I’ve talked about the shift in the American dream before, but it’s probably more true now than ever.

June 30th, 2012 marks exactly 12 months since I worked my last day in a cubicle in exchange for a paycheck and I’ve learned so much it’s hard to believe it’s the new “normal”.

It’s no longer having the house with a white picket fence, a Mercedes and 2.5 kids. In fact, today most people don’t have any desire to own a car at all.

Today, the dream is to own your own business and have the kind of personal liberty that almost nothing else can provide.

It’s not a cake walk, in fact you’ll never work harder than you will as an entrepreneur but it gives you the latitude to spend your time on work that you actually love.

“I want to be en entrepreneur for the personal satisfaction instead of just cashing the easy paycheck for “today” money.” [Click To Tweet]

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Those of you who know me also know that I spend a lot of my “down time” working on, it is something I am passionate about and feel is very important for the industry. I have had the pleasure to work with some very talented individuals from programming and design backgrounds that have pulled something together worth writing home about. This is still a “small project” in the sense of it’s financial impact for causes but I am confident that if we keep iterating we can come up with something that really nails it. That being said I wanted to share you a few things I have learned along the way of getting this version out to the public.

#1 Getting a team of people to work together is difficult

I am sure you remember working with teams when you were in school (or currently experience this pain) that was supposed to get you “ready for the real world”. The biggest flaw I always felt in the school based team system is that no ever pulled their weight and one person ended up doing all the work because they were the person motivated to get a good grade. Ultimately the entire team benefits unfairly from the work done by a singular person.

Luckily lean startups are a different story, but that doesn’t mean they are all rainbows and lollipops. For this project most of my time has been spent with two developers and at least one designer (although the design capacity seems to be continually passed from one person to the next.) Throughout this experience the only people who have been working on this project have either been invested in the idea (as in they like what it is trying to do), just want to help me out, or some combination thereof. Communicating the needs and roles of each person has been a unique challenge even for a team this small because it has been my job as a project manager to understand the disciplines of expertise for each party and how to guide them towards my “big vision”. With any luck this big vision also aligns with my business development deals I have been working my tail off on securing, but more to come on that at a later date…

#2 The little things make a huge difference

The last version of MyBigGive was a decent milestone for us, but we really got the design wrong. The last website, while elegant was designed for a more content/corporate site and may end up being recycled into other projects I have at a later date, but it certainly wasn’t meeting the needs we had as a charitable shopping service. As we went through the process we realized that one of the major components missing was simplicity and the level of friction for sharing the service with friends.

The back-end was rebuilt from the ground up with this ideology in mind, that in order to win we had to convince users to share us and quickly understand WHY we existed. It sounds easy enough, but keeping the feature list and product flow simple is actually more difficult than created a feature rich experience when your team has talent (good problem to have). Some of the small things that are subtle but are having a major impact on our sharing metrics include the dynamic Tweet and FB Share buttons on our “Thank You” page that is shown after a customer shops for a cause. By dynamically slipping into the charity name for a preloaded Tweet or FB Post (via a Facebook Application) we are now able to create a shared experience that still feels relatively organic in the stream instead of a cut and dry advertisement. This means more for our users and makes the entire process more meaningful for our “super users”.

#3 Something good is not equal to something great

A smart friend of mine recently said “never settle – iteration is a way of life”. I don’t think I could have said it better myself, and this has always been my motto to life. NEVER SETTLE. I would like to think that I don’t settle with my projects, friends, significant others, purchases etc. If you want to create something great you have to be continually innovating and that is exactly what we plan on doing; we have hugely ambitious goals that will only come one step at a time by staying on the grind.

So that being said, I would really love any feedback you have on our redesign. You can check it out here: Comment below or @ reply me on Twitter!

The Mansion 2010

I just wanted to take a minute and thank all those entrepreneurs out there who chose the grueling hustle over the 9 to 5 options. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the stable paycheck that the 9 to 5 offers, in fact I have a TON of respect for those who do because put quite simply I don’t think I could stay sane doing that. I don’t leave for stability (but there are a lot of reasons why people would), I don’t even necessarily live for the money that can come with working your face off but instead I live for the thrill, the challenge and opportunity to shake things up. Keeping people on their toes, actually BUILDING something and the satisfaction of leaving a mark is what makes me so ridiculously happy with what I do.

So my question for the people out there, what do you live for? What makes you roll out of bed in the morning? Are you an entrepreneur or someone who takes the steady paycheck? I want to hear from you about what motivates you, gets your engine past idle and how you go there. If you aren’t happy, I also want to know what you are doing to make sure that in a reasonable amount of time (read: actual, tangible goal) you are going to change that. Is there anyway that I can help you achieve that goal?

Today I pitched my reason to Oprah why I think that MyBigGive is an excellent candidate to be blessed with the “Oprah Effect”, and also told Azoogle Ads why they should pick ME to go party with them at the Playboy mansion this August. You know what is so freaking awesome about 2010 that wasn’t the case even 10 years? How many college kids were you hearing about in 2000 that were able to hit up major networks (both television and affiliate) and tell them exactly why they think they should and listen AND have them at least hear out the message?

The world is changing my friends, how are you going to make sure you have it by the tail moving forward?