Why You Won’t Be a Success, and I Pry Won’t Either

I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of successful people over the last 6 years.

They tend to break into 3 categories:

1) Visionaries  - Some people call this group “lucky” or sometimes even “opportunists.”  For me, these are all the same people, but depending on whom is painting the picture you can get a different perspective. Think about startups like Instagram. How many times have you heard, “$1 billion , all they did is put some filters in a phone app!” People never understand what it takes to see the market so clearly and execute that vision correctly at major scale, and what that means. So these people all get lumped together, because the guy that you just think is lucky, likely has a vision and understanding of things you simply don’t.

2) Networkers- These people are masters of politics. You can make an entire career out of simply knowing whom to say what to, and whom to connect that person too. People that know how to play the politics game can go far. You would think it would only work in a large corporate structure, but the skills to raise funding are similar to those used to gain ascension in a corporate setting, so these types find legs in the startup scene as well.

3) Unstoppable forces of nature – These are the folks that move heaven and earth, not the other way around. They are made of steel, and they seem to will things into existence. This is the rarest of type of successful person I have ever met, like a startup unicorn or leprichaun. If you find this guy or gal you just join their team.

I am not one for absolutes, so the reality is that most people I meet, that have been a success, fall into a mix of these three. The uber success icons can seemingly mix all three, and that is why people study them.

Here is the rub, if you don’t fall into one of these areas clearly, or a few, you likely won’t be the kind of success that people will write about one day. I can easily say that very few people that I have ever met fall into these areas.

My story is still being written, and I am not sure if it will ever be read. What I do know is that I find it difficult to place myself in one or a few of these areas from time to time. I have had my hand in creating a few companies over the last 6 years, but only CopyPress remains, and while it is growing rapidly, and in a hot space, we are literally in the infancy of our corporate lifecycle.

I am not a success today. I don’t have any of the trappings of success. No nice car. I don’t own my house. I am a part, not the whole, of a growing company. This post is as much about self reflection as it is my thoughts on success and what it takes to achieve its highest levels.


People use the term “luck” far to often. People that are really good at what they do can seemingly look into the future and stay well ahead of their competition. This doesn’t mean when they side step disaster or step into fortune they simply have fate on their side. It takes a ton of knowledge and skill to have this type of predictive capability.

Real visionaries don’t just see how their market is going to move, they understand how to capitalize on this intuition. This is where “ideas” and “execution” go in two distinct directions, and where guys like Mark Zuckerberg get labeled as opportunists. The reality is that the vision is takes to execute what you see coming is what separates truly successful people from people that crete startups that will fade into history, or people that will excel at their chosen profession while others will flounder in mediocrity.


These success types make me tired. They are always moving. Always talking. Always connecting.

This isn’t to say they are the most liked people in a room. Being skilled at networking or politicking isn’t about being well liked, it is about knowing what two people need, and how to make sure you can benefit from connecting them long term.

This may seem like a negative viewpoint of this type of successful person, however this in my opinion may be the most valuable of skillsets. People that can network efficiently, and leverage their networks effectively, can effect not only their only success but that of those around them.

Unstoppable Forces of Nature

Let me first say that this person is not merely “driven.” Lot’s of “driven” people have failed and failed miserably. Being “driven” to me is like making a New Years resolution you keep until June.

I gave my staff a tangible example  of what I mean by being an unstoppable force of nature that brought me to tears. My thought process is based on this video, which you should watch:

A dear friend, Dana Lookadoo, was recently in a traumatic accident which took the use of her legs. She posted a video to a group Facebook page showing the physical therapy routine she is undergoing to walk again.

Dana wants to walk more than anything I have ever wanted to do in my whole life. That is fact. I can’t even understand how much she wants to walk because I have never faced this level of adversity.

Unstoppable forces of nature want success as bad as Dana wants to walk.

Unstoppable forces of nature want success as bad as someone drowning wants to breathe.

Most of us can’t understand this level of determination, because it probably isn’t natural. We aren’t evolutionarily wired to care this much about modern conventions of success. We are wired to care this much about things like starving, keeping warm, wanting to live.

Incredibly successful people have figured out how to take those evolutionary needs to survive and put them in overdrive as it relates to their chosen profession or project.

If you have read Good to Great, you will recognize that corporate leaders with this personality type may actually be a negative, because once a corporation loses this type of figure, it often loses its identity.

My Journey


Honestly, I don’t know where I fit most days.

I have a pretty good understanding of the marketing space, and have been able to stay ahead of the pack, but I don’t think I have done anything near large enough to prove I am a visionary in the field.

I am an extrovert, and pretty good with people, but I don’t have the energy level to be a pure networker.

Am I an unstoppable force of nature? I am stubborn, but I don’t have a notch in my win column yet to really claim this one either.

I think time will tell for me, and for most of us.

The positive is that you can grasp differing levels of success based on having differing amounts of these attributes. This isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Just as promising, many of these attributes can be learned to some extent.

For most of you however, this all spells doom. Because it means success, real success just won’t come to you. The American* Dream (fill in your own wild card here) isn’t just going to be yours because.

You have to be DAMN SUPERHERO

You have to be able to see things other can’t.

You have to be able to bring people together in ways they never though possible.

You have to be willing to destroy anything in your way, and desire success as much as most people desire living.

Most of you aren’t cut out for it. You feel you deserve it, because you have “drive”, and you do what is asked of you. Here is a brutal wake-up call, that’s the bare minimum. If that is all you have, you should accept your mediocrity now. Being mediocre isn’t as bad as pretending to care about success, but then putting forth effort that isn’t on par with the goal.

If you are offended, then I am talking to you. If you are offended you have a decision to make.

I know I do.

I promise to get better

To All it Concerns -

I have not been myself for the last three months.

Fatigue, stress, health issues, I can blame any number of things, but I have to blame myself.

The Dave the world knows is:




Optimistic to a fault



I haven’t been doing a very good job of letting any of these characteristics shine through.

I feel like I have been exceedingly:





…as of late.

This all ends today. I have found myself again, and feel ready to get back to being that man. A man my employees and partners can count on, and can laugh with. A husband my wife can put her trust in, and a father my kids love to see walk through the door.



You Never Know Where Pain Will Lead

A few days ago my wife asked me a simple question:

“Do you wish you never went to the University of Alabama?”

To give some background on this question, from 1998 to 2000 I attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I ended up there for two reasons; 1) I didn’t want to just go to the same school everyone else did , 2) It was alphabetically the first school in the guidance counselors file drawer of schools to apply to. I had applied to UF and got accepted to Summer term, but being me, I had to be different than everyone else.

What happened at UA changed me a lot. It was a pretty huge culture shock for me, and at an older age I realize it wasn’t the school’s fault, I just wasn’t mature enough to handle it. During my two years there I excelled at school, met some wonderful caring people, but was hopelessly depressed. It all culminated in the Spring semester of my Sophomore year when I came to a point where I couldn’t even get out of bed. I had a complete breakdown.

I came home the Summer of 2000, and decided, in a tough conversation with my father, to stay home, go to Florida Atlantic University for a while, and get healthy. I was broken. All my friends were off at University enjoying their lives, and I couldn’t cope. Even now, the pain I felt then is pretty vivid.

So this was the basis for my wife’s question. I think it is a question we all ponder when we make statements like , “If I could do it all over again…”

But here is the reality, if I never went through my time at UA, I would never have come home, and in the Summer of 2000 I would not have started dating my wife, and I likely wouldn’t have the life I have today. If you asked a 20 year old Dave if he would rather have a happy college life or an amazing future with a loving wife and family, I would have chosen the happy college life, because like most of us I only care about what I am feeling NOW.

This pattern has happened again and again for me.

Four years ago I took my last drink of alcohol. My drinking had caused pain for my family, and myself. The reality of the pain that I caused at the height of my drinking career is that the changes I have made to my life since then have made me a better husband and father than I was before. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t caused so much pain then. The pain broke me, and fueled my change.

Do I wish I could take away the pain I caused? Everyday. The way I handle that is learning from what I did, and making it my mission every day to make sure I make an amends for the past with my actions in the present.

In the last 18 months I have gone through a similar situation in my professional life. I had to leave a business I helped create and deal with ensuing issues related to that decision. It was extremely painful for me on a personal and professional level. I dealt with it in private, but couldn’t understand why it was happening. Today , for me, it is pretty clear I had to go through that pain to get CopyPress to where it is today, and help me shape this business in the correct way.

I have been asked time and time again, “Do you wish you would never have been involved in BlueGlass?”

The answer is no. I learned so much from that experience, and without that experience I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Pain is a part of life. When you are in the middle of it, it is impossible not to hate it. However, I have learned it is important to realize the pain is temporary, and it is impossible to know where life is going to take you based on how it refines you.

Where are you at?

Why running a startup hurts so good

Today I am tired. The kind of tired that burns your eyes, and fills your vision with a soft haze.

I am writing this because out there some other entrepreneur is tired too. That person may come across this post and see that they aren’t alone.

What is an entrepreuner? Well if you read any of the hundreds of blogs related to the topic it is someone whom lives in the valley or some other area where VCs give out cash and dudes are eating ramen, working 23 hour days, and creating the “next big thing.”

The reality is an entrepreneur is any person whom had courage as big as their dreams to create a business of their own. That means your local pizza restaurant owner, the pool guy, that kid mowing your lawn this summer for $15, and the next crop of venture funded hipster coffee addicts.

Here is something you won’t read in one of those blogs, running a startup hurts. The kind of bone crunching, skin tearing, chest pressing pain few people will ever feel.

Think about the concept:

1) You turn your ideas and dreams into a living breathing entity

2) This little baby needs food to grow, capital. Everywhere you turn to get this capital you are told that your baby is less than attractive.

3) So you take capital where you can, you scrape, and you move along the business plan you have created towards the promised land. But what no one tells you is that the finish line is mobile in this game, everyday it will move, sometimes closer, but most likely farther, or a little to the left.

Unfortunately for some of our families we were bitten with the entrepreneurial bug when we had other responsibilities. Eating ramen and working 23 hours a day isn’t exactly an option for someone like me, because I have 3 young boys I am looking to grow into men, and a beautiful wife whom didn’t exactly sign up for this.

My startup has a team of 50 people. It puts it in a weird category. We aren’t big and we aren’t small. We are a wild teenager that needs all the newest gadgets and a healthy allowance so that they don’t implode like a black hole. Every payroll run is marked on our calendar, and every major payment from a customer that comes in a day early is praised, and every major payment that comes in late is cursed.

And we do this all for the big payday right?


In fact if you are an entrepreneur just in it for the big payday, I am willing to throw cash down on your failure.

We are in this because we don’t know any other way. We are in this because of passion.

When I met my wife, I knew from day 1 I would marry her. This is the kind of passion I think few people ever realize in life, but it is something every real entrepreneur can identify with.

You love your idea.

You love your team, and what you have built.

You love the joy of every major win, and the pain of every major failure.

There isn’t a slot on your pay stub for love, but it is important to remember the benefit we get from loving what we do every day. We get to live our dreams. We get to help our teams realize theirs.

Today I am tired, but I know all of the energy has been exerted in an act of passion. The kind of passion people will talk about after I am gone, and that changes the people around me for the better.

So today it hurts, but it hurts so good.

Where are you at?

The False Entrepreneurial Failure Mantra


The Failure Mantra

Embracing failure is one of the first things you are all told to do once you set out on your first entrepreneurial effort.


Because the odds are stacked against any new business. The odds of the business being open after 5 years are less than 40%, but this doesn’t tell the full “failure” picture, as a heartbeat does not denote a success.

Failure, and its teaching benefits, are a mantra deeply engrained in the American startup culture.

Let’s look at what two of the most important entrepreneurs of our time had to say on the subject

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life

-Steve Jobs

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