Month: March 2009

  • Three Attributes for Successful Entrepreneurs

    Tonight I guest spoke at BlobLive in Philly and told the start-up story of RevZilla. It was a blast, and I was flattered to have been asked to be there as an “inspirational success story” speaking first to kick off the night. It felt good. I always enjoy interacting with an audience, especially when I get to talk about anything I am passionate about. Its like a throwback to 2006, leading a pitch to c-level exec’s. Catnip for an ex Biz-Dev guy.

    At the end of the event I got put on the spot and asked “What are the 3 attributes needed to be a successful entrepreneur?”. Not the easiest question on the fly, but there are many “right” answers.

    I shot from the hip and answered “Optimistic, Relentless & Ambitious”. It’s a right answer, but walking out after the event I couldn’t help wondering if it was the best answer.

    Mulling it further, I wish I had a do-over. I’d answer slightly differently next time.

    I will stick with Optimistic. You have to be a dreamer to roll the big dice. Realists and pessimists have an easier time sticking to the norm – the big dice are scary – maxed credit cards, burnt savings and ramen noodles suck. Optimists are the ones naive enough to think they can will their master plans to fruition.

    I will also stick with Relentless, although to me the word carries a bit of a negative connotation. It feels like ruthless. While sometimes good business does call for bit of ruthlessness, I hope that for every one time that being ruthless is the right move, there are 20 other times where prudence provides me a more altruistic course of action. Unyielding may make me feel a bit better as it encompasses less of an iron fist and more of a sense of diligence toward the endless funnel of tasks.

    Ambitious has to go. Ambition is an afterthought affecting every decision an entrepreneur makes and it rarely a learned trait. You can be more optimistic and relentless in your pursuit and actively work on those traits. You can not be an entrepreneur without being inherently ambitious.

    The replacement for ambitious is a toss up between creative and resourceful which to me are closer than one would probably expect. Both of those words relate to an entrepreneurs approach to problem solving using the tools at hand. Many times unusual circumstances in uncharted waters can be very difficult to solve with a shoe-string budget. At times like those I ask myself “What would MacGuyver do?” – He would be creative and resourceful, and usually pull it off. Be MacGuyver. He always wins. And aside from hopefully finding a solution, you usually end up with a kick-ass story to tell later as an added bonus.

    To sum up, if I got a do-over, the magic three are Optimistic, Relentless & Cre-sourceful MacGuyver-style with no firearms.


  • Top 10 Sandwiches in Philadelphia

    Its 1:28am on Tuesday. I just got back from the gym and am raiding my child’s uncrustables due to lack of an adequate sandwich in the house and no desire to fire up the grill. It just struck me that, come this June, I will have been in Philly for a full ten years. Its also struck me that during my tenure in this town I have experienced a lot of Philly; some good, some bad, all memorable. Some of my favorite and easily replicable experiences are the hometown eats. Philly is a good food town – its been a decade of lunchtime decadence, if you will.

    I don’t know why, but I have been thinking about sandwiches lately. A ton. Here is my top ten-ish list of of unforgettable sandwiches in good old Philthadelphia.

    1. Boneless Rib Sandwich at The Rib Stand. Reading Terminal Market.
    2. Roast Beef Italian with Broccoli Rabe or Italian Spinach and Sharp Prov at Shank’s and Evelyn’s. 10th & Christian
    3. Diablo (Buffalo chicken, Green Pepper, Jalapeno Jack Cheese, Avocado, Chipotle Mayo on Sourdough) at the Foodery. 2nd and Poplar St
    4. Cheesesteak (Eaten Sober), American Cheese with Fried Onions at Jim’s Steaks. 4th and South.
    5. Roast Pork Italian (Roast Pork, Italian Spinach, Sharp Prov, Homemade Bread) at Tony Lukes. Oregon & Swanson.
    6. Cheese Steak (Eaten Hammered) Wiz, Fried Onions, Hot Sauce, Ketchup. Pat’s Steaks. 10th and Wharton
    7. Old Italian Hoagie (Proscuitto, Capacola, Sopresatta, LTO, O&V, Chopped Pepper Shooters on Sarcone’s Bread) at Primo’s Hoagies. 11th and Sansom.
    8. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich at Race St Cafe. 2nd and Race.
    9. Italian Brisket Sandwich (Brisket, Spicey Spinach Sharp Prov) at Dinic’s. Reading Terminal Market.
    10. Roast Beef w/ Horseradish at Nicks Roast Beef. 21st and Jackson.
    11. Wagyu BBQ Brisket at El Camino Real. Liberties Walk & 2nd.

    Did I miss any? When I have a massive heart attack next year – at 29 – you will know why. 10 years of eating my top 11 for lunch.


    (ps I have no idea, besides being very hungry at the moment, what compelled me to write this at 2am.)

    (pps – I just reread the list 5 minutes after posting. Half the sandwiches are exactly the same except for swapping the meat type. Am I that stereotypically Italian? I may be physically unable to not eat anything that is paired with Italian greens and sharp provolone cheese. Pathetic)

  • Honorary Kentucky Colonel… my wish… GRANTED!

    Today after watching the origin of KFC on the History Channel (I know I am a dork), I learned that Colonel Harland Sanders never actually held a military rank. Being bestowed the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel” is the equivalent of being Knighted in England…. only in Kentucky. Look it up.

    There have been hundreds of “Kentucky Colonels” over the last 100 years or so. Notably Dave Thomas, Fred Astair, Clark Gable and the list goes on to include one Colonel Sanders. The kicker for me was that Harland Sanders, founder of KFC, adopted the use of Colonel full-time for no other reason than it “sounded dignified”. You self-important bastard. You’re ridiculous and I love you.

    20 minutes later I added “Become a Kentucky Colonel” to my bucket list and tweeted it. 3 hours later, thanks to friends with Photoshop – my dream has hath come true.

    I may not have the official seal (yet), but I now know what I would look like on the side of a bucket of chicken.

    Thanks Todd Shafer. I am glad you were bored. You made my day.

    For the record my wife thinks this whole thing is “really juvenile and stupid”… which makes me find it even more amusing.


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