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Alan Schaaf, Imgur Founder, in Wellington for TEDxWellington & more
successful entrepreneur
Image by US Embassy New Zealand
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As mentioned in a previous post, U.S. Embassy Wellington was delighted to be a sponsor for #TEDxWelly this year by helping bring Alan Schaaf, the founder and CEO of the website Imgur, to New Zealand to be one of the keynote speakers at the conference.

Alan started Imgur from his college dorm room at Ohio University while he was an undergraduate computer science student after he realized there was not an easy and simple way to upload images on the internet. For the first three years, Alan was the sole developer, and to do this day still develops for Imgur. Five years later, Imgur is one of the most popular sites on the web, attracting more than 130 million unique visitors a month. And in April 2014, 5 years after it was founded, Imgur raised million from Andreessen Horowitz, along with a small contribution from Reddit.

Alan arrived into Wellington with his partner, Brianna, and was met by TEDxWellington conference organizer, DK, myself and colleague Jamiela. Coming off a long haul flight they were surprisingly fresh, and Brianna (who also works at Imgur), donning the Imgur hoodie, was planning on doing some work after our initial meeting. Alan had himself organized a ‘meetup’ with some of Imgur’s community (or ‘Imgurians’) that evening at Wellington’s Southern Cross bar. Over 50 people turned up to meet Alan. Impressive! The ‘Imgurian’ community seems to be strong in Wellington.

After a well deserved rest, we met up the next day for a couple of interviews – a video interview for the Dominion Post, the other a radio interview at NewsTalkZB – where Alan talked about what Imgur is, how it came about, and what his TEDxWellington keynote was going to focus on. Then it was off to the official TEDxWellington launch, hosted by the Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown.
Sunday, the main event on Alan’s Wellington schedule – TEDxWellington. The theme of the conference was ‘Connecting, Hearts & Minds’ and it was broken up into 3 sessions. Alan was the first international speaker at a TEDx event in Wellington and he spoke during the ‘Connecting’ session about how important online communities are – ‘the power of online communities: breaking outside of your friend’s list’. Using the example of his hugely successful image-sharing site Imgur, Alan explained how widespread access to the Internet has given us access to very specific communities, removing the geographic limitations that occur with physical, offline communities. Alan’s talk was well received, with many messages on Twitter and from the audience during the breakout sessions.

Other inspiring and heartfelt talks and musical sessions at TEDxWelly included Adam Ben-Dror talking on ‘Diggers, Dump Trucks, Bulldozers and Beta Fish’; Arcee, ‘The Keys to Truth’, with her unique and talented style of rap; Cassandra Treadwell’s heartfelt talk ‘Come Down From our White Horses and Dance with the Zebras – Revolutionizing Charity’; Dave Moskovitz explaining ‘The Four Superpowers of the Internet’; Dylan Coburn’s art demonstration and what inspires him in ‘Illustrating Creativity’; Recent design graduates Fraser Callaway and Oliver Ward, demonstrating their ‘So Much More Than Just a Desk’; Gabe Davidson of Wellington’s Chocolate Factory on ‘The Craft Chocolate Revolution. From Bean to Bar’ (thanks for the chocolate samples!); the inspiring Guy Ryan on his ‘Vision for New Zealand’; Scientist Laura Green on ‘Connecting Curiosity – Tales of Science Serendipity’; a performance by talented musical duo, Ryfe; and Sophie Jerram on ‘Creating Generous Cities’.

The next day, after an Embassy digital studio interview, Alan had a lunch meeting with Joanna McLeod and Tan Huynh of the Grow Wellington Business Attraction team. Then it was off to the Enspiral collaborative working space that’s ‘about helping people and companies who have a strong social mission succeed at whatever projects they choose to undertake’. Alan shared his experiences and challenges of starting and scaling up Imgur with representatives of start-ups within the Enspiral space. Thanks to Silvia Zuur and Joshua Vial for organizing the Enspiral meetup.

That evening, in partnership with Project Blank Canvas, Creative HQ (a Wellington start-up Hub) and The BizDojo (a Wellington collaborative working space), Alan was invited to talk to a crowd of over 90 people at a Wellington Start-up Garage event. Nick Churchouse of Creative HQ interviewed Alan and got the conversation going, which followed with many questions from the audience. Alan was again well received with many comments during and after the event on Twitter.
The last day in Alan’s Wellington program started with a visit to meet Nick and Alan at CreativeHQ, a Wellington start-up hub dedicated to increasing the number of high growth businesses that fuel New Zealand’s economy through our incubation and acceleration programmes as well as our grassroots entrepreneur initiatives.

Then it was off to The BizDojo, where Alan and BizDojo’s co-founder, Nick Shewring discussed the opportunities in Project Blank Canvas, with Alan getting some ideas for his new Imgur office space in San Francisco. They even plan to meetup next month in San Francisco.

In the afternoon, Alan was invited to view the new office space of TradeMe – an online auction site in New Zealand. With over 400 staff, slides between floors, real-time analytic on wall monitors, and even a caravan inside on the 4th floor, Alan was impressed. Alan gave a short talk to about 60 of the TradeMe staff. Thanks, Jeff Hunkin for the tour!

Alan finished the day as guest of honor by Nick Clark of Flight Coffee, to a special evening of “back to school for coffee cocktails and delicious cuisine”, part of the Wellington Dinner on a plate.
Thanks again Alan and Brianna for visiting New Zealand. You made some lifelong friends in a short period of time!

Alan Brown – Undiagnosed in Millions, Do You Have It? – TEDxSan
successful entrepreneur
Image by TEDxSanDiego
photo attribution: sean dreilinger

Alan Brown
TEDxSanDiego Local Speaker Search Winner

An executive and entrepreneur, Alan?s latest start-up markets the ADD Crusher? instructional video series for adults struggling with ADHD. Undiagnosed until well into adulthood, Alan?s own untreated ADHD manifested itself in ways typical of one unaware of the condition ? underachievement, failed relationships, substance abuse, and worse. Upon diagnosis, he found it difficult to learn coping strategies from books ? so he developed his own strategies to build a successful marketing career. He is a frequently featured presenter at ADHD-related conferences, and is a co-author of the best-selling book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed with ADHD.

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Then how about the stock market? The stock market has slumped and millions have lost more than half of their pensions last year! Did you know that we can make money when stocks go up as well as down, you may have heard of Hedge Fund companies. George Soros, the billionaire investor and author made more than $ 1billion in 2008, (the year of the worst recession since the great depression in 1930s) while other prestigious companies went bankrupt? Some people may have heard of black Monday on October 1987, the day of the stock market crash, but it was one of the best days for some professional traders like James B. Rogers, who made millions on a single day.

How about businesses? Microsoft was started during a recession and has become one of the most successful companies to date. Facebook was valued at $ 10billion in 2009 compared to $ 3.8 billion in 2008, an increase in value of 263%, compare this to the industrial giants, two of the “Big Three”- Chrysler and General Motors recently filed for bankruptcy. So it is entirely up to you to decide whether you want to see opportunities or disaster.

I also found discipline and self belief are very important to keep my goals and visions alive in this global recession and to keep my spirit up when we have all the negative media coverage. I can honestly say this recession has slowed me down and I have encountered obstacles and problems on the way. However it is too naïve to expect everything to go smoothly, just as you expected and planned. It’s also helpful to read inspirational books and go to seminars to keep your spirit up.

Along the way I have also read books from the following people who have inspired me and gave me valuable knowledge. Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, Robert Allen, Napoleon Hill, George Clason and many more. I have also decided to take all of them as my mentors despite the fact I have never met them. Their wisdom, knowledge and courage often inspires me towards my goals and dreams. Life is not a bed of roses and these books act like torches to brighten my road.

It’s also a good idea to attend seminars to meet like minded people. I love to attend wealth creation, personal development and business seminars, as this helps me to learn how to leverage other people’s money, experience and knowledge. In addition to property seminars, I have also attended many other paid and free seminars and met and listened to millionaires from all different backgrounds many of whom started with nothing or were deeply in debt. Their stories are inspiring and I have also gained the necessary skills and knowledge that will benefit my personal development.

In addition to property investment, I’m also developing my internet business skills. I love and am passionate about what I do and I know these are also important success factors whatever you do. I’m also still proud of my MBA, because it has given me so much confidence and the knowledge that I gained from this course has given me an edge that will be very useful for running my businesses.

The good news is that we can operate in several cash flow quadrants at the same time to generate multiple streams of income. As Rich Dad said, every one one of us has the potential to become rich. You do not need money to become rich, but your brain, your most important asset, can make you rich. It is not how much resources you have, it is your resourcefulness that makes all the difference.

Since the time that I wrote down my goals to become financially free and become a millionaire, I also wrote down my financial plan, as without a plan my goals would be destined to fail. Opportunities are everywhere and our determination to succeed is the most important factor. I will never give up my dream, I will continuously take action and learn more by attending seminars and by reading books that increase my financial IQ and effectiveness. Persistence and positive attitude are other important character traits and I believe the law of attraction.

Shannon Pentony

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