Episode 12: Destroy Dreams and Do Something w/ the King and Queen of the Shrooms, a.k.a. Chris Carrier and Deana Wojcik

Episode 12: Destroy Dreams and Do Something w/ the King and Queen of the Shrooms, a.k.a. Chris Carrier and Deana Wojcik

Sick of Silicon Valley? Shift from being an engineer to a dirtbag for less responsibility. Choose a lifestyle of mangos and mushrooms. But the no-brainer idea of growing mushrooms being easy became idiotic. 

Today’s guests are Chris Carrier and Deana Wojcik from The Mushroom Factory. Wanting a break from their software and education careers, they started something unique by making creative reuse of available resources.

Episode Highlights

  • 2:15 Hit the Road: Failed startup journey from Silicon Valley to Michigan-made business.
  • 4:19 Adventure Index: What do we want in the next phase of life? What boxes to check?
  • 4:58 Detroit: Interesting, less expensive with access to outdoors and friendly people.
  • 6:38 Livin’ the Life in Hawaii: Why live out of a truck? Money doesn’t drive happiness.
  • 8:15 Growth Opportunity: Grand adventure being Ill-equipped, homeless, crisis of faith.
  • 10:29 Why mushrooms? Dive deep into dreams and hobbies only to suffer from burnout.
  • 11:23 Fungus and Mold: Mushrooms are beautiful, but forever strange.
  • 14:30 The Mushroom Factory: Evolution of planting seeds, putting roots down in Detroit.
  • 17:29 Urban Farming: Grow by addressing food injustice and unconventional reuse.
  • 19:20 Marrying Skills/Backgrounds: Clinging to what’s familiar out of fear, fight through it.
  • 23:05 Ask for Help: Being just stupid enough, supportive, and willing to share.
  • 27:55 First Sale: Shuffle in and shove a shoebox of mushrooms over the counter.
  • 30:58 Worth the Money: Shift from stressful struggle to ask for money for food. 
  • 32:00 Starting a Business: An assault on your ideals and hard to be humble to survive.
  • 35:10 For Better or Worse: You’re your own boss and need to be fully engaged.
  • 36:43 Open Source/Closed Loop: Put something out in the world but remain responsible.
  • 43:00 Social Media Role: Presence matters to attract and educate customers.
  • 44:30 Food Safety: Tech rules, tools, and problems associated with growing mushrooms.
  • 46:33 Defining Success: Experience and recognize it; not a destination but mindset.
  • 47:55 Moment of Doubt: Spent savings on warehouse to deal with environmental issue.
  • 50:37 Lessons from Failures: Simple answer is to ask for help before you’re in too deep.  
  • 54:55 Easiest and Hardest Parts: Selling niche product and managing finances. 

Links and Resources:

The Mushroom Factory

DO Something Conference

Build Institute

Rose’s Fine Food

Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer Album

Grown in Detroit

Episode 11: Rebrand, Rename to Communicate Authentic Culture with Pete Baker of Duo Security

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Episode 11: Rebrand, Rename to Communicate Authentic Culture with Pete Baker of Duo Security

Episode 11: Rebrand, Rename to Communicate Authentic Culture with Pete Baker of Duo Security

Design is inherently a communication art. If you’re not trying to say something or make a point, it’s art open to interpretation. However, designers are often not given the credit that they deserve for making a business impact. 

Today’s guest is Pete Baker, Director of Brand, Creative, and Digital Strategy at Duo Security in Ann Arbor. Before Duo Security, Pete ran his own brand studio, established a photography business, and to top it off, he has an amazing beard—better than most and the host.

Episode Highlights

  • 2:08 Despite Duo Security’s success and passion for architecture, Pete’s a brand guy.
  • 4:50 Design and Photography: Differences and similarities—communication or art.
  • 6:00 Sophie’s Choice Moment: If Pete had to choose, more or less, which wasn’t a job.
  • 7:20 Wildly Disparate: Growing up in a small town lacking creative outlets.
  • 11:00 Catalyst: Do your own thing, do it all yourself, and start your own legit business.
  • 16:12 Freelance to Full-time: Moving back to Michigan to dispel in-house design stigma.
  • 19:58 Ann Arbor’s first ‘Unicorn’ of Silicon Valley-type success and sudden validation.
  • 28:25 What brand means? It’s not just the logo, but the gut feeling about a company.
  • 30:31 Product, People, Process: Everyone plays a role in positive customer service.
  • 32:33 Duo Guidelines: Internal and external brand match—easy, effective, trustworthy.
  • 34:50 Cultural Niceness: Duo Security brand authentically influences culture, vice versa.
  • 39:50 Scio to Duo: Rebrand/rename company to communicate security and useability. 
  • 44:43 Brand Principles and People: Marty Neumeier on what a brand is and is not.
  • 46:22 Pete paraphrases Steve Jobs to define brand and the biggest marker of success.
  • 47:33 Doubtful Moments: Pete suffered from imposter syndrome around security space.
  • 51:00 Lessons Learned: Designers deserve credit for making a business impact. Stick to your point of view and sense of self. Don’t compromise.
  • 52:30 Easiest and most difficult parts of starting businesses? Management experience is necessary to know what to do and be responsible for building a successful team.
  • 56:16 How to identify real vs. doppelganger Pete in alternate universe? Gray hair. 
  • 58:46 Ann Arbor Art Center: Creative people can have careers, not just a studio. 

Links and Resources:

Duo Security

Cisco

Ann Arbor Art Center

Zingerman’s Deli

Marty Neumeier

Steve Jobs

Episode 10: Why Rishi Narayan is a Jack of all Trades, Master of None—or is he?

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Life On Brand Webpage

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Episode 10: Why Rishi Narayan is a Jack of all Trades, Master of None—or is he?

Episode 10: Why Rishi Narayan is a Jack of all Trades, Master of None—or is he?

While friends worked at Little Caesars, there was no free pizza for academic kids in the chemical engineering lab! 

Today’s guest is Rishi Narayan, founder and managing owner of Ann Arbor-based Underground Printing, a national, custom apparel and swag company with more than 35 locations. Even if Rishi’s only been an entrepreneur for a hot minute, he’s a Jack of all Trades, Master of None by being an angel investor, lecturer, mentor, board member, and co-owner of AFC semi-pro soccer team. It’s good to be a generalist.

Episode Highlights

  • 2:34 Rishi’s educational background—from chemical engineering to custom T-shirts.
  • 3:51 Engineering to Entrepreneurship: Once again, Rishi followed in father’s footsteps.
  • 5:50 Side Gig: What Rishi studied in college, didn’t always matter or define his career.
  • 8:05 Rashi learned about lean startups to grow business and pay for his own education.
  • 12:40 Embarrassed: Engineering not right thing for Rishi. Entrepreneurial path felt right. 
  • 16:18 Rishi’s motivation to become an angel investor was to help friends with startups.
  • 17:14 Core Philosophy: Rishi learns by putting money where his mouth is and support.
  • 20:00 Success Model: What equals success as an investor? Help others and find value. 
  • 22:12 Jack of all Trades, Master of None: Rishi puts positive spin on being a generalist.
  • 38:37 Soccer Club Backstory: Rishi’s involvement in merchandise and game.
  • 43:20 Ann Arbor: Who we are? A great place for friends and families.
  • 45:27 How does Rishi define success? Sustainability, not size.
  • 47:18 Rishi describes first time experiencing doubt of success and lack of confidence.
  • 50:24 Lasting Lessons from Failures: 
    • Never bet on the horse, always bet on the jockey. 
    • Passion and Execution—People are always the difference.
  • 52:32 Technology and Traction: Easiest and most difficult parts to starting a business.

Links and Resources:

Rishi Narayan

Underground Printing

Embracing a Fast B – Rishi Narayan – TEDxUofM 

Seth Godin

Pirates of Silicon Valley

How To Create A Wealthy Life & Career With Melissa Joy Of Pearl Planning

Huck Finch

Life On Brand Webpage

Call us! 734.219.3827

DM on Instagram

Episode 8: Finding Life Balance w/ Stacy Conlon

Episode 8: Finding Life Balance w/ Stacy Conlon

 

 

 

Life On Brand with Stacy Conlon

When was the last time you were stressed out? For most of us, stress dominates our lives and it is important to learn to manage it. Our minds and our lives are constantly moving at 100 miles per hour and the evolution of our digital society isn’t helping. So what can we do to combat the stress? The answer is slowing down through mindfulness and meditation and we know no better person to guide us through this topic than our good friend Stacy Conlon, aka The Zen Girl.

Stacy is the director of Business Development at The Lean Startup Co. and she also has her own mindfulness business at www.stacyconlon.com. We Stacy back in 2015 when she walked an entire conference hall in San Francisco through a guided meditation. Although mindfulness was starting to gain awareness at that time, we got the feeling that there were several people in that hall uncomfortable sitting there with their eyes closed for several minutes. In fact, we witnessed a few people exit the room to check emails. In the three years since, mindfulness has blown up and we wanted to talk to Stacy to understand why.  In addition, we talk to Stacy about how we can find a balance between life and work. If your home is your workspace and your living space how do you distinguish the two? Stacy comes prepared with tips and techniques for restoring that balance. And as a special bonus, Stacy is going to walk us through a quick guided meditation!

 

 

Episode Highlights:

  • 2:37 Stacy discusses her time visiting India and spending seventeen days in an Ashram.
  • 4:16 The one moment that stands out the most from her time in India.
  • 9:06 How a college elective put Stacy on a lifelong journey of yoga and mindfulness.
  • 13:35 What led Stacy to the Lean Startup Co. and her current role.
  • 19:48  Why she thinks the practice of mindfulness has become so popular in the last few years.
  • 22:45 What Stacy’s vision is for her work in the world.
  • 23:31 How the entrepreneurial bug reached her and led her to pursue business on her own over the years.
  • 27:49 Where her vision ties into bringing mindfulness into the workplace.
  • 32:06 Stacy and the hosts share advice for listeners who need to prioritize the work vs. life piece of their lives.
  • 39:57 Stacy responds to our slow burn questioning sequence; revealing her views on success, doubt, what she would have done differently, things she found easy or difficult, and the song that best describes her.
  • 50:44 Stacy answers the previous guest’s question – Is it weird for someone to never listen to music?
  • 51:24 The one question Stacy would ask other business owners.
  • 53:36 Stacy guides us through a brief meditation!

Links and Resources:

Stacy’s Website

Grocker.com (check Stacy’s website for a Grocker coupon code!)

The Lean Startup Co.

 

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Episode 8: Finding Life Balance w/ Stacy Conlon

Episode 7: Teaching Teaching with Dave Stuart, Jr.

Life On Brand with Dave Stuart, Jr.

Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan it.

Matt wanted to be a lawyer and as the good Asian boy that I am, I wanted to be a doctor. But just because things don’t work out, doesn’t mean we can’t still do great things with our lives.

Our next guest is a true example of this. His name is Dave Stuart.

Dave and I met back in college at the University of Michigan when we were a part of a pre-med student program. Ultimately, he decided that medicine wasn’t the right thing for him, and I for one am glad that it didn’t.

Today, Dave works as a history teacher by day and runs a successful blog by night that educates teachers on how to engage and impact the lives of their students. It’s a sad reality, but most teachers quit the professional within the first 3-5 years of their career due to the challenging working situation and not having enough support and training.

And Dave wants to do something about that. He wants to help teachers flourish. Because when teachers flourish, students flourish.

In our interview with Dave, we ask him about how he got started and considering he gets approximately half a million of readers on his blog every year, we asked him about tips and tricks he learned along the way as he built his blog and mailing list.

Thinking about starting a blog? Have one but it’s floundering? Then you’ll enjoy our interview with Dave Stuart of davestuartjr.com.

Episode Highlights:

  • 2:20 How Dave got to where he is today.
  • 4:33 When he decided to go into teaching.
  • 5:34 Dave’s favorite period of history.
  • 6:37 How a writing passion turned into an entrepreneurial venture.
  • 8:45 Dave describes his process for building the blog.
  • 13:00 How he landed in the Convert Kit coffee table book
  • 17:39 That one reason Dave started the blog and the thing he hopes readers get from it.
  • 20:29 How he promoted the blog at the outset. What worked and what didn’t.
  • 22:30 Seminal moments throughout his blog’s success.
  • 25:56 Daves feelings around his first published post.
  • 28:32 Some challenges in his journey as a writer.
  • 32:41 How he manages his time and finds balance.
  • 37:26 When and how Dave’s online course came about.
  • 39:59 Dave’s ultimate vision for the business.
  • 42:06 Advice for listeners looking to start a niche blog.
  • 45:15 Dave responds to our slow burn questioning sequence; revealing his views on success, doubt, what he would have done differently, things he found easy or difficult, and the song that best describes him.
  • 52:60 Dave answers the previous guest’s question – How is your soul?
  • 54:14 The one question Dave would ask other business owners.

    Links and Resources:

    Dave’s Blog

    These Six Things

    Convert Kit

    I’m a Blogger Series    

    Charitywater.org

    Vibin' with the Show?

    Leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Not only do we read every review, but positive reviews also help our simple-idea message reach more earballs.

    Got A Burning Question? We'd Love to Answer It

    Hit us up 734.219.3827 and leave a voicemail OR DM on Instagram. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you don't miss out on us answering any lightning-round questions!

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