Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Doug Mitchell reveals the SECRET

Doug Mitchell, "father of 2, husband of 1, leader of many" and a self-described geo-arbitrageur visited our Entrepreneurial Leadership class the other day with his colleague, Paul Gratton. In addition to offering up "The Secret" to the students and me, he also videoed his presentation and posted it on his website for The Mitchell Group LLC. It is also available at CreateWowMedia, Doug's newest venture. And for good measure, I've included it below.

I invited Doug to speak to our class for a couple of reasons: he is a very cool dude in a laid-back California sort of way. (except for that time he didn't recognize a newly well-rounded waitress, but that's another story). In fact, he moved to Des Moines from California, and THAT was a major reason I wanted him to speak to the students; he chose to come here, and sometimes the locals lose sight of the great lifestyle and opportunities here. Also, he is an entrepreneur trying to bring up-to-the-minute media technology to businesses. He is a great source of ideas and reactions for me; he likes cigars, and seems not to take himself too seriously. And he promised to reveal The Secret. Here goes:

Doug is a former rally car navigator and recent triathlete; before that he was an International Business Major who "fell into a sales job." It didn't take him too long to figure out that he couldn't be a "Rock star Salesman" and, more importantly, he didn't want to become one. As he put it, he asked himself "Is it worth it to try to become something you're not?" He left the world of smilin & dialin' and landed in his first virtual office with a start-up with just one month of cash. He asked for the job, and in 72 hours he and his new colleagues banged out a business plan; 46 days later they had a million dollars of financing and it was off to the races. And Doug decided he'd never get a "real" job again. They sold that company; he played a lot of golf, and then he joined another start-up.

As Doug put it, he reached his maximum potential at a start-up #2 and was tired of living on the road, so he asked himself what he wanted to do next. He decided to move away so he could have MORE
to go along with running his own business.

He had an idea for a new multimedia digital business; the software he needed didn't exist, and he didn't really know anything about multimedia gizmos. But he believed there was a real need for the service he had in mind. So he moved to Des Moines and started RentalMetrics. He plugged the gaps in his knowledge and expertise by asking Paul Gratton, another very cool dude (who studied at Drake). Here's Paul climbing on his homemade climbing wall with a couple of comments about the importance of staying on the move:

Doug and Paul asked some software developers to work with them, and they said "yes." They asked their business network if they liked the idea, and they said "yes." The market, however, said "no." But Doug and Paul had learned that they had developed something cool, so in just six months, their new business was something different and new again.

Have you noticed that Doug asked for jobs, asked for insight, and asked for help? Well, he did, and that's his SECRET. ASKING is powerful and underused tool these days, and Doug urged the students to use it.

He closed with some real life advice:

There is no job security.
Find out what you suck at.*
Give back.
Learn to deal with change--everyday.

If you want to ask Doug something you can reach him at the links above or at

Thanks Doug

*BTW, I'm pretty sure he means you not try to become a Rock Star at something you suck at.

1 comment:

Doug said...

nice summary mr. t. yes that's what i mean :) we're rockin' and rollin'. thanks for letting me emote in your class. i hope at least 1 student remembers this talk in their 30's when they're speaking in someones class.

let's get together soon.