365 Days of Pikes Peak – The Journey

This is a guest post from Shaun Dagget (aka The Pikes Peak Guy). Shaun is best known for photographing Pikes Peak every single day for a year as a result he’s somewhat a of legend in this part of the country. He launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and has gone on to release a series of companion products to his original coffee table book (which he’s just released in a softcover version). His story is amazing and has huge implications for publishing specifically and business in general. Shaun is a perfect example of the kind of entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau talks about in his new book The $100 Startup.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a first-century Roman philosopher who has been credited with saying, “Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet.”

As a photographer, I live by this definition. If I get up at 3:30am, drive an hour to a location, then hike in 5 miles with 30 pounds of camera gear so I am set up in time to catch the sunrise… it is not lucky to get a beautiful shot, it is preparation. The luck comes in when the rising sun lights up the sky as though God personally painted the sunrise purple and orange just for me and I am able to get an epic photograph (not just a beautiful shot).

But as a solo-preneur, who wanted to publish a coffee table book of my photographs, my luck didn’t come getting a lucrative book deal, or from finding a powerful agent, or even knowing an influential person in the publishing world… my luck came from not knowing ANYTHING about the publishing industry at all.

That may seem counterintuitive, but the fact that I didn’t know I was breaking every rule along way was actually my lucky break. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t succeed by making a ton of mistakes (and I made a ton) from not understand the publishing world, I succeeded by creating my own path to publishing a book by using an entirely new set of tools.

I am not saying that the traditional publishing world is broken or doesn’t work anymore, what I am saying is that for me (and I bet for thousands of people just like me) the traditional approach to getting published isn’t necessarily the best way to approach your own success story. I am saying that by taking a totally new approach to publishing my book, other authors may find my story just what they have looking for to help them reach their own goals.

I am the most unlikely author you will ever meet. And for that reason I love to tell my story of how I went from a completely unknown photographer, to a published author that hit Amazon’s Hot New 100 list in my category and sold out inventory on the first day of release. My book hit those milestones in spite of the fact that it retailed for $99, and in spite of the fact that nobody knew who I was (my name isn’t even in my book!), and in spite of the fact that it was a self published effort by someone who just 1 year prior had no idea how the publishing world actually worked.

Even more amazing is that today, just 10 months after my first book, I did a limed released of my second book to the market and sold just over 2,000 copies on the very first day (by limited release I mean that it is not available in any book store or on Amazon or B&N).
I am not giving those stats to brag, I am giving those stats to show how truly improbable it is to be where I am today.

My story is one that combines the tribe concepts in Seth Godin’s books, the business acumen that Michael Hyatt is know for, and mushes it all up it in power of current social media, emerging social media and the possibilities of crowd sourcing. I was also lucky to get some outstanding guidance and a ton of encouragement from a true agent of change, Jon Dale. Each of these people, their ideas and concepts had a big influence on how I approached my book project, but there was one tool that people are just starting to talk about, and was the game changer that brought my book to the market , Kickstarter. I believe this is a game changer not just for me, but for the entire publishing world.

This is blog post, not a step-by-step how to book on publishing or what Kickstarter is; it is the beginning of a conversation on the subject… so I will wrap up my message.

If you ever thought your dreams of being published were impossible, re-evaluate your doubts.

After carving out my own path through the maze of new possibilities and actually seeing some success, I believe that anyone can achieve the same and more. I encourage everyone who aspires to be published to consider crowd sourcing and look into Kickstarter, and maybe even forget everything you thought you knew about the publishing game.

As one of Kickstarter’s all time highest funded projects in my category, and a published author because of it… I hope I have something to offer to the conversaion, and encourage everyone who is reading this post to ask me the how and why behind this success.

Shaun was kind enough to provide me with ten copies of the new soft-cover version of his beautiful coffee table book, 365 Days of Pikes Peak РThe Journey to give away to my readers. Congrats to all the winners.  If you don’t hear from me then you didn’t win.

Question: Why would you like a copy of Shaun’s book? You can leave a comment or ask Shaun a question by¬†clicking here.

Business, Leadership

Review of The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Every once in a while a book comes along that hits you right between the eyes and changes everything.

For me this happened when I read Tribes and realized that the way business and marketing works had changed and most people didn’t realize it. My life’s work is a result of the change in thinking I experienced while reading that book.

A few weeks ago I was priveleged to receive an advance copy of Chris Guillebaue’s new book, The $100 Startup. ¬†I’m convinced this book is going to do for thousands of people what Tribes did for me. ¬†It’s going to change the way they look at business and work…forever.

In The $100 Startup¬†Chris shares story after story of people around the globe who’ve started businesses based on their passion and providing value to others. ¬†He shares the story of Benny Lewis an Irishman with a knack for learning languages who left an engineering career to travel the world and teach people how to learn languages using his methods. He describes how Michael Hanna was laid-off from his professional job and started a mattress store with a unique twist…he delivers people’s mattresses by bicycle. One day he realized he hadn’t worn his suit in two years so he carried it out to his bike and delivered it to Goodwill.

This book isn’t just a series of inspiring stories it’s also a blueprint for how to start your own business.¬†If you’ve ever wondered if you can be one of the lucky ones who get’s to spend every day making a living doing something you love, the answer is a resounding yes, and this book will show you how. You’ll find yourself and your passion in it’s pages…and you may never be the same.

Chris has been kind enough to provide me with ten copies of The $100 Startup to give away to my readers.

On 5/15/12 I picked 10 winners from among those who left comments. Congratulations to:

Thad, Mark, Sam, Theresa, Jamie, Tricia, Dustin, Todd, Rocco and James who each received a free copy.

The $100 Startup is available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Thanks to everyone who entered to win.

Question: Why would you like a copy of The $100 Startup? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Business, Leadership

Sabbaticals, calling and the thought process behind Moolala

Many of you know that I’ve been taking a blogging sabbatical while we launch Moolala. In some ways it’s been amazingly freeing but there are other times I’ve got ideas bouncing around that I’d really like to share.

Yesterday I sat down with Kevin Miller for an episode of his Free Agent Underground Podcast.  We talked about figuring out your life calling (one of my favorite subjects) and he got me to share several different stories from my early days in business and a lot about our philosophy in launching Moolala.

Most people will just hear the audio version of this when it comes out as his next podcast episode, but they do a live video feed for his Free Agent Academy members…and Kevin was kind enough to provide me with the recording.¬† So here it is…unedited…for your viewing enjoyment.


Do Not Reply

There are few things more frustrating than hitting reply and composing an email only to realize that you’re replying to DONOTREPLY@wedontcareaboutyou.com.

I think using a DO NOT REPLY address is one of rudest things a company can do. ¬†It’s tantamount to saying “We don’t care if you want to talk to us.”

Just my 2 cents…take it or leave it.


The new capital

It wasn’t that long ago that the most significant investment you could ask someone to make was a financial one. ¬†But something started changing with the advent of the social web a few short years ago. ¬†It suddenly became more critical to get people to invest their social capital (their ability to influence those in their social circle) than getting them to invest their financial capital.

The make or break point for facebook wasn’t getting outside investors to put in money, it was convincing users to to risk sharing a new idea with their friends. ¬†They could raise all the money in the world, but if they couldn’t get people to refer people they wouldn’t succeed.

Thankfully their timing was perfect. We were all hungry for online connection, so we took the social risk and made the investment.  It worked.  Really well. And in the process it made a few people insanely rich financially, and the rest of us much richer socially.

Some of you noticed that I all but¬†disappeared¬†from this blog a few months ago. In September, my brother Matt (who’s brilliant) approached me with an idea and asked me to join him in working on a new project with an incredible team. ¬†He wanted to create an opportunity for people to invest their social capital and see both social and financial rewards. I think we’ve done exactly that.

We designed Moolala to combine the hottest space on the web (Daily Deals) with the most powerful marketing force ever (word of mouth). Rather than spending millions of dollars on traditional marketing and advertising, we’ve designed a system that rewards our users really well when they do the marketing for us.

We launched on Wednesday and the response has absolutely blown us away.

Let me know what you think of Moolala (and yes,¬† it’s an affiliate link).
Please note: If somebody else has already referred you to Moolala, please use this link instead and put their email address in the referral code box in the final step so they get credit for your invite instead of me.

Business, Leadership


Lots of people have ideas.  Very few people act on them.  Between having an idea and shipping it is the real work, the execution.

Without the ability to execute an idea is just that, an idea.

Zuckerberg had something the Winklevi did not, the ability to execute, quickly.

The magic is in the execution.