Tag: years

After 20 years in corporate America, this 47-year-old ditched his suit for painting, building, and sailing around the world

dan givens 2

Two decades in the corporate world was enough for 47-year-old Dan Givens.

In April 2015, he quit his job as the head of financial planning and analysis for OpenTable, rented his house in San Francisco, and set off for the coast of southern Chile.

“I got tired of working so hard for corporate America and longed for work that was more impactful to others and more meaningful to me,” he tells Business Insider. “I decided to take time off from the working world to explore the ‘actual’ world. I didn’t have a formal plan, but I figured this was as good a time as any to do something radical. I was single and I had a few passions that I wanted to explore: sailing, travel, photography, and helping others.”

Since trading in his home and career for a backpack, camera, and life on the road, he has spent time in Chile, Germany, and Thailand, volunteering for “host families” in exchange for room and board.

We spoke to Givens about his new lifestyle: what it looks like, the reality of living and working abroad, and how he’s affording it.

SEE ALSO: One couple quit their jobs to build a new life traveling the US in a 98-square-foot tiny home

“The thought of building a career and lifestyle around travel has been percolating in the back of my mind for as long as I can remember,” he says.

He pulled the trigger in April 2015, when he quit his job and spent the next couple of months preparing for a new life on the road. He packed up his home and made it “rental ready,” set up his website, Dannyboy Travels, finished his sailing certifications, and looked up visa requirements in various countries.

Having worked full-time for the past 20 years while supporting only himself, Givens had a substantial savings built up, despite living in the pricey Bay Area. He was able to save about a year’s worth of after-tax salary to spend on the road. He also built a financial plan before jet-setting, factoring in expenses, income, investment return, and tax rate.

His adventure officially began August 25, 2015, when he set off for Tenglo Island, off the coast of southern Chile, where he would do volunteer work for three families.

He finds his hosts through internet bulletin boards, such as Help-X, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), and Find a Crew. In exchange for labor, he gets a roof to sleep under and at least one meal a day.

The work is usually physical — in Chile, he pruned apple trees, painted houses, and cleaned sailboats — but he’s also taught English and done some web and multimedia work. While his schedule varies depending on the type of work, his host, and the weather, he spends about four to five hours a day doing volunteer work, Monday through Friday.

“I like the variety of the work, the physical nature of the work, and the impact of the work,” Givens says. “I like the fresh air, fresh faces, and fresh perspective on life.”

The duration of his stays varies. There is no contract, so he can stay as long or as short as he wants.

After a month in Chile, he returned to San Francisco to regroup for a few days before heading to Germany to spend time with friends. In late October, he bought a one-way ticket to Thailand, where he would spend the next three months helping a family run a resort, which consisted of 15 bungalows and a restaurant.

“I helped install outdoor lighting and walkways, prepared the foundation for a beach bar, and painted the buildings,” he explains. “I also built a spreadsheet for them to manage their bookings online, instead of using pen and paper. Lastly, I implemented a set of procedures for cleaning rooms and public areas.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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A woman who increased her salary by $30,000 explains why she expects to double it in the next 2 years


“You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.”

That’s what personal-finance expert Farnoosh Torabi preaches.

It helped Torabi double her salary — from $45,000 to $90,000 — at age 26 back in 2006. More recently, it helped 28-year-old Claudia Telles score a $30,000 raise at a Chicago hospital.

What’s more, Telles — who went from making $41,000 on the business-operations team to $72,000 as a quality specialist — plans to double her new compensation in the next two years, she tells Business Insider.

It’s more than possible, she says, thanks to a critical mind-set shift.

“I noticed my perception of a good salary and self-worth, career-wise, changed once I started surrounding myself with top performers,” she says.

“Before meeting ambitious professionals, increasing my salary by $5,000 would have made me beyond happy. Afterwards, asking for a $30,000 salary increase didn’t even seem ridiculous. I have friends and acquaintances that have been able to double or triple their salary, and to me, it’s the ‘new normal.'”

Moral of the story: “Be careful who you surround yourself with because they influence your standards and definition of what ‘normal’ is,” Telles says. “My standards keep doubling because of who I surround myself with.”

She isn’t the only one to suggest a correlation between success and who you choose to hang out with. As self-made millionaire Steve Siebold writes, “Exposure to people who are more successful than you are has the potential to expand your thinking and catapult your income. We become like the people we associate with, and that’s why winners are attracted to winners.”

The thought of negotiating another big leap isn’t intimidating to the 28-year-old — nor is it impractical, granted she continues performing at a high level and bringing value to her company.

“To me, it’s just the reasonable and right thing to do,” she says.

SEE ALSO: 7 steps to negotiate a higher salary, from a 28-year-old who made a $30,000 leap

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Why Kevin O’Leary invested in these entrepreneurs nearly 3 years after they missed a deal with him on ‘Shark Tank’

surprise ride shark tank

For the first time in seven seasons of “Shark Tank,” one of the Sharks has returned to invest in a company whose founders missed a deal during their appearance on the show.

In the latest episode of “Beyond the Tank,” the “behind-the-scenes” companion show to “Shark Tank,” it was revealed that Kevin O’Leary partnered with sisters Donna and Rosy Khalife, founders of the Washington, DC startup Surprise Ride.

“Now I own a piece of this company, I like what they’ve done so far — I’m going to pour gasoline on this fire, get this thing to $10 million in sales,” O’Leary said.

The Khalifes founded Surprise Ride, a craft kit subscription service for kids ages 6-11, in 2012, shortly after Donna received her MBA from Harvard Business School. Donna serves as CEO and Rosy as COO.

When they appeared on Season 5 of “Shark Tank” in 2013, they had acquired 220 subscribers over four months and were on track for $500,000 in annual sales for the next year. They were seeking an investment of $110,000 in exchange for 10% of the company, but the investors thought the $1.1 million valuation was unwarranted. Robert Herjavec offered the $110,000, but for 25%, and he became frustrated when the Khalifes negotiated harder. They left without a deal.

A couple years later, they agreed to appear on “Beyond the Tank” under the pretense that they were to be another example of founders who missed a deal on “Shark Tank” but flourished after the experience; they had no idea that O’Leary, who was very interested in the product back in Season 5 but found the valuation much too high, had kept an eye on the company’s progress.

Since the “Shark Tank” appearance, Surprise Ride not only exceeded its goal of $500,000 in annual revenue in 2014, but surpassed $1 million in annual sales last year. The company also became profitable, and the Khalifes are using profits to grow their team.

surprise rideIn classic reality show fashion, the “Beyond the Tank” producers had O’Leary make an unexpected appearance at the Surprise Ride headquarters.

His offer was far from a done deal, and he told them it was completely non-negotiable: He would invest $50,000 for 2.5% of the company, and would profit from a 6% royalty on every product sold until he made $150,000, at which the royalty would disappear. The sisters hesitated a moment, but then happily agreed to it.

Rosy told DCInno’s Eric Hal Schwartz that the $50,000 was intended solely as a way for O’Leary to kick off a partnership. “Fifty grand isn’t much compared to what a startup needs to grow, but it’s not about investment in terms of monetary value,” she said. “It’s about Kevin’s marketing value. That’s worth millions in itself. We’re excited to be working with him on customer acquisition and growth.”

O’Leary, who goes by the nickname “Mr. Wonderful,” told the Khalifes that Surprise Ride would become the newest member of his Something Wonderful Family, a collection of his favorite “Shark Tank” investments that he markets together for family-friendly event planning.

O’Leary said another reason he wanted to bring Surprise Ride into his portfolio was because he realized over the past year that his most profitable “Shark Tank” investments have female CEOs. He told the Khalifes that he’s not exactly sure why that is, but he’s at least found from his own experience that his female CEOs are less volatile and better planners than his male leaders.

“Surprise Ride is at an interesting juncture,” O’Leary said on “Beyond the Tank.” “I think these girls have learned a lot since they appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ and I think they’ve learned from time that you don’t want to take an opportunity and squander it.”

SEE ALSO: How this ‘Shark Tank’ entrepreneur negotiated hard for a $2 million deal with Kevin O’Leary and Lori Greiner

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NOW WATCH: This is the greatest business lesson ‘Shark Tank’s’ Kevin O’Leary ever learned

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I spent 5 years studying rich people, and I figured out why they seem to have more hours in the day than the rest of us


With respect to time, we are all on equal footing. We all have just 24 hours in a day.

In my five year study of the daily habits of the rich, I found that successful people figure out how to leverage time better than the rest of us. They get others to help them pull their cart, in order to move forward in achieving their goals and realizing their dreams.

Ten people working together for one purpose equals 240 hours each day, one hundred equals 2,400 hours each day and so on.

It’s not just time self-made millionaires leverage. They also leverage their limited knowledge and skills through their teams and their relationships. They understand that they cannot possibly know everything or be good at everything, so successful people leverage the knowledge and skills of their teams and their network of relationships. They tap into the collective knowledge and skills of everyone in their inner circle to help them with their goals and dreams.

Leveraging what you have means being aware of all of the assets, knowledge, skills, time, and relationships at your fingertips in order to get what you want and need so that you can achieve all of your goals and realize all of your dreams.

“But I am only one person,” you might object. I have no employees. It’s just me.”

All is not lost. There are still ways to take advantage of leverage. Here are a few ideas that I picked up from my study:

SEE ALSO: I spent 5 years studying rich people, and here’s the best piece of advice I can give you about money


Seventy-two percent of the rich in my study volunteered five hours or more per month. Why is this important? Volunteering helps you build valuable relationships. It allows you to showcase your skill-sets in a safe environment.

It also introduces you to the knowledge and skills of others who might be able to help you with their knowledge and skills.

Plus, the people you meet volunteering bring with them their own relationships, and those relationships could help you with your goals and dreams.

Be part of mastermind groups.

Some of the self-made millionaires in my study were part of a mastermind group. These groups were exclusive groups, typically comprised of no more than six individuals who met regularly (weekly, monthly, or quarterly). The mastermind groups that were the most successful were the ones in which everyone in the group was pursuing virtually identical goals and dreams.

For example, if the self-made millionaire was an automobile dealer, their mastermind group was comprised of other automobile dealers who sold the same product, albeit in a different regional market (i.e. Hyundai car dealers).

At these mastermind group meetings, the participants share ideas on what works, what doesn’t work – their successes, failures and mistakes. They also use these meetings to brainstorm new ideas, new processes, or better ways of doing things.

Anyone, even sole proprietors, can organize or find a mastermind group. Meetup.com is a social networking portal that facilitates group meetings of individuals who are pursuing something in common. Trade organizations often have numerous meetings every year and some have specialized sub-groups who meet frequently.

For example, the New Jersey Society of CPAs has various committees that members can join. Facebook has groups you can join that are specific to your interests. Mastermind group meetings do not require that you physically meet with each other. Freeconferencecall.com, Skype, Google Talk, and many other tools make it possible for individuals in different countries and different time zones to easily get together.

Participate in business incubators.

Business incubators are often sponsored by private companies or municipal entities and public institutions, such as colleges and universities. Their goal is to help create and grow young businesses by providing them with necessary support and financial and technical services.

There are approximately 900 business incubators nationwide, according to the National Business Incubation Association. Incubators share rental space, supplies, equipment, and the much-needed expertise of on-site staff. Many incubators specialize in particular niches.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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7 tips for raising startup capital, from a founder who’s been doing it for 18 years

dave balter mylestoned

When I first tried to raise money — in 1998 for a company called 360merch — a handful of plucky angel investors agreed to trust me with one million of their dollars. I wore my fingers to the bone in that business, hawking lenticular stickers and logo’d baby doll t-shirts using affinity marketing models — and then promptly lost them all of their money when the market crashed.

The next time I tried, for BzzAgent, nearly 200 investors told us to go screw. Most thought using real people to generate word of mouth about products and services was a generally dumb idea (this was a pre-social network world, after all) so we had to build the company to nearly $3 million in revenue before anyone would give us a dime. We went on to raise $14M from General Catalyst and Flybridge Partners — and returned $60M to investors in 11 years.

My next attempt was with Smarterer, and I now had the perception of success on my side plus a deeper network of contacts to pull from. It took us about 160 days to raise $1.2M from Google Ventures, True Ventures, and Boston Seed. In 3 different rounds, we raised a total of $4M. Turns out that was a pretty solid bet, and we returned $75M to investors in just under 4 years.

We recently raised funding for a new startup, Mylestoned. The $1.5M raise was incredibly swift and awfully quiet — 56 days from start to finish, with our bank account in the black for about 40 days.

Venture fundraising is a funny thing. It’s a sophisticated game with teams and rules and failures and victories; there’s a lot of skill, sure, but much more luck. All sorts of things can impact a raise: the idea, the team, market conditions, fund dynamics, competing raises. Hell, even the damn weather has an effect.

Each fundraise is like creating a painting: experience doesn’t make it any easier, but you’re certainly better at knowing the aesthetic, the weight of the brush and how much color to use. And — as evidenced by Mylestoned’s current raise — understanding which paint to lay down and when certainly makes the art at the end nicer to look at.

So how did we make this painting? Here’s what we did, with some lessons along the way:

1. Be Loyal

Istarted this raise by going directly to angels who had backed me before. Shikhar Ghosh and Guli Arshad have backed almost all of my companies, even the ones they didn’t like! I went to them first. They’re loyal to me, I’m loyal to them (Mylestoned they liked, for what it’s worth…).

Next I went to Mark Gerson and Scott Kurnit, NYC residents who are accomplished entrepreneurs of ridiculous caliber. Generous with their time and advice and friendship. Invaluable in Smarterer’s success; and loyalty comes first. With their commitments, I now had momentum with others.

2. Don’t Be Desperate

Dogs begging

I’d made a number of angel investors 15x their money, and reached out to the best of them next. You’d figure they’d be easy to land, but a few of them didn’t bite to invest in this company. Why? Could be they’re over-invested elsewhere or their model of investing is changing or their kid had the flu when I asked.

Or the damn weather again.

It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is I didn’t push beyond the first request. If immediate interest wasn’t apparent, I just moved on because you can’t look desperate. Desperation smells like body odor, and other investors can smell it like horses can smell fear.

3. Get a Big Chunk Early

After a few solid angel commitments, it was time for a big whack of support. I find it much easier to get your first institutional capital with a few good angels in hand. But after a few angels, other angels become harder to close without something more substantial. So time for the big guns.

The lowest hanging fruit was Boston Seed Capital — they backed Smarterer, and I happen to now be a Venture Partner there. Plus, they’re awesome (full disclosure: me saying they’re awesome is akin to me saying I’m awesome, which is only really awesome to them and me). As the first institution they played an even more critical role in validating the terms of the raise, and agreeing to “lead”. The first angels can show their support but can’t really define the raise for others to join. Boston Seed committed, we have a lead, now we’re rolling.

huell money breaking bad

4. Be Local

Ican’t emphasize enough the importance of raising on your own soil. It’s where you will spend 20 hours a day building over the next few years and your investors will become your advocates, recruiters, connectors, future fundraisers — but mainly the blankie you cuddle in your darkest hours. Jeff Glass, Jere Doyle, George Bell, Joe Caruso and Larry Silverstein are all exceptional Boston-based investors. They got priority over investors in other cities because I know they deliver, but also because you have to own your home court.

Deborah Quazzo is based in Chicago. But, well, she’s Deborah Quazzo and she’s brilliant and unstoppable. Also, see point #1.

5. Have a Firm Plan You Won’t Change — and Then Be Flexible

Istarted with a plan to raise $750k in 15 $50k increments. I’d focus on seed funds and angels only (no large VCs) with an uncapped note at a whopping 40% discount — double the standard rate. Beyond my rationale that it would drive incredible returns, I fed off of the curiosity about the unique structure and fanned those flames: by getting investors thinking, and by making something original, I opened the door to dialogue. The important part though wasn’t so much the terms, but that there was a clear, crisp, unwavering plan.

Screw “I’m waiting for someone to set the terms,” which I hear over and over. Lay out your terms and then qualify them with logic.

On these terms, the $750k was fully committed. We were done, that was that. Then things started to evolve. A few more investors, many in my Gang of Loyals, wanted to come in, so the round opened to $1M.

Then things really started to change. Our raise was all done, it was a pretty little painting. Then David Frankel and Founder Collective showed up. I’ve been dying to work with FC for ages. They’re local. They’re smart as hell. David’s reputation is outstanding. Their DNA completely fit this company and this round, and I believed their involvement would be valuable for the next round (see point 7). But there was a problem. They didn’t like the uncapped note. There are times in a raise when you bend, and this was one of them.

With a commitment to work through and flexibility on all sides we reconfigured the terms and then started calling all of the previously committed investors. A few had already wired money under the previous terms, but with hat in hand — and clearly articulating the rationale for switching — everyone agreed to the new structure. Boston Seed remained flexible as well (they actually upped their investment as the round progressed), Converge and Maia Heymann added a little to the pot, and now we were at $1.5M total.

3000 Sand Hill Road

6. Close The Crap Out of It

This is where many entrepreneurs tend to flail, but it has to be a core strength. Forget “always be closing” and focus on “knowing when to close” (Guessing this won’t catch on because I’m not Alec Baldwin, there are no steak knives and KWTC is not nearly as cute as ABC).

Nothing good can happen between commitment and signing, so you need to move fast. I set a date two weeks out, and emailed every investor clear instructions regarding what they had to do to “confirm their spot”. I ensured there was pressure: Without commitment, others would take the spot (True. Never ever lie in a raise); of fearing they’d be the only investor holding up the close. Then I pushed my legal team to update the funding documents and pushed everything to 5th-grader-simple online signature via docusign. If anyone didn’t seem responsive within 12 hours, I called them. Damn it people, use the phone to close!

7. Plant the Seeds for the Next Raise

All throughout the fundraising process I met with a number of non-seed Venture Capitalists — who would never, ever fund the business at this stage. The truth is most raises happen long before you start raising, and this was a key moment to start building relationships. Also, VCs — for the most part — are really smart and are a wealth of information and experience. Consider this free advice from palm readers with lots of money.

If any of the meetings started to feel like pitches (“I’m going to have a few other folks join us,” or “do you want to send over the deck in advance”), I backed out. This wasn’t a time to pitch, we were too raw and it would only end up as a “not right now”. I actually mistakenly ended up in one meeting that turned into a pitch, and the VC called me later to tell me they wouldn’t invest. But I wasn’t asking for an investment! The dreaded “no” without even asking for a yes.

handshakeAll in all, I’m super proud of this raise, but not because we got it closed. I’m proud because it’s my damn job. Fundraising isn’t a one-dimensional equation, and during the whole raise, I was also in the fat, sweaty swing of building the vision and recruiting the Mylestoned team. People were quitting their jobs, they were changing their livelihoods — and there’s no way in hell I wasn’t going to succeed for them. An entrepreneur’s job is to capitalize the business, and you can’t delegate that to anyone else.

So now we have 1.5 million dollars to turn our vision into some form of a reality. That equates to exactly 78 weeks. Every week counts. And you can sure as shit bet that I know exactly which of those weeks I’ll fire up the fundraising engines again.

This article originally appeared on Medium and has been published here with the author’s permission.

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How one entrepreneur increased his hourly earnings from $7 to $400 in 3 years

Primoz_solo 2

In 2011, Primoz Bozic was earning $7 an hour working as a computer programmer during university in his native Slovenia. 

Then, he started to read.

He devoured productivity and habit change books fromI Will Teach You To Be Rich” toThe 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” to “Getting Things Done.” 

A month later, he signed up for an online course called Earn 1K, meant to jumpstart people into earning their first additional $1,000.

Soon, he noticed, he had implemented the systems he learned from the books and the course so well that he was leaving coworkers in the dust.

“All of a sudden I wasn’t this person who almost dropped out of high school because I was procrastinating so much; I was the person who was getting things done,” he says. “People noticed that and were like hey, can you help me?”

He had a good job — especially considering that the average after-tax household income in Slovenia is about $20,000 a year — but he felt trapped.

“I’ve always had this dream or desire to travel around the world and meet new people, and I just didn’t see that happening in that job,” he explains.

So Bozic started branching out.

Since he had some experience playing online poker, he wrote a post on an online poker forum about how poker players could be more productive.

“People just loved it,” he recalls. “Over time I wrote this really gigantic article, it was probably 27,000 words. It was a guide on productivity for poker players, and it got translated into like seven languages. So it pretty much positioned me as an expert in that field.”

Primoz_ThailandAs readers continued to find his advice and reach out to him about their more specific situations, he left computer programming and started charging $50 an hour as a productivity coach for poker players. 

“I was like holy s—, that’s a lot of money!” Bozic says. “Then I tested increasing my rate slowly. I just said, ‘Hey I’m raising my rates,’ and I kept getting a lot of clients.” 

At $125 an hour, he got stuck … so he sought some guidance.

“I was super nervous,” Bozic remembers of attending a 2013 conference with Ramit Sethi, author of the first productivity book he read and creator of the Earn 1K course, “but I was like, I’m getting all of this advice, I might as well put it into action. And even though I was super uncomfortable with many things like asking for referrals and testimonials, and raising rates, I just said what can I lose?”

In one month, his business doubled. In three months, it quintupled. Bozic took a second Sethi course — Zero to Launch — and launched an online business called Skyrocket Your Productivity in December 2013.

He scaled down his poker productivity coaching in the Spring of 2014 to focus on his new venture, which coaches entrepreneurs to be their most productive and to most efficiently manage their time. Bozic currently has about 10 coaching clients, and about 150 people have joined courses on his website in the last seven months. 

Between his products and coaching, he earns about $400 an hour.

“Now that I have online products, it’s just so much better. It’s so great because you do most of the work in the beginning and then you just keep earning money over time,” Bozic says. “You can write from a coffee shop, you can write from a plane, you can even write from a beach in Thailand. And it’s just so much better because it’s inspiring and it’s exciting. It’s not just being stuck in one room all the time.”

“It’s like that dream of making money in your sleep,” he continues. “That actually happens.”

SEE ALSO: How This 25-Year-Old Made $66,000 In A Month By Teaching An Online Course

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8 Fails Over 8 Years of Blogging

8 years ago almost exactly, I wrote my very first article on this site and thought I was hilarious: Interview: Me on Me. In this landmark article I tackled important questions like “Are budgets actually sexy?” and the poignant “Who is J. Money?” To which was answered: “That is I. You can guess what the J. stands for, but I usually answer to all of […]

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