Many of us have interests. Some of us have passions. Few of us get paid by combining the two.
Social media and content strategy is something I've done for brands like FedEx, Deep Eddy Vodka and the Rainey Street bars. Today, I have the privilege of using these skills to grow Localeur. With very little marketing budget we've built Localeur to span 12 cities, over 200,000 users and 20,000 fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I've also been very politically active, dating back to my years in DC and more recently as vice chair of the Austin Music Commission. When I was asked to serve on the Steering Committee for the Prop 1 campaign I considered it my civic duty to help address Austin's major traffic woes.
In the case of Prop 1, I was later asked to provide social media and content strategy support in the form of sourcing contributors of photos, videos and related content to be shared through social media channels. I was not paid to endorse Prop 1. I already backed it 100%.
I'm proud of this work especially because I was able to amplify it with my role as the CEO of Localeur (a job I created for myself). I'll keep on doing my part to get urban rail and better roads in Austin. We need all the help we can get.
"Believing in yourself, the genius you, means you have confidence in your ideas before they even exist. In order to have a vision for a business, or for your own potential, you must allocate space for that vision.
I want to play on a sports team. I didn't make it on a team. How can I reconcile these truths? I don't like my job, but I love this one tiny piece of it, so how can I do that instead?
Real opportunities in the world aren't listed on job boards, and they don't pop up in your in-box with the subject line: Great Opportunity Could Be Yours. Inventing your dream is the first and biggest step toward making it come true. Once you realize this simple truth, a whole new world of possibilities open up in front of you."
Lots of valuable gems about being a founder/CEO in this funny, insightful talk with Ben Horowitz and The Phat Startup. Great job James Lopez.
"When you’re the founder/CEO, you are alone. You are all alone…I don’t care what kind of advisers you have or co-founders…it’s part of it. It’s hard and it’s difficult, but the big thing you have to be able do if you’re running a company is you have to keep your eye on the ball. You gotta keep looking forward. You can’t look back...You have to deal with “What are investors gonna say?,” “What is the press gonna say?,” “What are employees gonna say?” all that…I have to go, “OK, what are they gonna think?” and then one of the problems you have when you’re in a situation like that is that if you hide under your desk then everyone’s gonna come up with their own story of what’s going on. So, one, you have to come up with the story that’s best for the company, and then, two, you have to go and convince people that that’s the best story, and you can’t do that if you’re hiding. A lot of…most of my success wasn’t from being smart, it was from not quitting and not hiding, and it was very hard to do that..."
Localeur is still in the early early innings of its life, but I can share some of those feelings of loneliness at times despite having an amazing, mega-talented and visionary co-founder in Chase, and several helpful advisers and angel investors.
I think being a CEO/founder is like being a starting pitcher. You have a bullpen, and a catcher, and a team behind you, but ultimately everyone is going to react to the tone you set at the pitcher's mound. Confidence. Patience. Your ability to shape the game and control the tempo. It's not always easy, sometimes the bases are loaded and strikes are needed. Runs may be allowed and errors committed. But the decision of the game is largely up to you.
The main thing I've committed to since we started Localeur is that I'll do better today than I did yesterday and learn from my mistakes. So far, that seems to be working.
We recently opened up our platform at Localeur to start allowing any local of a city, not just our curated community of Localeurs, to contribute recommendations for their favorite places to eat, drink and hang out.
We’re slowly rolling out CrowdRecs, and while Chase gave a technical viewpoint on why we’re excited about this new product on our blog, I wanted to weigh in with a more personal perspective.
Everyone has favorites. Favorite musicians, favorite outfits and favorite places to hang out. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I LOVE sharing my favorites for just about anything.
With CrowdRecs, we’re allowing the crowd – that means everyone – a chance to benefit from locals sharing their favorite places to eat, drink and play.
Unlike the Localeur recommendations you’ve gotten familiar with over the last 18 months or so, these new CrowdRecs will allow any local in a particular city (available in Austin, initially) to chime in with their favorite places or vote on places already on the list.
That means the most important aspects of the community we’re building, authenticity, credibility, quality over quantity, are still in full effect…only we’re relying on the full crowd of the city to weigh in.
We will still curate amazingly insightful recommendations from Localeurs, a small set of tastemakers we’ve discovered in each city, but now we’ll also be able to listen to thousands of other locals in the city.
So you may see a Localeur in Austin write about their favorite brunch spots and you love that recommendation as a traveler, but Austin locals can also chime in to add your own favorite local brunch spot if they disagree.
I'm excited about it, and hope you are too! We're tired of Yelp ratings making all the difference in whether or not one of our favorite local businesses survives, and we decided to do something about it by making something more authentic, locally-rooted and crowd-sourced (with beautiful photos).
I know some of you are still undecided on Proposition 1 so here's my final statement as early voting kicks off.
I understand that I may spend more time at City Council meetings or pay attention to local politics more than most here in Austin, especially folks under 35, but that doesn't make my single, individual vote count anymore than yours does. And that's a good thing.
Austin didn't vote for an important transit infrastructure bond in 2000 and our city has paid a very very huge price as a result. Imagine how much time you've lost in traffic. Imagine how much damage our cars have done to the environment while sitting in traffic. Imagine how many lives have been lost due to accidents on I-35 or drunk driving accidents. Imagine how much easier life would be if we had passed something similar to Prop 1 back in 2000 when Austin had the chance.
Now we can't go back and fix the past, but we can do something important about the future.
There are some people who are against this bond because it'll raise property taxes. You know what, that is true. Property taxes do tend to go up a bit when you have one of the fastest growing cities in the country for years and years and one of the most vibrant economies in the country for years on end. There are pluses and minuses to all this growth, but I'll take the pluses any day.
There are some people who are against this bond because they think they have a better idea for where the light rail route should go. You know what, that is false. If this alternative route these people speak of had the kind of broad-based support needed to get onto the ballot this November don't you think that would be the route we'd be looking at and voting on?
There are some people who say we're paying too much for this bond and this light rail route? Well, I have three things to say for that: 1) Part of the cost we're paying is the cost associated with having done the wrong thing back in 2000 so we have to pay up to fix it now and for the future. 2) Part of the cost of this $1 billion bond is $400 million in major road improvements that EVERYONE agrees we need. Yes, everyone. 3) The $600 million earmarked for light rail infrastructure is CONDITIONAL upon the city getting federal matching dollars. That means Austin voters are getting a 2-for-1 special on their property tax increases because the federal government is such a big believer in light rail that they're (likely) willing to cover nearly half the cost associated with building it!
Last point. You probably know 1 or 2 people (maybe a few more) who are voting against Prop 1, but let me remind you of who will be voting FOR Prop 1 starting tomorrow at 7 a.m. when early voting starts
1. I support Prop 1. You can read my blogs at joah.typepad.com to hear my personal reasoning.
3. Yes, the tech community supports Prop 1 too including Capital Factory founder Joshua Baer, Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle and BuildASign CEO Dan Graham.
4. The music community supports Prop 1, too, from folks like Holy Mountain managing partner James Taylor to Austin Music People and South by Southwest.
5. The environmental community supports Prop 1. Clean Water Action, Environment Texas, CleanTX, the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club and the Texas League of Conservation Voters all endorsed it.
6. The cultural leaders of Austin from mayoral candidates Mike Martinez (the lone Hispanic on the City Council) and Sheryl Cole (the lone African American on the City Council) to The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber and the Greater Austin Asian Chamber.
7. Neighborhoods support Proposition 1, including the Mueller Neighborhood Association, Downtown Austin Alliance and the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association.
9. University of Texas' Student Government unanimously voted for Proposition 1.
10. Hoteliers, realtors and architects support Prop 1 including the American Institute of Architects, the Austin Hotel & Lodging Association and the Real Estate Council of Austin.
11. The current mayor of Austin Lee Leffingwell, the former mayors of Austin Kirk Watson and Gus Garcia and the longest serving Congressman of Austin, Lloyd Doggett, all support Prop 1 as does mayoral candidate Steve Adler.
Final word: early voting runs from Oct. 20 to Oct. 31. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. This is the most important election we'll have at the local level for YEARS. We'll also get a chance to elect a new Mayor of Austin, City Council members for 10 districts AND a new Governor of Texas.
I've decided that I cannot publicly endorse or support any candidate for Mayor. I'm too torn between Steve Adler and Mike Martinez.
Sheryl Cole is the lone Black candidate, but I have not found her to be supremely knowledgeable or concerned with the issues more important to me watching her from afar and in action during Council meetings. She appointed me to the Austin Music Commission, but this was solely based on the strong recommendation of numerous individuals in Austin's music community and the fact that I am Black. In three years, she met with me twice despite my request to meet more frequently to address music issues.
Truth be told, I've found Mike Martinez to be precisely the type of advocate the music community needs in Austin so if he gets my vote, that will play a huge role. On the other hand, Steve Adler has put together an impressive group of supporters, including folks in the tech industry whom I respect. I do agree that the last City Council for Austin was a complete dud, and we need new blood, but I'm not certain that means everyone. Adler brings a new perspective, but I'm not 100% certain that means he'll be able to build a coalition across 10 new City Council districts. But Martinez may bring in old baggage.
With the exception of Martinez (on certain issues) and Chris Riley, I have been truly disappointed with what the most recent City Council failed to accomplish, and I fear one of the culprits is Kathie Tovo who seems to imagine an Austin that feels more like 1995 - before the explosion of SXSW Interactive, before ACL Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest, and before Austin's downtown growth - than 2015. Regardless, Adler and Martinez both make great points, both represent different aspects of what I'd like to see in a Mayor at this important time in Austin's history (Adler bringing a new voice and Martinez bringing a focus on the creative industries, accessibility and cultural understanding). Ultimately, I simply can't decide in a way that would allow me to publicly recommend fellow Austinites vote for one over the other.
Instead, I'm putting my energy behind Proposition 1 and District 9 candidate Chris Riley for Austin City Council. I fear that if Prop 1 and Chris Riley fail to win this upcoming election, we're going to look back in 4 to 6 years and wonder where it all went wrong with Austin and how did we end up with a city that didn't plan for the future, didn't build the appropriate transit system, didn't protect the creative industries, didn't continue attracting young people and employers, and didn't do more to bring people together rather than making neighborhoods compete against one another.