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Steven Cox
San Diego, CA I am truly happiest in the pursuit of a worthy goal.
Interests: music, business, real estate, finance, entrepreneur, goals, investing, public speaking, internet, goal-setting, songwriting, stock market, start-up, commercial real estate, startup
Recent Activity
I've always thought it would be cool to become the next Patron or Grey Goose. I could imagine all the red tape, regulations, formulas, and conversations about product differentiation that has to happen. Thinking of launching an alcohol product? Check out the new blog post from Bon Affair's CEO, Jayla, about her new wine spritzer. It talks about some of the hurdles in becoming the next happy hour selection of the world. Bon Affair is a new startup based in San Diego, CA. I just got my first case in. Continue reading
About a month ago, I did a post on losing 10 pounds. I had put on a few pounds and wanted to get the weight off as I (a) feel better, (b) look better, and (c) protects the strain on my lower back. I wanted to go from 198 to 188. A month later, here are the results: Well, that sucks. It's irritating to think that I didn't hit the goal, and even embarrassing that I have to give an update on my blog that I didn't do what I set out to do. I could wallow in my guilt and shame, but that's not like me. So, here's the assessment on what went wrong, and how I can make the next 5 weeks better. What Went Wrong? In life and in weight loss, there is a four-step process we need to do in order to hit our goals. (Note: you can use this formula for any goal you want to accomplish): 1. Clearly decide on what we want. 2. Understand the price we must pay in order to get it. 3. Commit to paying that price. 4. Get leverage on yourself Let's see where I goofed up. Deciding what I wanted. I had a goal in mind. I wanted to lose 10 pounds in six weeks. The goal was clear, concise, and written down. So, that was good. Understanding the price to pay. Second, I understood the price I needed to pay in order to get it. This helped... Continue reading
Recently, I've started noticing these stickers everywhere. They remind me of a great piece of life advice John Assaraf recently shared with me, encouraging me to make a shift in how I spend my time. A thread runs through this simple sticker and John Assaraf's words: simply put, spend more time pursuing your passions than you spend toiling on tasks you despise and you will enjoy a higher quality of life. By pursuing things you're passionate about, you end up working faster and smarter towards its achievement. It also is simply less stressful. I got a little curious about where these cool stickers are coming from, and I came across Cloud Star makes natural dog treats and hypoallergenic grooming products for dogs. They also give at least 10% of what they make to non-profit organizations because they believe "doing good business should include doing good things for others". I think this little sticker just got cooler. Continue reading
Today, I'm at a wedding in Orange County CA and got to spend time talking with the father of the bride - a dapper chap with opinions and life experiences to back them up. We got on the subject of life lessons, in which he shared with me his view on how to get along with others. Thus, I bring you the quote of the day - direct from the wedding chapel: "Treat people well. For, the toes you step on today may be connected to the ass you might have to kiss tomorrow." Continue reading
"Sound moves in all directions, and so do ideas.” Jared Ficklin I'm blown away with how TED speaker Jared Ficklin uses physics to create stunning visuals out of sound. His work blurs the boundaries between music, design and science as he uses the actual physical qualities of a sound wave to create visuals. And yes, there is fire involved. It's definitely worth taking ten minutes to check out his work and open your mind to some new ideas this morning. Continue reading
Pfaff Porsche Automotive from Toronto needed their target customer to visualize themselves in the new 911. What better way than to literally SEE their new car in the driveway of their home. Yes, some would view it as a bit invasive, but I think it works with a brand like Porsche. Although the idea is not applicable to all businesses, the concept of getting creative is. What should YOUR customers be visualizing with your business? Continue reading
This morning, I stepped on the scale only to see that I've quickly added 10 pounds over the past few months. I can immediately tell because my clothes are a little more snug and my lower back starts to ache. Not acceptable. The Goal In six weeks, August 31, I want to drop from 198 to 188. What I'm going to do about it: Drop sugar and alcohol Make sure I'm working out 5 times a week - mix between cardio and weights Meditate three times a week Stop eating by 7:00 pm and focus on more protein and complex carbs (Just getting back from the Hillcrest Farmers Market in San Diego) Milestone I'm also going to book a photo shoot with my girl for the first week of September. We did one last year and I was in great shape for it. This way I know that I have a deadline and can create added incentive to ensure I'm back in good shape. The Takeaway There are a ton of things I could do to get back to the weight I want, but it all boils down to making good decisions and staying disciplined about it. By focusing on just the few key aspects that will get me to my goal, it makes the goal more attainable and less overwhelming. Also, by committing to you, it creates more positive pressure for me to keep my word. I'll be checking in periodically to give updates on my goal. Continue reading
"So, I’d like to raise this toast to honor not only those who came before us, but to celebrate you. And whether you’ve been here, six years, six months, or six days, this is now YOUR story. YOUR company. YOUR journey. And the past won’t hold a pittance to where we’re going to go together." Continue reading
I had the opportunity to go on the Brian Britt Show and talk about music and the TakeLessons story. Check it out below: Listen to the podcast. The transcription is below if you'd rather read. Brian Britt: Fantastic. So really what you're saying is you took your ability as a techie and obviously you were involved in a lot of start up companies. you took that ability and you married it together with a need for all these people who probably weren't very techie to be able to come together and find eachother, almost like a for teachers. And I met my wife on, and we have so many friends and even family members who have met their spouses on so, that's a perfect example of people who may have never found eachother who can come into the relationship knowing something about each other, in this case the student or the parent, who's going to be very protective of who they allow to come in their home, they can know a lot about this music instructor and know that you guys stake your reputation on making sure that this person had the proper background check done. I love it. So let's go back to the story, because this is such a fascinating story to me, So you had this epiphany, how did you go from, cuz we all have these kind of great ideas in the shower or the margarita bar, how did you go from that... Continue reading
I had the opportunity to go on the Brian Britt Show and talk about music and the TakeLessons story. Check it out below: Listen to the podcast. The transcription is below if you'd rather read. Brian Britt: I'm here today with Steven Cox, he is the founder and CEO of America's largest music lesson company, TakeLessons, the website is, which is an online service that matches music teachers with students in over 3,000 cities across America. I just think this is one of the neatest ideas I've ever heard! I noticed that your mission is to make a positive lasting impact on millions of people through music. How did you come up with the idea of TakeLessons? Steven Cox: Sure, so we very specifically picked those particular words, if you look at our mission to make a positive, lasting impact. So, first of all, positive. When we first started off, it's something that I personally believe in as well, if you're going to make some kind of impact, let's make it as positive as you can on as many people as possible. I think that some folks are built to make a good impact on 5 people, on 50 people, but we personally believe we have the option to make that sort of impact on millions and millions of people all throughout the nation. I come from a very musically oriented family. My grandparents cut records, my parents cut records, all my brothers are still session players and they... Continue reading
My buddy, Nadav Wilf, just got back from an incredible trip to Neckar Island with Richard Branson. I was offered to go, but there wasn't a guarantee that Mr. B was going to be there, so I took a pass. (I have another blog post brewing about my own issue of saying 'no' to too many things, but that will have to wait for another day). Here is his facebook post on what he learned from Richard last week. "Charisma: what makes some people charismatic and others not? Genes? Good looks? What does a person like Richard Branson have that we may not? Consider that charisma is simply being present for others. Being a space for others to get who they really are, what is possible for them to achieve and who they can be for others. I had the pleasure of getting to spend time with Richard this past week and the man is a present and authentic. He can pick up the phone and be with anyone in the world, and he genuinely wants to be with you...that's true charisma and we all have it:) Love you all for who you are." Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. Moderator: One final question, not that it's in the near future, I would assume, because, just the passion that you all have put forward here, and I don't want necessarily hardcore specifics on this. What's your exit plan? Where does this go, and when do we move on to something else or deal with a change of life or whatever, alright we'll start with you. Scot Chisholm: I mean we definitely have though about that certainly in the context of investor discussions. But more honestly we don't put a whole lot of time thinking about what is our exit strategy. We focus much more on how we build a scalable and value adding company to our customers and trust that there will be an exit eventually, whether that's being purchased by someone that may find use of our technology, or customer base source, or its IPO, or whatever it is. We trust ourselves with that opportunity and the option's on the table eventually. Right now what's much more important for us is just keep our heads down and focus on our customer base and making sure that they're getting value on their product. Mitch Thrower: Having gone through different liquidity scenarios, Active went public of course this year. And going through building a new company, I will definitely say that a private liquidity event would seem... Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. In this segment, the panelists talk about finding work-life balance while starting a business. Question from the crowd: (barely audible) What's the [xx] business model? They're all similar because they're online. What are your additional challenges? What are you doing to raise capital in terms of raising capital for growth...? Jimmy Hendricks: I guess being, I mean it's interesting if you look at a lot of business models, we're connecting two people. Every business model if you guys look at it, we're all different, and a lot of us are actually very similar in trying to connect two people together as most business models. It's connecting non-profits with donors, connecting customers with businesses, music lessons with students. But always the biggest challenge is figuring out if your business model is scalable and provides value. I think that's the outcome of it, it's not about what industry it's in, it's like TakeLessons. I know it's gone through some iterations and they've really figured it out based on pricing and a bunch of other factors, but a lot of times it's that concept tweaking every single month the biggest challenge is finding sustainability because if you don't find sustainability, raising money gets you from point A to point B. But if you want point A to like N, you need to find sustainability, which is how do I... Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. In this segment, the panelists talk about making connections and improving the small business community in San Diego. Moderator: These guys are fantastic. Let me throw it open for you all. If you have any questions you want to bounce off these guys, they're very candid, very open. So feel free to do it. Just raise your hand, or shout out. Nobody? Okay. From the crowd: (barely audible)Do you think the small business community in San Diego... Moderator: Question is, what can the small business community in San Diego do to help other small businesses? Any response? Lars Helgeson: I think events like this. Encouraging people that are starting up, to learn from other people's stories to know that their ideas can turn into something of value; that their idea can go from just an idea to fruition. I think that so much of when you first start off is inspiration, you know, feeling like, okay, there's someone else that was able to do this. We all took different paths, but we all made it to where we are through a lot of hard work work and made some good connections and everything but none of us are so extraordinary that anyone else in this room couldn't do the exact same thing. And I think that that's an important message that can be conveyed people that... Continue reading
As a CEO, one of my biggest jobs is to oversee a culture that represents our core values of resepect, perseverance, an ownership mentality, constant and never-ending improvement, and building things we're proud of. I believe it's the duty of corporations to be more than just a profit machine. I think they owe it to their team to build an ecosystem where the employees can build friendships and skills that last a lifetime. I teach my team that the company will always continue to evolve, and people will come and go. But while a team member is here, we want to see them learn, grown, become better, make friends, hit goals, and become an all around better human being. And if we can build a culture like that, everyone that comes into the company will leave more confident and empowered than when they came in. I also believe that the younger generation will seek out companies that share this viewpoint. They have seen the downfall of CEO's and companies - from Enron, to MCI, to the 2008 bank collapse. And this has been reflected in society with the Occupy movements. Future talent expects more out of their companies than what the old guard is ready to give. Thus, the best future talent will be attracted not just to the companies that pay the highest, but to the companies that pay well AND share the same belief systems as the people they wish to attract. I love seeing one of our... Continue reading
Average companies give their people something to work on. Exceptional companies give their people something to work towards. When thinking about your startup, focus on the mission. Find people passionate about not only WHAT you do, buy WHY you're doing it. Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. In this segment, the panelists discuss their varied experiences with their mentors. Moderator: When you were getting started, were there any mentors or resources that helped you achieve success? Lars Helgeson: I'm probably an anomaly on this one because for whatever reason, I never actually had a mentor. I did a lot with what they were talking about with iteration, you know, where you try things and some of those, a lot of those, a-ha moments don't work. I guess it's a lot of hard work, at least from my perspective. I never really had that person that I look up to and say, you know, this is someone that has so many years of experience and everything. I think that in some ways it's good, in some ways it's bad, you know? If you have a mentor, they can kind of guide you and tell you not to make the really stupid mistakes, but sometimes, without a mentor, you kind of figure those things out on your own and sometimes those mistakes end up being good things. So, you're good and bad. Moderator: Good point. Jimmy Hendricks: For me, I've had several, I guess. I've been in and out of business. When I first got a job at I took the job because my boss had been a manager at CitySearch. And so I... Continue reading
If a person is given a title in the company, it means they hold a certain rank. VP's, C-level means they have a high rank. But the title doesn't make someone a leader. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you – not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they WANT to. Leadership can't be given through a title. It must be earned. You can have a title, yet not be a leader. And you can have a lower title, but become an incredibly impactful leader. Choose to lead. Continue reading
Come be a part of the super-hot San Diego startup scene. I'll be speaking at the event tomorrow, June 9th. Startup San Diego will host its launch event on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at the UCSD Rady School of Management from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is open to entrepreneurs, students, industry, and organizations that support the San Diego entrepreneurial community. Admission is free. Startup San Diego launch event: Date: Saturday, June 9, 2012 Time: 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M Location: UCSD Rady School of Management (see directions below) Agenda includes Superstar Speakers from across California Open to Entrepreneurs, Startups, Students, Industry, Support Organizations, Industry Refreshment and lunch are served during networking session Admission is Free: Registration Links: Startup San Diego is the latest chapter of Startup California, a statewide effort to support the growth of startups in California in collaboration with The Startup America Partnership. The Startup America Partnership was launched at the White House in response to President Obama’s call to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. The Partnership is bringing together an alliance of major corporations, funders, service providers, mentors and advisors working to dramatically increase the prevalence and success of high-growth enterprises in the U.S. AOL co-founder Steve Case chairs the partnership and the Kauffman and Case Foundations are founding partners, providing initial funding and strategic guidance. For more information on the Partnership, and follow at and EVENT AGENDA 9:00 - 9:30 – Sign-in and Networking... Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. Topic: The Digital Frontier - A Showcase of San Diego's Entrepreneurial Innovation. In this segment, the panelists discuss what makes San Diego a great place to do business. Moderator: You all are running really dynamic and exciting business is right here in San Diego. You could be doing this anywhere in the world, the work you're doing you can do from anywhere. Why are you here in San Diego, and none of you are allowed to answer the question because of the weather, okay? So, Scot, obviously, you wanna talk about that. Scot Chisolm: Well, we were working at local firms. So, it was just part we were already here and we have a phenomenal team that came out of San Diego and I think, you know, moving forward I think everyday gets more exciting to have a firm, especially in the technology and Internet space, in San Diego communities growing, so that makes it really exciting for us and to see other companies have successes around us and to have more of these type of events that we were just talking to Steven about don't have any event in their office to watch the Padres and tech community together at least to our understanding that's the type of stuff that didn't really happen two or three years ago and it's really awesome for our staff... Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. Topic: The Digital Frontier - A Showcase of San Diego's Entrepreneurial Innovation. In this segment of the video, the second of eight clips, the panelists discuss how we raised money to fund our businesses. Video Text: Moderator: Let me ask you a question that probably anybody in the audience out here would love to know who's in a position where they're thinking about doing something like what you all have done. Where the hell did you get the money? Scot Chisolm: Do you want me to start? Moderator: Sure, go ahead. Scot Chisolm: Beg, borrow and steal.Yup. We leveraged the initial company off of credit cards to be honest with you, and we did anything we could to get ourselves full time. I used to work at Booz Allen Hamilton, and my business partner had worked at General Dynamics and we literally did anything, borrowed from family, took our credit cards just to get full-time to give us about six months so we could build a prototype and get it to market, and then from there we raised a small Angel round, and did it a little bit. It was a lot to work out so we did it in chunks rather than raising a huge round at first. And now we're, you know, we've raised about three million and we're probably doing the institutional round... Continue reading
I'm convinced that attitude is one of the biggest factors on our level of success and happiness. The same event could happen to two people, yet they would 'see' it differently based on their lens, which is made up on their view of the world. Negative. Positive. Victim. Victor. Strength. Weakness. Love. Indifference. All depends on the attitude. Thus, life becomes 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Continue reading
On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. Topic: The Digital Frontier - A Showcase of San Diego's Entrepreneurial Innovation Video Text: and as always our moderator for the last years has been George Chamberlin. Welcome George Chamberlin. He'll take us the rest of the way, and I'll see you at the end. Good morning everybody ! Get to all see today. San Diego day and thanks for being with us. These six degree events have been great and you know every time we do one of these we have a bigger crowd out so it's great to see it growing and expanding I know Matt's put in an awful lot of work on this and deserves a lot of credit and a lot of thanks for what he's does to make Six Degrees become a real here in San Diego. Matt, well done buddy, Thank You very much. It's so it's kind of neat. Wait, wait. I should mention that that was selected in the occurrent crop of what we call at the Daily Transcript our Young Influentials and and we did a round table with them recently, had a transcript that was written about in the paper and on the website source find out about him. We've got a bunch of guys here that probably in the future will be included in our young influentials group and a lot of you in... Continue reading
Good news. TakeLessons selected as a San Diego Venture Group 2012 “Cool Companies” – Related articles Music Lessons Start Up Wins $20,000 ( Continue reading
Next week, I'll be speaking on a panel in San Francisco on building an Internet Marketplace. Register here: This is the second event in a series of marketplace panels co-sponsored by and Crosslink Capital. The event will be hosted at Rocket Space - one of the premiere technology incubators/work spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. The focus of this panel will be on the "best practices" behind building a peer-to-peer Internet marketplace. The main questions that will be addressed are: 1. Is it better to focus on building one side of a marketplace, rather than both sides at once? 2. How do you earn trust and credibility/prevent fraud in Internet marketplaces? 3. How can entrepreneurs use Internet marketplaces effectively for their own businesses? · Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk · Matt Mickiewicz, Co-founder of 99designs · Bo Fishback, Co-founder and CEO of Zaarly · Doug Feirstein, Co-founder of Liveops, Founder/Co-founder, CEO of · Steven Cox, Co-founder and CEO of · Sunil Rajaraman, Co-founder and CEO of (Moderator) Gary Swart Gary is the CEO of oDesk is the world’s largest online workplace, enabling businesses to instantly hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce. He has a passion for helping small businesses succeed with more than 18 years of experience in the enterprise software market. Before oDesk, as the VP of Worldwide Sales for Intellibank, he was responsible for building the sales organization, but Gary's enthusiasm for small businesses was born during his tenure as... Continue reading