FASTer - Issue #143

Beyond the Gold Chains: Mr. T's Powerful Message for Today's Entrepreneurs

Lessons come from many places but todays message came from the least likely source.To the average person he was an entertainer, a tv personality a strong man. He was all that and more. He was an entrepreneur(in the media space and beyond) that took charge of his destiny to control his outcomes.

My understanding of Mr. T's significance was limited during my youth in the 80s and early 90s, partly due to my age and partly because I missed the interviews where he shared his insights. Reflecting on this, I ponder whether the predominantly white media of that era effectively highlighted his message. It seems many among my generation were also unaware of the deeper meanings behind Mr. T's persona. This oversight is curious and thought-provoking.

Therefore, whenever you encounter Mr. T, remember there's much more to him than his famous line, “I pity the fool.” He carried a profound message for all of us. This is his story…

Mr. T’s Name

Mr. T — born Lawrence Tureaud in 1952 in Chicago, Illinois — legally changed his name at the age of 18 because of the racism his family endured.

He explained the motivation in a 1983 interview.

“I think about my father being called ‘boy’, my uncle being called ‘boy’, my brother, coming back from Vietnam and being called ‘boy’. So I questioned myself: “What does a black man have to do before he’s given the respect as a man?” So when I was 18 years old, when I was old enough to fight and die for my country, old enough to drink, old enough to vote, I said I was old enough to be called a man.

I self-ordained myself Mr. T so the first word out of everybody’s mouth is ‘Mr.’ That’s a sign of respect that my father didn’t get, that my brother didn’t get, that my mother didn’t get.”

Mr. T’s Gold Chains

The gold chains Mr. T was known for? Those symbolized the chains his ancestors were shackled in when stolen from their homes.

“The gold chains are a symbol that reminds me of my great African ancestors, who were brought over here as slaves with iron chains on their ankles, their wrists, their necks and sometimes around their waists.

I turned my chains into gold, so my statement is this: The fact that I wear gold chains instead of iron chains is because I am still a slave, only my price tag is higher now. I am still bought and sold by the powers that be in this society, white people, but this time they pay me on demand, millions and millions of dollars for my services. I demand it and they pay it. Yes, I am still a slave in this society, but I am free by God.

“How are you still a salve, Mr. T?” You see, the only that interest this society is money. And the only thing that it fears and respects is more money.” Mr. T: The Man with the Gold: An Autobiography by Mr. T.

Mr. T’s Boots and Socks

Mr. T wore beat-up boots and mismatching socks to symbolize his humble beginnings and the impoverished kids he wanted to help.

“My beat-up, run-over, taped-up, raggedy and old combat boots used to belong to my father before they were handed down to me. I wear my father’s boots with pride because they help me not to forget where I come from and they tell me that I have to finish his journey.

Now the reason I wear mismatched socks is because there are a lot of poor children who don’t have a pair of matched socks, and people laugh at them. So I wear mismatched socks so people can laugh at me, instead of the poor kids. Plus I am making a fashion statement: Just wear what you got and be thankful.”

Mr. T’s Mohawk

The mohawk is in honor of the Mandinka tribe in Africa, from whom Mr. T says he’s descended from.

“There’s a tribe in Africa that call themselves the Mandinka warriors. They wear their hair in this fashion. They wear feather earrings, they wear diamonds, gold…I’m proud to be a descendent of those people, and that’s the reason why I wear this.” David Letterman interview (Must watch).


Better Outcomes: Leveraging Guilt Equity for Growth

In the entrepreneurial world, where funding is often a key constraint, innovative concepts like "guilt equity" can be a game-changer. Hang in there, this is not some thing negative or mean. This concept, which involves gaining a stake or interest in a venture due to feelings of obligation or guilt, rather than traditional financial investment, can be a powerful tool for early-stage founders. It has resonated with me ever since I saw it in action some years ago.

The Story….

Take, for instance, the story of “Startup X”* name anonymized , a startup focusing on sustainable agriculture. Founded by two college friends, they struggled with funding in its early stages. However, their work significantly benefited local farmers by providing affordable, eco-friendly farming techniques.

Realizing the impact of their work, they decided to use the concept of guilt equity to engage with stakeholders who had historically overlooked sustainable practices. They approached several established agricultural businesses, sharing how their neglect had contributed to environmental degradation and how startup X’s solutions were making a difference.

Moved by the realizations and feeling a sense of responsibility, a few of these businesses agreed to support Startup X. Instead of direct investment, they offered resources, mentorship, and access to wider networks. This support was their way of compensating for past oversights - a form of guilt equity.

The Outcome

This strategic move led to a win-win situation. Startup X gained essential resources and industry connections, enabling them to scale their operations and impact. The established businesses, in turn, improved their sustainability credentials and learned innovative practices from Startup X, fostering a more eco-conscious approach in their operations.

Key Takeaway for Entrepreneurs

For early-stage entrepreneurs, this story illustrates an unconventional path to growth and engagement. By recognizing the potential of guilt equity, startups can unlock new opportunities. This approach not only provides resources but also builds meaningful partnerships based on shared values and responsibilities.

Remember, every business has a story and an impact. Leveraging these effectively can turn perceived weaknesses, like lack of funding, into unique strengths and opportunities for collaboration and growth. You can only impact your outcomes when you think beyond your problems.

One New Thing (That you should know)

Do you love Popeye the Sailor Man? If so, you’re not alone; this iconic cartoon character has entertained people for generations. But you may not know that Popeye was based on a real person. 

Popeye’s creator, Elzie Crisler Segar, was a newspaper cartoonist who first introduced Popeye in his comic strip, “Thimble Theatre,” in 1929. The character of Popeye was inspired by a real-life sailor named Frank “Rocky” Fiegel. Fiegel was a rough-and-tumble man whom E.C. knew from his hometown and who worked in a local saloon.

Boring Stuff That Scales

In the wake of the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, amidst a growing consciousness about environmental preservation, the Container Corporation of America (CCA) emerged as a pioneering force. At the forefront of recycled packaging materials, CCA was not just a leader in its industry but also a proactive advocate for environmental responsibility. Recognizing the potential to transform its use of recycled paper from a perceived weakness into a strength, CCA initiated a national logo competition, aligning itself with the burgeoning environmental movement.

This competition attracted Gary Anderson, a 23-year-old architecture student from the University of Southern California. Though not a design major, Anderson was galvanized by an environmental rally and the dawning recognition of Earth's finite resources, a realization spreading among his generation. His participation in the contest was not just a creative endeavor but a reflection of a deeper environmental commitment.

Anderson drew inspiration from the Mobius Loop, a concept rooted in late 19th-century mathematics symbolizing continuity and connection. This idea resonated with Anderson, especially in the context of recycling and environmental sustainability. His design process was swift but deeply informed by prior work on water recycling, which had already introduced him to the concepts of cycles, flows, and interconnectedness.

The design Anderson crafted featured three interlocking arrows, a representation of both dynamism and perpetual balance. This symbol was not just a logo; it was a visual manifesto of the era's environmental ethos, embodying the continuous cycle of recycling and the sustainable use of resources.

Out of 500 entries, Anderson's design triumphed at the International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA), earning him a $2,500 award towards his studies. But more significantly, it marked a turning point for the CCA. The company's adoption of this logo underlined its commitment to sustainability and positioned it as a forward-thinking leader in the environmental movement. The logo, embodying both the company's mission and the era's environmental awakening, became an iconic symbol of recycling and sustainability.

This strategic embrace of environmental values by the CCA, through Anderson's logo, exemplifies how businesses can turn potential weaknesses into compelling strengths. It's a powerful reminder for today's entrepreneurs that aligning business practices with societal values can not only foster positive change but also drive success and leadership in their respective industries.

What You Should Be Watching

This documentary examines the unique manufacturing ecosystem that has emerged, gaining access to the world’s leading hardware-prototyping culture whilst challenging misconceptions from the west. The film looks at how the evolution of “Shanzhai” – or copycat manufacturing – has transformed traditional models of business, distribution and innovation, and asks what the rest of the world can learn from this so-called “Silicon Valley of hardware". With the whole world focused on AI Chips and a race to manufacturing dominance, this 7 year old documentary is still as relevant today for those who are catching up to the phenomenon of design and build dominance.

Monetize your time - at any age

Empower Independence: The Entrepreneurial Benefit of Granting Freedom to Future Leaders

In a world where overprotective parenting is becoming the norm among the upper class, the essence of independence in young adults seems to be fading. The pervasive use of security cameras, relentless location tracking, and invasive cell phone monitoring are creating a generation cocooned in a safety bubble, disconnected from real-world challenges and experiences.

This trend raises critical questions about the future capabilities of these individuals. Without the opportunity to work part-time jobs, manage their own schedules, or even navigate the nuances of personal relationships, how can they be expected to develop the acumen needed for entrepreneurship or self-sufficiency? The ability to make sound decisions, handle responsibilities, and face the world with confidence stems from the freedom to explore, fail, and learn.

As parents and entrepreneurs, it's essential to recognize the value of granting freedom and responsibility to the younger generation. By doing so, we're not just easing their transition into adulthood; we're actively nurturing future leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. This approach doesn't just benefit the youngsters; it's a strategic investment for parents. By allowing children to grow through their experiences, parents can free up their time, previously spent on excessive monitoring, to focus on their entrepreneurial ventures.

The call to action is clear: It's time to bring back freedom. Let's create an environment where young minds can flourish independently, developing the skills and resilience needed in the entrepreneurial world. By doing so, we're not only empowering them for a better future but also enhancing our own entrepreneurial journey by learning to trust and delegate.

This shift towards fostering independence can be a transformative strategy for both parents and entrepreneurs, turning time spent on supervision into opportunities for growth and innovation. What could you do as an entrepreneur that helps cash in on this transition? In my view that is the next opportunity in the developing world and markets aka Startups, ideas, businesses that empower independence.

One Last Thing

Idea of the week…Urban Rooftop Farming

Urban Roof-Top Farming Services, let's break down the essential components and steps to start this business, assuming an abundance of horticultural expertise available. Every week I get dozens of requests of ideas that could potentially work in developing markets, here is some thing that I believe has legs. Ive tried to break this down to simple components so you know how to think about the process.

1. Business Planning and Market Research:

  • Understanding the Market: Research the demand for rooftop farming in urban areas. Identify potential clients like homeowners, apartment dwellers, restaurants, and businesses interested in sustainable practices.

  • Business Model: Decide whether to charge for the setup and ongoing maintenance separately, or offer a subscription-based service.

2. Gathering Resources and Supplies:

  • Horticultural Expertise: Collaborate with local horticulturists and agricultural experts. They will be crucial for advising on plant choices, soil management, and sustainable farming practices.

  • Gardening Supplies:

    • Soil, compost, and fertilizers: Preferably organic and suitable for container gardening.

    • Seeds and plants: A mix of popular vegetables, herbs, and ornamental plants that thrive in rooftop conditions.

    • Containers and Planters: Durable and suitable for the weight-bearing limits of rooftops.

    • Watering Systems: Drip irrigation systems or self-watering containers for efficient water usage.

    • Tools: Basic gardening tools like trowels, pruners, gloves, and watering cans.

  • Structural Requirements:

    • Lightweight, durable materials for raised beds or container supports.

    • Weather protection elements like shade nets or cold frames.

    • Safety railings or barriers, if necessary.

  • Business Registration: Register the business as per local regulations.

  • Insurance: Obtain liability insurance, especially considering the risks involved in working on rooftops.

  • Permits and Regulations: Check for any urban agriculture policies or building codes related to rooftop modifications.

4. Marketing and Customer Acquisition:

  • Branding: Create a compelling brand that highlights the environmental and health benefits of rooftop farming.

  • Digital Presence: Develop a website and social media presence showcasing successful projects and customer testimonials.

  • Local Networking: Engage with local communities, gardening clubs, and environmental groups to raise awareness.

  • Partnerships: Collaborate with local nurseries, gardening stores, and environmental organizations for referrals and joint marketing efforts.

5. Service Offerings:

  • Consultation Services: Offer initial consultations to assess the feasibility and design of rooftop gardens.

  • Installation Services: Provide complete installation services from garden design to planting.

  • Maintenance and Education: Offer regular maintenance services and educational workshops for clients who want to learn about rooftop gardening.

6. Additional Revenue Streams:

  • Workshops and Classes: Conduct paid workshops on urban gardening, sustainable practices, and organic farming.

  • Gardening Kits and Supplies: Sell customized gardening kits, tools, and supplies as an additional revenue stream.

7. Expansion and Scalability:

  • Scaling Up: As the business grows, consider expanding services to include larger installations like rooftop greenhouses or commercial setups.

  • Franchising: Explore franchising opportunities in other urban areas.

By focusing on sustainability, community involvement, and leveraging the expertise of local horticulturists, this business can not only provide a valuable service but also contribute positively to urban environments.With high inflationary pressures, this is no longer just a good to start business but some thing allows people to cut their grocery bill and eat better.

Bonus! Thought(s) of the week

As we go into the new year. Think about the tweet below. Be kinder.

A Heartfelt Appeal As We Embark on a New Journey

As we close another chapter, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey we've shared over the past 1001 days. Your unwavering support and enthusiasm have been the cornerstone of my dedication, fueling my passion to deliver insightful content every week for more than 2.7 years.

Your engagement has not just been a source of motivation but a guiding light, shaping the essence of each edition. As we step into the new year, I am filled with gratitude and a renewed sense of purpose.

If this newsletter has sparked new ideas, offered valuable insights, or simply been a source of enjoyment, I humbly request you to spread the joy. Share it with friends, family, and colleagues who might appreciate it as much as you do. By forwarding this email or sharing the link to our posts, you can help extend our community of passionate entrepreneurs and curious minds.

Let's make this act of sharing our collective resolution as we greet the new year. Here's to a prosperous and thriving year ahead for each one of you, filled with success, innovation, and growth. Happy New Year to every single reader - your presence in this journey is a gift I cherish deeply.

Together, let's continue to explore, learn, and grow. Here's to another year of sharing, thriving, and celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship! 🌟🚀🎉