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Joah Spearman
Austin
The Renaissance meets Austin
Interests: music, travel, life, running, spending time with friends, fashion, throwing parties, writing, books, culture, traveling, concerts, biographies, reading - magazines, about sports, beautiful women
Recent Activity
So many people have connected me to ideas, information, opportunities and people that have had profound benefits on the person I've become and the things I've accomplished so the only way I could ever fully repay these people is to do the same for other deserving folks who are one idea, one opportunity or one connection away from finding their purpose and winning at life. I think about the people who believed in me when I was in high school and college, the people who gave me some of my first professional gigs, the people who invested time and money... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
I almost broke into tears this afternoon when I arrived at the airport and joined the civil protest against Trump's anti-American, anti-Muslim and unconstitutional ban. Thankfully I held it together, saw a couple familiar faces and made myself heard even if only for a few moments as one of the hundreds of people repeating the words of the protest advocates and leaders holding the megaphones. I'm a black man and definitely didn't check many of the "have" boxes when I was growing up as a "have not", but I somehow made it to where I am in life thanks to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
As you may know, yesterday I had the privilege of being a guest lecturer at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. It wasn't until I was on the phone with my mother last night that she reminded me that I'd actually been rejected from this very business school which is how I ended up being a public relations major at UT instead. Thankfully it all worked out for the best - doing media relations for the Texas Longhorns, speechwriting in DC, advising FedEx, Sneak Attack, Style X, Bazaarvoice, Localeur - from a professional standpoint, but it's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
Every week for the last several years, I've forced myself to write 10,000 words a week. Some of these are notes that I save on my phone or in emails to myself, but some of it is what ends up being what I post here in Facebook or on LinkedIn/Medium and the like. I love to write. After Localeur, I may spend a good bit of time focusing solely on writing. Or maybe I'll do it more aggressively during my next venture. Either way, what I've come to learn about writing is that writing is not only a release of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
Since I travel 150-160 days a year and probably closer to 180 this year as we expand from 40 to as many as 100 cities, I've decided to maintain a pretty distributed team. We all get together every 3 months or so and speak weekly by teleconference, but I connect with each individual a bit more frequently often through text and email (still not a huge fan of Slack). My content lead is based in Seattle. My brand lead is based in Atlanta. My video/photography lead is based in DC. My engineering and UX leads are here in Austin. What... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
Micro-managing is neither something I was a fan of as an employee nor something I like doing as a manager. I've built my team around accountability, efficiency and trust as I recently pointed out. Micro-managing is a bit like a fire extinguisher approach to be used only in extreme situations. When you're feeling more pressure as a leader (because make no mistake, leaders get exposed to the organizational "fires" first) trying to literally push the team to a new level of execution, sometimes you have no choice but to apply more pressure until the new bar of excellence becomes the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
I try really hard not to play devil's advocate on other entrepreneurs or creatives. It's probably one of my biggest pet peeves. It's like some saying, "Hey, I know you've been doing this business for years and have thought about millions of things and had thousands of interactions with users and pitched hundreds of smart investors, but in the last 20 seconds since you first told me about your business, I had an idea that is definitely better than anything you or your team ever thought of and I have some feedback on your product that I haven't even taken... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
For those in the startup world, surely you've heard the phrase "Do things that don't scale" coined by YCombinator founder Paul Graham. I think about that particular post a lot because I look at my entrepreneurial history, from cutting grass for neighbors at 11 to selling bubble gum to classmates at 12 to advising companies like FedEx on social media at 25 to launching Sneak Attack then Style X and eventually landing on Localeur, truly my life's work (for now). I think about how fortunate I am, a kid who can remember all of one family vacation and once missed... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
My two cents on International Woman's Day... I was raised by a woman named Sabrena Spearman. I am engaged to a woman named Susannah Haddad. My director of content is a woman named Cate Smithson. My first board member is a woman named Heather J. Brunner. My advisory board includes women named Alicia Mooty, Autumn Merritt, Cristina Fisher, Erin Duncan, Rachael King, Sam Kidd and Susan Morgan. I serve on boards with women named Leslie Wingo, Laura Merritt, Piper Stege Nelson. Not to mention many of my best friends in the world are women named Stephanie Hatfield, Amber Madison, April... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
A couple days ago, I was at an event with a lot of tech leaders, founders and investors in Austin and my investor Brett Hurt, one of the best serial entrepreneurs this city has, was introducing me to one of the founders of TrueCar. The amount of pride Brett expressed in being one of my investors was plenty, but then he added, "Joah is a real warrior." It's probably the favorite thing I've had a fellow entrepreneur, a highly-successful one at that, say about me. I get that there's a time and place and value to things like experience and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
SXSW 2017 notes: Don't schedule more than 2 meetings/commitments in a day to leave room for serendipity. Don't pitch investors during SXSW. If you're going to get an investment, they won't be so lazy as to require you meet during SXSW. Just have good conversations with warm intros...if they lead to raising money, that's great. Do get a wristband or badge. I've done SXSW every way and the best way is with, at least, some access to see shows or talks. Do meet up with friends from out of town. You won't see them all, but do your best to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
I've learned there are two kinds of likeability. There is the kind where you have a packed birthday party. This kind requires popularity and the prospect of a good time. These are people you celebrate a Friday night with. Then there is the kind where you accomplish life goals. This kind requires believability (in what you're trying to accomplish) and the prospect of success. These are the people you celebrate major life moments with. When I was younger I cared way too much about the first kind, but now I look for people who are going to help me grow... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
Being a founder is constantly jumping one hurdle after the next. It doesn't stop. Ever.. When I see startups raise a ton of money pre-launch or announce a big VC raise in their first few months on Techcrunch, I don't think it's time for congratulations just yet. I actually fear for many of those founders, especially the first-timers. Yes, they may have secured more runway and more money for engineers and talent, but the next hurdle they'll have to climb will be a shit ton higher, too, without actually increasing their level of satisfaction significantly in the journey. I'd personally... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
A tech bro isn't just a man working in the tech industry. A tech bro is a man who gets a promotion or venture funding or job at a well-known tech company and thinks it's highly unlikely a woman or minority is deserving of said promotion or venture funding or that if they were deserving of it, because "tech is a meritocracy", they would have gotten it. Never mind the fact that white males are the gatekeepers at all companies, venture firms, institutional LPs and such. Basically this guy thinks he always outworks everyone, and don't dare bother him with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Diatribes by Joah
Think back a decade if you can. Think about the things that were happening in your life that caused you stress. I'm sure they were all consuming at the time. Think back a year and do the same. Now a month ago, one week ago, and finally think back to yesterday. If I've learned anything, it's that stress is the most temporary and short-lived element of our lives. It comes and it goes faster than money and has less meaning than feeling love or fulfillment or a sense of accomplishment. Stress is just a bully that picks on you when... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
If you're already starting to feel yourself become much less engaged in the presidential election now that the nominees are pretty much determined (particularly for Berners and reasonable Republicans), please consider doing some research on your state's, city's and county's candidates for races this November. You may not love your choices for the White House, but this isn't the only race of consequence this year. This is an extremely important time in our nation's history not only because of the Presidential election and its ramifications on our way of life from the Supreme Court to immigration and women's rights, but... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
The University of Texas at Austin was one of my top two choices for college since I was 12 years old. I'd learned about the school in part because I was born in Texas and everyone knows the Longhorns and in part because, in South Carolina, there was a computer program that provided information about colleges you should attend based on a personalized test measuring your skills and interest called SCOIS. No one in my immediate family graduated from a four-year college, and we grew up poor, so I knew it would take a lot of hard work and dedication... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
It's that day again. Father's Day, that is. I'd say it doesn't mean that much to me because I didn't have much of a father at all, but as I've grown older my feelings about this day have changed. For starters, my mom Sabrena was both mother and father to me in so many ways. She put the food on the table for my older brothers and me, the roof over our heads, the clothes on our back, and she put the motivation in our hearts and minds that we could be anything. I'm sure my life would be far... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
On Wednesday, I gave a talk to 22 employees from Nike HQ who are having a team retreat in Austin. I did this with Chase for a different team at Nike about a year ago too. These people can use Localeur to make decisions about where to eat and drink in Austin and today I'm in Portland about to use Localeur to determine where to have breakfast. This is exactly the kind of business I always wanted to build. Something that doesn't have to be limited to the confines of one brick and mortar store (Sneak Attack) or one event... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
The scar tissue of being a CEO never leaves you or heals. You carry the wounds with you like you carry your memory with you. There are more lessons, mistakes and trials I've had to go through in the last 3 years both personally and professionally than I could ever capture and share on Facebook. That said, all of those scars are what makes me who I am, what drives me to constantly keep improving, keep learning and keep pushing myself to be a better CEO the next day. It's also what let's me know that the path I'm on... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
President Obama showed me that a President doesn't just have the power to change your way of life for better or worse as Presidents before him did, but that Presidents can also have the influence of changing your perspective on life. JFK perhaps is held to this standard, but we never got the full benefit of seeing what this influence could do as he was killed prematurely. And I'm not going to lie and say that I haven't been scared for the past near-decade that Obama would be taken from us, too. Instead, thankfully, those "powers that be" tried to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
I think it's great that Susan Sarandon and Sarah Silverman plan on voting for Bernie. I loved Sarandon in Little Women two decades ago, and I got to see Silverman's standup at Oddball Comedy Fest a couple summers back, and she was fucking hilarious. That said, this whole "I'm not sure I can vote for Hillary if Bernie loses" stuff is complete nonsense and a total farce (even you're not that good of an actress Susan) and neither woman has spent a good part of their lives in the poor or working class or as an ethnic minority in an... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
What do you do with all the rejection? If you’re a startup founder, budding artist or pursuing any business or creative dream, here’s what you do with all the rejection you’re sure to face. This has been true for me my entire life going back to when I was in middle school and black kids said I was “acting white” because I was making good grades and white kids said I was “not really Black” because of those grades. It’s even more true today as I experience rejection and keep moving forward. 1. You face it. 2. You listen to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
Hear me out... I don't really think all that much about the billions I'm going to make with Localeur because most of that money is going to go to charities I support one day and not into owning a sports team or something silly, but here are some crazy numbers off the top that get me amped... TripAdvisor has about 400 million monthly users and a $9 billion market cap, which means they are getting a value of around $22.50 per user. Yelp has about 90 million monthly users and a $1.5 billion market cap, which means they are getting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah
If you want to know what I do during SXSW, here it is: 1) fundraising (All of last weekend during Interactive), 2) brand awareness (Interactive --> Music including our party), 3) storytelling (meeting with media and social influencers), 4) partnership development (all week, especially during Music), 5) have fun (table stakes to be effective at any of these activities), and 6) supporting my friends and the overall creative community (seeing shows and attending panels and events primarily); and 7) encouraging visitors to support the locally-owned and operated businesses here in Austin from Sunroom to El Chilito. These are the businesses... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Diatribes by Joah