managed by family. I owned a quick-serve restaurant with two friends. I owned several businesses with an ex-girlfriend. Owned a clothing company that collaborated with a lot of very good friends.

Almost every single situation was negatively impacted by the inclusion of friends and family. Sure, there were a lot of benefits along the way. Yep, There are a lot of a “family-owned business” success stories out there. But all things end, and when they end with family, they end badly.

8) “Never keep no weight on you.”

Additional Context: “Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jobs too.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously implemented what became known as two-pizza teams. The idea that a team small enough to be fed by only two pizzas will thrive through efficiency, clear communication, moving fast and increased innovation.

Not as commonly mentioned is that the smaller a team is, the more responsibility the individual team members have, the higher standard their work is held to and the less likely they are to let their (smaller) team down.

Now look around you. Do you work with eight people? 25? 100? How many of those people are floating right around the Mendoza line?

Any team member or employee not carrying their weight needs to be brought back into the fold or worked out of the day-to-day functions of the business if the business culture is to remain one of efficiency and productivity.

9) “If you ain’t gettin’ bagged, stay the fuck from Police.”

This one goes back to the age old white hat versus black hat discussion.

If you’re unfamiliar, white hat’s operate within the guidelines and ethics set forth by technology partners, platforms and their recommended best practices.

Black hat’s operate by their own set of laws frequently looking for shortcuts, hacks and whatever means necessary to get themselves or their clients to the top of the heap.

Unfortunately, black hat tactics work very, very well and often immediately. White hat tactics can be slow, tedious and are never guaranteed.

But if you expect to be a business, or a hireable freelancer two years, ten years, 15 years from now, you have to operate within the guidelines our partner’s set.

For example, you can buy 200 backlinks for your website right now and jump to the top of Google organic search rankings (a black hat SEO tactic). But in a few months, when Google catches up, that same site can be immediately and permanently removed from Google’s listings.

How embarassing would that be to explain to your client?

Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Play by the rules. Stay away from the “police.”

10) “If you ain’t got the clientele, say “Hell No!””

Additional Context: “Cause they gon’ want they money rain sleet hail snow.”

You’d be surprised how easy it is to receive pretty substantial financing to quickly grow a business. Hell, if you’re looking for investors all you need to do is show up with an idea and a deck and they’ll throw money at you.

We’re living in wild times…

Startups – a relatively new term for any new business – takes time. It takes the investment of sweat equity and long-term decision making to build the foundation of a successful business that can support a steady growth pattern.

Creating debt early creates a snowball of bad ideas and short-term thinking. Through short-term thinking bad partnerships are made, half-baked ideas are rolled out to the public, the work is rushed and the core idea is sacrificed.

More important than that high-visibility office, the big sign and state-of-the-art technology is a highly profitable business model that will feed you, your family and your employee’s families for many years to come.

Don’t take debt unless absolutely necessary. Sure, debt can enable sustainable, positive growth if used correctly. But, stupid debt is a death sentence to any business. So, unless the opportunity the debt creates allows the business to generate enough additional revenue to offset the initial debt plus interest, say, “Hell no!”

“One two three four five six seven eight nine” “TEN”

As Biggie says, “follow these rules you’ll have mad bread to break up.” And then some other stuff I probably shouldn’t include in this blog… but who am I to argue with the great Notorious B.I.G.?

In this Inc.com article I discuss how the onset of digital marketing has changed the buyer’s journey and what steps companies need to take.

I have a confession to make.

I have a thinking problem.

It started simply enough. I would think socially. But that’s acceptable, right? Plus, I kind of liked it. Thinking allowed me to loosen up and meet new people.

Then I began thinking alone. I began thinking late into the night which was causing me to oversleep and miss work. It became hard for me to go my entire day without thinking. Sometimes, I would even think before work. Worse yet, I began thinking on my lunch breaks.

How did I let it get to this point?

See, I relapsed sometime earlier this week while reading Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown.

So, what could Dr. Brown say that pushed me into looking up the nearest Thinker’s Anonymous?

Ready?

“Vulnerability is not weakness.”

WTF, Doc Brown. WTF.

If vulnerability is not weakness, what is it? Am I vulnerable? Should I be? Is my lack of vulnerability holding me back personally and professionally?


We live in this society that trains us from a very young age to believe vulnerability is a weakness. We’re taught as children to wake up in the morning, armor up and be tough. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Don’t let them see that you’re hurt. Leave it at home, don’t bring it to work.

“Go out and be vulnerable today, son!” – No dad ever

But by placing these artificial barriers around our vulnerability emotion we’re just numbing the pain. By numbing the vulnerability emotion, we’re introducing this halo effect where our other emotions become numbed — joy, happiness, belonging.

We can’t selectively numb emotions without affecting the others.

What if, in fact, vulnerability is simply a byproduct of great courage and strength? Or bravery? I mean, it takes immense amounts of courage, strength and bravery to allow yourself to be vulnerable, so it makes sense.

This of course, got me thinking a lot about my own life…


Every day. Every single day, the average human is faced with over 35,000 decisions.

I’ve long believed that no matter what decision we’re making, we’re really only ever deciding between two things— safety or risk.

Safety offers comfort and security. Safety is easy. Safety is known.

Risk offers excitement and growth. Risk is scary. Risk is unknown.

My advice has always been to choose risk as often as possible.

What I feel Dr. Brown has introduced into this theory is not only do we need to continue to choose risk, we need to be able to identify when our vulnerabilities are impacting our decision making.

Our vulnerabilities typically appear in the form of us questioning ourselves.

What if I risk and lose? What if I fail publicly? What if I ask her on a date and she says no? What if they laugh at me? What if they say I’m too fat? What if they say I’m not smart enough? Tall enough? Attractive enough?

These vulnerable questions can paralyze us into non-action. When we’re paralyzed into non-action we starve ourselves and the world of the joys of new experience.

And even though I’ve been consciously aware of my decision making for several years, I now have the self-awareness to see that in those moments when I chose safety over risk it was due to me not being vulnerable enough to allow myself to choose the risk option.

As a result of not being vulnerable, I wasn’t courageous. I wasn’t brave. I wasn’t strong, and I missed out on some great opportunities.


I think back to all of the labor I invested in what feels like 35 different startups. Some failed horrendously, some nearly killed me. Some sparked major backlash, some were boring as hell. But some worked.

The ones that worked were the ones where I was completely vulnerable. By silencing the critics I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I allowed myself to be completely courageous, brave and steadfast in what my goals were. When you’re courageous and committed, you’re confident. When you’re confident you’re brave, you make bold decisions, you take chances and risk big.

My failures were all the same too. I failed when I was scared. I failed when I didn’t allow myself to make the big and brave decisions. I failed when I prioritized safety over risk. And I prioritized safety because I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of risking and losing publicly— I wasn’t vulnerable.


Discussing this topic brings me back to one of my all time favorite quotes by Teddy Roosevelt…

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

See in 2017, and this great thing called the internet, there’s a billion people who will never enter the arena. They will sit in the cheap seats and hurl stones when the vulnerable man stumbles.

The thing is, unanimous praise is reserved only for those willing to be silent.

For everyone else though, the ability to say, “this isn’t for you.” is the foundation for being vulnerable.

Don’t worry so much about the next five to ten years of your life. I say worry only about the last five to ten.

When you’re 75 years old and you’re reflecting on your life, it will feel pretty shitty to know that you never entered the arena because you were scared of what the people sitting in the cheap seats might think of you.

It’ll be shitty to know that you never strived valiantly, failed publicly and picked yourself back up.

You never knew the triumph of achievement, great devotion, or the feeling of daring greatly.

Like Dr. Brown taught me – be brave in your life. Be brave in your work. You’re going to get your ass kicked — get used to it. Choose to fail. Choose courage over comfort. Put your work out there because it’s not the critic who counts, it’s the man in the arena.

Most importantly, choose vulnerability. Vulnerability is not a weakness. Vulnerability is courage, compassion, connection, bravery and strength. Our personal vulnerabilities are what makes each of us uniquely beautiful.

When you can be vulnerable with those around you, you find out they become more vulnerable and open with you, leaving each better than before. Someone just has to do it first. Why not you?

Vulnerability is the birthplace of your happiness.


This original version of this article appeared on my LinkedIn. Connect with me over there for the occasional first look at new blogs and ideas.

“Tired.”
“Exhausted.”
“Overwhelmed.”
“Defeated.”

Our weekly ritual of the one-word go-around intended to compress our emotional state into a single word to tip our coworkers off to our overall well-being.

But how many times have we heard these words from a coworker and the rest of us have gone on our merry way?

How many times have you, your friends, or coworkers said simply, “I’m fine” when prodded for more information?

If not 100% of the time, way too frequently.

But “I’m fine” isn’t good enough. “I’m fine” in many cases means, “I have a lot of deeper issues going on that you’d never understand so by saying this you won’t ask me anymore.” Then we high five and see each other at lunch like nothing ever happened.

This is complete bullshit.

So, what’s going on?

It’s easy for people to accept that mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes, yet when the majority of society thinks of depression they have a standard set of symptoms in mind. We imagine an anxious, unkempt person. We think of sadness and isolation. Aggression possibly. Or maybe it’s someone showing up late for work, seemingly disconnected from coworkers. Missed deadlines. Maybe they think of the student with slipping grades or poor attendance.

What people don’t think of is their high-functioning, overachieving coworker who exudes confidence and performs at the highest level every single day. The coworker that has it all figured out. Never misses a deadline, nails every pitch and just seems in rhythm with work and life.

The truth is, 30% of all entrepreneurs suffer from clinical depression where the general population only suffers at a rate of 7%. Including Anxiety and ADHD, the percent of entrepreneurs effected becomes 49%.

To me, this makes sense. Founding, or operating any company at a high level is an extremely personal journey. In my experience, it becomes difficult to separate your individual identity from that of the business you’re trying to create.

This can be a powerful motivator but as business setbacks happen, they feel like personal setbacks. As this happens more frequently depression quickly sets in.

For me personally, it was an overwhelming feeling of where I was and where I expected to be. The larger this gap, the higher the stress and deeper the depression.

I say this from a position of a person who has statistically overachieved in every category you can measure against and has suffered for at least a decade with extreme bouts of depression and anxiety. I’ve done this completely under the radar. I’ve kept it from my family and coworkers and my work has never suffered while I’m in these cycles.

In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider that my work improves when I’m depressed as my personal coping mechanism is isolating myself within my work. A trait shared by many entrepreneurs.

Distraction is an art form, after all.

I’ve founded at least a dozen companies of various size and opportunity, selling two of them. This experience has taken me on a rollercoaster of emotion between the highest levels of excitement to the deepest, darkest depression and isolation a person can feel.

But I chose to fight another day.

Unfortunately four of my friends have not. Four overachieving, statistically successful, entrepreneurial friends who seemed to have it all going on. It’s sad on many levels, but it’s sad to consider that their careers were so young and full of promise. They felt this wave of challenge overwhelming them and truly felt the world was ending and they were failures.

They were all so wrong. Yet, I get it. I was there. Suicide is an easy escape to consider. It becomes difficult to separate the depressive thoughts inside of your head from those of reality.

It’s easy to say to entrepreneurs, high level executives and even junior level employees that the odds will always be stacked against their success. Setbacks will outnumber successes. Most days will be stressful. Challenges will pile up. Things get really fucking hard. Simple enough, right?

Yet, genetically our brains don’t always have the ability to rationalize this thought process.

What can we do?

suicide is the leading cause of death among 15-49 year oldsWant to know something crazy? Since 2010 suicide was been the leading cause of death for people 15-49 in the developed world. Higher than heart disease, AIDS and murder.

I’m here to say that if we don’t alter our perception of what depression looks like, and how it manifests itself among entrepreneurs and overachievers we will continue to lose people who slip under our built in “depression detectors.”

While operating my last company, I was at a point where I was battling with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. I was saying everything I could to express these feelings to whoever I could and all I ever got back was, “It will get better” and a hug. Unfortunately, friends and family can’t possibly understand the kind of isolation and struggle an entrepreneurial person feels, therefor their advice becomes generic and useless. Trust me.

The other problem is, an entrepreneur fighting depression like I was and still do, can’t reach out to another entrepreneur in an ecosystem where everyone is supposed to be “crushing it” all the time. That’s the easiest way to look like you’re losing or you’re weak.

We, as a larger professional industry need to have this conversation with our friends and coworkers. With our competition and our mentors. We need to change the mentality around this conversation to one not of generic support, but of action. People struggling with depression should feel free to ask for help without fear of judgement. Without fear of looking weak to bosses and coworkers.

And they should get the help they deserve.

It’s going to take brave people with the courage and experience to build momentum around this subject. But we can’t continue to lose people at the rate we’re losing them today. Not only are we losing talented professionals who are major influencers in our industries, we’re losing friends, husbands, wives, dads and moms.

We’re losing these people because they don’t have an ecosystem that understands and supports the disease inside of their head. A disease impacting at least 3 out of 10 people, that has become the leading cause of death among the primary entrepreneurial age group.

We’re losing these people because they are scared to ask for help and when they ask for help they get a bullshit set of anecdotes.

Don’t be scared to ask for help. I don’t know how or if I can help, but resources are available. If you don’t know what to do or where to start, email me and we’ll figure it out. No matter how dark a situation looks, there’s always a way to find a positive outcome. Trust me.

Live to fight another day.

Dear 21-year-old self,

It’s your 31-year-old much wiser self writing to you from the future. You’re about to graduate college in a few months and I know you’re wondering what to do with yourself. It’s not an easy decision, is it? You’ve got your part-time job and your rental apartment, your rusty Mazda and that teetering checking account.

It would be so easy to just stay put, to duck and cover, here where it’s safe and familiar, under the radar of disappointment and rejection. Well good news, you’re a lot more brave then you know. You make a few big moves in the giant game of Chess and they really pay off. But like all things in life, you learned a lot along the way.

Here’s what you need to know and what you, on some level, may already know.

1) See yourself and your past as an asset.

You’ll spend way too much time trying to be someone different than who you really are. Let’s face it, you were raised in a small town in Minnesota. Your mom, dad, and older siblings never went to college. You only have an Associates Degree from a barely accredited music school and $40,000 of student debt.

For awhile, you’ll view all of these things as massive reasons why you can’t be successful. You’ll think about things like:

  • If only my dad had an important white-collar job and knew a lot of important people…
  • If only I followed my friends and got a degree in something worthwhile…
  • If only I lived in a bigger city with more opportunities…

The story inside of your head will become a reality if you let it. You have an extremely unique set of skills from a diverse background of hobbies. Instead of seeing the things in your past as a barrier, figure out how you can apply these things to make a dent in the universe.

2) Don’t give up on the hard things.

Again, let’s be real. Life doesn’t get any easier the older you get. It only gets more confusing by the day. Get use to it.

You’re going to come up with some pretty amazing ideas for businesses. You already have. But, you’ll soon figure out that one of the biggest reasons you’re going to fail with many of these is because you stop trying.

Shit gets hard and you’re gonna want to quit – badly.

When things get hard you’ll discover your “fight or flight” instinct and this will cause you to bail on a lot of great ideas right before the rest of the world catches on.

Eventually, you’ll figure out that if you want to create something special it’s going to get incredibly hard. Like, the hard you understand right now, won’t even compare to what’s coming. So, get ready.

In the end, you’ll learn that by pushing through these hard things your view of what’s hard begins to change. The things that are hard today won’t be so hard tomorrow.

3) What you spend your time on is what you’ll become.

Your life will become defined more by the things you say “no” to, than what you say “yes” to.

You and I both know that degree of yours is worthless. But despite that, your work ethic, likable personality, creativity and broad set of skills will lead you down a path of a lot of opportunities.

You’ll find that people want to work with you, they want to involve you in their projects and businesses. If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. You suck at networking so make yourself valuable. Be more accessible and speak up when you have an idea. People will come to value your relationship more and more by the day. Finding out how to be valued as a colleague, friend and coworker is worth more than any paycheck you’re ever going to see.

Unfortunately, you only have a finite amount of time to dedicate to the success of others. Find a way to say “no” more frequently. If something doesn’t excite you to the point of being unable to sleep because you can’t stop thinking about it, just say “no thanks.”

Quit the things that are draining you and pursue the things that cause you excitement.

4) Be vulnerable.

As scary as it is to admit, you don’t know everything. Stop being scared that some day someone will figure that out. It’ll happen, a lot.

You’ll see that as soon as you make yourself vulnerable people will open up to you. The people you look up to, the ones who intimidate you, will also make themselves vulnerable. They’ll tell you that they faced the same challenges and they struggled too.

If you’re going to have a real relationship with someone – professionally or privately – you have to be vulnerable, and someone has to be vulnerable first. Take the first step and open that dialogue.

No one has it all figured out, everyone is just trying really hard to make it seem that way.

5) Work harder at your personal life than your job.

You have an incredibly obsessive brain and when you get fixed on an idea you don’t allow room for anything else in your life. This will become extremely unhealthy and it will cause a lot of pain in your personal life.

As exciting as it will be for you to embark on your next adventures, it will be even more fulfilling if you can figure out how to share that experience with someone you love.

When you’re at work you have software and Excel sheets to track progress and growth. You receive feedback when things aren’t going as planned and you adjust accordingly. You measure monthly and set goals for the next month, quarter and year. You lay out a roadmap to accomplish these goals and constantly review your progress. It all seems so manageable and natural for you.

You also need these things at home because the only thing more embarrassing than failing at business, is failing a person you love.

Make your personal life a priority. Find a way to take this same work ethic and apply it at home with your future wife (she’s a few girlfriends away but don’t be afraid to practice now). Be clear about what you want. Understand what she wants. Be available.

Spend your time where it matters most.

6) Focus on the next decision.

Here’s a small hint, that hobby you’ve been playing with the last few years. You know the one. Optimizing websites to rank highly in search results, paying for search traffic on key terms ($0.01 clicks are amazing, right???), well that actually becomes a really, really important and lucrative niche to specialize in. Oh, and that (The) Facebook thing will introduce a platform for advertisers, follow your gut on that one.

It takes a few more years but eventually the rest of the business world will realize how import this all is. So, stick with it.

But when they do figure it out, you’ll be asked to make a lot of decisions about things you’ve never done before. As the stakes get higher and the decisions become bigger you’ll run into an intense pressure to make the right decision all the time.

It’s an impossible standard, one that you’ll figure out you can’t live up to. Figure out that the next decision is sometimes more important than the current decision, and the next decision might be to undo your previous decision!

It’s a crazy world you work in where things change on a day-to-day basis. What’s working today might not work tomorrow. Get use to it. Don’t obsess over each decision.

Take in the information, have confidence, and be willing to change things if they aren’t working as planned. You have a job and you’re in that position because people trust your decision making.

Bucky & Dallas discuss their biggest takeaways from South by Southwest and Social Media Examiner World including AI and content creation.