Glen Stansberry Co-Founded Gentlemint with Brian McKinny. It all began when they decided to build a fun, simple website. 12 hours later… Gentlemint was born.
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- “Your greatest strength can be your biggest weakness and your biggest weakness can be your biggest strength.” – Unknown click to tweet!
- Glen failed because he did not make it through the dip. He was cruising along with a great idea and was creating a great product. Then, a large and nameless corporation released a free product very similar to Glen’s prototype, and it took all the wind out of his sails. Glen’s lesson from this failure is totally the opposite of what you are thinking right now… I guarantee it.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Gentlemint was conceived and completed in the space of 12 hours. I think you want to hear this AHA moment!
- Glen has a lot of great ideas he is implementing with Gentlemint. Here is a sneak peak at a couple of them…
- The best business advice Glen ever received is classic. Tune in!
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John Dumas: Hi Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Lee Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply overjoyed to introduce my guest today, Glen Stansberry. Glen, are you prepared to ignite?
Glen Stansberry: Affirmative!
John Lee Dumas: Yes! I love that Army lingo. Glen cofounded “Gentlemint” with Brian McKinney. It all began when they decided to build a fun, simple website, and 12 hours later, Gentlemint was born.
I’ve given Fire Nation, Glen, a very brief overview, but why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. How old you are, where you’re from. And then take another minute to give us an overview of your business.
Glen Stansberry: Okay. Well, thanks, John. I really appreciate you having me on the show and I’m really excited to be on.
John Lee Dumas: My pleasure.
Glen Stansberry: I guess I’ll just go ahead with the background. So I’m a 29 year old web designer, web developer out of Lawrence, Kansas, which is not your typical tech hub. Basically, a coworker of mine at my previous job, we were working on a project, a web app, and it was really complex. I’d do statistics and stuff like that. It was just taking a long time and we were getting really bogged down with just making any progress on it. So we decided to take a day to take a fun idea and just crank something out as quickly as we could just for fun, just for our own internal purposes. Basically, that’s how we built Gentlemint. What Gentlemint is is just as we built it, it was a simple site to share manly links. Kind of the over-the-top pictures of mustaches, felling trees. I don’t know, colognes that smell like campfires and pine and all those really good stuff.
So we basically created this site just for a way to make us laugh and have something fun to send back and forth. We actually really enjoyed not only the process of really just focusing and creating something in 12 hours, but also, just building this simple thing. We shared it with a couple of friends and they shared it with a couple of friends, and then pretty soon, we were getting emails from people who run the story on Mashable and Wall Street Journal and Time. Somehow, we became the male version of Pinterest. It’s still really not what we intended to do and totally not what we had in mind, but we’ve kind of embraced it, and here we are today. So that’s what I’m working on right now, and basically, yes, that’s my story. I’m sticking to it.
John Lee Dumas: That’s exciting stuff, Glen. That’s really the power sometimes of being an entrepreneur, is the ability to embrace situations that sometimes fall on your lap. Now, obviously, the harder you work, the more situations you’re putting for that opportunity, so to speak, to fall on your lap, but it’s just great to see that you just have pounced on it and you’ve driven forward with it and you’ve maximized the capability of Gentlemint, and it’s really exciting. On a side note, 56% of our listeners are male, so they’re really excited right now, but 44% of the listeners, they just switched over to Suze Orman, so I hope you’re okay with that.
Glen Stansberry: Oh no!
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] I’m just kidding! I’m sure they love you.
Glen Stansberry: That’s actually something funny about the site because when we started it, we figured, oh man, there are going to be some people that really hate this, especially women. The fact is is that from the beginning, we didn’t want to – I mean a lot of this very type with guy type sites is that there’s going to be a lot of nudity and kind of crass stuff. Actually, that’s one of the things that we, very early on, said we were not going to have. Part of the reason – I mean, for my own sake – like I have a wife and a daughter and I want them to be proud of what I do and I want them to be able to visit the site without feeling objectified in any way. So from early on, we drew a line in the sand and said we’re not going to do this. Actually, that has been really endearing to a lot of people and a lot of women really appreciate that, as do men, who want to be able to look at the site at work.
John Lee Dumas: What better place for women to find what men want and what they’re looking for and what gift maybe to get them than Gentlemint.
Glen Stansberry: Yes. It’s funny too. Like we have a lot of women who actually contribute to the site, and we think it’s a lot of fun. It’s the Internet. There’s something for everybody. Surprisingly, we have a lot of women who use the site a lot. So yes, it’s great.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. The great thing about EntrepreneurOnFire is it’s about the journey. So this is about your journey, your story as an entrepreneur, and that just resonates with everybody – the young, the old, men, women and what have you. This is a podcast for everybody and everybody gets great nuggets of wisdom out of passion, out of success, out of hard work and dedication, and that’s what we’re going for today. So on that note, we’re going to transition to our first real topic, which is our success quote because again, EntrepreneurOnFire is all about the motivation. We want to get people pumped for your great content that you’re going to deliver the rest of the episode. What do you have for us today, Glen?
Glen Stansberry: Alright. Well, I was thinking about this and I couldn’t really nail down a specific quote. One that I think about daily or like that, but there is one that’s always kind of stuck with me. “Your greatest strength can be your biggest weakness, and conversely, your biggest weakness can also be your biggest strength.” So yes, that’s something that we think about a lot, especially when I do my own projects and life in general, but also with Gentlemint. What are things that we don’t do well and why is that, and is it that we’re not doing them well or is it just something that kind of defines us and actually might be a strength. So I really like that quote.
John Lee Dumas: It’s a great quote, Glen. Until we can find the correct person to attribute it to, I think I’m just going to attribute it to Confucius because it sounds like something that Confucius might say.
Glen Stansberry: Right. I think that’s good. We’ll just go with that.
John Lee Dumas: So give us an example, Glen, of how you’ve actually applied this quote to Gentlemint, to your life, to your mentality.
Glen Stansberry: Okay. Well, immediately with Gentlemint, one of the things with startups, especially web startups, is that the general trend is you have an idea, you try to get funding as quickly as possible and you try to go to millions and millions and millions of users as fast as humanly possible, work 2,000 hour weeks and sell the site for $200 million and live on a beach somewhere the rest of your life. When in reality, we built this thing using bubblegum and baling wire, more or less, because we were trying to crank it out in 12 hours.
And so when we got all this press and all this PR, all of a sudden our site was just being flooded with traffic, and the weakness was that we didn’t build this thing for a lot of people. So we immediately cut down. We basically said, “Okay, we can’t have any more people just instantly signing up to the site. We’re going to have to put something in place that says – an invitation queue more or less that says, “We’ll invite you as soon as we can, but we’re only going to let so many people in a day because we want to grow this thing gradually.” I mean because we don’t have resources, we don’t have time, we both had fulltime jobs at the time. So we just basically said, “You know, this is what we can do. This is the best we got. If you want to wait around, that’s great. If you don’t, we totally understand. Basically, we gradually invited people in as we could with resources, and it’s actually been one of the better things for us I think in that we were not looking for venture capital and we’re not – I mean, never say never, but right now we’re not looking for venture capital and we don’t have to worry about scaling issues and funding and stuff like that. We’re not forced to do anything because we took a slow and steady approach because we had to.
So that’s an example I can immediately think of where having limited resources and having a weakness actually turn into a strength for us because right now we have a community that is really quite interesting in that there’s lots of people. A majority of the people visit the site multiple times per day.
John Lee Dumas: That’s a great example, Glen, and I would love to use that to transition to our next topic because that’s failure. As an entrepreneur, our journey is riddled with failure in both good ways and bad ways, and it’s how we react to those challenges and obstacles that we need to overcome that really define us as entrepreneurs. Can you take us back to some time in your journey with Gentlemint or with not, but just where you really encountered failure and how you reacted to that.
Glen Stansberry: Okay. Well, I am no stranger to failure. It has been a recurring theme actually in my entrepreneurial journey. Actually, technically right now Gentlemint is a failure because we’re not getting a profit from it. So I’ve been a serial failure for a long time now, but I’ve also managed to do a couple of things right here and there, and that’s kind of kept me afloat. But yes, failure is huge. If you want an example, like a specific example, there are many, but about five years ago, I started working on an idea and I thought it was a really good idea. I had the design in place and I was working with the programmer. Basically, about a month out from launching the thing, a major Internet company, which will remain nameless, launched basically the exact same thing. It really took the wind out of me because I had invested in this thing, and here comes this huge company that has thousands of employees working on something. And so I stopped development and we just killed it right then and there.
In reality, hindsight 20/20, but if we had kept working on it, actually released it, improved it and just stayed the course, we would have done really well and probably would have either sold it or it would have been profitable really quickly. It turns out that probably having that large company launch the same thing brought a lot of awareness to that space. So I guess just learning that first of all, competition isn’t a bad thing, and if you fail it’s not a bad thing.
John Lee Dumas: So let’s pull a major and specific lesson out from that experience that you can just share with Fire Nation. One specific lesson.
Glen Stansberry: Don’t be afraid of competition, and when competition comes at you, learn how to do something different. If you’re in front, keep on doing your initial vision that made it successful in the beginning.
John Lee Dumas: That’s very precise. That’s clean. I like it. Thank you for sharing that lesson, Glen. We’re going to use that to transition now to our next topic, which is our aha moment. This is the other end of the spectrum. We’ve all dealt with failures as entrepreneurs. We’ve all faced obstacles. You shared a very personal one, and I thank you for that because it really is so important that the listeners can hear that it’s okay to fail, and you’re letting us know that it is okay to fail and that means so much. But it’s also okay to succeed, and as entrepreneurs, every single day, we have aha moments. Sometimes, they’re small. Sometimes, they’re large. Can you share one of your major light bulb moments that you’ve had and take us through that story?
Glen Stansberry: Like you said, we have aha moments. Sometimes they’re huge and sometimes they’re small, but recently I can think of one that was actually pretty cool with Gentlemint. When we launched the site and we got all this press, basically the moment that was kind of like a little light bulb like this thing might actually work was when we were working on the site and I was going back and forth with my cofounder on IM. We had been working really hard because we got all this press and our site was having issues with just staying up. We built it in 12 hours so we were kind of just really winging this thing on a hope and a prayer.
So we were working on the site and my buddy visits the homepage and figures out that so and so won the Super Bowl. Wow, it’s really bad that I can’t remember who won the Super Bowl. Maybe it wasn’t that notable of a game. But he found out who had won the Super Bowl from the front page of Gentlemint as opposed to ESPN or anything like that.
John Lee Dumas: Well, if it was last year, unfortunately, it was the Giants against my Patriots.
Glen Stansberry: Right! I wanted to say Patriots, but I was like, I don’t think they won. Yes. Right. Giants and Patriots, and he found out who won through Gentlemint. It’s at that point that we realized that people are using this thing and actually sharing it in a way that’s very important to them and it could be important to other people too. I’m not going to kid you in saying that I think Gentlemint is going to change the world in that respect, but it was cool to see people – there’s just something really profound about seeing people using what you’ve created and sharing it and liking that.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely! It’s obvious that there are people that are utilizing Gentlemint as a source of information. Whether that information is sports or politics, they’re logging on to Gentlemint at random times during the day, and if a big event happened to go off within the last time that they’ve logged on to some kind of news channel, then that’s what they’re going to see. So it can be a very valuable resource for a lot of people, and the more that that happens, the more people are going to look at Gentlemint as a resource of information, which is really exciting.
So Glen, have you had an I’ve made it moment yet?
Glen Stansberry: I’ve made it? Well, that was kind of an I’ve made.
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
Glen Stansberry: I would say even though it really didn’t help our site at all with traffic or anything like that, but there are two things. One was getting interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. That was just kind of like, “Oh, wow! This is actually a legitimate thing!” Like the Wall Street Journal doesn’t report on just this and that.
John Lee Dumas: Right.
Glen Stansberry: No. I’m kind of kidding there because like I said, it totally caught us by surprise. The other I’ve made it moment was when the American Mustache Institute endorsed us as one of the manly sites on the Internet. John, I don’t know about you, but that was it for me, I think.
John Lee Dumas: That’s impressive. I can see where that would be the case. I mean, that’s a massive player in the men industry, and here they are recognizing Gentlemint as this go to source and you’re having a lot of people with a lot of facial hair going to your site.
Glen Stansberry: [Laughs] Right. From the highest of places, getting these accolades. Oh man!
John Lee Dumas: Oh, that’s great stuff. It really is. It’s really important, with joking aside or including joking both ways, it’s good to look at these little, funny, big, large, still funny moments and just appreciate them for the moments that they are because you really need to set goals as entrepreneurs, and when you reach those goals, you need to look back and appreciate your achievements that you’ve accomplished while attaining that goal. And then of course you need to set the next goal and drive towards it, but it’s about the journey. So I’m glad that you’re enjoying the journey, whether it be Wall Street Journal, whether it be the Mustachio Bashio or what have you. They’re all important milestones, big and small. So I definitely commend you for that.
Glen Stansberry: Thank you.
John Lee Dumas: Now, let’s use that to move in to the next topic, which actually is your current business. Tell us just one thing right now that’s really exciting you about Gentlemint.
Glen Stansberry: We recently put out a new interface for the entire site. We had a whole new round of branding. So it’s actually almost a site that looks professional. I’m really excited about that, and we’re at the point now where – I mean, after we had all the press and the traffic and all that stuff, we had to go in back and patch holes in our system and tighten things up like security and things like that so the site wouldn’t be taken down, and we just had all the stuff we had to go backfill. But now we’re at the point where we’ve got this base in place that we’re ready to just start developing and cranking out ideas that we’ve had and things that the community wants. So just being able to work on that is really exciting. Kind of like getting kind of like chores out of the way and nitty gritty stuff. Now, we’re into like thinking big picture and working on fun projects. So that’s great. Then just being able to be a part of a community that’s so interactive and fun is great as well.
John Lee Dumas: That is great. It’s all about the community. That’s one thing that I’m really just so enjoying building here at EntrepreneurOnFire, is our community of Fire Nation of passionate entrepreneurs.
Glen Stansberry: That’s a huge part of motivation and wanting to improve things. If nobody used Gentlemint, I probably wouldn’t want to spend a lot of my free time working on the site, but because so many people appreciate it and they tell me about it, I just want to make it better. I just want to work really hard at this.
John Lee Dumas: So on that note, Glen, what is your vision for the future of Gentlemint?
Glen Stansberry: There’s a lot of different ways that we could go with this thing. Part of the struggle is not getting away from the golden goose. Like making sure that we are improving and keeping the thing that initially draws people to the site, and we don’t want to – there’s a delicate balance between going too crazy with trying to build new things and getting away from the initial reason why people are there. But that said, we do have a lot of improvements in the future. We’ve noticed that when people come to Gentlemint, a lot of times they want to debate things and talk about things, and we don’t have very good tools in place right now to foster discussions and let people know and share what they’re talking about. So that’s one of the things that we’re going to do. We’re really going to just improve parts of the site in terms of communication between members and just in general discussions. So we’re doing that. Admittedly, there’s just a lot of basic stuff that we haven’t been able to put in that kind of make it more of a social type of site.
So without giving away too much, I will say that we’re going to be working on a lot of the features set that deals with discussions and being able to communicate through the site and share ideas and share opinions.
John Lee Dumas: I’m definitely looking forward to witness the progression of Gentlemint. You have a lot of great things already in place so I’m looking forward to seeing what else you are going to put into place. It’s a great community and it’s only getting better.
Glen Stansberry: Thanks, John. I appreciate that.
John Lee Dumas: So Glen, we’ve now reached my favorite part of the show. We’re about to enter the Lightning Round. This is where I provide you with a series of questions and you come back at Fire Nation with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Glen Stansberry: We’ll give it a shot [Laughs].
John Lee Dumas: Oh, you’ll knock it out of the park.
Glen Stansberry: Oh, thank you. We’ll see.
John Lee Dumas: What was the one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Glen Stansberry: I think just general fear and uncertainty when it comes to what if it doesn’t work. And not even necessarily money. Just what if it doesn’t work, what if I spend a lot of time on something that just fails? Failure is a big part of being an entrepreneur and learning how to deal with it.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best business advice you ever received?
Glen Stansberry: Don’t worry about the people who don’t like what you’re doing because honestly, you don’t really have time for them. We’re not building the site for people who don’t like Gentlemint. We’re building the site out for people who love Gentlemint. So that’s a great piece of advice I’ve gotten.
John Lee Dumas: Sage advice. I love that. What’s something that’s working for you or Gentlemint right now?
Glen Stansberry: After we got a bunch of press, we kind of had a lot of pressure to do what do we do about funding, what do we do about this and that? Really, we had to circle the wagon and just get back and say, “What is the main reason why people like this site and why do we like this site?” The reason for that is just having fun. We have fun with, you know, I create stupid logos and like buttons that you click that the mustache curls up. I mean that’s how you like something on Gentlemint. So getting back to the roots of fun and what makes our site unique, and everybody benefits from that.
John Lee Dumas: So being an Internet guy and a designer, do you have an Internet resource that you’re in love with like an Evernote or something along those lines that you can share with Fire Nation?
Glen Stansberry: I visit Hacker News quite frequently. At least once a day. I love Hacker News. I learned some interesting things on there.
John Lee Dumas: What is your favorite business book?
Glen Stansberry: Actually, I read a really good one. I think it was a year ago. It was a Jim Collins book. I can’t remember the exact title, but it had to do with…
John Lee Dumas: “Built to Last”?
Glen Stansberry: No. It’s “How the Mighty Fall.”
John Lee Dumas: “How the Mighty Fall.”
Glen Stansberry: I think that’s it. Something very close to that in the title. Basically, it’s on the premise of Built to Last. It’s showing what people did wrong, and that was really interesting and eye-opening.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! Well, we will link this up in the show notes with the correct title if that’s not it, so all the listeners need not fear.
Glen Stansberry: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: So this is my last question, Glen. It’s kind of a toughie so take your time and just have some fun with it. If you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth, but you knew nobody. You still have all the experience and knowledge that you currently have. Your shelter and food is taken care of and you have $500 in your pocket and a computer with Internet access. What do you do in the next seven days?
Glen Stansberry: Well, how I got started was through blogging. So I think that is a very powerful resource, and so if I need to make some new friends and find people, like-minded people, to work with and things like that and get an idea off the ground, I would start a blog. And then I would also start designing something. I would have an idea and start designing something and just take it from there.
John Lee Dumas: So you would stick with the basics and what you know. You’re good at blogging and you’re good at designing, so you’re sticking with that and you’re going to go forward and create.
Glen Stansberry: Yes. Hopefully, it’s not too different from earth.
John Lee Dumas: It’s identical to earth.
Glen Stansberry: [Laughs] That will be fun! Yes. That’s what I would do. I enjoy those things and they’re powerful tools.
John Lee Dumas: Glen, that is actionable advice, and you’ve given us great actionable advice this entire interview and we are all better for it. Give Fire Nation one parting piece of guidance, then give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Glen Stansberry: So if I had any parting advice, it would be to be very careful around people who are looking to start a fight with you in terms of whatever you’re building. I know with Gentlemint we had some people who would proactively go out and just bash us and try to engage us. Really, I have a friend, Chris Guillebeau, who’s an author, and he says that these are vampires. They’re people that are trying to take away from what you’ve created.
John Lee Dumas: Suck your blood!
Glen Stansberry: Yes, exactly! Right. So they’re trying to suck the life out of you, and so any time you engage with them, you’re doing exactly what they want. That’s the only thing they want to do. They want to start something. Any time you open that can of worms, you cannot put them back in. So I was lucky and learned that very quickly, and that has stuck with me ever since.
John Lee Dumas: I love that. Now give Gentlemint a plug.
Glen Stansberry: Okay. Well, if you’re looking to find some interesting manly links or just interesting things in general, head over to Gentlemint.com. Check it out and get on our invite list, and we’ll get you in there as soon as we can.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome, Glen. We will link all those up in the show notes. Thank you so much for your time. Fire Nation, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.