Here we go with 2018

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Here we go with 2018!

Hard to believe it’s been about 10 months since I wrote my last actual blog post. And what a frustrating, insane, motivating, and incredible ten months it’s been.

Feels like a lifetime ago.

Long story short, over the past year I’ve changed just about everything about my tech business and the team that makes it alive.

Over the next year, I look forward to taking you through the journey of where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m heading.

Where I’m heading is simple: Before I turn 40 later next year, I will retire from ExchangeDefender/ Own Web Now Corp. Of course, retirement for someone that works 80+ hours a week looks different but one of the blessings of everything I’ve been through this year is that it’s reignited my passion for everything I do across my multiple companies.

Look forward to sharing it with you.

Happy New Year!


PHP 7.1 with Apache on CentOS 7.x

Linux, Open Source, System Admin
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Back in the long long ago you could roll out LAMP with a single yum command. In 2017, distro game has hardly kept up with the evolution in PHP and still comes with PHP 5.4 – to go to 7 in RHEL/CetOS 7 you have to do some surgery.

First remove all the php packages. Then let this rip.

yum install epel-release yum-utils

rpm -Uvh

yum-config-manager –enable remi-php71

yum install -y php71-php-pecl-memcached php71-php-mysql php71-php-xml php71-php-cli php

That’s all, just restart httpd and hack your /etc/php.ini (needs explicit definition for the time zone)

Universal Basic Income & Robots

Boss, IT Business
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You may have noticed Bill Gates, Elon Musk and tons of other technology executives talking about the reality in which we will need far less humans for basic tasks like retail, manufacturing, driving and so on – tons of jobs will be going away. Their solution: tax companies that leverage robots and kiosks in order to provide a basic income for folks that won’t be able to find employment. Two thoughts on this:

Between Bob & Robot, I’m gonna hire a robot. 100% of the time.

I don’t even know Bobby!

But here is what a robot will not do: Take personal time. Not show up for work. Show up for work stoned. Show up for work angry, hungry, sleepy, horny, bloated, sad. Robot won’t quit without notice. Robot won’t get into a fist fight with another robot. Robot won’t get too drunk at lunch, throw up on my couch and proceed to throw up and clog a community sink. Robot won’t come to work at 11pm and bang another robot, under the security camera. Robot won’t masturbate at work at 3am to Tumblr pissing videos.

Yes, it happened. All of it. F’n humans.

So no disrespect Bobby, but I’ll take a robot over you every damn day. At worst, the robot will just be there on time not doing any work – already better than 50% of the folks walking around.

Those that are seeking a massive tax as a deterrent to robots removing them from the job market.. sorry, but it’s not going to work and that brings me to the second point.

Why is this something tech CEO community is concerned with?

Well, who do you think will be building, programming and managing those robots? Not Bobby the truck driver or Bobby the manufacturing simpleton. Sorry, it’s going to be Bahrat (Bobby) Patel from whereever the IT labor is cheap and $1000 a month goes a long way. It’s the tech companies that are going to be bringing the next massive forced obsolescence of labor – much like they have for the past 4 decades.

But why are they talking about taxes all of a sudden? Since when are a bunch of billionaires from California concerned about the rust belt?

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that they are seizing the political climate in which half the country is almost religiously devout to the notion of lower taxes and not paying those lazy people to sit on their ass and collect welfare! Danggumit! Get a job!

Tech companies can quickly focus on developing robots and disrupting industries with minimal government interference and obstruction until it’s too late for people to understand their jobs just got jacked.

They are talking about a basic income, literally free money handed to you for the sole reason that you were born in the right place at the right time, because they know the current political climate will not allow it to be discussed, debated or have their agenda impacted.

It’s not the cost that has kept robots at bay – it’s the social norms. When supermarkets and warehouse stores came out with self checkout lines people hated them. To this day I age discriminate when I’m buying groceries at Target – If you look like you’re under 20 I am waiting in the longer line that has an older person working the register. You know why? Someone that’s over 15 knows what vegetables are and doesn’t have to play the fucking Pictionary game in the checkout line for 10 minutes trying to figure out the difference between garlic and white onion.

You’ll soon see self driving cars. And centrally managed 18 wheeler trucks. And farming. And, and, and until whichever industry you or your clients depend on to make a profit gets rid of enough humans for you to realize that you might never have a job again.

That’s depressing. But by talking about taxes enough people will get upset about a side argument without considering the big picture.

Adventures in Juicing

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As a software company we have the usual assortment of software/IT people. During our first staff meeting this year we talked about goals, both personal and professional, and as usual lots of people wanted to lose weight.

Cue the endless stream of unsustainable fad diets. But you can do pretty much anything for a month, right? I decided to play along and do the dumbest one possible – juicing. You just drink juice. Only juice. All day along.

j1I did extensive research and after about 10 seconds of scrolling down the Amazon search results picked the first cheap 4-star reviewed juicer. I paid $40 because I figured I would eventually throw a porkchop into it. That and I was not about to take my chances with my wife’s 16 gear, 8000rpm multifunction transformer of a blender. Pretty sure she loves that thing more than us.

Juicing, compared to regular cooking, is like wanting chicken for dinner and starting with slaughtering a live chicken in the middle of your kitchen. Blood and feathers anywhere. Except blood and feathers are easier to clean up – god help you if you spill beat juice somewhere – tattoo removal is easier.  Once you bring your veggies from the market you have to clean them and put them away (or they will get spoiled) – and it goes downhill from there when you actually start juicing. The prep basically involves cutting, pealing, dicing, measuring and grinding the crap out of everything you want to put in. And unless you’re looking for 10 minutes of setup and cleanup to make an 8oz cup of juice it also involves two large bowls for staging and juice. Which you have to clean up pretty much immediately or the stench will permanently bond itself to whatever surface it touches or gets poured into.

I’m kidding. It’s worse.

I really wanted to hate it

So I juiced for like 3 days before the WDW Marathon weekend and figured if I could run a marathon after a few days of no solid food this might be a nice thing to mix in to pre-race tapers. Much to my surprise, I saw no noticeable drop off in energy either leading into or during the race.

Then I went out to celebrate the marathon and got plastered. Oops.

After the marathon, I decided to give it a shot and actually do some research, try a few recipes, mix it up a bit. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s not what I expected. Here are two main takeaways.

0. You can improve anything with berries and citrus. The base for virtually every juice recipe is a cucumber and either spinach or kale – when juiced, among the most disgusting things you can ever drink. It’s like drinking lemon pledge after cleaning up a murder scene and just squeezing the bounty towel right into your cup. But toss in a few strawberries, blackberries or an orange in and it’s amazing.
0. It kills your cravings. Not in a traditional fad diet sense, where you just lose the willingness to live entirely. More like “I’d like to go to a burger joint… but I’m not really craving a burger”

To be honest, I really wanted to hate it but it doesn’t feel or have the effects of a typical crushed reduced calorie diet where you spend the whole day cravings a snickers while eating celery sticks. It’s just a nice cold drink every few hours and it’s very refreshing. In my experience there was no low energy, no cravings, no disgusting stuff. Except for the beet juice, it will turn your poop purple. But because it didn’t feel act like a diet, it didn’t feel like something I was trying to survive for a few hours or days.

Money-wise over the course of 2 weeks I’ve spent less than $80. Cheapest and the best fruits and veggies are at the farmers market – they tend to be the best and freshest too but that means you have to wash and ziplock them immediately. For run of the mill GMO frankenfruits, Walmart actually tends to do the cheapest by far (huge bag of apples or oranges for $5) but it’s a trade off since they are covered in pesticides you’ll spend more time pealing it.

nakedchickenAll in all, not something I’ll continue doing full time but I think I’ll be sticking with it for at least one meal/snack a day for the craving benefits alone. Cause nobody needs to live life craving a Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa, a taco that features a shell made of fried “chicken” breast at 11pm. Or at any hour for that matter.

How My Facebook Would Battle Fake News

Social Media
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Nobody is exactly happy with the mess of the election season but instead of facing our own stupidity head on, and accepting some responsibility for lack of interest or need to stay informed, most are lashing out at Facebook and it’s implication in the spread of “fake news.”

I have some bad news, there is no such thing as fake news: just people too stupid and gullible enough to fail for anything. Don’t for a second think that Facebook or Twitter are interested in the least bit in solving this nonexistent problem: Insane biased coverage drives the user engagement, keeps them coming back, makes them comment and get into heated debates with complete strangers. You’re expecting a public corporation, one that makes money off your attention, to minimize or eliminate your own addiction? Child please.

There is such a thing as fact based news. But good news is like a kale vegan restaurant – bland and disappointing in every way. You don’t need a PhD in economics or behavioral psychology to figure out why McDonalds serves borderline poison to billions while your health obsessed juice bar is run by a dirty hippie and can barely make rent.

We don’t want what is good for us. We want an experience.

So Mark, give me a billion and I’ll not just fix the PR nightmare Facebook is facing as the defacto pimp of manipulative conspiracy theories to the weak minded GED holders, I’ll make some $ for Facebook and keep people and crazy web sites even more glued into Facebook. Let’s face it, you know you cannot do a damn thing about fake news and any bit of censorship is just going to hurt your image until DC decides to regulate you: big media companies are already pissed off at you taking away their ad revenue. Let’s also agree on the fact that you don’t want fake news off Facebook, I get it, it’s a symbiosis – they need the eyeballs that Facebook delivers and you need their nonsense for those eyeballs to share with their echo chamber.

What I propose is a realtime news service, just like PBS. Just hosted and delivered in a millennial short attention span format. By a comedian. Who happens to be ridiculously attractive. And ethnically / culturally similar to them. We’ll have a frat bro, an old person, a barbie, etc.

Report facts. Not opinions of facts. Not responses to facts. Not round table discussions and interviews about facts. Just facts and the BS checker – turn it into a game show. “Trump says the AF1 is $4 billion? BS Checker says…. “

Person X said Y at Z. Turns out, it’s complex. Here is the true part. Here is the lie. Here is the stuff to put it into some context. Insert joke. Get a meme backgrop. Next.

Naturally, fake news sites now have to respond to the fact. But Facebook maintains credibility and mirrors what it’s user base is thinking – all the feels – like, love, sad, angry – users react to the facts instead of reacting to someone interpreting the fact in order to keep them tuned in.

What’s the outcome? Opinions, beliefs, values, thoughts and interpretations are separate from the actual fact. It’s almost like school but it’s fun. And it’s short. And it’s engaging and it prompts you for your response. Everything that Facebook is and everything people love about it.

With one additional benefit: Users don’t have to think. Like at all. Just click, laugh, OK, next. And isn’t that why everyone is on Facebook in the first place? Then the thousand left and right oped troll sites attach to the very same video – on which we can now sell ads, bam you get your billion back in a heartbeat. Call me.

Why we CANNOT get along

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I know, I know, we’re not supposed to talk about politics on Vladville and I’m certainly far from qualified to do so but… it’s what I do. Honestly, it’s about the only thing I do these days – talk to people. And since I don’t have an agenda or risk of losing sponsors or advertisers, I’m going to share with you as succinctly as I can why we won’t move together as one, why people will not get over their victory/loss and why people seem to only be violently honest online while peacefully mild mannered in person when you meet them.

First part is easy – we’re not coming together anytime soon because there is no money to be made on the difficult task of explaining complex problems we have on this round globe of ours. So CNN, Fox, MSNBC, multitude of web sites and yes, your friends on Facebook, will keep on sharing and feeding the flameworthy content that will keep you angry and engaged even if you swore off it like a crackhead quitting crack.

Second part is more complex but give me a moment to elaborate:

We had two flawed candidates. When we judge each other on the choices we’ve made, we don’t judge on the ideological choice that we made for the candidate that least repulsed us otherwise – we tend to associate blame and anger towards how the others could blindly dismiss the criminal tendencies of their candidate to consider them for the highest office in our land and our representative to the world.

Here is how this looks from someone that liked Hillary, if such a beast even exists (skip to the next paragraph if you’re a Trump supporter): We look at you not as a voter who supported some ideas that Trump espoused to because the media has done it’s job in portraying Trump as someone without morals or ideology – instead he is a candidate who boasts about his sexual assaults, cheats on his wifes, cheats on small businesses and has a long history of fraud, narcissism. Hillary voters look at Trump folks not as people who may have wanted a stronger stance on immigration, less regulations or typically conservative values but see them as racist, xenophobes who voted in Hitler.

From the standpoint of someone that voted for Trump (if you’re a Hillary supporter jump to the next paragraph) the election was between the least qualified, least polished candidate to ever run for a president and 15 other flavors of the crap that has failed them for decades. When it came to a general election it was not even a contest between two people because Hillary was  portrayed by the media and the FBI as a criminal who probably didn’t even deserve to be out of prison much less a white house. Trump supporters are horrified people would even consider such corruption to exist, much less rule over them.

So what are we left with?  We are passing judgement on one another, not as Americans, but as people who were foolish enough to  cast a vote for a flawed candidate that the media did it’s best to destroy. We are not interested in why someone voted a certain way, we angrily demand an explanation for why we excuse and (by insane proxy) support the vilest of the behavior we associate with the other side.

Now we’re supposed to come together as one nation? Well who or what is going to bring us together? Not our politicians, they thrive in a word of conflict where we don’t see each others as Americans but as polar ideological opposites. Not the media, god forbid you stop clicking or stop tuning in for your daily dose of hate and outrage. Not our social media which benefits when we keep our arguments and relationships virtual and click, click, click. There is no medium, outside of personal relationships, where we see the common ground with the fellow man, in which we can once again see good among us. Which makes me cringe for what kind of tragedy will put us together again.

Personally, I work with people all over the world, of all sorts of races and ideologies and still have faith in the things that make us similar will always be bigger than those than drive us apart. With this brief venture into politics that I do not wish to repeat often I implore you to remember that we, as people, tend to be good and tend to all want the best for our children. If we are at odds over how that gets done at times that’s more of a reason to work together instead of isolating ourselves apart. As I mentioned to someone that asked how I managed to run a business in this difficult time with all the hatred and divisiveness I simply said: “You deal with people because you believe they will do a good job. If I only worked with people who saw the world the way I do, I’d be a lonely & homeless. Things that unite us in business is a pursuit of success, not the battles that lead us to ruin.”

Do likewise gents. Do likewise. Find the common ground.

The Millennial Bust

Work Ethic
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Disclaimer: This is not a post about politics. I am not attempting to convince you to vote for one candidate or issue over another. Nor do I want this to be seen as a criticism of a candidate – this is a lesson about awareness and selling yourself during a job interview.

FullSizeRenderI went to a political rally with about as open of a mind as I possibly could have. I was excited to get my ticket and to drive across town to see what this whole movement was about. There is a difference between how things are edited and presented on screen and seeing it live.

I was very excited to talk to like minded folks from where I parked. I loved the small talk walking up to the hangar. The guys trying to hawk gear were hilarious and the supporters were honestly excited to see a guy that was going to help our country with serious problems we are facing. I spoke to a stay at home mom, an AC repairman, few retirees, an accountant – folks from all ways and means, some that even brought their kids to see what could be the next president of the United States.

Energy in the airplane hangar was remarkable. People were talking, cheering, high fiving, dancing. Then the huge boom of the jet, even an hour after the event was supposed to start, sent another huge roar through the crowd. The jet pulled up right next to the stage and I don’t care how much you love or hate someone, it takes a lot not to get excited.

Then he started talking…

Everyone that has ever been either side of the job interview table will tell you that it’s nothing more than a sales job. Tell me what you can do for this company. What sort of benefits do you offer? Tell me how your skills are relevant for this position. What are my advancement opportunities? Tell me about your ambitions, aspirations and future goals. How will my performance be measured and compensated?

“Look at this crooked media, they are so crooked”… and people started walking towards the exit.

“Look at this hangar full of people, we were going to just hold it in there but too many of you showed up so now we’re out here too!”… and people started walking towards the exit.

“Our politicians are crooked!”… and people started walking towards the exit.

The steady stream of people walking out not even 15 minutes into the speech made me constantly look over to see if they were being escorted or kicked out.. what sort of trouble could that many people cause?

“Hillary is so crooked.. Media is crooked.. Congress is crooked”… and people started walking towards the exit.

I stood there. I waited. We are going to make America great again. How?

I waited for another 20 minutes as the insult comic festival continued.

Then, like more than half of the crowd by that point, I too headed for the exit.

Millennial Attitude

There he was. A billionaire who poorly prepared for the job feeling entitled he could do it because we need to change things up.

He blamed the media, his opponent, his own party and everyone else for how poorly he was being treated. Without an ounce of accountability or humility.

He presented no ideas on how to solve any of the problems we are facing. Just whining. Misdirecting. Rambling and not getting to the point.

He lost half the people that were excited to give him a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly the same attitude I got from every millennial failure I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with: no accountability, no ideas, no work ethic, no pride – constant misdirection, whining about unfairness, excuses, and plenty of blame to pass on to others without any concrete ideas on how to solve the problem.

I am not here to offer you political advice. Vote your conscience.

Just remember that the interview is a sales process – it looks for accountability, for humility, for ideas, for character, for leadership and taking charge no matter how small or how big of a job you’re asking people to trust you with.

If half the people interviewing leave the room before you’ve made your point.. you’re probably not getting that job.

40oz of Determination

Boss, IT Business, Uncategorized
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Over the past few years I’ve dedicated much of my words on Vladville towards calling out the BS I saw as a threat to many people I do business with. As with all fraud, it all comes apart given the time. And with most of my nemesis long gone to mediocre jobs, prison or being a tricycle BBQ “chefs” – combined with my time taken up by new business ventures – I wanted to offer this eulogy.

It’s hard to sell people mediocrity unless you can convince them that everything they are doing and everything they have ever done is wrong.

But once you’re able to appeal to someone’s emotional insecurities, instead of their rational mind that can do basic math, there is no limit to the number of clichés you can string together to slowly bleed them dry with consulting, books, groups, seminars that push the notion of accepting inadequacy with a hint of who to blame for it all.

As one of the most miserable business failures recently said in a video (paraphrased): “I’ve never been happier than I am now and it’s because I’ve stopped trying to make money.”


This, in a nutshell, is the mentality that drives business failures insane: They try so hard to deny the proven value of hard work, discipline, accountability, cost savings, tradeoffs and long hours and their fantasy world inevitably always leads them to failure. Of course they feel this enormous relief when they stop trying to scam people and can finally be honest with themselves: next time I’ll try harder.

The Only Proven Repeatable Success Story

Hard work.

Unless you play poker or are remarkably good looking with terrible morals, there are no shortcuts.

Nobody is going to write a book about this. You won’t see a New York Times Bestseller “How I Became Wealthy By Working Myself To Death” at the airport. It’s not fancy. It’s not glamorous. There is no “MTV Cubes” show with Robin Leach fawning over someone’s business book bookshelf or papers on their work desk. It’s not a fantasy – it’s reality – one that people so desperately want to escape from.
Why? Because they are building nothing. Because they have no passion for what they can accomplish. Because they, ultimately, do not believe in it. If you don’t believe what you’re dedicating your limited time on this earth is valuable and worthwhile then it’s going to fail. Sorry. Don’t like the truth, go buy a Subway franchise.

But never, ever, put down the value of hard work. I hereby humbly submit this eulogy to all those who thought they could cheat and fraud their way to the top, may the hotel bars give you some peace that you never found in convincing people they don’t need to dedicate every ounce of effort towards realizing their dreams.

To hard work and people that actually do stuff. I salute you.

P.S. While I’m sure a scammer is born every day, I’ll dedicate more of my time on this blog towards things I’m actually doing these days. But if you ever need a WWVD just ask them how working less is going to make you more successful and enjoy the fantasy.

Of Politics & Baby Steps

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I try not to get into politics on this blog. My extent of political evangelism is somewhat limited to what drives my personal entertainment: I post Facebook political memes to egg people on, I’ve been to rallies to people watch and random social media name calling that really brings out the best in people. Truthfully, what concerns me the most aren’t the people that we’re electing but the people that are electing them – and their dependence on the big government – and I’ll make this quick.

First, it’s difficult to talk about politics because you can no longer have a political opinion without the responsibility to defend everything about it. Standing for something means you’re automatically standing against something else and you’re liable to explain away any bit of criticism. You have to rationalize your opinion with folks that want lower taxes and but higher government spending on things that are important to them.

Second, it’s hard to explain the world to those that haven’t left their bubble. I’m not a fan of wars or of the military industrial complex – but I understand that much of our wealth and prosperity is due to our ability to enforce the petrodollar which gives us the ability to print unlimited quantities of our currency and rack up significant debt. So we’re in places we shouldn’t be in, doing things we shouldn’t be doing and as a superpower people look to us for help in every conflict. Where is the line between world police and superpower?

Finally, it’s hard to be a normal person that has to make a binary choice from options that don’t represent them. You have two choices (and two more unqualified ones) for the leader of our nation who have made their greatest strides breaking the law and even the common decency. For many of us it’s not a vote for something we want to stand for but for a vote against something we detest and find repulsive.

What really worries me

We don’t have a serious and qualified alternative to the big government: neither party is interested in limiting the size or scope of the government – the only part they differ on is whether they want to grow the government directly through services or if they want to create big tax cuts for the rich government contractors or corporations that underpay people and make them dependent on welfare. Neither is arguing about anything smaller, both just think their approach makes us grow faster. Or roll the dice and vote for unqualified isolationists that are afraid of wifi or failed elementary school geography.

An overwhelming majority of our country is too dumb or too naïve to understand the problems we face and is being educated about the issues by the very people that only benefit from having us dumb and split. I grew up in an era that had journalists that covered facts – news these days covers opinions of facts and the more entertaining and outrageously dramatic they are the better for the ratings – their agenda is not to educate you but to entertain you and keep you angry enough to see the next guy get slammed – the same as WWF in 1990s. The most popular media outlets, with the most attention, aren’t your typical Sunday shows but social media videos and memes that oversimplify and rile people up.

I don’t have a political viewpoint to share but I have a bit of advice: The issues we face as a country will not be solved by this election or the next one that will start as soon as we know the results of this one. Our government will get bigger. Our representatives will become less accountable and if the recent history is an indication – facts will seem to matter less and less.

Ask not what you can do for your country or what your country can do for you, ask yourself what you can do for your family, friends and community. In a complex world where everyone is seeking to divide us, let’s ask ourselves what we can do to help one another. Baby steps.

Of Hustlers and Entrepreneurs

Boss, IT Business
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I love my boy Dre. In the 13 years that I’ve known him, he has made every single tshirt, hat, hoodie, jacket, flyer, visor, screen printed junk and piece of apparel ExchangeDefender logo has ever been on. And trust me, I got a fantastic deal on every single one of those.

My boy Dre is the ultimate hustler. He has a few tables at the local flea market and in the dozen years I’ve known him there is no trend the man hasn’t made money on. From apparel to screen printing to bootleg DVD and CDs (that a while ago) to web sites and the latest addition to the family: 3D printed stuff from souvenirs to anything you want.

Yet every few months that I see him we have a Come to Jesus meeting about working 80 hour weeks, living at the market, not being able to find good help… peppered with the usual dose of “check out my new business” and “making money doing this new thing”. The conversation always ends like this: You need to focus on building a business that lasts longer than your latest gimmick. 


Entrepreneurs Build Businesses

All entrepreneurs are hustlers.

Not all hustlers are entrepreneurs.

I know it’s en vogue to say “I’m an entrepreneur” because it sounds good but calm down Jimmy Joe Bob, a 3D printer and a Facebook page make you as much of an entrepreneur as it makes you god on day four. Hustlers take spare time and Google to make something that brings them a few bucks – they make a pitch, make a few sales and that’s it – once they realize it involves actual work and that the hobby isn’t fun when it requires time and people.

Where the hustle ends, real business begins. This is why real entrepreneurs take ideas, usually simple thing that any hustler does, and they build them to scale. With people. With process. Sustainable over time.

How do you know if you’re a hustler or an entrepreneur? What happens to your “business” without you.

Simple. Hustlers keep on shifting cash from one mouse trap to another, in perpetuity.. and the real tragedy is, they can’t outrun their scam. Because a real business doesn’t dodge it’s bills, talk a big game about “great new things in works” while dodging phone calls and maintaining zero accountability. It works in the short term, because they really don’t know any better, but in the long term things fall apart without people, partners and vendors you can trust in business.

Don’t be a hustler. If you are one now, forget about the next idea and focus on being an entrepreneur that builds a real business – one that doesn’t need you and as such outlasts you.