Entrepreneur and marketing stud David Siteman Garland is the Founder of The Rise To The Top, The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business Smarter, Faster, Cheaper and has an upcoming book with that title . He writes/hosts RISE, a daily online web show for entrepreneurs and marketers, and The Rise To The Top TV show on ABC. This guy does it all and he hasn’t even turned 30 yet. On top of that, I’ve even heard that Chuck Norris is slightly scared of him. Chuck – if you’re reading this – that’s just what I heard. Don’t hurt the messenger.
I had the pleasure of meeting David at one of his “Rise” Entrepreneurial lunches up in St. Louis and I’m here to say that HE IS LEGIT. I was so pumped to meet him, that I filmed my own thoughts on what it takes to become an entrepreneur…..while I was driving. Kids, don’t try that at home. This guy is a firecracker and he knows his stuff. David was nice enough to answer some questions with anticipation of his upcoming book Smarter, Faster, Cheaper. Just in case you were curious, even though the book isn’t out (but should be by the time you read this), I pre-ordered it a few months ago. Yeah, I’m that excited.
1. David, can you share a little about your background and what led you to becoming “the source” for small business marketing and entrepreneurship?
My background is a crazy one with a common theme of turning passions and interests into profitable businesses. After graduating from college with no job, I decided to take a risk and jump into the random world of inline hockey and help start a pro league in the Midwest. It was essentially like getting a two-year-real-world-entrepreneurial-MBA filled with awesome highs and brutal lows. After two years with the league, I moved onto my true calling which was the creation of The Rise To The Top. The vision was pretty simple in retrospect: Create a non-boring resource for entrepreneurs to learn from those that are making it happen in unique ways through interviews. It started as a local TV show in St. Louis and had has evolved to a web show where over 100,000 people tune in monthly to hear from some of the world’s most unique and interesting entrepreneurs. I’m lucky and proud to say that it has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and also led to a book deal with Wiley Publishing.
2. You’ve interviewed A TON of entrepreneurs. Can you identify THE ONE that impacted you the most where you were able to implement some of their ideas in your own business?
That is sort of like picking between children! I guess in terms of impact for my own business it would have to be the founder of Wine Library TV Gary Vaynerchuk. I resonate with his style and respect how he decided to tape himself drinking wine every day and build/leverage his personal brand into all kinds of amazing things. He has several hugely successful companies, but the real success is he is so excited to do what he gets to do every day. That excitement is contagious.
3. Reflecting back when you started your own business, do you have any “Home Simpson Doh!” moments that future entrepreneur’s can learn from and prevent from repeating.
Hah, tough one to answer since there are SO many. I think one of the key mistakes I made was underestimating the costs of starting a local TV show vs. a web show. A local TV show has all kinds of things you wouldn’t even think about when planning it out. An example would be closed captioning adding a few thousand dollars onto the cost. But, I think the lesson here is that if you want something bad enough, being naive and not knowing all the answers can often be a good thing. Perhaps if I would have known all of those hidden costs early on, I would have talked myself out of the idea and The Rise To The Top wouldn’t be what it is today.
4. What’s your #1 tip to an upcoming entrepreneur wanting to get their idea off the ground today?
#1 tip might sound a little cliche, but I’ve found it to be true from personal experience and also hundreds of interviews. The happiest, most interesting and fulfilled entrepreneurs follow passion as opposed to money. And that passion might not be a product. Example: Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos is not in love with women’s shoes. However, he wanted to build a company with a unique culture where he was excited to go to work every day…so he did that. On top of that, don’t let the details talk you out of your idea. “How” isn’t nearly as important as “why.”
Never been asked this before! Great question. It just sort of popped out of my mouth one day on a show and it just sort of stuck like super glue. While it isn’t related to the Energizer Bunny, there WILL be t shirts made up due to popular request!
Get The Book
If you want to check out David’s book, Smarter, Faster, Cheaper, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to pick up your copy today. I was smart and pre-ordered my copy and got it just in time to read it over the Thanksgiving weekend. Let me tell you, this book is IT. For any inspiring small business owner with an entrepreneur bug, this book is for you. David shares many great examples of every day folks that were able to follow their passion, do what they love and make money doing it. Definitely add this to your bookshelf today.
Thanks, David, for the awesome interview!