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I’m starting a new company & I likely have pirate blood

“Mike, you’ve gotta be crazy—you’ve worked so hard to get to this point. Give it another year and you’ll be set to start whatever you want”, said our accountant.

I had just let our accountant know that I’m going to be starting a new company and moving into a board role at Belief Agency. Jesse and I have been incubating this idea for the last 6 months and have brought together a start-up dream-team to get this bad boy launched.

To be fair, our accountant was kinda right… we’ve been hustling for three years in an incredibly competitive market, and this year we finally have a solid foundation and are prepared to charge into 2016 with a world-class team, great clients, and a strong balance sheet. I love our accountant, but when I can see a path to a better future I have to travel it (luckily I have a business partner who’s at least as crazy as me).

I think it’s because I have pirate blood. My family got to America long before there was a United States. They crossed the country by wagon train, founded new cities (great-great-great grandpa Gilbert sold his homestead to the intercontinental railroad because Ogden, Utah was getting to be too metropolitan), and eventually wound up as far West as they could go without getting wet.

If there was a further West—I’d probably keep going.

At the same time, I feel like a crazy person. Why start something new when you’re finally feeling some stability? That’s what a normal person would ask—and if I’m honest it’s what I ask when I feel in over my head. When I’m feeling anxious I often sit down and listen to a Jimmy Buffet song—it’s one of those songs where I feel like someone gets me.

“Yes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late
Cannons don’t thunder there’s nothin’ to plunder
I’m an over forty thirty victim of fate”
—Jimmy Buffett


I’m a risk taker who craves adventure, camaraderie, and wants to take on big challenges. If you’re anything like me, modern life feels so confining—there’s no uncharted land to explore, no land to settle, no real adventure. Modern people don’t have many ways to channel the innate need to explore new territory and forge something better (Elon please get us to Mars!).

For the last 7 years I’ve been part of starting something new every June—for the first 4 years it was within a larger organization—a content site, a publishing line, a conference series, and a school. The last 3 have been an ad agency, a coding school, and now a new startup (I’ll tell you all about it at the end).

“I was born for storm and the calm does not suit me” ~Andrew Jackson

I ask myself several times a week “Another new business? Really?” it’s going to be hard—there’s peril and the potential for disaster at every corner. I wake up around 4 am most mornings brooding on the risks and opportunities. This is painful, yet at the same time it feels like it’s in my blood. I can’t help it. I’m sure crossing the Atlantic on wind power with a sextant wasn’t pleasant either, but it was certainly worth it in the long term.

The Quest

Starting up a new company is a quest—there’s a vision and not much else. It’s several months of reading, networking, planning, preparing, finding a team, and getting the resources needed for success. I have this weird part of me that only worries intensely about the next step, but has zero fear of taking on something that any reasonable person would call insurmountable.

There’s almost always a storm, you meet great new people to join, some people jump off, and you never know what’s around the corner.

My biggest quest yet

We just launched the new platform. It’s called Elevator and it’s the world’s first team-hiring platform that allows high-performing teams to put themselves on the market—even if they work at a big company like Amazon or Microsoft. Essentially it will allow any team in the world to be acquihired. Imagine if we lived in a world where the highest level performers in any field got to operate like their own company. There are so many brilliant people that can help just about any company change the world, but they just don’t have pirate blood and need a system to help them make the leap.

The team that’s working on Elevator is absolutely world-class—I’m excited to introduce them soon.

Please check it out and sign up. If you like it, please let your friends know and invite the best co-workers you’ve worked with in the past.


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