[quote style=”boxed”]My day starts with focus. I show up before the rest of the team and dedicate the first hour to myself. I go over my schedule and goals, visualizing positive outcomes. I then write down my top 3 to-do’s for the day. That way, as the day goes on and interruptions occur, I still maintain my focus.[/quote]
Aaron has dedicated his career to connecting people with the information and brands they need most, from financial services products to mobile applications to online advertising tools. Aaron got his start as a network engineer where he first discovered his deep passion and love for technology. He spent the next decade creating, building, selling and deploying IT systems to meet the growing needs of small and mid-sized businesses. Overtime, he became obsessed with how an online brand experience impacts a consumer behavior. Aaron began exploring new and better ways for businesses to connect with their target audiences online. He’s launched several products, from mobile applications to content discovery tools and online advertising solutions. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of talktUp, a company that brings together his passions to create new online experiences that are inherently useful and innovative.
Where did the idea for Snap Skout come from?
We felt a need to help local businesses find and retain customers. Our idea started with the concept of “community first” and we expanded from there. We’ve always been committed to giving small businesses a way to extend their reach in a way that’s simple and cost-effective, while also providing real value to customers.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with focus. I show up before the rest of the team and dedicate the first hour to myself. I go over my schedule and goals, visualizing positive outcomes. I then write down my top 3 to-do’s for the day. That way, as the day goes on and interruptions occur, I still maintain my focus.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By doing. Execution is key. I write down my goals and execute. The concept is simple but the execution is not always easy. It takes a lot of faith and determination.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The startup trend. Technology has made innovation quicker and easier than ever before. Startups are solving complex problems quickly with their ability to move and innovate in ways that large companies cannot.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Discipline. Discipline is an interesting thing. It’s hard to maintain and it actually has a negative connotation to it, but it’s exciting to me. Discipline can change your life. Anyone can bear down, improve their discipline tomorrow and become more productive – drastically changing their life. That’s exciting.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Paving. Between college and veterinarian school I paved asphalt for a year. It was hard, and unrewarding from a recognition standpoint, but I learned to get satisfaction out of a job well done. Working a twelve-hour day in the hot sun, shoveling 500 degree asphalt, can bring you to the brink, but at the end of the day, looking back at a shining, black, fresh paved stretch of road, I would get a feeling of real accomplishment.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would exercise more caution. When I first started, I was so willing to accept help from others who were interested and excited about my ideas. Now, I’m wary of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. As soon as some people hear you have funding, they are eager to “help”… for a consulting fee. I used to be so grateful and I would pay anything for their advice. I’ve now learned to be more judicious.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read, read, and then read some more. There are so many books, articles and whitepapers out there that you can learn from. There are entrepreneurs who have carefully mapped their road to success and yet some new entrepreneurs don’t value their insight. How can you explain that? It’s important to learn from others’ journeys and to take a step back from your own project from time to time and get a feel for the bigger picture.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Tenacity. You need to believe in yourself. You need to believe in your vision, your team and your ideas. Running a startup can be lonely business; the road won’t always be smooth, but if you’re hungry enough and you believe in yourself, you can overcome any obstacle.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Hiring friends. There is no room for hiring under qualified friends in this business. If it comes up, have a third party interviewer decide if they are truly the right fit and remove yourself from the equation. Working with friends is tough and it rarely works out in the long-run.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Team collaboration. Not chat tools or project management. I mean real face-to-face tools that can span distances to bring teams together. I don’t know exactly what this is but if I did, that would mean it probably exists.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
My first name is Frederick. My second name is Aaron, and I’ve always been known as Aaron.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I use a Mac. And I’m a huge fan of Trello, Photoshop and Day One for my journaling.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Travelers Gift, by Andy Andrews. I love the lessons in this book. The one that resonates the most is quitting “three feet from gold”—meaning that things often get the most difficult right before success, so if you hold on for just three more feet, you’ll strike gold. I love that.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
For sure the originals: the entrepreneurs/authors like Earl Nightingale and Jim Rohn. And there are many more; I’m so thankful to have so many brilliant and inspiring people around me.
talkUp on Twitter: @talktUp
Snap Skout on Twitter: @snapskout
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.