Ignite is a very cool type of event that’s held in cities across the country with a simple premise: interesting 5 minute talks given with exactly 20 slides that forward every 15 seconds.

Public speaking is a skill I think it’s worth developing and Ignite looked like a fun event (I went to one in Mountain View a few years back), so I submitted a proposal to speak at Ignite San Francisco about my experiences with Rejection Therapy.

If you aren’t familiar with Rejection Therapy: it’s a social game invented by an introverted guy named Jason Comely, and the one rule is that you must get rejected by another person at least once, every single day.

The Presentation

My other Rejection Therapy Posts:

Ignite San Francisco is run by Jon Bishop and Patti Chan and they do a fantastic job. The event was held at Public Works and was packed. Probably over 150 people came to support the speakers and they were a great (ie: supportive) crowd. I was also impressed with the creativity and delivery of the other speakers – here are some of my favorites:

What did you think of the presentation?

Click here to leave a comment with one thing you liked and one thing you think I could do better on a future talk.


Best. Cake. Ever. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Photo credit by Solo

People fall into two camps about birthdays – either a socially-acceptable time to feel entitled to special things because you were born a certain number of earth rotations ago, or it’s just another arbitrary day and nothing to get worked up about.

I generally side more with the latter – but this year I’m giving my birthday a little more ballyhoo. I think its a good time to reflect on things because similar to New Years, our birthdays remind us that death is coming)

My birthday wish comes in the form of a question:

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you were 26?

(or, if you are not yet 26, what’s the one thing you hope to know, be or do by the time you turn 26?)

Leave your thought in the comments below.

The sweet, sweet prize

I’ll be selecting one lucky winner to get a free Impossible T-shirt from Joel Ruyon’s Blog of Impossible Things – you can see me rocking one out here.

So wish me a happy birthday by sharing your wisdom (or aspirations) with me. Thanks!


via behappy.me

When talking about nailing our routines in competition, my college teammate Eli would always say – “Don’t let it happen, make it happen.” Our endless hours of training were the preparation, the bank deposits we made so that come game day – we would cash in big.

You’ve got to have both huge aspirations and a huge amount of grit to power through all the crap that comes between you and the prize.

So go out and get it.

PS – if you liked this posted, behappy.me has a ton of awesome quotes that you should check out.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve helped a handful of startups work on their YC applications and interviews. I spent much of the time brainstorming with the founders on the best way to explain their business in the most clear and compelling way possible. These founders knew a lot about the market and had spent months if not years developing their ideas, but that often meant they would be all over the place when talking about what they were doing. This caused their pitch to sound weak and not be as compelling as it could be.

Paul Graham is, among other things, really good at boiling companies down to their essence. When practicing for Demo Day, you’d see founders start to pitch their company and Paul would say “Wait, don’t say that. Why don’t you say you are doing ____” which summed up the company in a more beautiful and compelling way than anything the founder had previous pitched.

Startup Pitch Archetypes

When talking to an investor (or potential advisor, partner or other person who cares about the viability of your business success) you will talk at some point about all the major things: the market, the product, the team, the target customer, the business model etc — but how you lead the discussion and how you frame your points matters a lot.

From my experience at two demo days, talking to investors about Ridejoy and listening to lots of aspiring YC founders talk about their businesses, I realized that the best startup pitches seem to fall into several patterns. Depending on the type of business you’re building, who you’re pitching and your personal style, there are probably one or two archetypes that would be most compelling.

I’ve identified eleven compelling startup pitch archetypes (depending on how you slice it) and have tried to explain what they are, what they sound like, examples of YC companies that might have used this archetype and advice on how you might go about using it.

Take a look.

[alert style=”grey”]DISCLAIMER – I tried to match YC companies to pitch archetypes that I thought made sense but I was not at their meetings with investors nor did I attempt to verify this article with them (not enough time). The “What it sounds like” quotes are all simply illustrations of what this type of pitch might sound like and are all written by me, not by other YC founders. I’m not trying to put words in anyone’s mouth. Finally, these pitches are not magic. Nothing works unless you do.[/alert]

The Standard Pitch

What it is:

You’ve identified a problem / unmet need that a specific group of people have and have created product or service that addresses the need/solves the problem and is within your target customer’s budget.

What it sounds like:

“Over 40% of widget makers say they are “displeased” or “extremely displeased” with their widget designing software, particularly in areas X, Y and Z. We’ve built a better widget designer that is 2x as good in X, Y and Z than the competition” Continue reading

reasons why you need to teach a class on skillshare

After taking a class on UX Design for Non Designers via Skillshare, I got the teaching bug and taught my first skillshare class a few weeks ago on creating compelling web content that gets read as part of Skillshare’s  SF Tech Semester.

So how did it go?

It was a great experience. Skillshare has really built a wonderful platform and fostered a positive community where people are excited to teach and learn from one another. I had 7 brave souls show up for this newbie’s class and gave them everything I’ve learned about blogging and building an audience.

I think everyone should try teaching a class via Skillshare. They’re in tons of major cities like San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Austin, Portland, and more and there are a lot of good reasons why you should take the plunge. Here are five:

1) Empower people with new knowledge and skills, and the motivation to use them

Maybe you’re thinking – “But there’s nothing I can teach!” Baloney. If you’re reading this blog post, there are probably a few topics/subject matters that you know significantly more than the average person and that people would pay money to have you teach.

Whether it’s getting started with Python, navigating your way through a big music festival, tricking out your Gmail inbox or knitting 101, there’s probably something you would enjoy teaching and could teach well. You don’t have to be the world’s expert – most classes on Skillshare are introductory level ones that people will little background in the subject can still take and enjoy.

And you’re not just imparting information, as a teacher, you are imparting passion. One student left me this kind review: “I learned a lot, enjoyed listening to him as a speaker, and totally walked away inspired and empowered to start my blog, and start it well.”

The truth is, most people can learn the basics of blogging by searching on Google and Quora, following a few WordPress tutorials and reading Copyblogger articles. As a teacher, one of the greatest things you can provide is your sense of passion and excitement to this subject and show them where they can take these skills/knowledge to. And that can be a great feeling.

2) Consolidate (and expand) your area of expertise

You’re going to learn a lot from teaching the class. If you’ve never taught something before, you’ll quickly realize that there’s no better way to understand a subject area than to try to teach it. As I built the Keynote deck that formed the foundation of my class, I was looking things up, grabbing links, re-reading blog posts, watching videos and basically immersing in the topic of blogging.

Before you can really teach something well, you need to deeply and full understand it. If you are interested in knowing more about your field or honing your craft, I assure you that teaching a class on it will only bolster that cause.

3) Improve your communication skills

The best teachers aren’t simply domain experts. They are great communicators. It’s obvious that the people who have had the greatest influence in our society aren’t just smart or skilled or knowledgeable. They were incredible at delivering a clear and compelling message: Jobs. Gandhi. King. Churchill.

Teaching a class forces you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, think about how they see the world and build upon what they already know. For my class, I kind of struggled on how to present everything I knew until I ironed out the four-part framework:

Identifying your audience -> Content Generation -> Writing nuts & bolts -> Distribution / readership.

This made everything else much easier. Each section had important big ideas, resources and knowledge. I also created an short exercise and opened up Q&A between each section to break the class up and make it interactive.

Teaching a class on Skillshare forces you to become a better communicator and that’s a really valuable skill to have.

4) Connect with people in your field/extended network/city

Teaching a class on Skillshare is a great way to connect with people in your area – in real life! I think online education is incredible – things like Udacity, Udemy and Khan Academy are fantastic initiatives and are making our society better. But there’s something special about an in person class that forms a special connection.

My friend Derek Flanzraich has taught his class on growing to 750k uniques in under a year several times on Skillshare and he tells me that everytime, he’s developed a relationship with at least one interesting person who ends up being able to help his company Greatist in some way. I’m not saying that all connections need to be professional or work related, but the fact is, by sharing your passions via this class, you are likely to bump into people interested in similar things and it’s totally like you’ll hit it off well with your students.

5) Make some dough

Let’s face it – getting paid to do something fun is like the best of both worlds. With the money you earn from your Skillshare class, you can go treat your friends to a round of drinks, splurge on that icon set you’ve been savoring over or take that weekend getaway.

I charged $30 for my first class and with eight students, ended up making $204 after Skillshare’s fees. I raised the price by $5 because now this class is more of a sure thing and I expect to sell out. I’m not doing this class for the money, but the money isn’t bad.


So think about it. Brainstorm a list of potential classes you could teach, take a look at what’s being offered in your city and jump in. Even if you just teach a 45 min class in a coffee shop for 3 people – I promise you’re going to get something out of it.

Oh and by the way – I liked teaching my class so much I’m doing it again.

“I’ve Read Your Blog” : Creating Compelling Web Content

Wednesday May 16th from 7:30pm – 9pm at NextSpace in SF. First 5 people to sign up using this code: BLOGFTW will get 50% off the price of admission. Check it out!

Blogging not your thing? Check out my buddy Al Abut’s class: Intro to HTML & CSS! I’m signed up for his May 24th class.