The time has come! We posted a challenge to our readers a few weeks ago to interview themselves. Many people responded. Peter & I read and read and laughed and cried. We got some amazing stories and wanted to bring to you a few of our favorites and pass on our congrats to the winners and the community at large. We are giving out 3 prizes. One for our favorite interview, one for the best original question and one award for sheer determination and chutzpa. The winners get to pick one book from my personal reading list. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.
Best Question Finalists
There were a number of great questions and this turned out to be the toughest winner to pick. Let’s show the finalists some love and respond with your answers in the comments.
If you had the choice of making a million dollars by selling to a million people for a buck or selling to a hundred people for ten thousand dollars each which would you choose?
If you could go back in time to do anything differently with your business, what would it be?
If you were totally financially free (like Richard Branson kind of free), would you still be doing what you do right now? If not, then what?
Best Interview Finalists
What inspires you?
The what is a who, my mom. This is a direct quote from her a few years ago, “Don’t worry honey. The Maoist rebels go through the village I’m volunteering at but they don’t hassle anyone.” Twenty five years ago my mom was a single rural nurse raising two kids… then she put herself through medical school when I was in junior high… now she’s an ER Dr and routinely volunteers in third world countries. When things get tough I look at what she’s done and feel like I can do anything too.
I wanted to share James’ answer to her question which he posted in the comments of her interview. It made me all teary and you should all listen, take it to heart and go act on it. I did.
Knowing what you know now would you change anything in the past?
I would tell my father I love him. When I was 13, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The next five years were very long and very hard for all of us. Worse, our family was raised with an unspoken “we don’t touch and we talk about love” rule. Once, long after my Dad had forgotten my name and just wandered about the house, he grabbed me in a hug and I froze – literally stiff as a board. I had no idea how to react to that. In one of the rare, lucid moments, he said he loved me… and then he was gone back in his mind.
I’ve never forgotten that. Knowing what I know now, that I’d lose my Dad forever (somehow, you never think your Dad will go away) and how much a difference three words would’ve said, I wish I could’ve been able to tell him I loved him back.
What is the last thing that made you belly laugh?
A family friend asked “when are you going to get Anthony baptized?” I responded “when I have proof of god’s exsistense or when he decides that he would like to spend his sunday mornings listening to some guy tell him why he was going to hell”, she responded “our very existence is proof that there is a god”. Man did I laugh, then I sold her some magic beans.
Biggest mess you dealt with this year?
Potty training Anthony (2 year old) right now, not going to well. Getting fired and creating my own job is a close second.
What current entrepreneurial efforts consume your time?
a) I am starting a Branding/Marketing company that deals with small businesses that are almost ready to throw in the towel. I like taking a piece of shit and molding it into a better looking piece of shit.
b) I have rental property.
c) Looking at opening up a franchise (more info on that later)
d) Helping my wife get her business (custom made baked goods and special order cakes) off the ground.
What’s the biggest mess you’ve dealt with this year?
This is an easy one, but it was also tough situation to be in. I had to fire my first client when we were so close to finishing the job. Long story short, he was doing something which was definitely unethical and violating copyright laws and involving us, unknowingly, in it. I wrote a more in depth post about when to fire a client which you can read more of the grisly details on.
Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates in a jello wrestling match, where’s your money?
Announcer: Look people!! The Job Meister has Gatesy in a head lock and he is shoving his head in the jello!
Steve Jobs: Look you little pencil-nosed dweeb, people are leaving you because we know how to make things pretty. You guys suck.
Bill Gates: Muffled talk
Announcer: Oh my! What is Gatesy doing? He is taking The Job Meister’s cool head move and he is changing up a little bit, but by God, what an improvement! He is sitting on the Job Meister and now he has his face buried in the jello! Could this be the end?
Bill Gates: How do you like that princess? You say we don’t innovate yet we tend to do things just a little bit better than most which is why I’m kicking your ass.
Announcer: The folks at home won’t believe this! The lighting from above has just fallen onto the stage and both Gatesy and the Job Meister are now….dead.
Announcer: there is someone up in the rafters … gasp … is that open-source man! (ok I couldn’t help my own little addition)
What’s your personal mission statement?
Up until about eleven minutes ago, my personal mission statement was “make as much money as possible in the least amount of time, because I’m running out of both at an alarming rate.”. Upon further reflection after seeing this question, I decided to change it to this: “Family. Friends. Business. Fun. High Standards for All.” Sort of a self-help motto to keep me from playing too much Starcraft when my children haven’t seen me all week. Not that I play a lot of Starcraft. I really don’t. Stop looking at me.
What was your first experience with a computer?
The TRS-80 (a.k.a. “trash-80”). What a thrilling machine. Shortly after playing with those cassette tapes more than should be allowed for an otherwise healthy lad of 12 years old, I was upgraded to an Apple II Plus. On the TRS-80, I remember helping put my parents inventory into a dBase II database. I was never paid for that. The things parents trick their kids into, eh? I’m trying to figure out a way to get my oldest son to become a “web coder”. I have the perfect internship for him.
What stops you from giving up when you are frustrated?
Nothing. I give up a lot. I recently quit a project that could probably have made me $100,000 by the end of next year. But I got frustrated. The beautiful thing about being self-employed (or an entrepreneur) is that you can quit projects with which you are frustrated. I could never do that before. I had to keep plugging away at projects at work that were clearly designed by Nazis. I turn down retarded ideas all the time now. It is so blissful. Telling people no is a godsend. Everyone should do it much more often.
What does your average daily work / life balance look like? How much time do you work, play and sleep?
My wife is a firefighter/paramedic, so I don’t have “average.” She works 24-hour shifts, followed by 48 hours at home. So, I work at the office two days, then spend one at home, working from home in the morning, and doing my best Michael Keaton in the afternoon when the kids get back from school. On the day Aud’s at work, I send the kids off to school, laptop it up from 8:30 until 3:00, then homework, horsing around, dinner, TV for 1 hour if we’re lucky and well behaved, and didn’t have to wedge orthodontia, piano, soccer, baseball, tennis, et cetera in there somewhere. Next morning, I get the kids off and then hike it to the train downtown (Chicago). Home between 6 and 7 most of the time. Day after than, she does the kids thing, while I get up early and hit the 6:51 train to get me to my office by 8:00, work until about 5, home about 6. Except days when we have a Chamber of Commerce meeting, a networking event, or a vaguely-business-related-excuse-to-drink-while-writing-it-off party to attend.
Weekends are another story.
Have you ever been in business before?
Have I ever NOT? There’s a running joke in the Esposito family. When a new woman comes around and looks likely to stay, the other women (aunts, sisters-in-law, etc) tell her “Get a good job, honey, because Esposito men don’t work.” I can count on one hand my male relatives with 9-to-5-ers. We are all self-employed, some more successfully than others, to be sure, but “Entrepreneur” seems to be written in our DNA.
Many people ask me what is the key ingredient to success in any entrepreneurial endeavor. There are a lot of good answers, but in my heart, character and the willingness to tackle challenges with passion, tenacity and a smile is what I always think. Dityo took the challenge to answer an interview in a foreign language and his answers show him to be the kind of person we believe will have great success in the endeavors he chooses. Thank you for sharing yourself.
Why do you do what you do? What inspires you? When do you get most excited?
Houston, I got language problem hahaha. I hope the answer is not miss much; I do what I need to do to continuing my life and I love to do this.
People inspire me, including Shane & Peter which have a nice studio site. Traffic jam inspire me too, I can not work 8 hours a day and trapped in traffic jam for hours when going to work place and back home.
When I meet new people and sharing knowledge in many topics. Getting involve in new project make me excited.
What stops you from giving up when you are frustrated?
Pray to God. If you need human then my lovely fiance is the best supporter and nice place to share my difficulty, she tried to understand what I am talking about especially when I am talking about zorg thing like programming and such. She is the best bet to release my stress.
A Big Thank You to Everyone!