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Funding the Dream

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Funding the Dream

“Product Creation = Value Creation; Pick only three features to test.”

This is the second article in my series on Phoenix Startup Week (PSW). This week I wanted to share some of the insights on funding startups including bootstrapping, buying money, and borrowing money.


Sarah Benken, the founder of Metros Other Woman, runs a service that helps offload tasks from busy people. She bootstrapped (self-funded) her company and discussed how you could bootstrap yours.

First, she was very targeted. She grouped her buyers into buckets: old money, movers and shakers, women business owners, established entrepreneurs, mommy groups, and bachelors. Then she developed strategies for each group: what events to attend, where to advertise, what groups they belong to, and places they go.

Her second rule was to only pay for sales (get rid of big marketing spends). She had two key ways of doing this. She created an exclusive Brand Ambassador program and recruited people with a large social following. The Brand Ambassadors got free services and cash kickbacks for acquired customers. She has a simple Brand Ambassador agreement and used unique URLs to track results. Ambassadors also had to submit a monthly report.

Her second rule was, don’t leave money on the table. For people that did not make the cut to be Brand Ambassadors, she created an affiliate program with smaller kickbacks, no free services, and no monthly reporting.

Buying Money

Gregory Lim is a strategic advisor and growth consultant. He helped Spiritual Gangster, a yoga clothing line, double their growth rate to $2M in revenue. If you get the marketing right, you can buy money. Here is his process:

  1. Start with Strategy – What is your brand and message.
  2. Gather Customer Insights – What makes your customers passionate? How do you make an emotional connection?
  3. Capture Actionable Data – Track the things you need to make decisions on, like the conversion rate.
  4. Launch and Learn – Perform small tests of hypothesis to see what works. Customers tell you what works.
  5. Scale What Works – Once you reliably get your Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) to you Return On Investment (ROI) target, put more money into marketing. Sometimes you need to consider the Lifetime Value (LTV) of the customer and period to payback you need.

Borrowing Money

Craig DeMarco, the founder of Postinos (a nice wine bar in the Phoenix area), told his story about raising money to start his restaurant. He signed a lease on a property without having the funds to afford it. He had a one-page business plan and went to the nearest bank. The banker told him his plan wasn’t any good and would not fund him. He asked the banker what changes he would make. Then he had a two-page business plan. He went to 10 banks repeating this and having the bankers improve his business plan until finally, the last bank approved his loan. His father seeing his dedication decided to loan him the money instead. The rest is history.

Where there is a will there is always a way. Until next time, cheers!


Inspire * Be Inspired * Create Amazing Experiences 
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected]

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Heat Warning: Phoenix Startup Scene on Fire

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phoenix startup week

I had a great time speaking at (get the slides here) and attending Phoenix Startup Week (PSW). As always I learned a lot. This is the first of several articles I will share with you on what I found insightful. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from PSW:

  • “You live every day, not just once. You only die once. What do you want to do on your journey?” – Olenka Cullinan of Rising Tycoons
  • “A career grows out of who we are. Who we are doesn’t grow out of a career.” – Marianne Williamson
  • “Don’t worry about people stealing your idea, 99% of people won’t even do their own stuff.” – Kolby Kolibas

Having lived in both Phoenix and Silicon Valley, I have been impressed with the growth of the startup scene in Phoenix. Kent Dicks provided some great stats on why Phoenix is rising in the startup ranks.

  • 84% less expensive than San Francisco
  • 69% of ASU and UofA grads stay in Arizona
  • 5th largest city
  • #4 in tech jobs
  • #9 happiest city
  • #1 in Entrepreneurial activity
  • 75% of starts are self or angel funded
  • 20+ in startup capital
  • 33 accelerators
  • 42 coworking spaces
  • $595M of VC in 11-13

If you want a great list of software companies rising out of the startup scene checkout:

Tim Crown, founder of Insight (a local Phoenix Company), gave a great talk and some gold nuggets of advice.

  • No business he started was success where he thought it would be. You figure it out as you go.
  • Culture is huge. You need metrics that align strategy to actions. People want to be on the success train.
  • When interviewing, he acknowledged that the relationship was temporary, and asked what help them further their career.
  • Three boxes: keep, start and stop

Until next time, cheers!


Inspire * Be Inspired * Create Amazing Experiences 

Buy the Potential book now.
Learn more about Karmas.
Book Guy to speak at your next event
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected]

Jeff Bezos: Lessons from Amazon

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bezos lessons amazon

I recently watched a great interview with Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Amazon is an incredible company that grew from online book sales, CD sales, all retail sales, devices (like the firestick), automated warehousing, prime shipping, and so much more. Jeff Bezos has even spun out a rocket company, Blue Origin, which competes with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Bezos runs Amazon and all his companies by three principles:

  • Long-term thinking: They are in it for the long game. They optimize things that aren’t likely to change, like people wanting things less expensively and faster.
  • Customer-Centric: The customer is at the center of all their thinking. As Warren Buffet says, Amazon knows how to delight customers.
  • Invention Focused: They realize that new breakthroughs start small and they foster them. They make innovation core to their business. They realize they can’t prosper long term, just by milking the prize cows.

He does some things that are common to GoogleX run by Astro Teller. They put milestones on a new invention and let people self-select what they will work on (maximizing passion). Amazon knows that every new business starts as a loss and grows slowly. A new $5M business in a $5B business is nothing. As a startup, $5M is a great start. They understand this.

Jeff doesn’t think like most businesses. He is so customer-centric, he believes profitability is not their customer’s problem. He doesn’t make customer’s pay for Amazon’s inefficiencies. Amazon does price for profit margin; Amazon prices for price competitiveness. If they can’t figure out how to make money and be competitive, they will stop selling the product. Amazon worries about their customers, not their competition. Amazon knows that customer trust is hard earned and easily lost. They make hard promises like one-day delivery with Amazon Prime, and they keep it.

There are many great lessons here for new and mature businesses.


Inspire * Be Inspired * Create Amazing Experiences 

Buy the Potential book now.
Learn more about Karmas.
Book Guy to speak at your next event
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected]

Solopreneuring hacks and lessons from my Phoenix Startup Week session!

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solopreneuring entrepreneur phoenix startup week

Phoenix is the most generous Startup community in the World. Phoenix puts on a free weeklong event with great speakers, free food, and networking. I was very fortunate to get to speak at this year’s conference. I want to share my slide deck with you on solopreneuring.

I am also going to post an article on the biggest things I learned at the event. Stay tuned!!


Inspire Be Inspired Create Amazing Experiences 

Buy the Potential book now. Learn more about KarmasBook Guy to speak at your next event.

When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected]

Debate: Design in the Age of AI

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design in age of artificial intelligence

Debate: Design in the Age of AI

Mick Mcmanus, founder of Maya and Autodesk Fellow, and Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, recently had a debate on design in the age of Artificial Intelligence (you can watch it here). Mick did an enlightening introduction to the latest technology in this space. He introduced the idea of ripping reality and raising technology instead of designing it. To rip reality you instrument physical objects, like vehicles, to sense how they interact with the world. In the case of a vehicle, they wanted to understand forces a vehicle has to endure. This data allowed a computer to understand how the world interacts with the object and to redesign it. Autodesk is using a technology called Generative Design to take ripped reality and autogenerate better designs. In the case of this vehicle, they created a stronger design that was 30% lighter. Autodesk now has an AI that takes all of the designs of things people have built and learned from them. It can then use this knowledge to generate designs from many fields. A couple of engineers in a garage can essentially have access to 1000s of engineers using this new technology.

During the debate, Don argued that this technology wasn’t getting rid of the designer; it was getting rid of the mechanical engineer. The designer still had to make choices about what humans want. Mick argued that machines are better at understanding human emotions than people now. Don argued that machines are good at problems involving large amounts of information, attention to boring tasks, and extreme precision. Though machines can pick out emotions, they don’t understand or empathize with people. Mick argued that we are going to do unique designs for everyone, just like Google customized interactions per individual, which must be done by AI instead of designers.

The debated concluded with a couple of observations:

  • There are some jobs AI can just do better than humans, like driving a car.
  • There are some jobs that human and computer teams can do better. We have found that computers can beat individuals at chess; we have also found that people with computers can beat computers at chess.
  • Can we meet machines halfway and amplify our better selves instead of our lesser selves?
  • Can we act more improvisationally with computers (giving each other something to build on; providing better handoffs) rather than acting like debaters (leave them stumped and hanging?
  • 98% of the algorithms we are using for AI have been around for years; computing has finally caught up and can now compute these large datasets.
  • Battling AIs have lost value for society as in the Flash Crash on Wall Street. So not only do people and AI need to work together, but also AI and AI.
  • We are shifting from designing things to designing systems.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this debate. AI and robotics will enable us to do more, but will also shift how humans add value to the world as in the industrial revolution. The question is will there still be places for humans to add value? The big difference between AI and humans is that it takes time for humans to share previously discovered knowledge. Every human has to take the time to learn it; we have to train our brains. In the world of AI, if any AI learns it all AIs can instantly know it. This instant sharing is a huge cognitive advantage over humans. Ultimately we need to create the right initial conditions for AI to create a utopia instead of a dystopia.

Guy Bieber
Inspire + Be Inspired + Create Amazing Experiences 

When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected] 

Preorder Potential today at

Check out the video for my upcoming Kickstarter Campaign

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All, I wanted to share a short video for my upcoming Kickstarter Campaign with you. It introduces the Potential book, the Karmas service, and me. I hope you enjoy it and as always feedback is welcome.


Guy Bieber
Inspire  Be Inspired  Create Amazing Experiences 
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected]

Preorder Potential today at

OpenIDEO Higher Education Challenge

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education growth

I have entered the $25K OpenIDEO Higher Education Challenge with some of the ideas from the 10x Growth section of the Potential book. Please check it out, like it, and comment.

One infographic from the Potential book is in there too. Enjoy. Thanks for your support.

Guy Bieber
Inspire  Be Inspired  Create Amazing Experiences 
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected]

Preorder Potential today at

Seasons Greeting!!

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seasons greeting

Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings!!! As we wrap up 2016, it is a good time to reflect on what we are thankful for, the progress we made this year, and where we want our lives to go in the upcoming year. Personally, I am grateful for family, friends, community, health, and the opportunity this year has provided. The opportunity to write a book to help others and create a business is a tremendous blessing. I thank you all for your support.

I have made a lot of progress this year. I am happy to say the Potential book has reached its first draft and will be going into proofing shortly. I spent a few months this year just doing research for the book and service. I have built several different prototypes of the basic service user interface with different technologies. I have done all the things needed to run a business including incorporating, websites, social media, marketing, etc. It has been a fun and busy 6 months.

This year hasn’t been all work. I had the joy of taking a cruise to celebrate Kate’s 40th birthday around the Mediterranean to see amazing things in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. It is amazing and inspiring to see the creations of history. I was privileged to take many TechShop classes and learn how to work with metal, wood, and other materials. I am currently using this knowledge in my robotics work. I also had some great fun doing automation for Halloween.

What does next year hold for me? Well, I plan to release Potential in January and have a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the development of Karmas. So many people make new years resolutions that they typically drop by January 15. I hope to help everyone be more successful at reaching his or her goals. I hope you had an amazing year and hope the New Year is even more amazing.

Wishing you the best year ever,

Guy Bieber
Inspire – Be Inspired – Create Amazing Experiences 
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected]

Preorder Potential today at

Boost Creativity: Lateral Thinking, Perspective, and Intersections

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Perspective Seeking

“To understand something you need to view it from at least three perspectives.”
– Leonardo Davinci

Humans crave novelty in the forms of insights and surprise. We need stimulus to grow. One way to gain new perspectives is to look at the world differently: look more broadly, look more closely, or think younger. In the book Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly studied what made 91 exceptional people successful. This study examined Nobel Prize winners, famous authors, and famous artists. He found three things these experts needed to succeed.

  • Knowledge: Tremendous amounts of information. This provides many perspectives.
  • Interaction: Motivation to combine ideas.
  • Network to Exploit: Criteria of judgment for the field.

This study also found several characteristics these successful people shared. They could take opposing perspectives simultaneously in many areas:

  1. Smart and naive
  2. Playful and disciplined
  3. Imagination (fantasy and whim) and reality
  4. Opposite tendencies on introversion and extroversion. Need solitude and interaction.
  5. Humble and proud
  6. Escape gender prototypes – psychologically androgynous
  7. Rebellious and independent
  8. Passionate (attachment) and objective (detachment)
  9. Open and Curious
  10. Use and restore energy on demand

These characteristics allowed them to gather perspectives and seek the intersections where new innovation happens. We see the power of intersections of ideas from many fields through time. In The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson, Frans describes how the Medici family drove the invention that came out of the Renaissance by paying people from multiple disciplines to come to the Republic of Florence and work. Anywhere ideas can mingle has been a place of innovation. During the rise of the first coffee shops in the 1500s (coffeehouse), people from different walks of life gathered and shared different ideas and perspectives. If you are stuck on a problem, by definition, you need another way to approach the problem; that is another perspective.

Lateral Thinking

“Being a little weird is just a natural side-effect of being awesome.”
– Sue Fitzmaurice

In the book Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking by Shane Snow, Shane describes the power of lateral thinking (similar to intersectional thinking, i.e. jumping fields). He describes how people have climbed higher by jumping laterally to a different ladder. For instance, Obama jumped ladders from a Freshman Senator to President by using data analytics and social media. In the trade up game (popular with young Mormons), everyone starts with a toothpick and trades it for something else (that is something on a different value ladder). In one game, a young man traded for a house after 14 trades over 6 months, starting with merely a toothpick!

Astro Teller tells a story about the British Air Force during WWII. The Germans were taking a dramatic toll on the British Air Force. They were rapidly losing planes and pilots. They knew they had to add armor to the planes or lose the war. The planes would be too heavy and slow if they armored the whole plane. They didn’t know where to put the armor. So, they called in a professor from one of the universities to look at the problem. He went off for a week, crawling around planes and mapping where the bullet holes were. The air command staff had forgotten the professor was working on the problem when he showed up. The commander told him they decided to put armor where the holes were. The professor said that would be a bad idea. He handed them a map of where they should put armor on the planes, and they asked him to explain. He said these planes all have one thing in common; these pilots and planes survived. This means, where the bullet holes were didn’t destroy the plane, so armor where the holes weren’t. This worked. This is an example of taking a different perspective on a problem. Sometimes, you must question the status quo. Dell started by asking why computers cost 5x the cost of parts (book Little Bets).

Intersection Seeking

“Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.” – Frank Tyger

Many successful people have talked about how they collect and eventually connect the dots (find the intersections) to succeed. Steve Jobs followed his curiosity after dropping out of college and attending a calligraphy class. Later, this drove the fonts in the graphical interface of the mac and a desktop publishing revolution. Elon Musk is a master of this intersectional and lateral thinking. He has founded / created many businesses using this thinking, including PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, SolarOne, and Hyperloop. Here are examples of lateral jumps Elon has made.

  • Take the reusability of planes to rockets to reduce space travel costs.
  • Take the light construction of rockets to cars to enable light electric cars.
  • Turned cars into upgradeable computers to enable new vehicle features to be uploaded.


“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
– Albert Einstein

Here are three takeaways for you to become an innovative, deeply unconventional thinker.

  1. Be poly-curious (curious about many things). Collect different ideas and perspectives broadly.
  2. Connect ideas laterally across fields. Always be thinking how you can apply something you learn to another field. Recognize what is important.
  3. Be able to compare and hold opposing ideas simultaneously. Look from many perspectives.

I find a couple of techniques useful for filling my idea / perspective cue. I am always looking for interesting books. I use Google alerts to be notified of new articles in topics that interest me. I determine which people and blogs are most interesting and follow them on Twitter. Twitter gives you a rapid way to evaluate content, through a forced 140-character limit describing what the article contains and an image. If you want to dig deeper, just click on the article. Ted Talks are another great way to collect perspectives. Ted Talks are under 20 minutes and contain some of the best compressed knowledge by experts in every field. There are an unlimited number of things you can learn and explore on the Internet. Keep finding insights, connecting, and looking with multiple perspectives.

Guy Bieber
Inspire  Be Inspired  Create Amazing Experiences 
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected]

Preorder Potential today at

Connect! Don’t go it alone!

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Why Connect?

“Someone created the computer on their own, and it was thrown away. You have to have infrastructure to make an idea big. You can’t be a loner.” – The Innovators

The longest longevity study watched 700 men from wealthy backgrounds (Harvard) and from poor Boston neighborhoods over 75 years. The number one thing they found that increased happiness and healthiness was good relationships with family, friends, and communities. That was regardless of wealth or genetic disposition. People who were happiest in retirement replaced workmates with playmates. Loneliness was toxic to health and happiness. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 Americans are lonely. We need to connect with others to make our journey more enjoyable.

There has been a trend towards solo-preneuring where an individual starts a business. The solo-preneur is a misnomer; eventually, if something succeeds, you need to involve other people to grow. As a solopreneur, there are many connections you can make:

The journey is always more fun when we go on it together. For a viable business, you at least must take your customers on that journey.

Mentors, Coaches, and Your Personal Board of Directors

“Too little confidence you will be unable to act. Too much confidence you will be unable to listen. “ – John Maeda

Entrepreneurs with mentors raised 7x the capital and grew 3.5x faster (Smartcuts). Mentors are important in developing a business and life. Everyone needs a personal board of directors; in particular, young people can really benefit. For a business, having the right mentors is helpful. You want mentors who have been through what you are trying to do before or are experts in an area you are not. Mentors often know an effective tool or can make an introduction that helps you move forward. Having a mentor connected to many people, a super-connector, can be very useful for making the right introductions. I am grateful for the many good mentors I have been blessed with throughout my career.

I have been fortunate to have executive coaches at various jobs. They really help you figure yourself out and give you tools to be more effective. If you have the means to get a coach who works for you, do it. If not, there are a lot of services that can get you some short-term specific mentoring. Clarity provides advice for startups in every area of creating a business. Mentors on Clarity provide by the minute mentoring at various rates. If you need help getting unstuck coding something, Codementor provides by the minute mentoring on software development. There is also the possibility of a coaching internship, where you follow around someone who does something you aspire to do. There are many ways for you to get help. Simply ask and be grateful.

Besides mentors I can talk to, I have a dream board of directors, composed of people I admire. When I get stuck or demotivated, I ask what they would say to me. My dream board contains Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Bill Joy, Astro Teller, Freddy Mercury, and John Lennon. Some of these people I know, some are long gone, and some I hope to meet someday. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it helps to think about how these people might advise me. Have fun with it. You can have any dream board of directors you want.

In her TEDTalk, Barbara Sher described how isolation is a dream killer. She started forming success groups to help people achieve their dreams. People just have to describe a wish and an obstacle, and then the team helps them overcome it. It was amazing how people helped each other. One woman had not had a vacation in years and wanted to go on a cruise. Someone in the team had won a free cruise they didn’t want to go on. They gave her the ticket. Another person offered to help babysit her kids. You are much more likely to get the answers you seek if you cast your net more widely. That is what success teams are about.

There are many opportunities to find your community. Meetups have become a popular way to connect with your local community. Tools, like Meetup, make it easy to publish and find events. Mastermind Groups create multidisciplinary teams that meet to brainstorm, achieve goals, and learn. The resources are there for you; you just have to reach out.

Power of the Crowd / Collaborative Economy / Sharing Economy / Peers

Many companies have harnessed the power of the crowd and created amazing networking effects for their businesses. Wikipedia used the crowd to create the first constantly updated online encyclopedia. Uber allowed people to use one of their least used and most expensive assets to make money on the side. Cars are only 5% utilized; yet represent 7% of family income. Uber created the world’s largest transportation company. Airbnb allowed people to share spare bedrooms or homes with guests and create the world’s largest hotel company. Threadless runs tee-shirt design competitions with the crowd, takes preorders, and prints shirts on demand. The examples are endless. In her book Peers Inc, Robin Chase describes the principles and benefits of taking a peers approach to business.


  1. Using excess capacity makes sense.
  2. Platforms enable simple sharing.
  3. Peers are powerful collaborators.


  1. Peer models can have exponential growth.
  2. Smart platforms create exponential learning via machine learning. Law of Accelerated Learning for Peers: Pace of learning is proportional to the size of the network.
  3. Diverse networked peers mean instant access to the right minds.

Networking effects matter. Companies that orchestrate networks have 2x to 4x the valuations of their peers and outperform them on both product and growth. Robin suggests we are moving from an industrial economy to a collaborative economy. She describes the collaborative economy this way.

  1. Openness: Open assets are more efficient than closed assets. The benefits of openness are far greater than the problems of openness.
  2. Connectedness: More networked minds are greater than a few fenced-in minds.
  3. Sharing: I get is greater than I give.

Robin describes the phases that peer businesses go through. They move from a controlled kernel, to everyone welcome, to power imbalance (between the community and platform), and finally power parity (everyone is benefiting). The Internet, machine learning, and the cloud are making it easier than ever to create a peers-based company.

Crowds / Peers enable you to find people with similar goals, people with knowledge you are looking for, and people with skills you might need. It is much like the game show 1 versus 100, where a crowd typically beats an individual, regardless of how smart they are. Peers help you get unstuck, because someone always knows a faster, cheaper, better way of doing things you are struggling with.

The crowd can also fund your ideas. Indiegogo and Kickstarter have funded billions of dollars to startups. You just have to connect with something people really want. The book Bold describes what you need to have a successful crowdfunding campaign.

  1. You need to be in the late prototype phases.
  2. The team assembled and capable of executing.
  3. The product is community focused and consumer facing.
  4. The team has access to a large community of followers, who can be pitched directly.
  5. The product aims to solve a problem people care about.

Crowdfunding has many advantages, well beyond just raising capital.

  1. Market validation and real demand measurement.
  2. Development of paying community of customers.
  3. Inexpensive customer acquisition.

Another way to use the crowd is to solve big problems. Prize-based competitions are capital effective for solving big problems. The XPrize spawned commercial rockets. DARPA prizes created the driverless car and humanoid robotics. The book Bold talks about the reasons for doing competitions.

  1. Raise the visibility of challenges. Makes people think it’s actually doable.
  2. Prizes break bottlenecks of traditional players.
  3. Prizes cast a wide net.
  4. The appetite for risk increases.
  5. Crowdfunding is possible.
  6. Prizes can creates 100s of technical solutions.

For prize-based research to work, you have to tap into the passion of the community.

Pay it Forward

“Golden Rule: Treat others like you want to be treated.”
“Platinum Rule: Treat others like they want to be treated.” – Dr Tony Alessandra
“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” —@KevinSpacey

The one pitfall of the golden rule is that it assumes others will like what we do. The larger the community, the less likely this is true. Receiving always starts with giving. If you want a community you go to for help, you need to be the person willing to help others. If someone mentored you, pay it forward by mentoring someone else. In the movie Pay It Forward, a young boy launches a goodwill movement. He helped other people and asked them only one thing in return; help someone else. He asked them to pay it forward. Imagine a world where one small act of kindness ripples out into 100s, 1000s, and millions of acts of kindness. That would be a great world to live in.

Guy Bieber
Inspire  Be Inspired  Create Amazing Experiences 
When you need The Guy: @theguybieber [email protected] [email protected]

 Preorder Potential today at