The world needs more Peter Shankmans.
Since graduating from Boston University, Peter has experienced a great amount of success, including starting several businesses and writing four books. His latest is a website and podcast called Faster Than Normal that shows how ADD and ADHD can be a gift — not a curse — for people.
He recently spoke to our class at at Michigan State University from his office in New York City.
Some of the things he mentioned are things I will never forget, starting with… “not a lot of people do good shit anymore; do good shit.”
Peter talked about how we as media entrepreneurs should not get “side tracked by the latest and greatest shiny thing.” Yes, the future of media is mobile and digital. However, not everything has to be an app to be successful.
Peter said, “Don’t build for an app, build for your audience. Apps like Twitter are pipes and pipes don’t always survive.”
This made so much sense to me because depending on your audience, you need to figure out the right platform to promote your content. You want to deliver your story the way your audience wants.
Speaking of your audience, Peter says that “having an audience is a privilege, not a right.” Peter compared having an audience to wearing spandex, which I thought was hilarious. You have to earn the right to have an audience, just like you have to earn the right to wear spandex.
Peter brought up a good point about the rewards of entrepreneurship. All of the businesses he has created and all of the ideas he has put all of his effort into is to help others and fix a problem he sees in the world. “Don’t do it for the money because you’ll be doing it for the wrong reasons,” he aid.
I agree with this because if you’re putting your heart and soul into a business 24/7, you’re going to NEED to love it. Also, you may resent going to work every day if you don’t wake up in the morning burning with passion to make it successful.
Peter says students in college and fresh out of college are at the perfect time in their lives to start a business. He said, “If you have an idea, now is the time to do it while you don’t have kids, a husband/wife yet. Do it now instead of in 30 years when you hate your job and can’t change it because you have kids to support.”
Another point Peter brought up that I agree with is that he is a “big believer in failure.” Peter even went so far as to mention that he doesn’t want to hire those that haven’t failed and don’t continue to fail. You might be confused by this or look like Jay Z and Beyonce in this moment.
But… it makes sense! Personally, I think Peter is absolutely right when he said, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.” You must fail to succeed and if you aren’t failing, you’re not putting enough work in.
Ohhhh.. I get it now…
As Jay Z would probably say… haters should be your motivators. Peter said, “If you don’t have haters, you’re not doing enough to change the status quo because haters don’t like change.”
I thought it was interesting that Peter described how the life as an entrepreneur really is. He said there are high highs and low lows in this business and you have to have thick skin and real passion to stay happy in it. Peter explained that he has lost many entrepreneur friends to suicide because they felt like they didn’t have anyone to talk to.
The last point that I will touch on was how Peter talked about your brand and how you ARE your brand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… whether you like it or not.
I can attest to this, being in a sorority here at Michigan State. From day one, we were taught that everything we do, say and post on social media is a reflection of our sorority as a whole and that we all represent each other.
Peter emphasized that even if you’re doing something stupid at 3 a.m., you still work for a company and you are still representing your own brand. You are still you when you are sober, drunk, happy, sad, angry, all the above. That is something to always keep in mind if you’re going into entrepreneurship… and also just, life.