Entrepreneurs Grind

Mark Cuban Talks With ONE37pm About The National Anthem, New Ventures, And More

During the week of February 9th, Mark Cuban made headlines after a story was released by The Athletic revealing that the Dallas Mavericks were not playing the national anthem before home games and didn’t plan to move forward.

“It was my decision, and I made it in November,” Cuban told Marc Stein of the NYT.

Cuban’s actions caused the NBA to release a statement on the matter, which read:

“With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” said NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass.

Not one to take things sitting down, Cuban issued a response::

“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard because they have not been heard. The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”

Cuban spoke with ONE37pm to discuss his new partnership, his thoughts on TikTok, and if his stance on playing the Anthem had changed  following the blowback. 

ONE37pm: A week later, how do you feel about your stance on the anthem?

Mark Cuban: Nothing has changed. There are a couple of things, and I am a national anthem guy. That is just the way I was raised, and it is a habit more than anything else. And over time, I have learned that not everyone looks at the national anthem the way I do. When that starts happening, you start doing your homework, and you read about Francis Scott Key, the second, third, and fourth verses; and, understandably, there is a reference to free men, slaves, and you can see how it makes people uncomfortable. With that being said, people have habits, and for me, for 20 years with the Mavs, I would be out there [on the floor] or even in my office bunker; I would stand and put my hand over my heart. During the anthem the stands were not full, people walked around on the concourse, and I did see their response to the anthem; some stopped, but most didn’t. And it is not important to them that they are on time for it. It is not important to stop on the concourse. For some, they will not stop and put a beer down, while some won’t even take their hats off. That always bothered me; if this was so important to us, and it is to me. My dad was military and fought in two wars, and was wounded. My uncle was in the Air Force and fought in two wars. If it was so important, then why do we disrespect it like that? It always bothered me, and then over the last couple of years, The anthem has gotten weaponized, and certain people felt their form of patriotism was the only form of patriotism. If you didn’t do it their way, you are not patriotic, and you didn’t love this country, and to me, that was wrong. There is no one way to love this country other than the definition of liberty.

You get to love this country or not. I truly believe 99.99 percent love this country; there are no ifs and about it. Some don’t, but 99.99 percent do. There are people now that feel like their way of honoring our amazing country is the only way. They try to weaponize it, and we saw that with our players. So, going into the season, they had come out of the bubble where there were many messages and emotions. I was like, one: people don’t fully respect it initially, which really bothered me; two: everybody watched what people did with the anthem in those first couple of games; three: we weren’t going to have fans, so let’s see what happens if we didn’t play it. That is actually what I did, and after the lineup, I went over to our PR guy Scooter and said, “Has anybody said anything? Not a word. “Did you tell the other team  and their media what was going on?” Told everybody, not a word, and it continued until the 13th game. A reporter said something, and then that’s when everybody found out. It was never going to be a situation where we weren’t going to play the anthem. It wasn’t a situation where I was against playing it. It was more of a situation where let’s see what happens.

The Mavericks host an event called Seats for Soldiers every year except for Covid. We celebrate more than 100 wounded service members from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and veterans from the Adaptive Training Foundation, and reserve troops from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. 

ONE37pm: It was recently announced that you partnered with a company by the name of Fireside. Can you share with our audience what the company entails?

Cuban: It’s called FireSide Chat, and it is not going to be out for a couple of months, but effectively it’s podcasting 2.0, and what it says is, if you go to a conference, and you sit down, there is a moderator people asking questions or a keynote speaker then they open it up for questions. We will enable that using audio, and you can invite whoever you want to your keynote or podcast. You will be able to take questions from them, interact with them, and they will have the features applaud and make noise to get feedback, but they will also be able to tip you, and you will also be able to save it. Clubhouse is meant to be in the moment, and that’s great, but with FireSide Chat, you will be able to have that entire conversation and then save it. So, people can download it and listen to the whole thing. That is what I think is missing as much as anything. So, you want that interaction, and you want it to live forever. Instead of it being in one spot like Clubhouse is. 

ONE37pm: What are your thoughts on TikTok?

Cuban: I think the cool part about being a tech geek I look at the tech side, and I think it has many other content applications. In traditional social media, it is driven by advertisement first. It used to be about who you follow and follow somebody. It would be in chronological order. Then artificial intelligence started jumping in like Facebook. They will optimize for what you like to hear but maximize their ad revenue, wherewith TikTok doesn’t appear in any way that it is an ad maximization strategy. It looks like it showcases more of those videos, even if it is not someone you follow. So, I watch a lot of basketball highlights, and so does my son. He also likes to watch business-related stuff, which is crazy for an 11-year-old. So, his feed is different from mine, which is different from my daughter, who knows every dance, but they get a separate feed. I have shared with the NBA that kids might not sit and watch an entire game. So, we might have to deliver our games more like a Tik Tok presentation. Where instead of the entire game, if it is someone that likes dunks? Then every dunk is coming from the Mavs versus the Blazers. If somebody likes Luka, every possession with Luka is coming nonstop, and so on. 

The Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star finished the interview by sharing that he was excited for things to come in the tech space. 

Cuban has never been one to shy away from sharing his thoughts, regardless of the topic, and it’s clear that he has a strong opinion on the National Anthem. Whether you agree with him or not is another issue, but it’s safe to say that Cuban is going to speak his mind, and we’re here for it.

Entrepreneurs Grind

John Sherwin Wants To Change How You Hydrate

John Sherwin, Co-founder of Hydrant Inc, was this week’s guest on ONE37pm’s Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed what the company is about, what he did before creating Hydrant, and his attempts at building other companies along the way.

“Our original product was a powder drink mix, and it was for hydrating you faster than water alone as we have grown on other wellness verticals. We think of Hydrant as an accessible wellness platform; we have hydration at the core of all our products with functional benefits added on top of it,” said Sherwin.

“So, right now, we have an energy product, which is Hydrant plus energy, we have an immunity product, which is Hydrant plus immunity, and there will be some more products coming out through 2021 that we are happy to share soon.”

Sherwin was not always in the wellness industry. Before he and his business partner, Jai Jung Kim, started Hydrant, he worked at a tech startup in the Bay Area.

“Before Hydrant, I was working in the Bay Area at a tech company, and it was a YCBack startup. I was an early employee wearing many different hats with many responsibilities, but it was a fire hose of learning. That is why I went there to learn about tech startups in the land where tech startups came from, some six or seven years ago at this point. So, things have changed, but I was somewhat of a product manager and a business development manager. It was an amazing experience, but as soon as the learning period started to slow down. I started to pursue my passion as I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and a lot of role models pursued that path. My family has been very supportive of me to go out and pursue things,” Sherwin said.

Hydrant was not the only company that Sherwin attempted to start.

“Back in college, I started this priority card to help you get into nightclubs faster. It turns out college towns are usually run by one entertainment company, which operates in a mafia-style. So, I was run out of town before I even got off the ground, and it was a learning experience and something I would do again.

What led him to Hydrant?

“It started at the university when I was trying to solve the problem of staying hydrated while having a lot of fun in the evening, playing a sport, and studying hard. While studying biology, I am very into science and almost went the medical route, but In the UK, you can do medicine at the same time; there is no pre-med equivalent. So, some of my friends were doctors, and I would watch some of the things that they were doing to manage their performance,” shared Sherwin.

“Doctors are very impressive, and they were drinking this disgusting clinical powder after nights out. I tried it because I was curious, and a huge pharmaceutical company made it, and it made me gag. It wasn’t very good from an experience standpoint. I did feel the difference, which has been the benchmark for all the products we make. Also, all the products that I try make it clear that all the electrolytes are affected. So, I started buying sports drinks, coconut water, and Pedialyte. It started by me trying to solve a problem for myself.”

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow John Sherwin on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Roxana Saidi, Founder Of Táche Pistachio Milk, Is Looking Beyond Dairy

Roxana Saidi, the Founder, and CEO of Táche Pistachio Milk, was this week’s guest on Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed Táche, what the Táche company does, brand consulting, and when it all started.

“Táche is a two-month-old company, and we are the first true pistachio milk in the US. We are an oil-free, distinctly delicious plant-based milk made from Pistachios, and it requires significantly less amount of water than almond milk,” said Saidi.

Being the first at anything is not easy, and according to Saidi, it took five years to bring Táche to market. However, she did mention that it was on the back burner while she was involved with consultant work.

“It took five years, and most of the time, it was in the background while I was doing consulting on brand strategy for other brands. But, this brand is unique, and I really wanted to make a barista blend. So, I am a big coffee person; my mom probably gave me my first cappuccino at age nine, which she hates when I say it, but it is the truth.

You must really scale the business before you can even launch. I mean that no one will take your product unless you care to do 100,000 units in this type of manufacturing. On your very first production run, most want more, like a quarter of a million. I had to scale the business before we launched, and that took some time. Fundraising the funds was a challenge because you can’t bootstrap that type of volume out of the gate.”

The idea for creating the company came to her back in 2015 on a trip to Paris with her family.

“The idea came to me in 2015, and at this point, I was consulting and launched a social media agency in 2011. So, in 2011 there was no Instagram, and there were not many social media agencies. It was born out of a career that I hated, PR, and I have nothing against PR, but I lived in LA in my early 20s, and PR for me got these genes on Nichole Riche. So, I started a social media agency because I saw potential there and something that would take off.

In 2015, I moved to New York, and I was phasing out drinking a lot of dairy milk, almond milk, and eating a lot of almond butter. I was traveling in Paris with my family, and at the end of a long lunch,  I was craving my go-to. An almond milk latte, but in France, it had not made its way yet. Then I had a light bulb moment and said I have been eating pistachios my entire life. My dad is Iranian, and in a Persian household, pistachios are like toilet paper. You must have them at all times, so I started to think couldn’t I make pistachio milk the same way as almond milk.” 

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Roxana Saidi on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Margaret Wishingrad, the CEO of Three Wishes, Is Putting A New Spin on Cereal

Margaret Wishingrad, the Co-Founder and CEO of Three Wishes Cereal, was this week’s guest on Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed Three Wishes, what Wishingrad was up to before starting the company, and more.

“Three Wishes is better for you, a cereal brand, and even beyond that, we are better for you to eat. We love to take naughty things and put a twist on them, making them okay to eat again…We have about five flavors, and they are all really good,” said Wishingrad.

She grew up in an immigrant family, where McDonald’s and eating unhealthy cereals such as Cookie Crisps, HoneyCombs, and Corn Pops, was the norm. Wishingrad did not always work in the cereal industry; she and her husband, Ian Wishingrad, owned an advertising agency in New York City.

“So, my husband and I have an ad agency in New York, and we love building brands. So, we have the big clients like Nestlé, Pepsi, and then we have the small clients that would come to us with ideas, and that was it.

Just the idea, and we would build out the whole brand, the name, what it looks like, what it talks like, what the instore feeling feels like. And when we became parents, Ellis is six now, but when he was four months old, we as parents started to realize that we had problems in our lives that we did not identify before. And by introducing new foods by him, the recommendation was cereal, and I looked at the aisle, and it is the same junk that was there when I was a kid,” Wishingrad shared.

“Nothing was innovative in it, and I need to do something that is going to work for my family and all these other families. Cereal is also one of those things…everyone loves cereal, so we are like, ‘there is a big problem here, and we need to solve it.’ That was what made us go from building brands into building our own cereal.”

They founded the company in 2017 and got started quickly.

“I like to say we founded the company when Ellis was six months old, which would have been 2017, but it took us two years to develop the product. So, we only launched in late 2019.”

They did not launch with all five flavors; in fact, they only started with three.

“No, we only launched with three, which is very fitting for the brand. We launched with cinnamon, honey, and unsweetened. The outlook for us on cereal was not going out and recreating the wheel, and for us, it was ‘let’s create something that people loved, that was super familiar but twist one thing.’ For us, that is what it is made of, and the rest we wanted to keep the same. The experience, the flavors, the box, the shape. All those things we kind of kept similar.”

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Margaret Wishingrad on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Staying Spicy in Lockdown with Trop Flavor Co.

“It’s not about getting knocked down…it’s whether or not you get back up.”

In other words, you can’t control what happens to you. You can only control your response. 

When COVID hit, like many other people, Kenny Cousins and David Zheutlin were left with time on their hands. They decided to do something with it. 

The Trop Flavor Co. sat down with ONE37pm’s Bo Templin to tell their story.

ONE37pm: When did things take that next step and kick things into another gear?

Trop Flavor Co.: Quarantine. This was a quarantine project to start. We are roommates, friends. This became something where it went from two people who love sauce…to making hot sauce, blending things up, and giving them to friends.

ONE37pm: So this is nitty gritty, in the dirt, you are creating something.

Trop Flavor Co: I was legitimately trading hot sauce for things like radishes. It was your classic tale of a quarantine hot sauce company…It was pretty organic. 

When it comes to the actual ingredients of the sauce… they have a secret they are willing to share with ONE37pm. 

Trop Flavor Co.: Some experimentation with mezcal…there are a few drops in every bottle. 

ONE37pm: See, now you are speaking my language.

Trop Flavor Co.:   We threw some in sauce and brought it to our bartender friend. They loved it and we decided that we should drop a product. 

ONE37pm: When you are putting out a product like this, I feel like you could go two different ways. You could have your product vary greatly from your competition. Or you could go in a different route with marketing and branding, where you think your company has a bigger difference from your competition. 

Trop Flavor Co: I feel like it’s the local aspect. During this time, it was about being opportunistic. We had to use our two skills to launch the brand—the equity between us, our friends. And our skill sets, we leaned into them—our similarities and differences. So people feel part of David, part of Kenny, in the sauce. As a startup, whether you already knew us pre-existing or at a pop-up, That differentiated us. Flavor-wise, we take that seriously. The idea of hot sauce is generally “metal.” The flavor of peppers is delicious. Prickly pear, mango, or papaya, so the chance to surprise people in the flavor profile that won’t crush you, I think it’s a marriage of both.

ONE37pm: When you have two people leading the way, a duo. Do you think you are your yin to your yang or are you both with the same vision, the same goal. What do you think your dynamic is?

Trop: I wouldn’t say yin and yang. We def have a number of shared interests and traits but are different people. I think we balance each other well. People say don’t go into business with friends. I think the reason is often because the friendship will overcome the need for business. We might be on the fire escape right now, but we are going to have a meeting. We are going to treat it with that same respect. Hot sauce is not our job, it’s our side project that is turning into something fun and exciting. 

Kenny: I have a more social media, strategic background. David doesn’t have an Instagram. As friends, partners, we have moments where we see things from different angles, but are saying the same thing. 

ONE37pm: I ask this to a lot of people. But when you are in a business where your product is determined by the public… the people get to decide if your hot sauce is good. How do you guys balance-taking what the audience is saying versus trusting your gut? “I know this is a good hot sauce. We need to trust our vision.”

Trop Flavor Co.: It’s def a lot of trial and error. You put something out and get feedback. But that’s the benefit of doing these pop-up events. We get the first-person testimonial. When we come across those really niche hot sauce heads, they taste our sauce and want it hotter. And that’s not what we are about. That’s some of the tough-guy stuff that we don’t want to deal with. When people actually taste our hot sauce and give us feedback that they want it a touch hotter, that is an easy fix for us. We can always add peppers… With any event we do, we bring experimental hot sauce. That’s rare to get that unlabeled, untested, you are the test market. We are looking for feedback. We are not the hot sauce experts. We are learning too.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Joe Pompliano on Fighting, Business, and Everything In Between

With each passing day, the intersection between sports and business grows stronger. Athletes are so much more than “athletes.” Nowadays, more and more are choosing to be entrepreneurs, business people, and are searching for other careers once their playing days are over. . 

No one has documented this better than Joe Pompliano. 

He has accumulated more than 120,000 followers on Twitter  through his incredible research and breakdowns of financial stories in sports. 

He joined ONE37pm’s Bo Templin on the latest episode of In the Fight to talk about the rewards in prize fighting. 

ONE37pm: In all seriousness, you do post some of the most interesting content on Twitter. I just can’t get enough of what you do. How long have you been doing these sports financial breakdowns? 

Joe Pompliano: My previous experience was working at Octagon Sports Agency in college. I grew up with four brothers, so I played sports my whole life. I thought sports was something I wanted to dive deeper into as a career. I worked at JP Morgan for the last few years, when quarantine hit, I started thinking things through more. I missed the sports aspect a little bit. Not just sports business, but personality, on Twitter, daily newsletters, and all that type of stuff.

“All the stuff I started doing was stuff I was already enjoying. What I found is that people were interested in this stuff. Whether it is breaking down contracts or how much a fighter is making in a fight. There is a lot more money in sports than fans don’t get an eye on.” 

ONE37pm: In 10 years, what will be the biggest difference between the contracts we see in the UFC now? 

Pompliano: That’s a good question. With the UFC… from the outsider’s perspective, I think, maybe, a huge change is Dana White’s involvement. Not just how much these guys get paid, but how much influence and power he has. You hear some push back from time to time, that he really decides these guys’ careers… People have talked about unionizing fighters in MMA… but I could see something like that happening, sure.

ONE37pm: In the next three months, I think there are seven title fights amongst top contenders. What would the change have to be for boxing to reach that champion vs top contender status quo? 

Pompliano: It’s kind of what you said. It has to be structural changes. I don’t even want to go down the path of boxing… don’t get me wrong, I’ve encouraged these celebrity fights. But for the actual fans, I’m sure they are not very happy. But this is what happens when you don’t get the best of the best. Even Pacquiao/Mayweather was way later than it should be… so I think there are going to have to be changes or the UFC will continue to thrive in that aspect. I’m a huge fan of Dana White. I did a thread on Twitter  of him, he didn’t put a single dollar in the UFC and got like 350 million dollars, which is just absurd. He’s obviously done a good job. He’s there for a reason. 

ONE37pm: You mentioned the celebrity fight thing. If you were an agent for a fight, how would you encourage him to move through this movement?

Pompliano: I don’t know how they look at it from the inside, but I think it all comes down to the money though. If you’re a fighter who can’t get that type of fight, then sure, but it depends at what stage you are at. Mayweather is obviously going to do one and he could knock him out whenever he wants. I don’t think any of these guys that are trying to be legitimate champions are going to do it. But if you are going to get paid a couple million dollars for 20-30 minutes, it’s probably worth your tim

ONE37pm: In the last two years or so, some really elite fighters from the UFC have tested their value in the open market. Demetrious Johnson, Anthony Pettis, Rory Macdonald… is it really worth leaving the top dog to see your worth in PFL, Bellator, One Championship? 

Pompliano: I don’t know, my question would be are a lot of these guys coming back? 

ONE37pm: So far no, but it is early. Fighters in the UFC having to wear Reebok is still relatively new. So no, it hasn’t happened yet, but I have no doubt that might happen in the future. 

Pompliano: A lot of this is on a per fighter basis too. Ben Askren is fighting one of the Paul brothers. The number for McGregor is a lot different than Ben Askren. How much are those advertisers really going to pay? How much is Dana willing to pay you? One of the cool things in the UFC is everything can be negotiated. 

ONE37pm: What are  the biggest mistakes you see athletes making in the structuring of their contract? If there was one, what would it be? 

Pompliano: When you think about it, a lot of these guys aren’t the ones doing it. And with the more matured structured leagues, you could hammer out the deal in an hour. When you talk about ‘deadlines get deals done’… but with the UFC they have a little more lead-way. But with other leagues, it’s not really up to them.

ONE37pm: In the last 5 years or so, Top Rank Boxing partnered with ESPN. Now, a lot of their premier matchups, whether it was Manny Pacquio vs Jeff Horn, Terence Crawford vs Kell Brook… are live on ESPN, not pay-per-view. Do you think more fights are going in that direction or do you think long term, the answer is pay per view? 

Pompliano: That’s a good one. What we’ve seen is a lot of the direct to consumer platforms, ESPN+, you just saw Peacock just paid up for WWE Network, I think a lot of these guys are willing to pay top dollar for sports assets. Not only is content hard to come by, becoming increasingly more expensive, that’s why you see Dan LeBetard and (John) Skipper make their own media content creation company. 

“But on the sports side it’s worse… Big leagues aren’t going to sell a large portion of their games, because they don’t have the audience size. One of these platforms can’t get the 30 million people for the AFC championship game.”

Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue with Justin Guilbert, the Co-Founder of Bravo Sierra

Justin Guilbert, the Co-Founder and CEO of Bravo Sierra, was this week’s guest on ONE37pm’s Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed the company’s new initiative ‘Echelon,’ how and when they started it, and the approach they took when they met with the Department of Defense and asked what they needed.

So, what is ‘Echelon’?

“Echelon is a project that emerged from an initiative we started about three years ago called Bravo Sierra, which is essentially a project that tries to deliver a novel approach to consumer development. What we did was identify what we believe is the community that is not only prescriptive, but the most critical, valuable, and that is the armed services community,” said Guilbert.

Not only does his performance needs exceed that of most civilians, more importantly, but they also need to have something affordable and accessible that aligns with their needs. They also need consumer goods companies, manufacturers, research and development organizations to focus on them.

Most consumer goods companies focus on traditional communities with disposable income. That is not necessarily a priority for Guilbert and his team. Their mission is centered around a critical piece of our social fabric.

When did it start?

“Three years ago, we approached the Department of Defense, especially the exchanges, which are the retail operation in the military, and said ‘listen, why don’t we develop consumer goods for these folks wherever they may be and design it with them and for them.’ Based on their needs and work with small businesses around the country and delivering that product to them wherever they are fighting, wherever they are stationed, where they are deployed. Interestingly enough, we didn’t expect the responses that we were getting, whether it was the Navy, Army, Air Force, or the Marine core, they all said yes.

So, we started working on this project, focusing on personal care first with Bravo Sierra, and from that, we were able to exchange with this community. Specifically, special forces operators and I would call them the least BS people I have ever met in my life. They don’t care about what you think, and they are not about representing themselves, but their mission is a matter of life and death in a lot of cases. When you allow them to contribute to the development of the brand and the border community, they take it super seriously.” Guilbert explained.

Going to the Department of Defense and asking them why they need it instead of trying to push a product to them was great, and Guilbert sees the world heading in that direction.

“I think that is where the world is going, and we are slowly picking apart the giant brick wall of the market that has been essentially manufacturers divided by marketing. Manufacturers serve marketing, and consumers are sold by marketing when consumers and manufacturers should be collaborating on what they need and then manufacturers deliver it.”

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Justin Guilbert on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue with Marisa Zupan, the Co-Founder of United Sodas

Marisa Zupan, the Co-Founder and CEO of United Sodas, was this week’s guest on ONE37pm’s Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed United Sodas, working in marketing and brand strategy, and ultimately made Zupan want to start her own business.

So, what is United Sodas?

“We are a soda company that launched in May of 2020. The full name is United Soda of America. We are essentially premium all-natural sodas that focus on a variety of different flavors and are organically sweetened for everyone to enjoy. Also, it feels exciting, new, and captures the best part of soda, while leaving the worst part of soda in the past.”

Zupan did not have a background in the soda and beverage industry before entering it in May of 2020. However, she did work in the marketing and branding space and used her experience in both occupations to build United Sodas.

“I had been working in strategy, marketing strategy, brand strategy, communication strategy, and advertising strategy. I was at agencies, and I was at brands. I was a mentor to founders of new companies who wanted to learn how to build brands. And through that journey, I eventually found my way to making my own and doing it in a very different way. So, before starting United Sodas, I did not have any experience making a soda brand. I come from outside the beverage industry, and I am applying those brand principles to build a product and building a team, company, and culture,” shared Zupan.

According to Zupan, timing played a significant role in why she decided to create her own brand.

“Timing had to be right, and it was also the people that I was surrounding myself with that allowed me to feel I had the confidence, and the resources, and team to be able to do it. Essentially, I met my Co-founders during a time I was a consultant, and they had been working in the beverage industry for a while, and I had been working in it on the brand side,” Zupan said.

“And I cooked up, in an incubated way, this exciting idea because everybody was cooking up things outside of soda to capture the soda opportunity. So, why do we not do it on the inside and that was really the first exciting impetus started. Then we developed it, and it allowed me to transition. And I love this idea, I love this team, it is the right time in my life, and we just decided that we are going to make this jump together.”

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Marisa Zupan on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Steve Jobs’ Leadership Style: 8 Lessons From His Career

To be a leader is one thing, but to be a revolutionary is an entirely different ball game. One of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, Steve Jobs was an innovator who wore many hats during his storied career. A designer who successfully transitioned his business and entrepreneurship, Jobs was a dynamic thinker unafraid to challenge the status quo. Entrepreneurship and leadership go hand-in-hand, and while some might think leadership is an easy concept to grasp, in reality, very few people have the ability to be not only a leader, but a transformational one.

By now, we are all quite familiar with Jobs’ accomplishments as one of the founders of Apple, but that isn’t what we are talking about today. Instead we are focusing on the lessons behind Jobs’ leadership style, and how they can be effectively applied to many present situations. Nearly a decade after his passing, Jobs’ legacy is still extremely prominent not just in tech, but in business, entertainment, sports, etc. Through the years, Jobs’ was humble enough to share his wisdom and many lessons through multiple speeches (his 2005 Stanford Commencement address remains one of the most iconic deliveries of all-time), videos and panels, providing permanent resources for current and future generations.

The textbook definition of a transformational leader is someone who “‘encourages the motivation and positive development of followers while creating a vision to make significant changes.” Transformational leaders also work very well in groups, but are most certainly always the leaders. While there are different types of leaders, most consider Jobs to be a transformational one due to his overall personality and leadership traits. Through the years, some considered Jobs’ style a bit on the ‘arrogant’ side, but I consider the better word to be assertive. Jobs was somebody who knew exactly what we wanted, and wouldn’t stop until his vision was executed perfectly. Whatever he required of others, he was also doing himself; that quality is the true mark of a leader.

There are different levels to leadership. For some, leadership could be becoming a manager or CEO of a company, for others, leadership could mean actively taking the reins of your own life and career. Leadership can be a natural-born trait, or it could be one that is acquired through life lessons and experiences. Steve Jobs was a natural born leader, but you could make the argument that he had to become an acquired one upon venturing into entrepreneurship. The knowledge he learned and shared through his relatively short life remains invaluable, and we have selected 8 different lessons from Jobs’ career that can be beneficial to you regardless of what phase of life you are in. 

1. Jobs Didn’t Make Excuses
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At the end of the day, Jobs understood that excuses are a waste of time and don’t really get you anywhere in the long run. In a story described by John Rossman in his book Think Like Amazon, Rossman highlights a story told by Jobs to his employees in which he questioned why the janitor wasn’t able to take the trash out before leaving for the evening. The janitor in question had been unable to dump the trash the previous night due to the doors being locked, and the responsibility fell on Jobs’ vice president for not making sure the janitor had the proper tools to do his job. “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering,” he told his employees. “When the employee becomes a vice president, he or she must vacate all excuses for failure. A vice president is responsible for any mistakes that happen, and it doesn’t matter what you say.”

Many other CEOs would have blamed the janitor for this incident despite it not being his fault, but what separated Jobs from others is that he understood that advanced leadership requires more responsibility, and wasn’t willing to accept any excuses from his staff as to why that should have been any different.

2. Jobs Provided Mentorship

According to an article on, writer Carmine Gallo gave a deeper look at how Jobs was able to provide next-level mentorship. While Jobs’ was a demanding leader, there isn’t a single employee that would have traded the experience of working with him.

Guy Kawaski, a former Apple employee, recalled her time with Jobs saying “He demanded excellence. You had to prove yourself everyday. He kept you at the top of your game.”

“I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face,” Job once said, reflecting on his leadership style. “It’s my job to be honest. I know what I’m talking about, and I usually turn out to be right. That’s the culture I tried to create. We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of s–t and I can tell them the same.”

Jobs’ mentorship style was more of a ‘tough love’ approach, and while some of his messages may have been difficult to receive in the moment, it is far more important for a leader to be honest as opposed to ‘nice.’ Niceness doesn’t get you anywhere in the long run if what you are saying isn’t truth based, and sometimes honesty can be a bit harsh. At the end of the day, all of Jobs’ employees walked out better not just within their respective jobs, but as human beings too.

3. Jobs Understood That Creativity Was About Connecting The Dots
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In life, we are constantly connecting the dots whether it’s intentional or not. Creativity can be a complex thing to deal with. Sometimes creativity can flow, and other times it can be extremely challenging. Working in tech is a never-ending journey of innovation, and sometimes you can hit a wall when it comes to inspiration and creativity. When those things happened, Jobs understood that it was all about ‘connecting the dots.’

“Creativity is connecting things,’ Jobs would often say. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.”

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Simple doesn’t always equal easy, in fact, it even can be more challenging, but if you can take it back to the basics, you may be able to break any creative wall you are facing.

4. Jobs Was Selective In His Hiring

It’s only natural for a creative person (especially one who is a leader) to perhaps be a little cocky, but true leaders are humble enough to admit when they may need the expertise of someone else to help them or their business succeed. When it came to his hiring practices, Jobs was never afraid to seek out the right person for a specific task, and often preferred people who ‘were smarter than him.’

Challengers like to be challenged, and that was the approach Jobs took when looking to add additional members to his team.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do,” Jobs said. “We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

True leadership isn’t just being in the driver’s seat, it’s also the willingness to sit in the backseat if it is for the greater good. Knowing when to take over and when to step back is a quality that every leader needs to master.

5. Jobs Led By Example
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Any good leader has to lead by example. A good leader has to understand that their moves are being watched by their employees, colleagues, mentees, etc., and recognizes that everything starts from the top.

As mentioned earlier, Jobs could be a demanding boss, but he wasn’t one of those bosses that delegated work without putting forth any effort himself. If his  staff was pulling an all-nighter, Jobs was right there with them, and the expectations for himself were greater than those he set for his employees. Jobs wasn’t lazy, and made it a point to constantly think outside of the box when it came to both new and existing ideas. Whether you worked with Jobs or not, his work ethic is something to draw from.

Adam F., CEO of, spoke on Jobs after his passing saying “Steven you have left me and millions of other entrepreneurs with nothing but the very best path and leadership skills to emulate. You are forever and more one of the greats this country has ever been blessed with.”

Again, it all starts from the top.

6. Jobs Knew How To Sell His Brand

The ability to start and lead any business starts with a supreme confidence with yourself. Nobody is going to go harder for you than you, and nobody knows and understands your vision better than yourself. Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, at some point in your life you will have to sell yourself and your brand (this could be as simple as a job interview). Jobs was completely aware of this and was a genius at pitching himself.

Wynton Marsalis, a well-known Trumpet player, reflected on a 2001 encounter in which Jobs was trying to pitch him a deal. “He was a man possessed,” he said. “After a while, I started looking at him and not the computer because I was so fascinated with his passion.”

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition,” Jobs said. “They already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Pitching Yourself and what you believe is a part of life, and in some ways we are always ‘auditioning’ for something. Not only was Jobs excellent at his pitches, he was also charismatic, and had the ability to win people over. So whether you are starting your own business, looking for job opportunities, or perhaps even wanting to ask somebody on a date, confidence is key.

7. Jobs’ Passion Outweighed The Money
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At the time of his passing, Jobs was recognized as being one of the wealthiest people in the world. While the financial element of his career was certainly rewarding, it wasn’t his main motivation. With Jobs, the monetary components never outweighed the passion he had for developing and creating.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me,” he once said. “Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to write. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out. Stay hungry and stay foolish.”

How can you expect anybody else to be passionate about your goals if you aren’t yourself? It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between someone who is interested in what they are doing, and someone who is only in it for the money. Once things become solely about the money, inspiration and creativity can be easily lost, and even the work environment can be affected.

If Jobs had been ‘all about the money,’ the quality of Apple products would have been poor because the emotional investment would have been lacking. Always make sure your passion outweighs the monetary goals.

8. Jobs Challenged The Status Quo

Last but not least, Steve Jobs challenged the status quo. Never one to conform to rules and standards, Jobs was more than willing to rebel and step outside of the box (even if meant being labeled as a misfit).

Chris Dodd, The CEO and Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, summed it up best:

“He was a pioneer, and helped all of us better understand how technologists and creators can work together to enrich and enliven our shared world. If anyone ever wonders whether one person can make a difference, the answer is Steve Jobs.”

Friend Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner also said; “He was a dynamic and fearless competitor, collaborator, and friend. In a society that has seen incredible technological innovation during our lifetimes, Steve may be the one true icon whose legacy will be remembered for a thousand years.”

Sometimes the key element of success is refusing to play by the rules. Leaders are never afraid to push the envelope and step out of their comfort zone.

There will never be another Steve Jobs, and his influence is still felt all around the world today. It is our hope that you can take these lessons and apply them to all areas of your life.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Siegelman Stable: From Horse Training to Future’s Wardrobe

Max Siegelman’s father founded Siegelman Stable in 1982. Growing up, having a horse trainer as a father seemed like the norm. Not only was his dad a horse trainer, but he made an effort to instill in Max the importance of giving back to the community and allowing everyone the opportunity to indulge in the joys of horsemanship.  

Max Siegelman

Fast forward to April 2020. Max works for OUTFRONT media as a Social Director, in addition to working privately as a consultant for music artists, athletes, and other celebrities. He was the only person with signature Siegelman Stable gear, featuring a logo scrawled on a napkin by his mother in 1985. People started asking him, “Where can I cop?” And thus, the Siegelman Stable line was born.

Since Max started designing and releasing gear, the brand has dropped its signature pieces, including hats and sweatshirts. They’ve shown up on some of the biggest names in basketball and hip hop. From Future to Tim Hardaway Jr., there’s no shortage of celebrities rocking the minimalist gear. Siegelman Stable has made appearances in numerous NBA tunnel fits this season.

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Mason Plumlee rocking a Siegelman Stable sweatshirt.
Siegelman Stable
Tim Hardaway Jr. in the signature hat.

You can even find images of major rappers in the studio rocking the laid back sweats, which invoke a nostalgic sort of sportswear emphasizing comfort and classic cool. I mean, Future obviously has immaculate taste.

And of course, Max’s father Robert’s emphasis on giving back to the community remains a crucial part of the brand’s identity. A portion of proceeds go to equine therapy programs for veterans, nurses, and doctors, so supporting Siegelman Stable is good for more than just your wardrobe. 

So what’s next for the fledgling designer? There’s a collab with a creative streetwear brand on the horizon, but you’ll have to scroll through the Stable’s Instagram to try and figure out who it is. All we know for sure is that 2021 will be a bigger year than 2020, and 2020 was already pretty massive. Make sure to check out the brand’s Instagram for the newest pictures and keep your eyes on the website to try and get your hands on one of the restocks; they sell out fast.