Do you know how much energy I have right now?
One post certainly won’t do justice to how pumped I am about the redesign Matt Ackerson, Paolo Roa and the PetoVera team did for my blog, ‘The X Factor’. I am fired up. Motivated. This is only the beginning. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Today, I will tell the story of how and why I started ‘The X Factor’.
HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED
Me? I am a people person. I love God, my friends, and my family more than anything on earth. My first love was the game of basketball, and I am as competitive and energetic as they come. Ever since playing from sun-up ’til sun-down in Bristol and Rochester’s inner city growing up, I have had a hunger to prove myself. I was driven to ‘make it’, and committed to never stop chasing new heights.
However, as I detailed in my letter to Lil Wayne, I had to say goodbye to basketball after dislocating my shoulder six times and fighting back from two surgeries. It was time to dedicate my passion and competitive fire towards a new art.
MY FIRST DREAM
When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer. My dad (affectionately known to people close to us as “The G”) told me that the best way to execute on making my dreams a reality was to ask lawyers to lunch and learn from their success stories face-to-face. As an entrepreneur (and a personal hero of mine), my dad had customers in Rochester, NY who were lawyers.
So, when I was 15 years old and still homeschooled, my dad took me to lunch with Kent Heyman. Kent was a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, and I will never forget that lunch. My dad and I asked him tons of questions and I left feeling very, very driven. Long story short, today I am a Marketing Intern for Kent’s startup, Syncables, working on a beta product called LivePlay.
MY PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY
Fast forward to college. Outside of the classroom, I was obsessively researching the social web and studying different Internet startups. I had taken my dad’s advice to heart and was doing all that I could to build relationships with movers and shakers in the tech ecosystem.
In the fall of 2008, my good friend Ben Henschel introduced me to the phenomenon of unparalleled energy that is Gary Vaynerchuk. I was hooked. I watched (and re-watched) every keynote, interview, and video blog Gary had published. I read Crush It!. To me, Gary approached entrepreneurship the way Michael Jordan approached basketball. Having been blessed to meet him in person just one year later, he is one of my biggest heroes to this day.
‘THE X FACTOR’ IS BORN
Sometime in 2009, I discovered Andrew Warner‘s site for candid interviews with founders, Mixergy. I was learning a ton from Mixergy and suddenly I had the lightbulb moment: I have to do this. I was planning to study abroad in Singapore for the first half of 2010, and I decided to do everything I could to record interviews with the entrepreneurs and investors I was hoping to meet. That way, I could share what I was learning from these incredible one-on-one meetings with anyone in the world.
Ultimately, that semester abroad in southeast Asia changed my life. As I met inspiring people in Singapore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, I started recording long interviews. I planned to begin publishing them on the blog I wanted to launch in the summer.
WHY I WILL NEVER FORGET MY SEMESTER IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Then it all started to come together. Having been accepted into the Washington Semester Program in D.C., I spent the following semester studying at American University. I met someone there who saw right through me, who not only understood my drive but recognized my passion for writing better than I even did. Because of her, I thought back to the the point that Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals made in their book, Rework: “Hire The Better Writer“.
It sunk in.
Jack Dorsey has talked a lot recently about his role in Square and Twitter as an “editor”. In the writing sense, editing is so important to communicate the story of your company so that people are able to more easily remember you, understand your utility, and connect with your mission. Editing is also crucial in developing a product. You could take 2 years and build a product with 30 features. Better move, from what I’m learning? Build a minimally viable product in 2-4 months, with only the single most important features. Edit, edit, edit.
THE REASON I STARTED ‘THE X FACTOR’
So that’s where we are today. I’m 21 and have one more year of university left until I graduate from Clarkson. I am pretty obsessed with helping friends (if I am able to) with their startups. Helping to communicate their product’s use-case, editing the product with the philosophy of a user in mind, etc.
As I chase my dreams, I am driven to continue learning from and helping the friends I’ve been blessed to meet in the ecosystem of Internet/technology startups. When possible, I aim to interview founders and investors so that they can share their lessons with you and me.
That’s why I started ‘The X Factor’. To study the patterns of those who are successfully starting, building, and investing in startups. ‘The X Factor’ is that tough-to-describe element that sets apart the leader from the followers. The ‘distinguishing component’ might be different across every successful artist who has become a leader in her craft. With this site, I want to help you discover ‘The X Factor’ that will serve as a catalyst for your own success story.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES…
This is what I’m doing in my journey as an aspiring entrepreneur. I hope we can hustle together. Let’s GOOOO.
Thanks for visiting my site and reading this lengthy post. If you have ideas for…
- making my videos//interviews//writing better;
- suggestions for what to write about;
or even if you just wanna share what you’re working on and hustling towards, I’d love to hear from you. Drop your knowledge in the comments below!
To everyone of you who’s helped me get to this point, THANK YOU.