The Essence of Tree-house | It’s an online technology school. So if you want to learn web design, web development, how to make iPhone apps or android apps, or how to start a tech business, you can pay a monthly fee and watch our videos and learn how to do it. Some people go to university, which is very expensive, and as soon as you graduate it’s out of date. So we thought, “Well, there’s got to be a better way to learn,” and conferences are very expensive, so video is the best way to do that. So we basically tried to hire two people that could record a video and we’d got simple web application; I hired somebody to build it and design it. And then the idea was: let’s launch this and see if it succeeds. And we gave it three months. And thankfully, you know, it took off… so it’s been a fun journey.
Years of Building | I spent effectively 5-7 years building a name for myself and the company in the web development niche. When we launched Tree-house, what I did was tweeted about it, I put it on our blog, and I used our newsletters and conferences to get the word out. So I think anything that looks like an overnight success, it’s actually built up from a lot of years of building to launch something and get everybody interested in it.
Switching Things Up | My last business was a conference business, where we did events, and they are aimed at web designers and web developers. We did this first workshop and then basically realized that works and that was fun. And that grew into a large conference business where we eventually had 2,000 attendees, big name speakers like Mark Zuckerburg, Kevin Rose and all these tech people. And then after a while – I did that business for 7 years – I just felt that I had taken it as far as I could, and I was actually losing my passion for it. I thought, “I don’t feel that this idea is going to change the world anymore.” And I want to do something that can.
Being Uncomfortable | I’m always slightly uncomfortable in my career. I’m always a little bit out of my comfort zone. And I think that’s good, you know, I never feel quite like I know what I’m doing! I think that’s good.
On Connecting in Person | I think [in] today’s culture, people [are] doing a lot of social networking but they’re doing less and less of meeting each other. You think you can connect with somebody on Twitter and be their friend on Facebook and somehow you know value will come out of that. But I find that often the real value comes from meeting someone and then connecting with them on social media afterwards.
Daily Actions and Habits | I get up about 4:54 usually because I do sneak 6 minutes to stumble out of bed and get going, and I do use my time from 5 to about 6:45 to really kind of prepare for the day and do things that I want to do. Because we have kids now. You know, they wake up about 6:45 and I like mornings – I’m a big morning person; I always have been – so immediately I’ll try to spend some time thinking about life, what’s important to me, you know, sort of like a quiet time or meditation time first.
Resources I Use | In addition to Mr. Money Mustache, another blog and resource that I love is Fred Wilson’s blog, so that’s – I think it’s avc.com. He’s just really knowledgeable. He’s spoken at some of our conferences and I really view him as a smart man. So I love his blog. Another site that I read voraciously is Hacker News. It’s a blog but it’s great for seeing upcoming trends and that’s at news.ycombinator.com
The Meaning of Life | The purpose of life is to help, ultimately. It affects me a lot what Jesus said about treating other people like you want to be treated. I think that life is so short, and if there is no afterlife then you have to help people. My goal now is to do what I can to make other people’s lives better.
The Value of Experiences Over Money | I think that we live in a very consumer based society where we believe our happiness is related to consuming. And I was a product of that, I think, for a long time, and I didn’t know it. And I think now what I realized is this, and this essentially became apparent after selling my last company: that getting a little bit more money didn’t make me happy, so it must not be about money; it must be about your experiences.