Surround yourself with amazing people, treat them well, and entrust them with responsibility.
Sean Weisbrot is an American entrepreneur with a degree in Psychology from the University of Florida.
After graduating in 2008, he immediately moved to China to begin teaching personal growth and development, positive psychology, and cross-cultural communications while teaching himself to be fluent and literate in Mandarin at a near native level.
Over the next 6 years, he managed a private education center, wrote 3 books, developed 1 video course, and founded a non-profit in Shenzhen, China called IdeaXchange, which grew over 2 years to have local government and media support, access to a private venue for free, 700 people attending monthly, and over 12,000 followers across China via online social media channels.
While running IdeaXchange, Sean was invited on numerous occasions for free and paid speaking slots in English and Mandarin, for non-profit and for-profit organizations including the Chinese government. He trained corporate and government officials in cross-cultural communications to better learn from overseas counterparts and improve their ability to compete globally.
In 2015, Sean became active in the Blockchain industry, starting with fundraising, and moving into day trading, public speaking, industry analysis, consulting, and technical development.
After leaving IdeaXchange and China behind, Sean relocated to Vietnam in 2017, and founded Sidekick in May 2018. He is currently CEO of Sidekick, the messaging, payments, and marketplace ecosystem for individuals, businesses, educators, and influencers.
Where did the idea for Sidekick come from?
Having grown up in the US, and having blossomed as an entrepreneur in Asia, I got to experience multiple cultures and how they work. What I noticed was that companies in the US focus on building 1 product for 1 user type and try to dominate globally. Companies in Asia tend to build a platform that provides multiple products for several user types and try to dominate locally within their country.
With this in mind, I thought that it would be interesting to try taking the Asian model of helping many people with a variety of needs, and the Western model of dominating globally. Since no one has really tried this yet, it has a great potential to succeed, and therefore the upside could be massive if done well.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Before going to sleep, I update my task list for the following day so I can rest well knowing I won’t forget to add anything.
I wake up usually around 6:30am, meditate for 30 minutes, read for 30-60 minutes, do mobility exercises for 20 minutes, stretch for 20 minutes, go to the gym for 60-90 minutes, eat breakfast, then sit down and start working by 10 or 10:30am.
I use a 3-fire alarm task system that helps me arrange things based on urgency. Tasks in the top level are 3-fires, and must be done urgently or they could hurt me or my company. Tasks in the middle level are 2-fires, and must be done soon. Tasks in the bottom level are 1-fires, and can be done whenever.
With this in mind, I tackle the most urgent tasks first, and they are usually things that are blocking the rest of the team, like providing UI/UX for a few feature and a visual mockup. This way the designer can turn it into a final version and the development team can be briefed on how it integrates into the system.
I intersperse my tasks with watching educational videos, reading about global events from a business perspective, following up with HARO requests (Helpareporter.com), answering questions on Quora, looking for potential partners, and managing team members.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Step 1. Think about what I want to create.
Step 2. Tell the team my idea to gauge their opinion.
Step 3. Create a Word document or Excel spreadsheet with an organized mind dump on how it would work, what are the dependencies that need to be figured out, and a plan of action for the next steps (usually UI/UX requirements).
Step 4. Flesh out the dependencies.
Step 5. Make the UI/UX details.
Step 6. Turn the UI/UX into visual mockups
Step 7. Turn it over to the designer for a final visual.
Step 8. Turn over everything to the Lead developer to prepare documentation for how the APIs will work.
Step 9. Create an Issue in Gitlab for the backend developer to implement the API documentation.
Step 10. Create an Issue in Gitlab for the frontend developer to develop the screens, functionality, and connect the APIs so they work.
Step 11. Test, debug, test again
Step 12. Release
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m particularly interested in the convergence of Blockchain, AI, IoT, and quantum technology, because I believe together they will create the Singularity.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Instead of waking up and going to work immediately and working for 15 hours a day non-stop, I take time to focus on my mind, body, and soul first. On top of that, I take breaks in between tasks, and make sure I go for walks, go swimming, play golf, and other things that help manage stress.
When you are always on, you are more likely to burn out, so don’t forget to REST and RELAX. Take care of yourself, and you’ll have a lot more stamina for the long game.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I knew proper nutrition and exercise, and built routines around them, as it would have saved me years of struggling to regain my health and lose all the weight.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I really don’t have an answer for this because almost everyone agrees with my ideas, even if they don’t do anything to help themselves prepare for what’s coming in the future.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Everyone should meditate every day before getting out of bed because it helps settle your mind and prepare you for the countless obstacles you’ll deal with the rest of the day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I believe passion is one of the largest factors in the success of any business. When I first began, I convinced 6 people to buy into my vision without any immediate benefit to any of us. Without my passion, my large ambition, and my ability to weave the story, I would have never gotten this far. I’m proud that 2 of the original 6 people are still with us after more than a year.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my first business, I didn’t understand the value of what I was bringing, so I constantly undercharged and was unable to earn enough to hire people to help me expand. I overcame it by shutting down the business and starting a new one with a different model and focused on charging in USD instead of RMB (since I was living in China). The change in currency allowed me to position myself differently and charge higher amounts.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I believe there is a huge opportunity to develop a global online community geared towards empowering women around the world to become entrepreneurs and connect them with each other, mentors, and investors as well. There could also be an offline component like mindfulness retreats.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent $100 on getting a comprehensive health checkup. I urge everyone to get regular checks because the best way we can stay healthy is by identifying our weak spots and making sure they don’t have the opportunity to get worse.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My favorite web service is Gitlab because it allows me to manage tiny details of each aspect of the platform’s development. We are simultaneously developing a backend and frontend for the core application on Android (with iOS, Mac, and Windows to come soon), plus a backend and frontend for the metrics dashboard (in the browser), which means there are tasks for each part that must be listed out, defined, assigned to different developers, and we have to make sure we stick to our deadlines. Without a service like Gitlab, it would all be a giant mess and be impossible to manage.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
It’s impossible to recommend one book because I think we should constantly read books. I always buy 10-15 books at a time, and as soon as I finish one, I give it to someone I believe would benefit from it, and ask them to give it to someone else when they are done. Not everyone can afford to buy books, so giving them the gift of opportunity is really important.
What is your favorite quote?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Chinese proverb
- Take care of your mind, body, and soul before you start work every day.
- You must be passionate about your business to thrive in the long-term.
- Surround yourself with amazing people, treat them well, and entrust them with responsibility.