2012: A Maverick Space Odyssey, Painted Picture and Lessons Learned

I’ve been on a bit of a whirlwind West Coast tour. First stop was Vegas for my buddy Andy Jenkins’ bachelor party. It was great to see some of my Internet pals like Jeff Walker, Frank Kern, John Reese and Mike Filsaime for a quick 24 hours. The funny thing is that this wasn’t a wild party like the movie “Hangover”. It was somewhat tame – just hanging in Jenkins’ suite with good friends and telling stories. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone!)

Since I got in pretty early and I knew the other guys would be sleeping – I rented a car and heading off the Agassi Prep Academy out to a pretty rough section of Vegas beyond the strip.

A few weeks before for our Maverick ‘Sky’s the Limit’ adventure we brought in Ben Sayeski, Chief Education Officer and Darian Borowiak, Director of Development for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. They really go into our “Hook Me Up, Yo” business session, with Ben even wearing the infamous clock when explaining what the school does.

We asked them to compile a list of questions from the kids about entrepreneurship. Then we had Maverick members roundtable the discussion and provide some real-world insights from success business owners. I came bearing the DVD recording and to get an inside glimpse at what the school was doing.

Agassi Prep (www.agassiprep.org) works with children K-12 in an underprivileged area to get them into college. Last year was the very first year they graduated a senior class and I was excited to learn about a 100% success rate for getting into college. I’m a huge advocate of education that’s done in an inspiring way with real results. I popped my head into one classroom taught by Prof Russell Andrews-EL and it was just awesome the way the kids were on the ground spread out learning Trig with whiteboards. He tried to create a similar environment to college, with less structure and without the formal desks.

One of my favorite structures at the school is the bridge that Seniors get to cross after graduation. It symbolizes a transition from high school to college – only graduating seniors have this privilege. At the end of the bridge is a turnabout and that’s where the graduates write notes back to the next class behind them. I love the symbolism this ritual invokes.

I love the symbolism of this bridge
I love the symbolism of this bridge

After touring the school and seeing what is going on there, I’m hoping the Maverick members will come back to do a guest lecture on entrepreneurship in the near future and work to mentor some of the kids there.

Regardless, I still only got about 2 hours sleep before flying out to Park City, UT. That was the site of our Maverick team’s strategic retreat. More on that in a minute because I want to share our “Painted Picture” for 2012 and give you some insights into what I’ve learned this year about creating an exceptional organization.

But before we get there, I want to share some pics from my final West Coast destination, the Mojave desert. Last Monday was a truly historic event with the unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise rocket ship, the first commercial space vehicle.

As you might know, I’m #144 on the list to go into space with Virgin Galactic. This is a significant milestone with flight-testing starting on the rocket immediately. The best estimates are mid to late 2011 for the first flight (and I’ve approximated I’m flight #26 if all goes well).

Rolling into Scaled Composite’s HQ in Mojave I was hoping the weather would cooperate since it had rained for a full 2 hours on the ride up from LA. I thought it was a good sign when I saw SpaceShip 1 with a rainbow behind it. (Note: SpaceShip 1 was the first commercial spacecraft to go into space twice in 2 weeks and win the $10M X Prize. This is the technology Virgin Galactic licensed.)

SpaceShip One with a rainbow behind it
SpaceShip One with a rainbow behind it

Over 800 future astronauts, VIPs, dignitaries and politicians came in for this historic event, including Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Richardson from New Mexico.

Governor Schwarzenegger opening remarks
Governor Schwarzenegger's opening remarks

Check out the name badge I got – probably one of the coolest ones I’ve seen:

probably one of the coolest name badges ever
Probably one of the coolest name badges ever

They told us it was the coldest day in the Mojave – there were wind gusts of wind 70-80mph. It was a good thing they gave everyone some nice jackets – but that still didn’t really keep up warm enough. But who cares? It was amazing seeing SpaceShip 2 come down the runway. They had a pretty major light show with music going to set the scene.

Here’s the first glimpse I got of the craft:

Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2 unveil
Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2 unveiling

And here I am in front of SpaceShip 2 looking pretty frickin cold!

Freezing my balls off at Spaceship 2 unveil
Freezing my ass off at Spaceship 2 unveil

Here’s a little video of the unveil including Governors Schwarzenegger and Richardson breaking champagne bottles to christen the ship. (I was a tiny bit worried about them breaking bottles on it.)

The party started immediately after the unveiling in some really cool tents and lounges they had set up for the night – they even had an ice bar with glasses made out of ice.

cool lounge tent that later got blown away
Cool lounge tent (that later got blown away)
Absolute Icebar Mojave
Absolut Icebar Mojave
Martinis with “ice diamonds” from the actual Ice Hotel in Sweden. Supposedly it would take 2 days for this ice cube to melt
Martinis with “ice diamonds” from the actual Ice Hotel in Sweden. Supposedly it would take 2 days for this ice cube to melt

Everything was perfectly choreographed – except for the weather. I’m sure they weren’t expecting the hurricane-type winds we got. In fact, they shut the party down early at 7:30 and immediately cleared everyone to the busses to get us back to LA. It’s a good thing too, since I heard later the press tent and the other party tents blew down. Crazy!

I actually ended up sitting on the bus next to Dr. Peter Diamandis, the founder of the X-Prize and one of our previous Maverick Business Adventures® guests. I love talking to Peter and hearing what he’s up to. The guy is such a big-thinker and visionary. He’s involved in creating a NASCAR-like Rocket racing league and was showing me the first version of the iPhone video game they’ve got out.

When we got back to LA, me and about 10 other Virgin Galactic party-goers made the most of it and hung out at the SkyBar at the Mondrian talking about the future of Space flight.

Back to The Future

It’s a pretty amazing time to be alive when you can actually go into space as a tourist and not be limited to a government space program. As I mentioned, I think 2012 is what I’m anticipating for my flight – and that’s a year I’ve been giving a lot of thought around.

No, not because I think the world is coming to an end or anything like that. But because I’ve been working on our company’s “Painted Picture” for 2012 with my business coach Cameron Herold’s help. Cameron is the former COO of 1-800-Got Junk and helped build that company from about $2M – $100M using this concept of the painted picture.

The way this concept started was taking the same methods Olympic athletes use to visualize their performance and applying them to a business being built. Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-Got Junk, sat down on his parents dock when they were a $1.5M company and wrote out what the future would look like.

Cameron was the guy to execute it. I’d been working with Cameron for several months and he kept bugging me to get this done and I kept putting him off – until he finally backed me into a corner to commit. (Side note: Cameron is an amazing coach and speaker. If you have a fast-growing company you owe it to your business to pick-up his DVDs before he realizes what he’s doing and starts marking them up.)

I felt like I’d found my “Cameron” when we made our first major hire in Andrew Way. He’s officially our VP of Operations and has the task of taking our Painted Picture and figuring out the “How”. We’ve got some big plans for the next 3 years to grow the Maverick brand and merge what we’ve been doing with other companies.

Quite frankly, the last 2 years have been a serious transition from simply being essentially a “one-man” band to working on growing an exceptional organization. Many times I’ve felt like I’ve taken 2 steps backwards for every step forward (and maybe more than 2 steps backwards) but we’ve kept pushing – because we’re building something beyond just an info product or two.

In fact, a lot of my thinking has evolved based on the kind of impact we really want to have. I would never have believed 10 years ago that company values or a mission statement mattered. I thought stuff like that was all bullshit.

I mean, look at a company like Enron and their mission statement – including typical phony corporate-speak words like “Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence”. Obviously a crock. But when I started hanging out and learning from Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, I saw there was a difference in what he talked about and that he actually meant it. He keynoted our last 2 Underground seminars. He really harped on values and how they incorporate their 10 core values into everything they do, including hiring, firing and promoting based on those values. (Btw – if you want to check out a free video of Tony keynoting Underground 4 – you can view it here.)

That helped form our “DNA” and core philosophies –

Maverick DNA and core values
Maverick DNA and core values

Or reading books like “Peak” written by Chip Conley, CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality group in San Francisco –  that got me thinking about what we’re doing for our team members and customers/members beyond satisfying normal needs. We’re now moving to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

We’ve also starting using Kolbe profiling to figure what our team’s natural connotative ability is. It helps to figure out how people instinctively approach a project or a problem. I’m a 4-2-10-2, which is “Explain, Adapt, Improvise, Imagine”. My score reveals why I’m quick to jump on a project because I’m a 10 in the “Quick Start” category – that’s off the charts. And it also reveals why I do so many mindmaps and diagrams when trying to get my point across. (That last number – “2” – means I’m high in imagination and don’t need a concrete model of something.) There are no right or wrongs for Kolbe profiles – it’s simply what you are. (It’s worth trying it yourself, and possibly doing it for your whole team.)

That’s also gone hand-in-hand with the work I’ve been doing at Strategic Coach, created by Dan Sullivan. (Btw – his Unique Ability book is one of my favorite books out there.)

As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And that was the case for me, with additional insights formed by the book “Tribal Leadership” by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright, about building incredible company cultures and evolving to a “Stage V” company. One of the biggest shifts from a typical company to an extraordinary one was having a huge mission that everyone on the team knows and can get behind. This leads to a real powerful change of direction, intention and motivation.

One famous example is Microsoft’s original goal of “A computer on every desk and in every home.” When you create a big vision or goal like that – you’ll find people getting on your team to help achieve it. My friend, Tellman Knudson, has set the goal of raising $100M by running across the country barefoot. I think that fits the bill – and he’s partway through right now.

Our company’s 2020 goal is 3-fold:

2020 Goals for Maverick
2020 Goals for Maverick

There’s been lots of thinking, prioritizing and culling from what and where I believe our companies are heading for 2012 and beyond. I created a graphic to represent the big picture of the impact we want to have in each area of an entrepreneur’s lifecycle, from Start-Up to Growth to Legacy.

Maverick Mission
Maverick Mission

I’m really excited to share the Painted Picture with you because, quite frankly, I need all the help I can get to reach our ultimate 2020 goals. You can download the PDF here.

I’ve already shared this with our team and I’ll be sharing it with all of our key suppliers, partners and people I meet. Lots of big things in store for 2010 and beyond. If you’d like to be part of this or have a thought on what we’re doing please leave a comment below!

21 thoughts on “2012: A Maverick Space Odyssey, Painted Picture and Lessons Learned”

  1. Dear Yanik—

    As the months of 2009 have drifted by I’ve come to a solid conclusion: you rock! The people you’ve introduced me to through the Maverick Business Insider and the things you’ve shown me, taught me, and opened my eyes to
    are all making a huge difference in the way I look at the world of business,
    and how I look at my future.

    As 2009 draws to an end and I look back, I just want to thank you for everything you’ve shown me. I’ve been receiving the Maverick Business Insider CDs since the first edition and every disc has been played to death: my car’s become a mobile classroom.

    I’ve learned an astonishing amount, I’ve made some great connections (Jimmy Sweeney, Mike Hill, James Schramko, and Barry Dunlop stand out for being particularly generous with their time and encouragement), I’m taking action, and I’m beginning to see modest results.

    Before I began receiving the Maverick material it was easier to sit on my butt and moan that nothing was happening than it was to actually do anything (because I was an idiot!).

    Now, I see that change takes effort, that effort requires action, and that action requires getting up off your ass and DOING something—even if it’s only a little thing every day.

    All those little things I’ve been doing? They’re helping me to create big changes.
    2010 is going to be an even greater year, with more discoveries, with more knowledge, with wider exposure, and with a HELL OF A LOT MORE ACTION!

    I know I still have a long way to go, but it’s good to finally be on the road and you’ve been there to guide me every step of the way.

    Your plan to “maverickise” as many existing and budding entrepreneurs as possible is a fine and honourable thing. If I can help in any way, let me know.

    Again, thank you, for everything. —Gary Bloomer, Wilmington, DE

  2. @Gary – that’s awesome! To me, that’s one of the most exciting things I never get tired of hearing is how I might have had an impact on someone. That’s part of our DNA the “Ripple” portion I talk about.

    Thanks and here’s to an awesome 2010! – Yanik

  3. Wow, Congrats on going into space in the future, it sounds exciting.

    This is my first comment on anything of yours Yanik, I just wanted to thank you for doing everything you do.

    I’m part of that age group (I’m 23) your Maverick stuff is geared to for 2020! I’m resigning from my job tomorrow and working on my business full-time (and more-time!) after my 2 weeks is over. It would be great to attend your underground event, let me know when I can apply for a scholarship to come. Started my own company this year in March and working on products as we speak. Will Launch many projects with the new year.

    Thanks again Yanik.

  4. It may seem strange that someone involved in the world of card making is reading your blog but I find it absolutely fascinating.
    I’m pushing against a massive brick wall at the moment and although I know that setting goals etc is important I get caught up in the day to day immediacy of life. Having read this post I am now going to try and find time over the Christmas holiday to paint my own picture!

  5. ‘A little bit quirky, a little bit rock n’ roll — And not taking ourselves too seriously’

    Perfectly put Yanik – as always — and the Virgin Galactic trip looks more and more exciting all the time

    Well done you!

  6. Kudos to you Yanik. Well done and inspirational.
    Thank you. Blessings for your people, purpose, & projects.

  7. @Bobby – absolutely! We’re going to be opening up the scholarship for Underground soon and this year we have an entire day devoted to “Young Moguls” under 25. Should be exciting!

  8. Yanik – great photos from Virgin Galactic event – thank you for sharing. What a great experience to participate in. Your my extreme adventure and experience hero!! Thank you for everything you do. Looking forward to the 2010 Maverick Business Adventure events.

  9. Exceptional post Yanik.

    “Maverick” – I must be a spiritual twin…

    Prophetic? Perhaps. Then again –

    1) My forward thinking research into “Hurricane Dissipation” at http://Mankind2.com Using Mind Over Matter – Has made me little and earned me many “Arrows”. But it also saved countless lives globally in 4 short glorious year. (35 successes and 0 arrows won…)

    2) My forward thinking research into 2012 and the Factual Disasters we face will earn me more spears I’m sure. http://Surviving2012MayanProphecy.com (Saving the entire human race is my Baseball Bat pointed at center field) 2 Planets in our solar system have already suffered a deadly Polar Flip already. WE are facing this also. Yet I’m not afraid…

    Back to the post – Your Maverick adventures are a utopia for the adventure passionate. High level money making Masterminding must be the hidden benefit 😉 Do you have an affiliate link for it?

    Yanik- Thank You ~ For the exceptional works that served to shape my business over the last 7 years.

    – Glen
    Glen B. Stewart
    Zero Gravity 4 You LLC

    P.S. Having proudly stated this – “Dead meat VS Mwah in a Baja Buggy however…” 😉

  10. Simply awesome brother. The maverick DNA and vision is inspiring, fantastic, and pushes people to find out what they’re really MADE of.

    I’m in total support of it.

    Rock on my friend…


  11. Awesome Yanik. I received the first issue of your maverick print monthly newsletter with Mike Geary in the mail. Right now, the chart is on my Desk, right under my laptop. It helps a lot. I work on one point at a time to grow my business.


  12. Hi Yanik,

    I’d just like to thank you for your inspirational posts.

    I find that if I hit a sticky patch, then all I need to do is look at your “34 Rules” or $15M Closed-Door Session poster and I get back on track.

    The way you are able to verbalise what I often think – is fantastic and testament to what you and your Maverick pals are doing out there.

    I find that there are way too many “stuffy” companies out there with people working in them who are not having any kind of fun!! I never want to be in that category and I’ve taken a lot of what you’ve said on board since I started with Maverick Insiders and like the chap further up the page, the audios are great and I listen over and over to them and each time pick up new points.

    I recently did Wealth Dynamics and that helped me enormously in understand how I build wealth (I’m a mechanic btw and if you haven’t done WD, then you may not follow me) and also understanding whether I had the right partners in my various business interests.

    So, I’ve gone ahead and made improvements and taken action and things are beginning to come together very well for me (I’m in property in the UK so you can imagine how bad this is!!) and I’d just like to publically thank you for the great content, awesome interview and just plain looking out for others whilst having fun attitude you embody.

    You rock Yanik! And someday, I will be on one of your Business Adventurers experiences :)


  13. Yanik the space adventure looks wild – I think it’s very cool that when flying to space is somewhat normal, you’ll be able to look back and know you were in part one of the pioneers of space travel!

    Your company values and mission statement has helped open my eyes to how a REAL internet business should look like. Thanks Yanik

    …can’t wait until young entrepreneur applications open again this year for underground, I’m definitely going to try again this year!

  14. I liked Moonlighting, etc. Internet. I want to do internet marketing but I have to get some investment money first. Is outsourcing where you pay somebody else to get your business to where it’s earning money?

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