RE: Why you should fill your company with (competitive) athletes

Competitive Atheltes: Ice Hockey players

David Williams argues in his latest Forbes blog post that athletes posses better character traits that make for an exceptional hire.

According to David, athletes posses the following traits:
1. They have drive, and practice until the task at hand is perfected
2. Achieve their goals
3. Develop new skills
4. Are exceptional entrepreneurs
5. Strive for balance
6. Work well with partners and teammates

I agree with these statements. But, I think that Competitive Athletes are even better hires. Here’s why:

Athletes dedicate themselves and rely on their own self motivation to even participate in a sport for more than a year or two. Almost all parents encourage their kids to participate at first, but the fact of the matter — kids aren’t going to play sports if they don’t want to. This is the clear divide.

Those that stick with a particular sport or sports are forced to develop new skills, or quit. Example, in order to progress to the next level in ice hockey from Squirts to Pee-wee’s the sport moves to become a more physical game. The rules change, and checking is introduced. This changes the dynamics of the game and challenges players to develop defensive and aggressive tactics. Those that don’t rise to the challenge, quit.

Active players set goals — e.g. I want to make the A team or the 1s next year, and work to practice and attain these. Often times, this requires attending summer camps and training outside of playing the actual sport in order to reach the next level. This takes focus in addition to dedication.

As a serial entrepreneur myself, one of the absolute fundamentals that I live by is focus. When building your own company and developing something from scratch, you become inundated with tasks, calls, errands etc. The key is to focus. Knock down item by item and make sense of chaos, otherwise perish in the wake of the startup apocalypse. Athletes focus not only because of their own self motivation to develop new skills, but also because competing in sports forces athletes to intensely focus in short bursts.

This is why I think you should fill your company with not just any athletes, but highly competitive athletes who play complex team sports.

Ice hockey is an excellent case. It’s a fast-paced team oriented sport that requires players to discern complex situations and make split second decisions. This highly competitive sport provides exceptional character traits that empower many of the worlds most powerful financiers.

While you’re on the ice, in seconds… decipher between raw thoughts: pass, cut, stop, shoot, hit, position all while maintaining (subconsciously) to skate and puck handle. It’s brutally demanding.

I’ve played competitive ice hockey in the northeast (MA rep) for over 13 years and can say that this has significantly contributed to my entrepreneurial success. I attribute many of my critical thinking skills to my experience growing up in the rink. With countless hours on the ice, I’ve learned practical skills that have shaped my understanding of web development and entrepreneurship. From the complex nature of the tech infrastructure (hosting, bandwidth, scaling) to monetization and media buys, I have successfully scaled several website businesses including Bored.com and 766media.

It’s these traits (in addition to those David writes about): self motivation, focus, and ability to discern complex situations that enable competitive athletes to add massive value to any organization. I encourage you to comment below and continue the conversation.

@kylewaring

5 ways to save money on your trip to Dubai

The View from the Amwaj Rotana overlooking the Palm Jumeirah in JBR, Dubai United Arab Emirates

Dubai is designed as a sprawling resort. With it’s beautiful teal water and world renown architecture, upon arrival its facade is an Adult Disneyland. With extravagance paramount, Dubai is a tourist hot spot for luxury and relaxation. For an advanced traveler looking to lengthen their budget and fully enjoy the city, take note of the following tips:

Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates, and is both a city and an Emirate (an Emirate is essentially a State). The UAE is a Muslim country, therefore the culture is more conservative in dress and has strict policies on alcohol (among a number of other cultural differences).

While visiting Dubai, the only place in which you can order an alcoholic drink are in Hotel Bars. If you live in Dubai, you can apply for an alcohol license. The license comes with a monthly alcohol allocation budget which is relative to your salary. No matter if you buy alcohol in a liquor store (with a license) or at a hotel bar, there is a 30% tax. Alcohol & Tobacco are one of just a few things that are taxed in Dubai, but at excessive rates. Drinks in Hotel Bars are marked up considerably to offset this tax, and to supply ample profit to the hotel owners.

Typical Hotel Bar prices, $1 = 3.67 AED

Spirits / Mixed Drinks: 40 – 65 AED ($11 – $17)
Glass of Wine: 40 – 50 AED ($11 – $14)
Beer: 35 – 50 AED ($9.50 – $14)

Bottle of Wine: 120 – 200 AED ($32 – $55)

Tip #1
Upon arrival in Dubai International Airport (DXB) stock up on a few bottles of wine, liquor or beer at the Duty Free. The prices here are far cheaper and do not include this 30% tax.

Tip #2
Aside from Alcohol, water is also marked up considerably at restaurants. Typical prices for a 1.5L bottle of water at a restaurant is 20 AED ($5.50) whereas if you buy water in the supermarket / grocery stores, you can a 6-pack of 1.5L bottles for HALF this price (10 AED or $2.75).

Tip #3
Currency. Obviously don’t exchange currency at the airport, in any country that you are going to or traveling from. This is a standard rule of thumb that almost every traveler knows. Order currency from your bank before you arrive in UAE, and you’ll receive the lowest transaction fee and won’t have to queue in some of the lengthy lines in Dubai!

Tip #4
Stay Airbnb in Dubai Marina or Jumeirah Beach Residence

Not only will you a) get more living space b) better view c) a kitchen, you’ll also get free wifi and local recommendations from a host!

If you are 100% set on staying in a hotel look at the hotels on either end of JBR. Based on my hotel experience, I recommend the Amwaj Rotana (about $170-200/night), and definitely do NOT recommend the Habtoor Grand($270+/night). Both of which boast 5 stars. Almost all hotels charge 100 AED per day for wifi/internet access.

About the area:
JBR/Marina is one of the only parts of the city where you can walk around and don’t need a car. The Walk, which is a strip of hotels and shops along the waterfront of JBR is very populated especially in the winter (tourist season). You’ll also see plenty of supercars (Ferrari’s and the bunch), as locals like to drive “the walk” and show off.

The location of Dubai Marina / JBR is about 45mins from the DXB airport. If you are looking to see the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) or explore the Dubai Mall (argued the largest mall in the world) it’ll be about 30-45 min taxi ride. Taxi’s however are very cheap compared to the united states, so on average this would be about 100 AED ($27).

Tip #5
Explore the city using coupons from daily deal site, Cobone which lists deals for everything from massages to desert safari trips! If you are staying long term, pick up The Entertainer Voucher book which includes thousands of buy one get one free coupons. The book costs 400 AED but the savings long term is HUGE. The entertainer has several books that you can buy that cover fine dining and nightlife, to activities and sports — choose based on your wants/needs.

This about wraps up the most essential tips for coming to visit or live in Dubai as an american ex-pat. I’ll try to update this periodically with relevant information and prices, happy travels!

Tweet This!

In celebration for my 500th tweet, I thought I’d write a post about twitter and how my view of this social network has changed. I’m the first to admit it, I’ve never thought highly of twitter. In January of this year, I tried to break this mentality and geared my new years resolution to improving my social presence. The first step was to cultivate my twitter account.

At first glance twitter appeared to be a self-fulfilling medium, which from an outsiders perspective seems spot on. There are millions users whose tweets lack any substance whatsoever. These users tweet religiously demanding RTs and follows as well as their menial daily routine (brb #bathroom…). Obviously, tweets like this provide no value to followers and clutter the real time conversations twitter boasts.

So after just a few days of actively using twitter, I realized a key fact: The power of twitter relies on you to curate your own feed and cultivate your own conversations.

Following influential users and breaking news provides context in a rapidly evolving world. Sifting through 140 characters allows you to learn about a number of different topics from a seemingly infinite pool of users. Twitter being a platform of conversation, allows you to also connect with those who you might have never been able to reach before — influential people, celebrities, and even the president! You shouldn’t expect a response to every tweet you shoot someone’s way, but if you stimulate and engage in a higher level conversation — odds are you’ll break through the clutter!

In just 9 short months my view of twitter has changed 180 degrees. I find value in using twitter on a daily basis for both my personal and professional life, and is often the first website I open the morning. Who do you follow on twitter that provides real value to you? How has your view of twitter or social media changed in the past year? If you could recommend 1 feature on twitter that provides value to you, what would it be?

Click here to follow me (I appreciate it)

2 Character Traits all Entrepreneurs need to have

The following character traits are absolute essential for any entrepreneur looking to build a company of worth.

1) Perseverance. All “worthy” opportunities now are inherently challenging. The internet gold rush of the early 2000s whereby domainers and website owners were peeling money off visitors and speculators — is no longer in play. In order to take advantage of opportunities in today’s digital market is to overcome difficult problems. Many of these problems may not even have a solution. Often times, you’ll need to solve 10 – 20 different problems before even attempting to take a stab at your original idea. It’s up to you to persevere, despite guarantees of wealth and success (or lack thereof).

How you can tell if you’re idea is worth pursuing?
Solve a problem that many consider unsolvable, or overlooked due to it’s complexity

2) Resilience. Throughout your career as an entrepreneur there will be (several) times where you feel abandoned: mentally and physically. The ability to bring yourself back from the depths of failure will truly make you strong.

After I sold my first website, PimpedMedia.com to Eric Borgos in 2005 I thought I could create any number of websites and turn them into gold. Unfortunately, I struggled for the next 2 years and over 6 unique websites (ghetoo.com, pimpingame.com, wtfdaily.com, poisonnetwork.com, enhancedhosting.net, rmxclothes.com) before I was able to establish my next website CampusBreak.com. I attribute my success with CampusBreak (which I sold in 2007) to my resilience.

Both of these traits aren’t the ONLY traits you’ll need to be a successful entrepreneur, but in my opinion are the most important. Aside from those lucky one off entrepreneurs, all entrepreneurs go through ebb and flow. Those who are able to pick themselves back up from a fall, and those that persevere through challenging times — will eventually hit a striking point.

Summer Ski in Maine

This summer I’ve developed some a new hobby. Video. Many of those who know me personally, understand that I’m a complete adrenaline junky. Big into water sports, and especially board sports. Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on my waterskiing and have felt really comfortable on 1 ski for a few years now… probably because of my extensive background playing ice hockey.

Here’s some of the latest footage of me water skiing in the great state of Maine. The rope was a bit long, so ignore the bad posture and slack. I was running 15 ON (water skiiers will get the joke) @ 20-24mph.

Teach yourself how to learn

The secret to life is learning. Obviously. The key to the secret is teaching yourself how to learn.

My absolute greatest strength is: teaching myself something I don’t know. I’ve taught myself how to code html/css & php/sql and extensively work on improving my design skills. I constantly challenge this knowledge by taking on difficult projects. I have been working on Game Brokerage for nearly 3 years, and it’s been a rollercoaster. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned through this project is persistence.

It’s been an incredible 10 years in tech, and I’m grateful that I’ve recognized and identified my greatest asset. What have you taught yourself lately?

May Round up

This may or may not stick (get it, may)…but it’s simply my attempt to reflect and review my own ambitions.

Code base
Earlier this month I started to work on consolidating our js libraries on bored.com and attempting to further chop down the forest of code that has grown over the years. As many close to me know, it’s an absolute conundrum that our largest [by traffic] site is (one of) our least intelligently designed. The problem stems from the fact we have never had any dedicated programmers on our team, yet we’re a website development company. After pulling out my machete, I cut over 20k lines of redundancy. I also was able to solve some technical htaccess problems and learned quite a bit more about regex than I bargained for.

All was smooth, including deployment — which just doesn’t happen enough in our build and release cycle. This was the biggest win, initially. Over 2 seconds cut from load time, which is a reduction of 20-25%. Improved performance, pageviews/user and % exit improve 5%, and 8% respectively.

In the background
I have completed the new code refactoring on our newest frontend html/css. In the sense it’s not refactored, but rebuilt from the ground up with minor aesthetic enhancements. I decided to build the new frontend on the html5 boilerplate because it’s lightweight and helps save an incredible amount of setup time…. and being that it’s fixed width — there’s absolutely no need to over complicate.

Major content focus on the new layout will be put on funny pictures and text based content, as well as our random website / game button that will evolve into a standalone product. The aim with the code refactoring is to alleviate the issue of our stylesheets containing thousands of unused selectors and provide extensibility. Ideal launch date of a new frontend will be slated this month after we make decisions on our backend architecture.

Content
With the launch of new game releases both on and offsite, we also were able to grow our traffic 5% month over month to 6 million visitors. Further expansion of content beyond games also contributed to user retention. Some of the most notable gains in content traction was our funny pictures and funny status messages. Towards the end of the month, we also came up with and executed a super hero name generator from inception to completion in 2 days. QA and final polish took 1 day to complete, and went live on 5/31. Initial stats are soaring through the roof, with over 15k pageviews in the first 8hrs. Inherently the superhero name is a viral piece of content that will be the foundational basis for a number of name generators on bored.com.

Moving things forward, I aim to make better decisions on our code & content based on understanding google analytics and leveraging the analytics api. There’s a secret embedded in this data that I’ve yet to discover.

Business as usual.