Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As I start to reach the tipping point in both my business and personal growth, I see myself continuing to power Tangoo and/or similar companies like it that focus on solving problems around discovering experiences, dating, personal growth, and helping startup companies reach their potential. I would like to take my public speaking, mentoring, and self-publishing passions to new heights and to different parts of the world.
On a personal side, I see myself making great strides in giving back to my body through increased triathlon training and personal development. I also would like to unleash the travel bug I caught when I lived in Barcelona by travelling the world with those closest to me to continue to build our relationships and the micro-stories that bring us closer together.
What was the most important connection you made?
There are many and they all serve a different purpose.
I have many mentors who guide me in different angles of life and through different types of problems. This is one great benefit I have been able to get from meeting so many inspiring people. On the personal end of things, it has to be my brother Jon, cousin Sam Sosa, and parents who are very grounded on many personal aspects I fight to improve while I balance them out with a demanding business. There are too many to count on the startup end of things but to name a handful of people who have been particularly instrumental, they are: Cameron Stewart, Henry Heeney, Peter Smyriotis, Steve Bell-Irving, Severine Arnaud, Mike Tan, Jayesh Parmar, Sean Pacey, and Nigel Tunnacliffe.
Mentors who inspire me and whom I have not all met (yet) are people like Tony Robbins & Tim Ferris (personal growth innovators), Brian Chesky (Airbnb CEO), and Simon Sinek (TED Speaking legend whom I was lucky enough to meet this summer).
Meeting Malcolm Gladwell at Sauder was also pretty cool, thanks Sauder 😉
What was your ‘aha’ moment?”
I have had many. All of them have been defining aha moments that have blossomed from failures, here are three.
1) I was broken down by anxiety and self-doubt in my first year of business school. It was a dark time where I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it out. With support from my close network and a newfound trust in my body to pull through this hard time, I became more humble, open for help, and confident in myself.
2) Tangoo didn’t start as a mobile app, we started by bringing people together through progressive dinners that involved people connecting across multiple restaurants in one evening. While this aligned with our mission of creating memorable offline connections between people, the business model wasn’t scalable. We decided to pivot and reinvent the old model to go mobile coincidentally the night before a 300-person pitch at Launch Academy Demo Day – sometimes pressure makes you do bold things. We were terrified but determined to go all in. To our surprise, we won Demo Day and proved to our peers that big risks do pay off. Nothing better equips you to take on big risks than a magical experience like this.
3) Dragons’ Den was defining because of the profound learning and personal growth process it took us through both leading up to the pitch, all the way until it aired across Canada. Firstly, the process of learning our business inside out and pitching to increasingly bigger crowds of people across the community made us stronger than we would have ever imagined. To have seemingly “failed” on the show by not making a deal, we took it as a challenge to prove to people that before our airdate seven months later, we would ship our product and raise more investment at a better valuation off the show than on it. It all came together on November 26, 2015 in front of our 500-person Dragons’ Den viewing party. The episode was luckily cut in a flattering way and people were inspired by the way we used an uncertain and seemingly negative situation to fuel us to new heights. It taught both our team and community about the power of a positive attitude.
What was the best advice that you received?
“It’s not your aptitude, but your attitude that determines your altitude in life” – Daniel Gardner – Sauder Marketing Professor.
Learning from people like Dan and all my other mentors, I like to pass it on to tomorrow’s startup leaders by boiling down the advice to this:
– Find out your Why. What drives you? What makes you passionate? This must be your north star.
– Don’t play hero. There are many people and resources out there happy to help and pay it forward only if you ask. Learn how to ask.
– Focus on always growing as a person. It’s essential to do before you can expect to really grow your startup and life happiness.
– Turn problems and vulnerabilities into opportunities and learnings. If you don’t, they will never go away.
– Find things that make you feel happy and empowered and don’t forget to make them habits.
How do you make the best of all situations?
There are many ways to do this and all revolve around gratitude, being curious, and being able to get out of your own mind by flying 30,000 feet above the earth to see the whole picture.
Here is my checklist:
1) What is the worst that can happen?
2) There is a reason to why I am here.
3) Who can I connect with here that might impact my life?
4) Who can I impact?
5) What can I learn?
6) What can I teach others?
7) How can I make this memorable?
Attitude is everything!