Tag Archives: entrepreneurs

Day 122: Amy Wilkinson

It’s been ten years since I moved into my apartment in Dupont Circle here in Washington, DC. For much of that time, my neighbor Amy Wilkinson has been working on a book. In the last couple of years, as I started working on my book about the Year of Giving, I began asking more questions to her about the process she went through to take her book to publication.

You caught me rereading Chapter 5, Networking Minds, recently to help inform some planning for a project that I'm working on.

You caught me rereading Chapter 5, Networking Minds, recently to help inform some planning for a project that I’m working on.

It’s been a long five years – she’s had all kinds of surprises along the way and often tells me the things that she would do differently if she writes another book. As a rookie author, I have listened intently to her advice.

Her book finally came out in February – I preordered it so I had it on my doorstep the day it was released. It’s easy to say that The Creator’s Code should be required reading for anyone interested in entrepreneurism, but that lessens the value of the book frankly. I would say that anyone passionate about making a difference, achieving an aspirational goal, or just being more effective in an area of their life will benefit from the book – we can all be “creators.”

The moving truck came today to move her belongings to California – Amy is headed to teach a course at Standford. My loss – Stanford’s gain. Join me in wishing her continued success and get your copy of her book here.



Congratulations on The Creator’s Code. It’s such as terrific book and I’m ecstatic to see it doing so well. And while I know that I don’t even know the half of it, I know that you worked tirelessly on it and that your journey to publication wasn’t without its share of challenges and pitfalls. But as a creator, you managed to keep your eyes on the horizon.

A handcrafted card I made at Paper Source's workshop Thursday night.

A handcrafted card I made at Paper Source’s workshop Thursday night.

Sadly it seems that all this success also means I lose a great neighbor! Best of luck with teaching your course at Stanford and I look forward to following all the exciting places you will go.

This is just the beginning!

Day 90: Brian Chesky, Airbnb

airbnbHappy April Fools Day! Be careful out there today.

Some companies have completely changed their industry. They disrupt the status quo and wreak havoc on traditional businesses in their industry. Companies like Apple, Uber, Coursera and Airbnb all have redefined how we think about the products and services they offer.

Today I’m writing Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky who, along with his co-founder Joe Gebbia, created Airbnb – a website that allows travelers to rent private residences. It’s brilliant and I’ve used it a couple times with excellent results. It competes with the traditional hotel model in a way that changes how we look at lodging.

I just finished reading my friend Amy Wilkinson’s first book, The Creator’s Code. It’s the culmination of five years of research and over 200 interviews to figure out what the secret sauce is that successful entrepreneurs possess. Airbnb is one of her case studies. She tells about how Chesky and Gebbia “found the gap” – in other words, they found an unmet need in the travel world and fulfilled it.

The book is full of inspiring stories (shameless plug) and I became very interested in how creative the Airbnb guys were. I started researching them and discovered that they had a campaign called One Less Stranger where they gave 100,000 people in the Airbnb community $10 each so that they could do something creative with it to make the world smaller, “one less stranger at a time”. Well, I couldn’t help but see the similarity to my Year of Giving.


So I decided to drop Brian a note. He and Gebbia were creative and took calculated risks in creating Airbnb – who knows, they might just consider my idea…or appoint me the One Less Stranger campaign ambassador!

Day 90


Dear Brian,

Congratulations on the #OneLessStranger campaign – I’m a big fan. I feel like I might have even somehow been part of the inspiration for the it. You see five years ago I gave away $10 every day to a stranger while I was unemployed – I called it the YearOfGiving. It was amazing, and I created an entirely new community – so you’re right, it definitely is a way to bring us closer together as a society.

Day 90-2This idea of doing something every day for a year has kinda taken over my life. This year I have embarked on a journey called the YearOfLetters where I write a handwritten letter to someone every day for a year. You’re day 90!

We should talk about next year – I’ve made a commitment to sleep in a different place every night for a year. We could call it YearOfAirbnb. I’ve also thought of doing a YearOfCouchSurfing but that sounds way less comfortable – and I guess it would make more sense to partner with that other company if I went that route. Anyway, what do you think?

Your fan and customer,

Day 68: Toma Bedolla, House of Genius

On Sunday I participated in a very cool workshop designed to help entrepreneurs further their business. Sitting at tables configured into a horseshoe shape in the beautiful Meridian building on 16th Street, I sat amongst a dozen or so other participants as we listened to three entrepreneurs pitch their companies and be vulnerable about where they needed help.

Each of us, experts in different areas, offered ideas. The unique element to this is that nobody can talk about who they are, what experience they have, or even use their last name. This unique format helps the entrepreneurs hear everyone’s feedback and suggestions at face value instead of tagging each comment with a filter based on that person’s established credentials. Maybe it’s a brain surgeon that offers up an idea on how to fix your online storefront distribution problem – but his advice is sound and could have just as easily come from Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Only at the end of the session are participant’s identity revealed. It’s a cool process and this was the first one in Washington, DC. Thanks to Meridian International for hosting this collaborative workshop. You can find out more about House of Genius here.

My letter today is to Toma, a cofounder of House of Genius who was at the event.

Day 68-2


We didn’t get a chance to meet during the House of Genius DC, but I wanted to congratulate you on an excellent event. DC is thirsty for the kind of entrepreneurial environment that you foster and I look forward to being a part of future sessions.


PS. I’ve connected with Jonathan – in fact in turns out he’s a neighbor of my brother so I’m sure we’ll stay in touch.

Day 57: Brian Lieberman from Twice as Warm

A little over a year ago I met entrepreneur Brian Lieberman – the founder of Twice as Warm, a clothing company whose mission it is to bring warmth to people and communities around the world by using the “buy one, give one” model where every purchase you make allows Twice as Warm to provide a clothing item for a person in need. I almost hate to start with that kind of description because their clothing items are really amazing on their own. It’s not like they’re okay products from a company that does good in the community. You’ll buy their American made products for their quality but you’ll fall in love with them because of the way they touch the lives of those in need.

Brian is a great guy who I’ve been honored to get to know. He’s the kind of person who you want to stay in touch with so I dropped him a note.

My note to Brian along with the hat I mentioned and one of my favorite t-shirts for Twice as Warm.

My note to Brian along with the hat I mentioned and one of my favorite t-shirts for Twice as Warm.



It was good to see you at the MLK Service Day at Meridian Int’l. I’m always impressed with you and what you are creating with Twice as Warm.

I thought of you today because twice I’ve been told today how much people like my hat – it’s been getting a lot of use the last couple of weeks!

Anyway, I hope that you are well. Let’s get together in March.

Stay warm -Reed

Day 16: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Photo: zagg.com

Photo: zagg.com

I recently stumbled upon a Washington Post article from about a year ago that was about Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to write a thank-you note every day in 2014. Pretty cool! I can’t find any articles that follow up on that to see if he in fact was able to do it. I can tell you, it’s harder than it sounds!

I thought that Mark and I were friends on Facebook. I swear! When I first signed up years ago I thought it was kind of automatic that you became friends with Mark…you know, so you weren’t lonely on Facebook. But I just double-checked and sadly we’re not friends on Facebook – yet! Maybe he unfriended me.

Despite being a pioneer in the digital world, I hope that he appreciates the handwritten letter as much as I do. Who knows, maybe he’ll write me back or post to my Facebook page?

Mark Zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg-2

Dear Mark,

I just read that last year you made a goal to write one thank-you note each day – I love that idea! In fact I just embarked on a year-long journey to write one handwritten letter every day for a year (facebook.com/yearofletters). I was curious about two things. First, how did it go? And second, do you have any advice me.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Your Facebook friend,
Reed Sandridge

P.S. Nice work on launching Internet.org in Colombia!