All posts by matthewmyers

Matt is currently a founder of the online home design network- 30elm. He previously worked to publish Kitchen Portfolio, which both will fondly remember as the most beautiful magazine in its category. Matt has also learned a lot about home remodeling from his 100 year-old megahouse in Philly. Matt worked in information technology and business consulting for First Consulting Group, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Octopus Networking and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a dual Marketing and Management Degree.

Tidal Personal Statement

Ahead of our first twice-annual (hopefully) retreat we had all the employees of Tidal complete a personal statement about how the experiences in their lives align with the vision of the company. Here’s mine.

I’ve never had that close of a family. I can go months without talking to my mom, and years between seeing my sister. Really my family is more a loose confederation than a support network. T550063_10200516665228249_830859241_nhe rugged individual has always been the ideal, that you’re in charge of your own destiny and are free to pursue what your heart desires. Generally we all made our own way in life.

My sister lives in LA and is a stained glass artist and yoga instructor. I just got to see her last month for the first time in 6 years. Growing up, my mom helped support the family through her own little home-based enterprises (probably 4 companies over the course of my childhood). My grandfather built almost every house he lived in, my grandmother sold her paintings on the weekends, my aunts both worked from home, and my uncle too- as a day-trader from his living room in Hunker Pennsylvania. Only my dad ended up at a large company: the  Standard Pressed Steel factory where he drank himself to death over 20 years.

So it’s always been instinctual that I would find my own way rather than working for others. Without money for school I was first a Kinko’s manager and then put myself through Penn, working in tech and eventually running their organ transplant database. I moved to New York, started freelance IT KitchenPortfolio_500consulting and was paid by the hour to help 10 or 20 person companies with any tech issues they had; issues with their computers, websites, servers, and databases. This gave me time and a bit of money to start a few companies (Arcolog Pictures, Kitchen Portfolio Magazine, 30elm) working on them until I ran out of cash and had to ramp up the consulting work again. Really I was never as worried about being broke as I should have been- I’d find a way.

Throughout this I’d been searching for my own intentional family. Growing up before the internet gave me the opportunity to watch over 20 years as newsgroups, chatrooms, webrings and eventually social networks allowed people to connect more easily. But I always felt a bit like an outsider. It felt superficial.

More fascinating to me has been the last few years, as platforms have emerged providing new forms of support for individuals. Not just connection, or information, but money. I’ve booked 12,000 hours on ODesk with contractors who helped out my various startup endeavors. I think this platform offers opportunity for smart, self-driven individuals in developing countries who wouldn’t normally be afforded it. I made a few thousand bucks on AirBnB, before I moved and my landlord put a stop to that. I would certainly be looking deeper at Kickstarter, Etsy and others if it wasn’t for starting Tidal.

It’s this idea of individualized support that has always been in mind. In our early days, under the guise of Trendsta, my former girlfriend/business partner thought this would be in the form of virtual currency, much like Bild 1some services let you spam your social networks for free stuff. My partner, Burak and I tried it, we were paid $30k to stuff hundreds of envelopes with  sunscreen and ship them off to mommybloggers. The idea being that this would create a groundswell of other interested readers now intrigued by this exciting, new sunscreen. But our hearts were never in it, and I doubt the mom’s getting the free sunscreen were all that excited either.

It’ what people care about that truly creates that spark. We met a new friend (and then advisor, and now team member), Bernie Davis. He was in business development at Condé Nast and had similar ideas around individual empowerment, specifically for Teen Vogue. Fashion has changed a ton over the last 7 years. Where once it was only the editors, the elite, who fill the front rows at fashion week, now just as often you see influential bloggers who made their own success. We could see this change coming and launched Teen Vogue Fashion Click 3 years ago to try to capitalize on it.

Today, bloggers are an established part of the media landscape. It’s possible to rise through the ranks, gain a following wherever you are, and make a living as a professional blogger or YouTube star. And that’s a big change over the traditional path to work in journalism, a path that generally only one of means could afford.

Right now, only a few thousand bloggers (or influencers if you will) collect 90% of the spoils of money, attention, invitations. But I think that’s just the very beginning of a sea change. The money flows that support “passion” are changing quickly. Large companies comprised representing thousands of talented individuals (think agencies, large publishers, music labels) are generally much less efficient compared to platforms that allow connections between individuals directly. Many of these enterprises are in the middle of a transition that will determine whether they can survive or will disappear in our lifetimes.

Tidal, along with many other platforms (Beaconetc) creates a world where individual passion and creation, in all their various forms, can find support from others. This support is coming from both individuals and corporations. It may be in the form of money, but also nurturing, guidance, development and exposure. Customers, fans, and creators can write, create and gain attention and support for their efforts.

The next step will be to move further up the creation food chain- for individuals to propose ideas, stories, projects, videos, art, events, new products, then collaborate together on them, and earn their way to attention and funding. The marketers and editors of large companies, the ones who used to control internal employees would now orchestrate thousands of outsiders.

No ads

If billions flow away from advertising into direct support, and billions more from consumers moving from supporting large brands and publishers, to supporting individuals, then millions of people could make a living, on their own, doing what they love, anywhere. It will take a decade or so for companies to buy into the change, whether it happens willingly or unwillingly.

I’m on my own path, but I can’t do it alone. At their best, companies provide functions more than just a salary, they are groups organized around a common purpose and provide social support in a cold, lonely world.

I’m proud that Tidal is helping individuals band together and gain the support they need in a world where large companies are beginning to have less power. So more people can go their own way.

2013 bike tours

Looking back at my list from last year it looks like many of the rides still hold:
5/19 Media Fondo 65 mile ride to Bear Mountain $250
5/18 Ride to Montauk 70 Miles $175 (with transport)
7/28 Harlem Valley Rail Ride– horse farm & dairy farm $115 (with bus)
8/3-8/4 3 day Farm Ride w/ hot tubs $270 (with transport and hotel)
8/25 North Fork Century 72 or 100 miles $170 (with transport)
9/1 Golden Apple 25-100 miles in West Chester $45
9/21 Escape NY Hudson Highlands 25-100 miles in Bergen County $40
9/8 NYC Century 35-100 miles around NYC $55

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I think this book impacted me more strongly reading it now because I was able to relate to it’s wandering journey. This year seems to be much more reflective than the last for me. To me this book is based on reflection. I often would zone out during long explanations of rheotoric or Aristotle. But still appreciated them.
The most interesting and succinct chapter for me was 26, the one on mind traps from achieving gumption. It’s clear I’ll often suffer from these and get stuck. The technique of fishing seems apt to me. Casting a mental line and just observing on what is wrong. Letting go and just discovering. I’m doing much more of this in 2011.
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Chicken Parmesan

Super tasty- made for me and Finlay on a cold winters night with slushy snow outside the loft. Side salad, fresh mozzarella, totally delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
  • 1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Set chicken in a baking dish.Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with spaghetti, garlic bread and a nice green salad.
From Colleen Haass

http://southernfood.about.com/od/chickenbreastrecipes/r/bl80517l.htm

Never Eat Alone- Keith Ferrazzi

I generally enjoyed this read, I like Keith’s scrappy, rags-to-riches story. My dad grew up very close by in Western Pennsylvania, in the shadows of the Rolling Rock fortunes, and had similar stories of meeting Arnie Palmer at the country club in Latrobe. But Keith went onto to leverage his job as a caddy at the Latrobe country club into a super-networkers dream job and use that as a springboard for later successes. I envy the stories of how Keith’s dad pushed him from the very beginning to interact with all those important people around him. It’s a skill I’ve always struggled with and feel I really have to work on.

The book rambles through Keith’s life in a memoir-ish fashion, which does undermine it somewhat. I loved how he was able to show his life developing, especially through the help of his many role-models, advisors and mentors. But viewing it from the web startup point of view, I can only see what an abject failure his past business YaYa Media was. He seems to have rebounded into a successful consulting, writing & speaking career but I still wonder if he’s just a networker for networking’s sake. From the tone of the bok and especially his chapter “Balance is BS” that may very well be the case. How can you have time to build a business if all you are doing is networking? That’s actually been more problem with some of the web startup scene- too much networking for the sake of, and too little building a real, paying client base and a growing successful business. But I digress.

Another problem is that the book hit in 2005 right at the beginning of the social media revolution. This means that although Keith touches on blogs and the online world, it is mostly in passing. It is such a central part of business relationships now that the book feels outdated from the mere 4 years that have passed. I’m interested in reading some of his later works and checking out Greenlight Community to see if Keith has kept pace.

But where the bookreally is a defining text is in repeatedly driving home quite practical, often obvious, to-do’s for relationship-building. Keep organized, set goals, work with gate-keepers, reach out selflessly and find some value you can give to people you’re reaching out to, follow up religiously. I could be better at all points. One of the ways Keith kept hitting upon to do that is to make sustainable platforms for interacting with people- monthly dinner parties, starting your own clubs or conferences, or whatever. It takes work, but I can see how valuable this can be.

I think I can leverage much of this advice as I find my own balance and own path to build great connections as I work to grow my own biz and I think this would be a good book to revisit as I do.

Celeb style haircut

Went back to Arrojo today for a model cut (only 20 bucks!) and felt like a bit of a model. My stylist Nicole Obert was apparently on a reality tv show/competition called Shear Genius.

I was in dire need of a haircut and wanted to look good to meet Becki’s parent’s tonight at Passover dinner. Should be exciting!

What do you think of the hair?

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