Knowing When to Move On
Blake Mycoskie is the "Chief Shoe Giver" at TOMS Shoes, a company that he founded in 2006 to provide shoes to impoverished children around the world. He has been a professional entrepreneur since his sophomore year in college when he founded a campus laundry business.
Previously, he founded Driver's Ed Direct, launched the advertising firm Mycoskie Media, worked as spokesperson for the online company GreenTiePoker, was CEO of Closer Marketing Group, and served as President of Phil Hellmuth Productions.
He has also had experience on reality television. He was the contestant for Tennessee on Fox's "Sexiest Bachelor in America Pageant" in 2000 and finished third in the second season of CBS's The Amazing Race in 2002. As a result, he launched an all-reality television network called Reality Central in 2002. Mycoskie studied philosophy and finance as an undergraduate at Southern Methodist University.
Question: How do you decide to move to other projects?
Blake Mycoskie: The first company was the laundry company. I’d done it for three years. It was my first entrepreneurial venture. And I just realized I didn’t want to be doing laundry my entire life. So even though it was a lucrative business and it was my first business, it wasn’t like my passion was really there.
Once I learned the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and the idea of starting with an idea and building a company, I kind of wanted to take that knowledge to industries that I was more interested in, like media, like outdoor advertising. So it was a very simple decision to sell that company.
With outdoor advertising company, it was more that I was kind of forced to sell because of the huge companies, Clear Channel and Viacom, that control so much of the media space. In order for me to get American Express or Nike to advertise on my walls, it took just as much time for them to do a $50,000, $100,000 ad buy with me as a $10,000,000 ad buy with Clear Channel. So it just got more and more difficult to get people to support us on an advertiser’s side. So it was a lot more lucrative for me just to sell to the bigger guys and let them do it than to try to do it on my own.
So each one, there’s always a different kind of personal reason and business reason that factors into that.
Question: How have you dealt with failure?
Blake Mycoskie: I don’t think as an entrepreneur, you ever really see anything as a failure. Because you learn and you build relationships, and those relationships and those lessons you learn are what allows you to go on and start other businesses more successfully.
Basically what happened was we launched to great fanfare. I was the youngest person to ever launch a television network. We had all kinds of support, from agencies, William Morris was on our board of directors too, great chairman, great CEO; Kay Koplovitz, from USA Networks; and Larry Namer from the E! channel. So we had all the right components.
It was a time, in 2005, that we’re on the end of kind of this boom of launching new cable channels and beginning of the boom of kind of digital networks, and so we were kind of right in the middle. And the only way that you could really pull it off is if you had a ton of money or a ton of programming already, which we didn’t really have either. So we had the great idea and the great team.
But in order to compete with Rupert Murdock, when he launched Fox Reality, it was just nearly impossible. Because he had the money and he had all this programming.
So we fought the good fight. And after a year, after we both were in marketplace, we realized there just wasn’t room for two reality channels. And then we decided that rather than continue to spend investors’ money, we decided to shut down and kind of give what money we could give back and move on to other things. I think it was the right decision.
And in doing that, I’ve met some of my best relationships and supporters come from that venture. No one really faulted us. We did everything we could. So I learned a lot from that. I don’t think it was a failure, except for the fact that financially it wasn’t a success.
Recorded on: April 28, 2008
Blake Mycoskie, on dealing with failure.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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