Tamara Kleinberg – Founder of The Shuuk

[quote style=”boxed”]There is no typical in my day. That’s why I love it. Routine bores me. Sometimes I having coffee with a new inventor, other times I’m doing a keynote speech about innovation. I do a lot of writing, a lot of thinking and definitely a lot of playing. Last night I was in the kitchen testing out a potential new product for the site and this morning I am testing a new travel product in the airport. That’s the best part![/quote]

Tamara G. Kleinberg is serial entrepreneur and innovator. She is the founder of The Shuuk, an online marketplace where awesome people sell innovative products and where entrepreneurial spirits engage. She is a sought after keynote speaker on innovation and entrepreneurship and the author of two nationally published playbooks, including her most recent, Think Sideways: a game-changing playbook for disruptive thinking.  She is also the creator and host of the internationally watched webshow imagi-NATION®: disruptive innovators road tour. For the past 18 years Tamara has advised companies such as Disney, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Clorox, WhiteWave Foods, and Children’s Hospital Colorado on fostering innovative ideas and people. She has run multi-million dollar businesses and launched a few of her own, learning from her successes and, most importantly, her failures. As a kid in computer camp she won the “I’ll try anything once” award –a  motto she still lives by.

What are you working on right now?

TheShuuk.com, an online marketplace that sells innovative products by awesome people and gives entrepreneurial spirits a place to engage. I’m particularly excited because the business is built on growing the entrepreneurial eco-system. And, my job is to go out and find wickedly innovative people doing cool things. Best job ever!

Where did the idea for TheShuuk.com come from?

It’s the collision of many events and experiences. I’ve been in innovation and entrepreneurship for almost 20 years. In that time I kept coming across all these amazing products and people that no one had ever heard of. Then one night I was searching online for that perfect gift to buy for a friend. I wanted something innovative and not yet known to all. I went online and with all my searches I could only get to articles about innovation – not what I was looking for. That is when the aha moment happened. I realized that I could create a hub that gave entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their inventions and hopefully inspire more people to bring to life ideas of their own.

How do you make money?

Our revenue stream comes from selling products.

What does your typical day look like?

There is no typical in my day. That’s why I love it. Routine bores me. Sometimes I having coffee with a new inventor, other times I’m doing a keynote speech about innovation. I do a lot of writing, a lot of thinking and definitely a lot of playing. Last night I was in the kitchen testing out a potential new product for the site and this morning I am testing a new travel product in the airport. That’s the best part!

How do you bring ideas to life?

There are endless ways to bring ideas to life. Sometimes it starts with talking it out with someone else, sometimes it’s about building a prototype out of stickie notes, duck tape and pipe cleaner and sometimes it’s about actually implementing it. My philosophy is that you never really know if an idea is going to work until you get it off paper and out into the real world. I think people get too wrapped up in failure versus success. I think it’s more about tweaking and making little changes until you get it right. That can’t happen if you don’t get it out there.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I believe we live in the age of the entrepreneur where any of us can do something amazing. Being an entrepreneur isn’t a job description, it’s a mindset. The playing field is even for the first time in a long while and that means any of us can start a business, launch an idea or create game-changing innovation. I think that’s pretty freakin cool!

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

It’s funny, I’ve been on my own and unemployable for so long that I’ve almost forgotten what those jobs were like. I’m not sure I’ve had a worst job but I have had some bad bosses. They were the ones that felt that everything had to be their way, leaving no room for creative thinking. The great bosses recognized people strengths and used them and the bad bosses only focused on weaknesses. My weakness is details so you can imagine how frustrated they must have been with me. As the lowest on the totem poll they didn’t want my grand sweeping visionary ideas. I don’t think they appreciated my disruptive spirit either (ha ha).

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I don’t wait to tweak and change so if something isn’t working I change it right then and there. I don’t get that “if only” feeling so I don’t think I would change a thing.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I continually look for ways to make myself and my work irrelevant. I know it sounds counter intuitive but if you aren’t making yourself irrelevant, someone else will. Hence, I always look for ways to stretch my knowledge, what I’m doing and how I do it. One thing I do that helps me achieve that is stalk people that I think are doing innovative things. I want to learn from them in real time (not wait for them to put pen to paper and the innovation stories to be past tense). I know that if I stalk them (subscribe to blog, purchase from them, read articles, etc) I have no choice but to up my game.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I don’t believe in failures. I don’t believe we should mark things off as successes or failures and then put them up on a shelf. The best innovation and the biggest successes are usually just a tweak away. So instead of failing I choose to keep tweaking. My one failure was not tweaking but walking away without ever evolving what I was doing. Lesson learned!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have a new idea every day. Let’s see there is the single serve frozen pizza kits, the drive-up, pre-order grocery store service, vitamins that come out of your faucet so you don’t have to remember to take them, website feedback customer panel service so you can get quick, real feedback on website usability…..

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I think instead of changing one thing in the world I might try to break the cycles of poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity. At TheShuuk.com we have the Dream Big Promise. It’s our goal to help kids of all ages and backgrounds develop entrepreneurial skills so they can learn the critical problem solving skills, imagination to innovation process and teamwork it takes to build a self-sustaining life. Eventually I would like to add an entrepreneurial bent where we provide micro-loans to young entrepreneurs so they can build their business and help take control of their destiny.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I once danced naked among the sheep in Northern Scotland because I felt they had no merth.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Twitter: Great place to look for ideas, research topics or just give your brain a break
Dropbox: Lets me run my business anywhere, anytime. I always have access to my files, information and ideas – even from my cell phone
Evernote: I use evernote to keep track of all my notes. I tag my notes with key phrases so I can go back and find them easily. I use it for work and as my ongoing journal.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Cialdini. This book rocked my world. I think when you start out you will do anything for anyone at anytime. You are desperate for work and to get your idea out there. This book taught me how to add the value back into my offer.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@donavonroberson: works for InfusionSoft helping entrepreneurs make their dreams come true
@brainzoom: great tips on creativity and innovation
@guykawaski: all things start up and all around smart guy

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

When don’t I! The last time I laughed out loud was yesterday because I accidently used the men’s bathroom at a restaurant and didn’t realize it until I was leaving and a guy was coming in. He looked at me, I looked at him. I thought, “is he here to clean the bathroom?” and he said, “ you know you just used the men’s bathroom right?” Then I told the audience (yes I was doing a keynote speech) and a lady said, “didn’t you see the urinals?” Yes I did but I wasn’t paying attention.

Who is your hero, and why?

I have several. Overall I like people that make a dent in the world, disrupt the status quo, never give up. I like the crazies the wild ones. Right now a few people come to mind. Dolly Parton because she is a powerhouse business woman wrapped up in a Southern talking, make-up loving girl. Steve Jobs for all the reasons we all know. My dad because if I hadn’t grown up in an entrepreneurial house I may not have found my way in life.

What is your ultimate vision for your business?

To build the most innovative and success entrepreneurial eco-system where people from all over the globe rise above the clutter.

What inspires you?

A new challenge, a triple dog dare, the idea that no one has ever done it before. My favorite line is from the movie Princess Bride, “You just say that because nobody ever has…”


Twitter: @theshuuk