John B Petersen III

A Nearly Perfect Reminder

Time is a bitch…

Blink your eyes a few times and you go from kid learning to spell your name to graduating from college. A few more blinks, a few more years go by.

Einstein said it best:

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.

It’s crazy to think how little time we actually have on this planet and how much time we waste doing shit that isn’t important. Sometime during college, I came up with a list of 100 things I want to do during my time on this planet. I know that I haven’t accomplished many of them.

That is simultaneously incredibly frustrating and quite alright. Frustrating because I’ve got a lot of living to do, but quite alright because I’ve done a lot of living since college. I’ve accomplished some pretty awesome stuff and yet I haven’t really accomplished anything.

It took a completely random series of events to put this all into perspective. Several weeks ago, I attended the CTO bowling night hosted by Flatiron School. It was a fun event, but it brought back a strong itch to bowl again. If you believe in the theory that you need 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, then you could certainly make the statement that I am an expert bowler (not nearly as exciting as being an expert international super agent, but hey, we got to play the cards we are dealt).

My grandfather owned a bowling alley, so I practically lived in one growing up. I got really good toward the end of my college years and bowled in a bunch of tournaments all across the country (paid for by the school of course — gotta thank Stevens for that one). I actually thought about making a run at pro bowling, except there’s no money in it and most of the guys have day jobs just to pay the bills.

Anyways, one of the items on my 100 things I want to accomplish: bowl a 300 game. My grandfather did it. My uncle did it a quite a few times. I want to do it as well. A perfect game. 12 strikes in a row. That would be sweet. But, after college, I stopped bowling. I’d say in the last 7 years, I probably bowled a total of 10 games. That 300 game was looking incredibly unlikely.

Then, continuing on with the random events, I asked by father to come bowling with me this past weekend — I had the itch. I lost my two best bowling balls and my shoes, so I had to use an old ball and a fashionable pair rental shoes. Whatever, it was just for fun anyways.

Apparently, there’s something to this 10,000 hours thing. My first game was a 223. My second game was a 203. Very solid, but then my 3rd game happened…

I bowled a 279!!

Pure insanity. I threw 11 of 12 strikes. And the one damn pin I missed the entire game was probably one of the best balls I threw all night. One pin away from a perfect 300.

I found a terrible question on Quora with some amazing answers. The question is “What do people in Silicon Alley plan to do once they hit 35 and are officially over the hill?”

Here are some of the answers:

  • "I turned 35 the year I founded Wikipedia…" » Jimmy Wales
  • "Well, I started craigslist when I was 42…" » Craig Newmark
  • "I started TechCrunch when I was 35" » Michael Arrington
  • "Well, started Netflix DVD rental when I was 37… and first streaming when I was 47…" » Reed Hastings

You could also add to the list: Mark Pincus starting Zynga at 41, Reid Hoffman founding LInkedIn at 36, and Marc Benioff starting Salesforce at 35.

Having just had my 31st birthday, I am fully inspired and know that I am just getting starting.

This game was my nearly perfect reminder. Impossible is nothing. Time to start bowling again and chase down that 300 game. Most importantly, time to dust off that list and get busy living.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Da Vinci
Every Close Call Won’t Go Your Way

Even if you are the 27 time World Champion New York Yankees, everything is not always going to go your way. On Saturday night (as you can clearly see above), Mark Teixeira was clearly safe on a head first slide into first base in the top of the 9th inning which would have tied the game. Instead, Umpire Jerry Meals call Teixeira out and the game was over as part of a game ending double play.

Blown calls happen. It’s a part of the game (especially as seen in the NFL this weekend). This particular blown call happened to have a big outcome on the game and even more importantly on the American League East. This blown call could have playoff implications and affect the whole season.

Blown calls, sales calls, investor pitches, and job interviews aren’t always going to go your way. That’s life. You have to get over it and quickly too, because it’s what you do next that really matters.

It’s how you react to this punch in the face that makes all the difference in the world. The Yankees came out on Sunday afternoon and put a 13-3 spanking on the Orioles. Notice: they didn’t let it roll over into the next game.

Just as I advised you to not be like the Red Sox a few weeks ago, here is where you should take a cue from the Yanks.

Use a blown call or rejection as motivation to come out stronger the next time.

Rejection. Motivation. Progress.

It was one year ago that I received my rejection letter from Dave Tisch informing me that I wasn’t going to be part of the 2011 class of TechStars NYC. That shit sucked.

I read the email at least 25 times that night before I passed out with my phone in my hand. When I woke up, I realized that I had dropped my phone off my bed (or subconsciously threw it)  and completely smashed the back screen.

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At that point I decided 3 things:

  1. I’m not going to fix my phone until I get into TechStars
  2. I need to work harder than everyone else I know until I make it happen
  3. I need to start blogging, so I wrote this post about my rejection: "Their Mistake, My Fault"

Looking back on that post, I have to laugh and admit that I was a little cocky in the face of defeat. Mark Suster told me via Twitter that “tis but a minor flesh wound.” And of course, he was right.

The project we were working on at that time was good, but it was definitely not out of this world amazing. We had no clue what we were doing and definitely didn’t deserve to make the cut, but I’m glad that we applied and glad that I wrote that post and started my blogging journey with this…

I don’t make excuses or have regrets. I make shit happen and I learn from the past.

Is it possible to love a quote from yourself? Well if it is, I do. I try to live by that every day.

Skip ahead 6 months to a TechStars event in NYC where I won a TechStars t-shirt from Cohen and Tisch. It was definitely cool to win the shirt, but I wrote a post about how I refused to wear it until I earned it.

So I hung it up on my bedroom door to force myself to look at it every single morning as motivation to make it happen. TechStars found my article and tweeted that I should wear it for the right reasons.

Boom. More motivation.

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Now let’s fast forward to today…

The back of my iPhone is still cracked, but I am writing this post from the TechStars Boulder office. I’ve joined the DigitialOcean team, and as part of the 2012 class of TechStars Boulder we are fully executing “Operation Show Boulder What NYC Is All About.”

It feels pretty good to be writing this post, but it was super fucking awesome to take that shirt off of the wall and put it on for the first time.

We still have a lot of work to do and by no means is this a victory post. We’re just getting started and have a long, uphill road ahead. But every once and a while, you have to stop and smell the roses and celebrate your accomplishments. That moment is now.

Stay determined. Stay focused. Keep hustling. Have fun. And learn everything you can along the way.

Reject Rejection

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I am a firm believer that if you are not getting rejected on a daily basis, you are not trying hard enough. This means seriously pushing yourself way out of your comfort zone, exploring, experimenting, and going beyond the boundaries, borders or limits that seem realistic.

It often involves walking right on the edge and living a little dangerously. And that’s just where I like it.

As a result, you become quite used to rejection, and even though it doesn’t sting as much it still sucks. On top of that, one of the projects I am working on has received an amazingly positive response with virtually no rejection on almost everything we do. I think you see where I’m going with this…

Then last night.. Boom!! Kidney shot. And a big one. One of those nice big fat rejections that will go and fuck up your day. I’ve had my fair share of significant rejections recently (documented here and here), and looking back, I know that they were for the best.

I’m definitely not at that place with this rejection from last night. So, as nice as I possibly could, I said that I do not accept this “No” as an answer. I can certainly understand why your answer is no, but I won’t accept it. Not yet. There is still time to change this No to a Yes, and I take it as a personal challenge to do so.

This last rejection, like the others, is just fuel to push me to work harder, smarter, faster, better.

“There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard, and try to put yourself in a position where if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it. I would also say it’s hard not to fool yourself. Everyone tells you how they are going to be "special," but few do the work to get there. Do the work.”

Mark Cuban

This is the theme of the weekend. Time to practice my free throws. Time to do the work.

The 8 Most Motivational Videos Ever

The new year brings a chance to start fresh. Sadly, 25% of you won’t even stick to your resolutions after the 1st week. So I decided to help.

Here are my all-time favorite most motivational / inspirational / truly awesome videos I have ever seen. For those days when you need a little extra boost, here you go:

8. Michael Jordan Response to Lebron’s Commercial

Reason #87 why MJ > > > Lebron. This is fact. You want to know what you should do Lebron.. step your game up. “Maybe you’re just making excuses.”

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7. Grinding the Crack

This is just nuts, and an awesome song to go with it. As a person who has recently experienced the incredible rush of skydiving, I can’t even begin to imagine what this is like. (And yes, a part of me definitely wants to try this)

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6. Mel Gibson - Braveheart

True, Braveheart is my favorite movie, but regardless this is just oozing awesomeness on so many levels. “Dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance….”

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5. Warhawk Matt Scott in Nike “No Excuses” Commercial

Nike kills it again. Absolutely awesome. No surprise though from the company with probably the most motivational slogan ever — Just Do It. How many of these excuses do you use?

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4. The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes

Such an incredibly powerful message + delivered by a 13 year old girl = hope for the future. “If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it”

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3. I Love Living Life

This is an incredible story. Whenever you start to think your having a bad day, just watch this. Really puts things in perspective.

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2. Al Pachino - Any Given Sunday

I don’t think there has ever been a better halftime speech in the history of the world. If this doesn’t get you motivated to dominate life and fight for every inch, I’m not sure what will.

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1. How Bad Do You Want It

Definitely the best inspirational and motivational video I have ever seen. I normally start every morning by watching this before I even get out of bed. Seriously.

I do not claim to be an all-knowing source of motivational videos, but I do have to give a little shout-out to Shelby.tv for helping me discover about half of these. Please add your favorites in the comments for all the great ones I missed.

What a great year it has been and looking forward to an even better one in 2012. Happy New Years world.

"The Promise"

This post is only for those of you have tried to do something of significance and failed. If you haven’t, then you will not be able to fully understand and appreciate this message.

If you are new to the Tebow world due to his amazing and unprecedented run in the NFL, here’s a quick breakdown of the promise speech.

  • 2006 - Tebow was the backup quarterback as a freshman at Florida as they went on to win the National Championship. Even as the backup, he had a rushing and passing TD as the Gators destroyed Ohio State 41-14 in the Championship game.
  • 2007 - In a rebuilding year, the Gators went 9-4. Tebow became the first ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.
  • 2008 - The Gators were ranked in the top 5 and lost to Ole Miss 31-30 in a ridiculous game in which Ole Miss stopped Tebow on a 4th and 2 feet to win the game. Out of this defeat, The Promise was born.

And so it goes, that out of defeat came the defining moment for Tebow’s college career. So much so, that they even created this plaque to memorialize the speech:

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And so it goes, after The Promise and a devastating defeat, Tim Tebow lead the Florida Gators to win every single game for the rest of the season including the national championship.

For those of you wondering why I am such a huge and longtime supporter of all things Tim Tebow, this speech is definitely a major reason. He turned defeat into a rallying point. In the face of rejection, he took full responsibility and decided that instead of allowing his team to sulk in the loss, he was going to push his team to play harder than they ever have before.

Tebow is an amazing leader. He inspires everyone around him to become better, to achieve more, and to believe. And if you want to knock the guy for believing in something that you do not, you are entitled to your opinion. But there is no denying, now more than ever, the effect he has on his teammates and the great leader that he has become.

“"It is a great feeling to go to sleep knowing that I accomplished more today than anyone else I know. Then I think, "Shit, I need to meet more motivational people."”
— unknown

"How Bad Do You Want It"

Before you read any further, I am forcing you to watch this video first. If you can’t watch the video right now for whatever reason, come back at another time when you can. Seriously.

How many people do you know that want to succeed? I mean really want to succeed as in the definition of success in this video. People that are willing to make every sacrifice necessary in order to succeed - partying, relaxing, hanging out, watching TV, sleeping, everything.

Up until recently, I did not personally know any.

I thought I wanted to succeed. I worked a lot. Made some sacrifices. But I could never honestly tell myself this statement:

"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful."

Behold the power of video. I have watched this video every morning this week as soon as I wake up. And I keep asking myself, “Do you want this as bad as you want to breathe?”

I have recently met two people that live this every day. One is Reece Pacheco, CEO of shelby.tv (where I discovered this video). And the other is Joe Yevoli, CEO of Homefield. They are both working on really exciting startups in NYC, but more importantly, they both have this passion, this energy, this commitment that I have never seen before.

One way or another, five years from now you are going to see these guys on top, because they have eliminated all other possible outcomes from their reality. I need to surround myself with more people like them in order to ensure I have done the same.

"I’ve got the opportunity to make a dream become reality."

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Update: I had to add this - can’t even make this stuff up. I was just talking to my roommate at 8am in the kitchen and said, “My knee is hurting from sitting in my chair for too long.”

His response, “Try sleeping more”

I just looked at him with a smile and said, “No thanks.”