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Building Your World

Posted by on April 6, 2010

People tell me I’m lucky.  I’m my own boss that works whenever and from wherever I want.  I don’t have to answer to anyone and I don’t have to work on things that I don’t love.  If I want to take off to travel somewhere I can.  I’m usually happy and upbeat and I have time to do the things that I want to do, such as Salsa dance and travel (my greatest passion)!  I’m not going to say I’m poor but I’m also not booking round trip tickets around the world either.  Chess Media Group is a startup and much of my time and capital gets invested in there.  But let’s get back to my being lucky.

I’m not sure if people know this or not but I work my ass off all the time.  I had a full time job at a marketing agency a few years ago which essentially gave me the portfolio I needed to be able to break off on my own (circa 2006-7).  I left the company because I was getting frustrated.  I didn’t agree with a lot of things that were going on but it didn’t matter, I was being paid to do a job and I had to do it.  Eventually I thought, “if  I can provide value to our agency clients such as Adobe, Conde Nast, and Sandisk, then surely I can provide value to clients on my own.”  I also wanted to be happier, my quality of life is very important to me; much more important than a little piece of green paper.  I wanted to do work that allowed me to travel and be happy.  And so I left a well paying job to go off on my own; a massive risk.  I made sure I had enough money in the bank to survive for around 8 months (if I didn’t make a penny).  I did some small writing/consulting projects on the side, nothing to spectacular.  My first clients were through relationships I had with startups or even jobs I found online via places such as Craigslist.

I knew what I wanted my world to look like and how I wanted to live and I knew that I was going to be the only one that could make it all happen.

Eventually someone approached me to see if I wanted to help them run a startup, a fantastic opportunity.  I had a decent marketing background at that point so it made sense to accelerate myself.  I was the “CMO” of a startup for around 1 year of my life and made exactly $0 while doing it, yes literally $0 for 365 days of my life, pretty shitty.  I continued doing my small side consulting projects to help me pay for things so I wouldn’t go bankrupt.  While I didn’t make any money from the startup I certainly learned a lot and I was able to add yet another feather in my cap (so to speak), for running a startup.  I took on all of these opportunities because I knew that even if everything failed, I could always move back to LA to live with my parents.

After that startup I joined forces with an SEO consulting company and helped run that entire operation.  I brought in clients, designed the processes, created the proposals, and pitched the deals (among many other things).  That went well for a while until I noticed that my business partner was lying to me the entire time.  I was told that there was an entire company with around 6-10 people but it turns out it was just him.  We were still making money and doing ok but now I knew my partner was a liar.  There were also a few other shady things going on such as having a company back account in Anguila?!  Things finally ended when my business partner told me that one of our larger clients had decided to cancel.  I brought the business in so I decided to call them up to say thanks and to see what we could do to help then in the future.  The client picks up the phone and says that the relationship was never canceled.  Long story short, I found out that my business partner told me the account was canceled so that he could keep all of the money and not pay me anything; again, pretty shitty.

Somewhere in between all of this I started my Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business blog, which is around 2 years old (I think).

Then came my most recent consultancy, Chess Media Group, which is by far the most successful thing I have created (along with my business partner Connie Chan, who rocks).

My blog is now ranked among the top 100 most influential marketing blogs in the world by AdAge, I have a book out, I’m recognized as a thought leader on Enterprise 2.0 and Social CRM, and I have a consulting company which is getting a lot of attention.  People don’t know this but I spend a lot of time focusing on how I can build the business.  My priority right now is not getting new clients it has been on research and infrastructure; on building bridges that can help carry me and my company to various places.  We now have around 6 partners which are some of the leading companies in the world (will be announced with the new website in a few weeks).  I rank #1 in search engines for things such as “social media consultant,” I’m a fellow for the society for new communications research, and am now connected with some of the world’s greatest Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 companies and consultants on the planet (who oftentimes want to speak with me).

I connect with people, I create quality content, I’m aggressive, and I make things happen.  Businesses are built my people for people, you have to understand that.

This didn’t happen overnight it took me over 2 years to build.  I’m nowhere near where I want to be yet but things are going on the right track.  When I see signs that things are going in the right direction then I don’t stop; why would you?  People say I’m lucky and I’m fortunate, but really the only thing I’m fortunate for is being able to know what I want my world to look like and then going out building it.

It takes time to build your world, so start now.

  • Anonymous

    The status quo is perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome and there is a unique approach to get there. Status quo combines culture, norms, processes, knowledge, experience, perceptions, and more to become a formidable challenge for change.

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  • Emilio Navarro

    Thanks for sharing your story! It really helped me to keep going with my story :). My friend send me the link to this post because she said your story is almost the same as mine we even have the same value “Work anywhere in the world we choose” :).  I was let go from a company last year and then decided to start working for myself as web developer. Like you a join a start ups but with 0$ money in return. Now year later I decided to focus on my own and put all my knowledge of web development and car rental industry to create a network of car rental sites. I am just in the middle of it, very excited to do things for myself and starting to see small results. Thanks again for sharing the story, inspired me and Who knows I may be requesting services from Chess Media in the future :).  All the best in your future