1000giftsOne Thousand Gifts is a book by Ann Voskamp.  In a similar style to C.S. Lewis, every word that Ann writes is poetic, and filled with depth and meaning.  Sometimes reading just a few pages gave me enough to stew over for a while.  And then I’d re-read those pages and see something new.  Her words are hauntingly beautiful, and inspiring.

One Thousand Gifts is a journal of Ann’s journey and transition from ingratitude to gratitude.  Ann challenges herself by asking “Could I write a list of a thousand things I love?…one thousand gifts…not the gifts I want but of gifts I already have.”  What follows is a record of the gifts that Ann discovers, as she defeats ingratitude with gratefulness:

#1. Morning shadow across the old floors
#38. Wool sweaters with turtleneck collars
#118. Crackle in fireplace
#526. New toothbrushes
#904. First frost’s crunch

Ann’s perspective on seeing gifts in even the smallest of things has challenged me to be more thankful, and begin my own list of one thousand gifts.  Maintaining a posture of gratitude is a discipline and a journey.

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2  –> Week 3  –> Week 4

You don’t want to put something out to the world until it’s 100% perfect.
You’ll literally put the brakes on anything that doesn’t absolutely hit your high standard.
You think delivering anything less will result in NO sales.
Every little thing MUST BE PERFECT or it’s not seeing the light of day.
You’re a little paranoid that people will laugh at you if you don’t get everything right.

Does this sound like you?

I’m all for perfection and doing your best… but you can’t noodle away at something forever.
You must get your idea out to the world.
If you’re even thinking about launching that means you’re creating this for other people.
What’s the point to all the work you’re doing, if no one’s going to benefit from it?

So – what I do when I’m nearing the due date I’ve set to complete a project… is start listing off the CBBs.  What “Could Be Better”?  I make a list of CBBs and just keep moving forward.

Here’s the secret too for all you who will still want to wait until things are perfect – there will ALWAYS be CBBs.  Even if you don’t see them now.  I can’t think of one launch I’ve worked on, finished for myself, or helped someone else plan where there wasn’t a list of CBBs for the next launch.

CBB is one of those little phrases that helps take the pressure off – so start saying it when you find something that could be a little bit better, but you don’t want it to stop you from making progress or from launching.

No webinar? CBB – I’ll do one next time when my list is bigger.
No launch videos? CBB – my audience is used to blog posts anyways.
No affiliate program? CBB – I’ll do something super bare bones this time around and set up a real program for the next time.
No membership site? CBB – I’ll make a protected page on my site where all the content will live.
My PDFs aren’t super gorgeous! CBB – The content is there, I’ll make them look neat, easy to read and they’ll be fine.

It’s catchy…
You might find yourself declaring, “That’s a CBB for sure!” to things that used to have you adjusting your entire launch schedule.

Try it!

Go through your own launch materials, your program, your copy, your sales process and start making your CBB list for the next launch.

And – if you want to learn more about what’s important and what’s NOT important to launch…I’ll be teaching a live 1-hour workshop at thinkspace THIS WEEK to show you how to plan and schedule your next launch – so those CBBs don’t weigh you down!

Launch Exhaustion: How to schedule a year of launches without exhausting yourself, your audience, or your team.

Click here for more information and to attend


grassPerhaps there is some truth to the saying “the grass is greener on the other side.”

We can always find greener grass than the grass we’re standing on.

But instead of getting caught up in comparison-mode, re-route your perspective back to yourself.

Pining for another person’s green “grass” (someone else’s life, career, marriage, etc) will work the opposite way you want it to.  Instead of focusing on the condition of your own grass, you’re wasting time wishing you had someone else’s.

Maybe the grass IS greener on the other side.
But, so what?
Instead of being jealous or threatened by greener grass, see it as an invitation to water the grass you’re standing on.  If someone has an amazing job, be inspired to lean in and set a goal to earn a promotion.  If someone has the “perfect marriage,” figure out ways to work on your own marriage (the #staymarried blog is a great resource).

The secret to a better life isn’t seeing how you size up to someone else’s life (and thank you Facebook for making this all-too-easy).  The secret to a better life is self-awareness…and knowing what fertilizer you need in order to be fruitful and productive.



Tony Robbins

In September 2009, I was really fortunate to be able to attend the Twitter Conference in Los Angeles. At that conference I got to hear the keynote given by Tony Robbins. It stands as one of the top 10 best moving speeches I’ve heard in my life.

The Quality of Your Life is the Quality of Your Relationships

During Tony’s presentation he said “If you’re a business person you can look at your business. You can look at your employees, you can look at their Tweets and within a few minutes you can see how they think. Are they emotionally driven? Spiritually driven? Financially driven? Are they people that are building people up? Tearing them down? You can quickly know what they are about and you now know how to serve them. Twitter shows you a persons blueprint really quickly. Some of you it’s all business, all relationships, spirituality, money, there’s not that many things in life.”

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships, because, that is where emotions are most magnified.” – Tony Robbins

Lesson Learned:

In the start-up world, I feel like I’ve seen it all. Some of it first hand, other times observing from the sideline. Founders firing their co-founder. Founders firing their first employee. Employees quitting in batches. Relationships being discarded left and right.

Over the years I’ve had my fair share of goodbyes. Some of these goodbyes were initiated by me, some by others. It is painful to say goodbye when I have to fire someone. It sucks when people you invest in — quit you. The thing I’ve come to peace with is that I want to be with people that “want to” be with me. I recognize each of us are on our own journey, our paths cross and are aligned, then sometimes the path diverges. So the lesson is, don’t be so hard on yourself. Forgive yourself and extend more grace to others.

Alternate Lesson:

“Do what you did in the beginning of the relationship at the end and there won’t be an end.” – Tony Robbins

When relationships break – here’s something to consider… “There’s no weakness in forgiveness” – Annie Vander Pol (Director, Social Evangelist) wrote an amazing blog post that might shift your perspective.

5 Years Lessons Learned

I’ve made tons of mistakes over the last five years since starting up thinkspace. These are some *highlights* of the mistakes and lessons learned along the way. Thanks for being a part of the journey!

linchpinI asked Anne Samoilov what books were on her short list that really helped her finally launch – if any (Note: Anne will also be giving another workshop at thinkspace next Wednesday – click here to register and find out more).  Anne’s a bit of a book worm, and here is her “short list” of books that really pushed her to launch:
Launch, by Michael A. Stelzner
The Firestarter Sessions, by Danielle LaPorte
Linchpin, by Seth Godin
Tribes, by Seth Godin
4 Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss
Double Double, by Cameron Herold
Do The Work, by Steven Pressfield
Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Sha, and David Meerman Scott
By Invitation Only, by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
$100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau
Uncertainty, by Jonathan Fields

I decided to start with a book that gets referenced a lot at thinkspace: Linchpin.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a linchpin as “one that serves to hold together the parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.”

In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin defines a linchpin as someone who is indispensable.

Godin challenges the old mindset of thinking that there are two divisions of labor in the workforce – management and workers.  Linchpin argues that a new team has risen: those who are innovators, leaders (regardless of hierarchy and position), and those who are not easily replaced – the linchpins.

Godin reflects on this new arising team, “Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back.  It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map.  you have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious.  Only you can do it, and you must.” 

I know that I’m biased, but it is so amazing to work in a community like thinkspace where I daily meet and interact with these so-called linchpins.  Being surrounded by like-minded, creative innovators is inspiring and drives me to be indispensable as well.

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2  –> Week 3

Planning a project? Developing a new program? Starting a business?

It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by all the little moving parts in a launch.  Your website, the product, membership area, sales process, buttons, emails, graphics, getting the word out…it’s not surprising how many people DON’T launch.

There’s a lot that can go wrong.

Instead of pretending you’ll be able to handle all the curve balls that will be thrown at you during a launch or heck when running your business, having some guidelines to follow will go far in keeping your launch train moving forward.

Today – I’m sharing my personal launch rules–they have served me well planning projects in many different industries like film, video game development, pilates studio development and now as I grow my online business.

Don’t be surprised if some of them seem super obvious – and they are!

  1. Be clear what you are offering and be able to say it out loud to real people in your real life. If you can’t – then keep trying…

  2. Know who your audience is. There’s no real trick to this and you don’t have to do the work yourself.  My first time launching helped me clarify who would actually buy from me.  Moral of that story is put yourself in front of as many different audiences as you can – and your audience will find you!

  3. Get help – managing your project, doing the work, spreading the word… get help in every area, aspect and phase of your launch – so you don’t have to keep it all in your own head! Support is that key ingredient that really does matter more than you know!

  4. Stick to a schedule and be realistic when setting your schedule.  If you’ve only got a few people to “help” out…give yourself longer.  Be honest, realistic, and don’t

  5. Deliver what you promised and when you promise.  Don’t say you’re going to do a video series and then crap out after the 2nd one.  Don’t say your program will be delivered upon purchase if it opens in 2 weeks.  Just be clear what you’re offering and when and if it changes, make sure people know about it in ADVANCE.

  6. Don’t switch software or any systems mid-launch. ‘NUFF SAID.

  7. Make sure your team is going to see through the launch. This goes along with getting help. Make sure your help gives you a commitment to helping you through the entire life of the launch.

  8. Have back up plans. Think of things that could break down, go wrong, or not work well, and be ready to change direction at a moment’s notice.  Be okay with putting plan b in motion if needed.

  9. Be ready to (and OK with) CHANGE anything that’s not working for ANY reason.

  10. Do it often and don’t be afraid to LAUNCH WITHOUT SELLING A THING. Launching isn’t just about making moola. It’s a process you should learn early so that you can pull off your bigger ticket launches in the future.  So – launch often and launch free things too!

If you want to know more about planning a launch so that you have time to pull all those launch pieces together without totally exhausting yourself…you’ve got 2 options today:

Option 1

I’ll be teaching a live 1-hour workshop at thinkspace to show you how to do this on April 24th:

Launch Exhaustion: How to schedule a year of launches without exhausting yourself, your audience, or your team.

Click here for more information and to attend

Option 2

Fearless Launching is now enrolling for it’s 3rd round!

Check out this completely digital online training program now to learn how to launch, get support, and understand why launching before you’re ready is so important!


historyoflove“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”

This week, I re-read my favorite book of all time – The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss.  I’m pretty sure this was my fifth time through the book.  The endearing tale intertwines two stories: one is about an elderly Polish man named Leo who spends his time making sure he won’t die on a day that he goes unseen.  The other is about a teenage girl named Alma, who goes on an adventure to find out more about her namesake.  Throughout the entire book, the readers know Leo and Alma’s path must cross at some point.  Is Leo Alma’s grandfather, or are they distantly related?  The conclusion of the book reveals their connection, which always leaves me in tears.  Tears because the book is over, and tears because the conclusion is the climax of relational beauty and depth. Read it, and re-read it.

Interesting fact: Nicole Krauss is married to my other favorite author, Jonathan Safran Foer.

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2



I’m speaking next week in front of the Eastside Entrepreneurs Meetup Group and decided to spend some time reflecting on the last five years. Here’s the first slide in my presentation deck. I’m planning on sharing some stories that I don’t think I’ve ever openly shared before. I hope you can come join us!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
5:45 PM to 7:15 PM

Join us and meet other entrepreneurs on the Eastside.

Lean-InDuring week two of my yearlong reading project I shifted gears from fiction to non-fcition.  Lean In has already been mentioned once on the thinkspace blog, but it is worth mentioning again.  Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, wrote in a way that challenged my perspective, as she changed the conversation “from what women can’t do to what we can do.”  Mark Zuckerberg says of the book and Sheryl: “The book is smart and honest and funny.  Her words will help all readers – especially men – to become better and more effective leaders.” 
Want to lean in with me?  Let’s form a lean in circle.  Leave a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll follow up with you.

What else have I read in my yearlong reading project?
–>Week 1



Left: Gabe Gervalis, Sailesh Chutlani, Ali Spain, Congresswoman DelBene, Peter Chee, Howard Mahran

Startup Roundtable

It was an honor to host Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s Entrepreneur Roundtable discussion today. It was great to see the room filled with leaders, entrepreneurs, and job creators. I had the privilege to introduce Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and what impresses me most is that she has walked in our shoes before. She has over a decade of technology experience at Microsoft. She was a VP and help found Drugstore.com. She was CEO of Nimble Technology, a startup which survived the dot-com bubble and managed to get bought out by a publicly traded company. She also was appointed Director of the Department of Revenue for Washington State. I’ve never seen a person in Congress that has such a solid mix of technology experience, entrepreneurship, and public sector experience.

$5K in Grant Money for Business Development

The discussion covered a lot of different things – I’ll highlight one idea which came from Jeff MacDuff, CTO of Buddy. He talked about how he was able to get a $5K grant and from that grant he was able to apply it to business development for Buddy. He said the ROI on the $5K led to new business for Buddy and resulted in the hiring of eight new employees. He suggested that rather than the Government provide a large amount of grant money to a single company, it would great to have $10K be allocated to a lot of startups. That $5K could be spent on things specifically for business development. I couldn’t agree more.

Let’s Stop Focusing on the Top 1%

I think it’s great that there are accelerators out there like TechStars, Y Combinator, Azure Accelerator as they provide funding and mentorship to the top startups that they select. It’s these companies that get all the press from TechCrunch and Geekwire. In some states like NY they even have been investing along side these accelerators. I think it is completely short sighted to just focus on the 10 companies who get selected into these accelerators. In my experience over the last five years running thinkspace, there are far better companies to be investing and supporting who are actually successful, have viable business models, generate revenue, and create jobs. Some of these companies are still operating after five years which is a far better survival statistic than those startups that go through those accelerators. I’d argue that if the government really wanted to support job creation and support startups and entrepreneurs that they dig deeper and look beyond what is in the trendy accelerators.

Government Supporting Entrepreneurs

It is my opinion that there are two things that entrepreneurs need most: 1) mentorship and 2) access to cash. As an entrepreneur, you’re getting yourself into things that you have little or no expertise in. When just starting out, it’s impossible to hire for all those areas which you lack the knowledge. The best thing that you can do is get advisors and mentors to fill those knowledge gaps. One of the biggest problems is that most of the time you don’t even know who is the subject matter expert is. Also, building up your network takes a tremendous amount of time of which most first time entrepreneurs just haven’t invested the time do that. Perhaps this means more of a public-private partnership where people in the public sector who have the ability to open doors reach out and support entrepreneurs. Right now, it seems like the people that help support entrepreneurs are from the private sector. Rather than it always be Government officials talking to large groups of people, what if they actually opened themselves up to smaller groups or even one-on-one situations?

carly-slater-kristina-hudson-suzan-delbene-entrepreneur-roundtableAccess to Capital. This one has been beat over the head a million times over. It’s so incredibly difficult to get access to capital and because of the financial crisis with the recession it has become nearly impossible. We’re all tired of hearing the rhetoric that there’s a lot of money out there for small business and startups. Truth is there isn’t. Even when there are funds available to startups, it’s hard to find out where they are and how to access them. I’d like to see tax incentives to accredited investors who are interested in investing in startups and small businesses with less than 50 people. Tax incentives to the big companies is fine and dandy but those same tax incentives need to reach further into the smaller companies and the people that are willing to take a chance on them.

Cutting Spending

I’m glad that our discussion didn’t become a debate about the “Balance Budget Amendment” or lets just cut spending no matter what it is. I agree with Congresswoman Susan DelBene that it is short sighted to just cut anything and everything. We can’t go cutting education programs for our youth as it will certainly bite us in the future. In fact, I would say we need to double down and further invest in education programs to encourage the younger generation to get more skills, better training, and increase access to available programs. We can’t fix our nations problems purely through cutting spending. I like what Congresswoman DelBene said about creating policy that also has measurable results. It’s about figuring out the ROI on various policies. That’s where her experience as a startup CEO and entrepreneur come into play. She understands that if you’re going to invest in something you need to be able to measure the outcome. I have so much respect for people that can think this way, versus mindless spending and hoping for results! I look forward to seeing what Congresswoman DelBene is able to achieve and I definitely want to say that I’m committed to helping her as much as I can.

What are your thoughts?

What else can we do to support Congresswoman DelBene so that she can best represent entrepreneurs and startups?

Roundtable Participants

Below is a list of the leaders, entrepreneurs, startup people, and job creators that sat at the roundtable:

Ali Spain, AK Group
Carley Slater, Washington Interactive Network
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
Dave McLauchlan CEO, Buddy
Don Alvarez, CEO, Big Environments
Eric Zhuang, Power Info
Erika Vandenbrande, Economic Development Manager, City of Redmond
Gabriel Gervelis, G Search Marketing, SEO
Howard Mahran, Founder and CEO, Deep Domain
Jeff MacDuff, CTO, Buddy
Kathie Flood, Managing Director, Cascade Game Foundry
Kristina Hudson, Executive Director, Washington Interactive Network
Mike Banfield, Springstar
Peter Chee, Founder and CEO, thinkspace
Sailesh Chutani, CEO, Mobisante
Thomas Schulte, President and CEO, Nexgenia
Tom Clement, CEO, Aqueduct Neurosciences
Tom Grina, CFO, WildTangent Games


Marketplace Fairness Act: KING5 TV!

Immediately following the Entrepreneur Roundtable event, Congresswoman DelBene conducted a interview with KING5 TV inside thinkspace on the support of the Marketplace Fairness Act.