Posts

Dave Murray

3 Life Lessons for Gutsy Entrepreneurs

3 Life Lessons for Gutsy Entrepreneurs

In 3 Life Lessons for Gutsy Entrepreneurs, I pulled from my own experiences in an attempt to help you out. I put in a few jokes, but this is mostly a serious post. It focuses on you gutsy entrepreneurs, rather than your brands. It focuses on you as people, not you as founders, CEOs, or Big Guys. As I sat in the home office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I got introspective – almost uncomfortably so. But I hope my discomfort is somehow your gain. Fair warning: it’s a long one.

Dave Murray, Mayniax Branding - Introspection with the red glasses can get trippy

So now, for your reading pleasure, I present “3 Life Lessons for Gutsy Entrepreneurs”!

1. Know Who You Are at Your Core

If you’ve been reading my maniacal musings for any length of time, you know the heavy emphasis we place on the “why.” Here, however, is the dirty little secret: our “why” isn’t just the “why” of Mayniax Branding – it’s also mine.

When you check out our About page, you’ll see much of our story’s about my parents, their business, and dad’s death.

It’s largely because of this upbringing that the cause of entrepreneurship runs in my blood. Later in life, as Vanessa and I studied everything from politics to art, including neuroscience and branding, we decided the only way the world could become truly happy is through benevolent entrepreneurship – something that’s been a part of me since before I knew what it was.

But I haven’t always known my “why.”

For a long time I wanted to be a comic book artist. I was great with a pencil, and even got a degree in painting and drawing. I showed off my art at various comic book conventions, where I got to see a drunk Kenny Baker – R2-D2 – fall off a barstool. But I learned comic book pencilers made – at the time – roughly $100 per page, and those pages usually took around 16 hours to draw. That’s when I decided I didn’t want to sacrifice so much of my day for $100 – I also decided I wasn’t passionate about it, because if I were, money never would’ve been a factor.

Dave Murray, Mayniax Branding - When you're a short comic book nerd, you draw Wolverine

For a while, I wanted to be an actor. I took classes and even performed on stage. But alas, short, marginal-looking dudes don’t a leading man make. And I was getting typecast as the smartass. Go figure.

I even wanted to be a journalist, because I love research and was big into politics and world events. The local community college even awarded me a scholarship for journalism. That still sits in the back of my mind, but with the state of “journalism” today – not to mention politics – I honestly think I can do more good fighting for entrepreneurs.

I also thought about trying stand-up comedy. That thought didn’t last long. Plus, with my sense of humor and slight acting experience, I’d do much better hosting an entrepreneur-style internet show. Hmmm.

Something I discovered about myself in the last couple years is who I am at my core: a smartass who loves to help people. It could be argued the above things would’ve allowed me to be a smartass who got to help people, but none of it was enough. None of it would really change people’s lives for the better. Someone could get 15 minutes out of a comic book, then they’d be off to do whatever. With having a huge comedy and acting career, people could get hours of entertainment, but then they’d be back to the same ol’ same ol’. To be a smartass journalist who helps people, I’d need an opinion column. And all that’d likely do is piss people off, even if they enjoyed the column and agreed with me.

With branding, I can help a lot of people in a real way, and be a smartass while doing it!

Figure out who you are at your core. And if what you’re currently doing doesn’t gel with that person, stop doing it and do something else. Life’s too damn short.

2. Learn to Trust People

Trust can be tricky, and it’s tough for a lot of entrepreneurs – including yours truly.

Vanessa and I started working together under less-than ideal circumstances. The people I worked with had just been told they had to take a 14% pay cut. I didn’t know Vanessa at the time – all I really knew was she liked to take pictures, and I desperately needed help catching up.

I’d always worked independently, and was an insane perfectionist. My feeling was that no one could live up to my standards when it came to design – Vanessa was simply a necessary evil until I was caught up. She sat away from the studio, though it was clearly big enough for the two of us.

Vanessa had blown it on a few photos I’d asked her to do. “Oh good, another incompetent idiot,” I thought. One day she’d asked me for help on a photo, and I could see she was irritated. So I walked over, saw where she’d blown it, and asked to see the photo process sheet I’d made for her. I then realized something: Vanessa didn’t blow it because she was an idiot – she blew it because I was.

I missed no less than three steps in the sheet I’d given her.

Dave Murray, Vanessa Symington, Mayniax Branding - Still alive after all these years!

Oddly enough, after the process sheet was fixed, she stopped blowing it. Shortly after, she moved her stuff into the studio, and I started calling her “Newbie” – because she was new and I like the show “Scrubs.” This was 2009. I stopped calling her that in 2014. Not only that, but with both of us now on the same page, a lot more work was able to get done!

I used to start people at 0 / 100, always sure they’d disappoint me. Now I start them at 50 / 100, because it assumes some degree of trust-worthiness. And also because there are people like Vanessa out there – people who will surprise you at every turn. I don’t wanna give her a 100 / 100 yet, though – there’s no need for both of us to be cocky *heh heh*

Today, we’re surrounded by people we trust to help us out. And I can’t wait to find more so she and I can focus only on strategy.

Moral of the story: Find your Vanessa, and trusting becomes way easier.

3. Never Be so Focused on Your Mission that You Miss Opportunities Outside of It

This one’s for that special group of entrepreneurs who have their “why”s nailed! That group who believe so strongly in their missions that nothing can make them deviate! The ones who are, well, like me!

Yeah. Stop that.

In Personal…

On June 19th, Father’s Day, I received – from someone totally unexpected – the kindest text I’ve ever gotten from anyone. The text spoke of what I’d written about dad on social media, saying she loved what I wrote, that dad sounded like a great man, and she finished it with, “The people we love never really leave us.”

Ken Murray, Dave's dad, Mayniax Branding - "The people we love never really leave us."

I saw the text and honestly had no clue how to respond. As a smartass, my friends tend to be smartasses. We reply to texts with smartass comments and use the medium to tear each other up whenever possible. Now, don’t get me wrong, my people are great people and we’d do anything for each other – we just don’t send or get texts like that.

One friend of mine delights in calling me any number of the following words whenever she can: clueless, dense, oblivious, and unobservant. And she’s right. And I’ll get to why that’s relevant in a second.

I’d started getting to know the woman who sent me the aforementioned text at the beginning of 2016. We each already knew the other to be cool, but that was it. As we got to know each other more, however, we realized we had a lot of things in common – and important things, not just, “Oh my goodness, you like cookies too!”

Side note: if someone doesn’t like cookies, they’re obviously a bad person and not to be trusted.

I was so struck by the kindness of the text that, shortly after replying, I began thinking about the times we’d spent together. Was I again being clueless, dense, oblivious, and unobservant? Should this woman and I give the whole dating thing a shot? “It doesn’t matter,” I thought to myself. “I can’t deviate my focus from Mayniax.” But it gnawed at me. After over a month, I decided taking a chance and deviating from my focus was worth it. But by then, I sensed it was too late – and half-ass tried anyway, which has only made things awkward.

And who knows? Maybe it wasn’t an opportunity at all. I may’ve gotten the “no.” Or maybe we would’ve tried a date and realized it was no good. Maybe we would’ve dated for a while before she realized I drove her crazy, or I realized she bored me to tears. In a fit of anger, perhaps she would’ve killed me and dropped me off in the Everglades on her way to a party in Miami. Why the Everglades? Because no cop’s gonna ask a bunch of gators if they’ve seen a nutty, short man.

Or perhaps we would’ve gotten along great, and it would’ve lasted a long while. All I know is I was too focused on Mayniax to even notice.

After far too long, I finally recognized the importance of a personal life. And you need to recognize the importance of it, too.

Mayniax Branding, Alligator - "Yeah, I seen him. But he wasn't very filling."

…And in Business

Sometimes you can be too focused on your brand. You can be so focused on it, in fact, that you lose touch with reality.

Vanessa and I started on our own in 2010, and we started racking up business debt right away – business debt that we’re still paying off. In fact, every day, I feel like I’m behind the 8 ball. So what should we have done differently? Simple: we should’ve done everything else we’re good at.

Much of brand strategy is about focus. We tell our clients to focus on selling one product / service per brand, since brands are easier to remember that way. Because we know about branding, we could’ve built several around all the things we can do. But we got so focused on the mission that we didn’t do that. But here’s something I didn’t think about until recently: another way of making money may not impact the mission directly, but it can help impact the mission indirectly.

So, we’ve each been looking for side projects to help kill that debt – a debt that would’ve been gone long ago had we thought about it sooner. We’re also looking at ways of generating passive income. And don’t let the “passive” fool ya – there’s a lot of front-end work needed to make that happen.

Brands can take a long time to take off, so whether you’re in the early stages of entrepreneurship – or even just looking at getting into it – make sure you find other ways to make money. After all, to be a true entrepreneur, you need more than one source of income, anyway.

And remember that doesn’t mean you’ve lost focus on the mission – it means you’re focused on keeping the mission alive.

In Closing

That’s it, folks. I sincerely hope you’ll all learn from my mistakes, as well as my successes – and go kick all kinds of ass, entrepreneurial-style!

And now I’m gonna have gator nightmares.

Stay gutsy, gang!

The world is broken, and we believe only entrepreneurs can fix it. But they’ll never get that chance if no one cares about their brands. So, with a little bit o’ nuttiness, a little bit o’ research, and a lotta bit o’ guts, it’s our job to make people care.

Wanna set up a happy fun time chat with Ann Arbor’s favorite branding team? Then click here, fill out the form, and we’ll get back to ya!

Dave Murray

The World Is Broken, Part 2

In Part 1 of this this two-part post, I went all nuts typing about why Vanessa and I believe the world is broken. But even though we believe that, it doesn’t mean we don’t think the world can be fixed – in fact, with the help of our fellow entrepreneurs, we believe quite the opposite. With that in mind, let’s get a little more optimistic!

Only Entrepreneurs Can Fix It

In the following video, I put the world on notice: Mayniax Branding exists to build the next Fortune 500!

Now, since you’re might be thinking building the next Fortune 500 won’t fix anything, I should probably elaborate. The power in this country, not to mention the world, comes from wealthy corporations and entrepreneurs. It comes from money. And I don’t believe we fight money with “Occupy” movements, yelling at politicians for giving themselves raises, or by feeling the Bern.

In true “fight fire with fire” fashion, I believe we fight money with money.

If you’ve read our About page, you know the kinds of entrepreneurs we deal with: the sympathetic, game-changer kind. We get those clients because we won’t work with people whose “why”s are either because they know how to do what they do, or because they like money. We work with entrepreneurs who want to make things better for people. When people care about our entrepreneurs’ brands, those entrepreneurs do better financially, and when our entrepreneurs do better financially, they can make a huge impact on the world.

If you can’t beat the Fortune 500, join them. And bring in lobbyists to fight for change that matters.

That’s the grand vision of Mayniax Branding – to make it so our clients can go toe-to-toe, anywhere in the world, with the monied elite, and make real, positive change.

Entrepreneurs Are Already Making it Happen

Sean “Diddy” Combs recently built a school in Harlem.

Oprah Winfrey opened the Leadership Academy for Girls, in South Africa.

According to this Forbes article, America’s top 10 philanthropists gave a staggering $7.1 billion in 2014!

Bill and Melinda Gates, on top of creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they and Warren Buffett created The Giving Pledge – in this interview with 60 Minutes, the Gateses promised to give away 95% of their wealth to causes, while Warren Buffett promised to give away 99%!

Let’s Make Our Dreams a Reality, Together

The world is broken, and we believe entrepreneurs are the only ones who can fix it. And we believe they will fix it, so long as others care enough about their brands to help them make that happen.

That’s our big picture. That’s the vision behind our “why.” Our dream is to do everything we can to help make this world a better place, but we need help. So, what’s your dream?

Stay gutsy, gang!

Dave Murray

Our Own Gutsy Advertising

Our Own Gutsy Advertising!

Vanessa and I declared this the year of advertising, and holy crap, has 2016 delivered!

Our Gutsy Networking

We’ve gotten a little more selective about the networking we do. We’re part of a B2B networking group, attend specific A2Y Chamber events, and are going to more structured entrepreneur events. I’ve even joined a committee dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build their businesses, because hey, that’s what we’re all about anyway!

Because of networking, I’ve been able to set up some talks to help us get business, help us get the Mayniax Branding name out there, and help us give entrepreneurs some free, much-needed branding advice. We’re cool like that.

Our Gutsy Blog

I’m really working hard on writing a blog post at least every two weeks, and with my schedule – along with being on a constant lookout for rabid spider monkeys – that’s pretty tough to do. In fact, I’m writing this at 12:02 am. Ah, the things I do for our gutsy entrepreneurs.

Our Gutsy Newsletter

The newsletter goes out every two weeks, generally without fail. After all, we’ve always got something to talk about – even if it’s just a branding tip or two. Plus, it allows us to link back to our website so Google sees we’re kind of a big deal!

Our Gutsy Social Media

This is one of the things I’m most excited about. A goal of ours for this year is to own page one of Google in any and all “Ann Arbor branding” searches. One of the ways to do that is to load up on social media. Something we know about social media, however, is that for it to work, you need to have a consistent presence. And we just didn’t have the time to make that happen.

And then we met Stefanie Mitchell, of S Mitchell Marketing. In Vanessa’s and my nearly six years of networking, she’s the first person we’ve come across who knows more about social media than we do. So we gladly handed the social media baton to her to make things happen for Mayniax Branding.

Except for Instagram. Because Vanessa and I like pictures.

As an added bonus, Stefanie also has us creating content for ads on social media, as well as Google AdWords. And as another added bonus, with her rocking our social media, Vanessa and I can spend time doing the things we’re actually good at.

Our Gutsy Commercial

The commercial. Ah yes, the commercial. In the grand tradition of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign – and partly because of the wise words of Simon Sinek – we realized the most important thing we could advertise is, duh, the most important part of any brand: Why it exists in the first place. In fact, our “why” and story have been at the center of all our advertising this year.

The problem is, we didn’t know anyone who could really help us communicate our “why” as passionately as we wanted it communicated. Or so we thought. Enter George Pariseau, the founder of Brainstream Creative.

George is a pretty easy-going dude who gets serious about videography. He also understands enough about marketing that, when we said, “We trust ya. Just do what you do,” we knew he wouldn’t let us down – even though I completely changed the script the night before we filmed it.

My bad.

Our Gutsy Upsell

That just sounded, well, dumb. Gimme a break – it’s 12:32 am.

If you’re in the Ann Arbor area, and thinking about getting your business branded, fill out the form on our Contact page. We’re happy to answer any questions you have, and never charge for the first hour. We’ll even spring for a caffeinated beverage or two. For you, not just us. Though we’ll probably spring for a caffeinated beverage or two for us, as well.

Because sometimes we’re up late at night writing blog posts.

Stay gutsy, gang!