Nathan Chan is the CEO and publisher of Foundr Magazine. He’s on a mission to crack the startup code for himself and he’s not interested in hearing from folks who walked the conventional path of working your way up from the bottom. He’s on the Unorthodox podcast to talk about his road to success, his unconventional book and the unconventional route of using Kickstarter to validate it, and what he’s learned from failure.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

[00:00] Welcome and introduction to Nathan Chan.

[02:24] Foundr V1.0: Lessons From the Greatest Entrepreneurs Today.

[05:10] Choosing Kickstarter.

[06:00] Chan’s unconventional journey.

[08:30] Common themes among entrepreneurs.

[10:45] Aha moment.

[15:14] Learning from failure.

[18:40] Finding a mentor.

[22:49] Serve first, ask later.

[25:47] Daily routine that contributes to his success.

[27:38] Podcast and book recommendations.

[29:04] Contact information.

[29:28] Unorthodox challenge.

Nathan Chan

At Foundr, they produce a lot of content around entrepreneurs, startups, marketing, and what it takes to build and grow a successful business. Publisher and CEO Nathan Chan started Foundr about four years ago while he was still working his IT day job. Now he’s cracking the code of building a successful business.

Foundr V1.0: Lessons From the Greatest Entrepreneurs Today

The team at Foundr likes to produce content in different forms. “I get a bit of a kick out of just doing fun projects and also really listening to our audience and seeing what people are asking for,” says Chan. Although Foundr is a digital magazine with plans to start printing soon, people were requesting a physical version now.

“We’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation,” says Chan. So he decided to take the best of the interviews and compile them into a beautifully designed coffee table book called Foundr V1.0: Lessons From the Greatest Entrepreneurs Today.

“There’s no such thing as a business coffee table book,” he says. “I just thought it would be really cool.” So to validate it and see if anyone would want such a book, he decided to crowdfund it through Kickstarter. “It’s made a really, really great body of work and I’m really, really proud of it,” he says.

Chan’s Unconventional Journey

“I’m on the mission to build one of the largest entrepreneurial brands in the world that impacts the lives of tens of millions of people on a weekly basis,” says Chan. “That’s my mission, that’s what I obsess about. That’s what we all obsess about as a team at Foundr.”

Four years ago, Chan was working an IT job that he wasn’t passionate about. He was interested in marketing and business, and decided he wanted to create a business magazine. “I looked at the landscape of business magazines and I felt there wasn’t really a publication out there that I could relate to as an aspiring entrepreneur,” he says. He started his magazine as a passion hobby for fun, but it evolved into his mission. “I just really love helping people, I love creating impactful products and services that help people as entrepreneurs.”

Foundr started as a digital magazine, but is now a fully-fledged media company.

Common Themes Among Entrepreneurs

The common themes Chan has noticed among entrepreneurs are relentless discipline, a thirst for improvement, and an interest in self-development. “They’ll never give up,” says Chan. “They just focus and just grind day after day until they get there. Failure isn’t an option. They might fail, but they’ll keep going.” If they don’t have the answers, they’ll figure out who to learn from or where to read about it.

Chan’s Aha Moment

Chan didn’t have a single moment, but rather a series of things that happened to him and shaped him. At his IT job, his boss once asked him to walk around multiple floors of the building interrupting each person’s work to ask if they needed any IT assistance, because she felt the team lacked confidence that IT would help them resolve issues. When he refused, she brought him into the office and gave him an absolute spray, treating him like a piece of crap. He almost cried, and he decided he’d never let anybody have the opportunity to speak to him like that again.

Another time, he caught the train to the city to go to his job. A hundred people or so were in each carriage of the train, but it was dead silent because nobody wanted to be there. “Inside of me, I knew somehow that I was destined for so much more, that I was meant to do more than what I was doing,” says Chan.

He was also frustrated and getting sick and tired of doing work that he didn’t enjoy. When he went on a trip to Europe for six weeks, he knew he didn’t want to go back to his job.

Learning From Failure

Within the first four months of starting his business, Chan was sued for trademark infringement and had to change the name of the business. “That was really a difficult, traumatic time for me,” he says. “I had no money, and being sued is pretty scary stuff. There was nothing I could do but just push through.”

He had a great mentor who helped him work through the lawsuit. “Having incredible mentors is very key,” he says. “Having people who can support you that have been on the journey that you’re about to go down can really help you move forward.”

Chan believes there’s something powerful in learning from other people’s mistakes and tapping into their experiences. “That’s been incredibly key for me,” says Chan.

Finding a Mentor

Entrepreneurs can pay for people’s time as mentors from sites such as coach.me and clarify.fm, or they can build a support system through networking and surrounding themselves with smart people. When you find mentors through networking, you must always serve first and ask later. “Do something for that person where you don’t expect anything in return, or do something for that person and then know that you may be able to, in the future, ask them for some advice,” says Chan.

Daily Routines That Contribute to Success

“I use my calendar to schedule absolutely everything,” Chan says. “If it’s in my calendar, it gets done.”

Another good habit and one of the values at Foundr is to do what you say you’ll do. At the start of the year, they set out all of their goals for Foundr, and they accomplish 80-90% of them.

Unorthodox Challenge

Chan’s challenge is a high-stakes wager. “If you’re looking to achieve a goal, tell one of your best friends that, and put $500-$1,000, a ridiculous financial wager on the line, and get that best friend to keep you accountable,” he says. “If you don’t hit that goal, they get to keep the money.”

Contact Nathan Chan

You can find Nathan Chan and Foundr by visiting the website.

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