Simplero Blog

The business of transforming lives, and life as a conscious entrepreneur

Calvin Correli

5 Key Takeaways From Our Expert Interview

Calvin Correli, Founder of Simplero, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

In this episode, we discuss the tenets of being a successful business owner, the ideal target for Simplero, and the importance of free trials.

Below are Calvin Correli’s five biggest insights from the conversation.

1. Starting and running a business is all about commitment and belief in yourself.

Going out there and — if it's the first time you're creating a business for yourself — now you also need to market not just a product but yourself. You're claiming that you have something of value to other people and by implication, it feels like what you're saying is exactly that, "I am valuable." Then there's the technology and the software and understanding marketing. There's a lot of things going on.

2. Accept all of the emotions that come with being a business owner — the good and bad.

It's very easy to put your focus on bad things and you're kind of really scared about being out there and being seen. You create problems for yourself. What I see is the more that people can say, "Yes, there's going to be all kinds of emotions here. I'm going to be scared and I'm going to feel like a complete fake, or a loser, or idiot, or whatever. All this is going to happen but I'm just going to show up every day and do my work. I'm not going to give up; giving up is not an option here. I'm just going to keep at it, keep it simple, not give my authority away to other people.” Keep it easy. And then, before you know it, you are already succeeding. You have your first sale and then you have your second sale and then you are on your way.

3. Avoid shiny object syndrome.

A lot of people will be running after the next new thing, thinking, "I need to have this in order to be successful." It's a huge distraction from what's really, really required. I always like to focus on the timeless basics that are always going to work, and once you have that figured out, then you can go for the best marketing automation software.

4. The way entrepreneurship works involves the founder and the company becoming very quickly intertwined.

For me, the learning curve this year has to do with building a team and working with people. Before the beginning of this year, I've always just been a loner. I've been the one to hunker down and figure it out and do it myself — and I've had people working for me. I had a software consulting company at one point with about 13 people, but I just never cracked the code to make it really work for me.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice.

In January, this year I realized this is what I need to figure out. I spent months just studying and reading and asking people for advice to figure out how to get this team aspect working for me, so that I hired good people and I was a good leader for them. I was using my strengths and getting other people who had different strengths that would be a good match and all those things. That's really what's going on for me right now is that team-building. I'm happy to say that it was really, really working out. Now, I'm like, "I am not going to do anything in my business life without someone else to do it with."

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.

Calvin Correli

How to Fight for your Right to Exist

Today, in the US, and around the world, there's a battle going on for the future of the internet, which means it's also a battle for the future of business. It's a battle known as "Net Neutrality", though I strongly prefer John Oliver's phrase "Cable Company Fuckery".

Net Neutrality at its core is about the internet providers doing their job of delivering the data that their customers (you and I who buy internet connections from them) want from the sites they want, be they Netflix, Google, or Simplero.

What the internet providers want to be able to do is slow down certain sites, and - for a "modest" payment, of course - speed up certain other sites. They call it "fast lanes", but we all know that it'll necessarily lead to "slow lanes" as well.

And you and I will be relegated to the slow lanes unless we pay up, something we probably cannot afford to do, and something we definitely shouldn't have to do, given that our users are already paying for the privilege of accessing our services.

The typical way to structure this is "them against us": The war against drugs; the war against terror; the fight against cancer; the fight against poverty; the fight to end violence, and on and on.

I don't believe in that way of operating because history shows it simply doesn't work. Last I checked, drugs, terrorism, cancer, poverty, and violence still existed. (Cable Company Fuckery didn't, thankfully.)

I believe that our world is a reflection of us, so whatever is "out there" somehow originated "in here", and the best way forward is to make a shift "in here" that will then affect change out there. That doesn't mean it's "my fault", it just means that's my central point of power and control.

And I believe there are reasons people behave the way they do, and only by understanding them really well can we come up with strategies 

In a case like this, however, I think we have to work on both fronts: "Out there" and "in here" in tandem. We have to play the game as it lays, at the same time we look inside to see how we might change the game and take it to another level of consciousness.

US politics is fundamentally (but legally) corrupt. Money talks. But bodies do talk to. Ultimately, only people vote. So politicians care about something when enough people let them know they care.

So doing what Battle for the Net is doing, bringing broad awareness to the topic, is important. John Oliver's contribution is important. Your contribution, should you choose to make one, is important.

It's easy to go all pacifist and think that because we're spiritual, we just turn the other cheek and let people walk all over us. I don't think that's how it works. We need to defend ourselves, or we will no longer be around or have the capacity to show lovingkindness and forgiveness to others in the future.

Like the Dalai Lama himself said, "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back withy our own gun."

We have to defend our right to exist (and make a living) first, then and only then can we practice forgiveness for the attacker.

Calvin Correli

What It's Like at Burning Man

As I'm waiting for my flight back to New York here at Oakland Airport's gate 9, I feel called to write down some quick reflections on my first burn.

Number one: I'm so glad I went. I'm a burner. Heck, I may even be a bit of a hippie.

Number two: The whole dust, portapotty, not showering (all that often), camping, lack of sleep, playafeet, and all the stuff you need to carry around (water/camelbak, cup, ID, lighting, goggles, mask, etc.), having to bring water and everything you need, etc. is really not that big of a deal. You get used to it pretty quickly, and then it is what it is. The portapotties work well and have TP most of the time, and are generally pretty clean.

It helps that any amount of clothing is entirely optional from around 9am until a half hour after sundown. I ended up just wearing my bathing trunks every day.

Number three: Burning man can be anything you want. For me it was a lot of fun, a lot of expansion, and major emotional breakthroughs. The temple is a really special place. You go, you cry, and you support others in their process. It's so darn beautiful. Some of my absolute best moments were spent at the temple.

Number four: There's SO MUCH to do. There are some really amazing workshops and healing opportunities. I went to some really incredible workshops - and of course some not so great ones too. That's cool. You cannot do everything, but do take time to review the program carefully.

Number five: Have lots of unplanned time. I really enjoyed to just wander around on my own, whether in the city or on the playa, and just go where I felt called to go. Going in a group gets unwieldy really quickly. You quickly end up spending a ton of time waiting for each other and not agreeing on where you want to go when or why. Alone and spontaneous is pretty awesome.

Number six: The gifting is incredible. I got workshops, footrubs, baths, hugs, emotional support, drinks, laughs, stories, mist, head massage, and so much else. And I really enjoyed giving too. At one point I went to this place that offered free massages - foot or whole body - and because the wait was pretty long, I ended up just giving foot massages instead. After a while one of the "clients" turned out to be a massage therapist herself and offered to return the favor. Turned out almost everybody there giving massages were random participants not affiliated with the camp.

Number seven: The playa provides. You can always find someone who has what you need, and it rarely takes more than ten minutes. Just ask around. Everyone's super helpful and wants you get what you need. You just have to ask. There's so much abundance and generosity.

Number eight: The difference between day and night is insane. Night falls pretty quickly, and suddenly the place changes from a fairly calm bathing-suit (or naked-people) paradise to a giant weird-ass disco in the desert where no matter where you are you hear the thump-thump-thump of one of the sound camps or art cars (and probably several of them), and the insanity of lighting from every direction all around you. It's as different as day and night (duh!).

Number nine: It's the perfect mirror. Burning Man is anything you want it to be, whether consciously or unconsciously. It can be the ultimate party, it can be spiritually awakening and transformative, it can be about connection and community, it can be about so many other things, and it can be all of those things at once, as it was for me. It also brought up a lot of stuff for me, and thankfully the necessary healing was generously forthcoming. The playa provides in both lovingly pushing you to your edge, and in lovingly supporting you past it.

Number ten: Your camp matters a lot. I was very fortunate to be in an exceptional camp. 75 people from 7 countries, first year camp, with so many incredible people, so much generosity and awesome gifts to the playa (we had a giant cuddle puddle with hundreds and hundreds of stuffed animals, a professional sound and lighting system for our disco, home cooked meals every night of the week, a bar stocked with about 300 bottles of Grey Goose and other alcohol that have been gifted to us, 3000 kind bars, and a fully stocked pantry, just to name a few things. We had so much we started taking vodka and kind bars with us out and just offering to people, and towards the end of the week, people even took whole cases o Grey Goose out to share. I have no idea how my camp pulled it off, but they did. I just helped break it all down and take it to storage afterwards.

Number eleven: People are incredibly open. You can strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone, you can give and get hugs with anyone, you can ask for help, you can engage in so many ways, and people are more than happy to engage.

Number twelve: The amount of creativity that goes into this event is staggering. So many art cars, each of which have taken months if not years to build. So many art projects which , many of which will be burnt towards the end of the week. The art works are so beautiful, and the abundance and creativity that their creation displays is so amazing.

Number thirteen: I love fire. Fire is awesome, it's beautiful, it provides warmth and light at night. Fire is the shit.

In short: It wasn't always fun, there's a lot of work involved, it's quite a commitment in both time and money, but it is SO worth it. It is fun, it is amazing, it is transformative, and it will give you exactly what you need.

I first heard of Burning Man in 2000 when I'd recently moved to New York for the first time, and if I were to change something, I should've gone way sooner. I guess I wasn't ready.

But I am now. And I'm definitely going next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

See you in Black Rock City in 2015.

Welcome home :)

Calvin Correli

A world without money

Shantanu StarickHave you ever sat back, taken a good look at the world around you, and wondered how much of the activity you see out there would still be going on, if it wasn't motivated by money? Would the construction workers still build that house? Would the bus driver still drive the bus? Would the barista still make you coffee? Would the farmer still grow food and raise animals to eat?

I love money. I love the fact that someone was smart enough to invent money. It would be so complicated if every time I wanted to eat, I had to either go find some plant to eat in the park, or I had to find someone with food who happened to need either coaching or software. It would be such a mess.

But it's also pretty clear that when money becomes the end rather than the means, it corrupts. Human beings have a natural desire to connect, to do things together, and to be generous and serve other humans. It simply makes us feel good inside to do that. But money comes in and takes on this life of our own, and we start to think it's about the money. How much we can make, how much we can gather, how much we can spend. Nonsense.

At some point around the New Year of 2012/2013, I crossed the point where I could make a living solely from Simplero. I didn't have to chase any additional income from any other source. I was living in India, so living expenses were low, and my revenue was recurring and  growing each month, so the future was looking good, too.

That forced me to confront my motivation for doing what I was doing. If it's no longer because I need more money to survive, what is it then? Turns out, my real motivation is realizing my vision for what Simplero wants to become, and connecting with my customers and co-creating it with them. That's what drives me. That's what motivates me.

Getting to that point where it's no longer about the money freed me up to focus on doing what I really wanted to be doing. I no longer had think about how each decision impacted my income, whether a given customer or transaction was worth it in a monetary sense. I could focus solely on doing it for the connection, the service, and the realization of my vision.

So this Friday when I met Shantanu Starick, it felt like reconnecting with a long lost friend. He realized that money was getting in the way of his dream to be a generalist photographer rather than a specialist (wedding, fashion, advertising, what-have-you), and so he figured, why not take money out of the equation completely. So for the past 23 months, he's traveled all over five continents, without making or spending a single dime. He's been trading photos for food, lodging, travel, health and equipment insurance, and the occasional equipment purchase. And people have been incredibly supportive.

It's such a beautiful thing, because it allows for a much deeper connection than if he were just another hired photographer. By staying with his clients, he gets to know them, he builds connections, and he learns how he can serve in even deeper and more meaningful ways. Which, as it happens, is what fosters happiness.

He was a speaker at 99u, the conference I attended last week, and after his talk he came up to the "patron lounge" where I was sitting. I immediately went over and talked to him, and we ended up chatting for the next hour or so. He also happened to have no new job lined up, and so I jumped at the chance and offered that he could stay with us this week, which he agreed to. He'll be arriving at my place in a few hours.

Apart from being an interesting experiment in the effect of money or the lack of money, it is of course also a great story. And since marketing is really about telling a compelling story, a story that connects and spreads, and since this one does both, in a very deep way, it is of course also amazing marketing. Even though he's not profiting monetarily, he's profiting wildly in connections and experiences and personal branding. And that is worth gold.

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