Sorry, You’re Not Allowed to Do That

We’re all looking for permission.

Earlier this year, a top elk-hunting guide told stories of some of his trips. One thing was consistent with every hunt – he had to tell his clients to shoot. Think about that: they’ve paid thousands of dollars, have the most expensive gear, have trekked multiple days for this one moment and they would not take the shot unless he told them to. He said, “I get a wild bull elk within 25 yards and they wouldn’t take the shot. I had to give permission to shoot. They needed me to do that.”

From an early age, we’re taught that we need permission. Raise your hand if you need to go to the bathroom, ask if you can have a turn, get the boss’s approval first.

But life is not about permission. Life rewards action.

Nobody gave the Wright Brothers permission to fly (but the government gave this guy permission).

Sergey and Larry didn’t ask permission – Google was the 21st search engine to enter the market. Rest in peace Ask Jeeves.

And Casey Neistat has no business being on a tv commercial – but, there he is.

Most of the time, the best words we can hear are the ones we fear the most.

“No.”
“That’s against our policy.”
“We’re going in a different direction.”
“Leave.”

History is full of those who did not ask permission.

If you believe that what you’re doing needs to exist, here’s all the permission you need:

No one cares if you fail.

Game on,

Tim

The best things I’ve come across since last email

Ignaz Semmelweis had blood on his hands. Actually. Not a metaphor – 20 minute read that I can’t stop thinking about. Shows the power of noticing a problem, naming it, and not stopping until you have the solution.

Self Publish the Best Seller Inside of You: A How To – particularly part G, in which he writes “Inside of their own copy for my book they had links out to ads for other books. They didn’t really care about me. They sold almost none of my book on a two million person list.”

Unicorn Swaps and Falling Complacency – if you read nothing else, simply scroll down to the 1MDB section because there’s a new rule in metaphors “Okay new rule: If you ever say that any financial market event is a “perfect storm,” you have to continue the nautical metaphor for at least a paragraph and follow the relevant ship all the way to port or to the bottom of the ocean, as the case may be.”

And yes, all three of those go against the tl;dr crowd. Enjoy 🙂

Introducing the American Food Tour

Here’s the vision: find the best food from every part of the country.

The plan is to take a 7 month road trip around the US in search of delicious food. Find it, work out the logistics, and sell it on ungrocery.com.

Few people take a go to market strategy as literal as I do. Here are the markets I plan to go:

American Food Tour

I will go to all the colorful states. If it’s not colored, I’m either a) saving it for later b) will go to it on the test voyage or c) it’s a crappy state (I’m looking at you North Dakota). I’ll spend 4-6 weeks in each region, and as of right now, the total trip duration is 218 days. There’s a fair chance my calculations are incorrect given all of the unforeseeable variables.

This 1980 VW Vanagon will serve as my trusty steed:

VW-Vanagon-1980

You’re also looking at the first physical asset of ungrocery – a 36 year old van. His previous owner named him patches, but I’m open to suggestions.

Why do this? Why now?

In all my travels, I’ve found food to be this fascinating thing — it becomes part of you (eat alot of twinkies if you don’t believe me), it’s an expression of the region, and it’s different wherever you go. People may hide their beliefs, their history, or their opinions, but strangely, people love to share their food. And not just a bite – people want you to experience the best food they have to offer.

Ungrocery gets great food to places it would not have ventured otherwise. A vendor with delicious items from Florida should have people in Oregon enjoying them. Ungrocery is the bridge that makes it happen.

Nothing brings people together like sharing a meal. My goal is to show that while the food may taste different, we can all eat from the same table.

And the best time to do that is now.

Let’s Eat

Understanding Goals

We’re one month into 2017 and the new years resolution posts, tweets and open letters to ones unwanted fat cells have vanished.

Yes, the cessation of such posts gives us much to be thankful for. But I don’t think we should abandon goals just yet. Let’s begin by understanding them.

It’s hard to imagine our ancestors having goals. But they did. Just one:

Survive.

Survival is being. It’s in even our name (human being), our language and surprisingly it’s not on our to-do list.

You and I don’t think of survival much. We can order food to eat, swipe right to procreate, turn a faucet to drink and take a pill to sleep. We’ve reached the ‘inherent survival’ point of humanity.

This is a pretty recent development for mankind and we don’t know how to handle it. While it’s unlikely a giant predator will attack us at the watering hole, we are wired to expect it. “Stay with the herd, it’s safer. Follow the crowd, it’ll be easier. Don’t get out of line, you could be noticed.”

All of us have one thing in common: impending doom is our default operating system. Our impending doom operating system (idOS) developed over thousands of years, and its sole concern is being. Being safe. Being secure. Being comfortable. Our imagination is strong, rooted in fear, and determined to keep us safe (for the record, we live in the safest time in history).

So what does this have to do with goals?

Goals have nothing to do with being.

Your favorite stories have someone accomplishing a goal while being scared shitless. Or being under qualified. Or being too this or too that.

Yet most people totally miss the point and set goals about being. And that’s why they’re stuck. Their idOS kicks in and they STOP – fear derails their effort.

So just get rid of fear – that’s it? No, eradicating fear is not the point – without fear we’d cease to be human. The point is to recognize it’s there and to do the shit we are terrified of anyways. Or as my grandfather called it, courage.

While fear is all about being, goals are all about doing. Real goals have three questions attached to them:

Can you measure it?
Can you put a timeline on it?
Can you fail?

You only have a goal if ‘yes’ is the answer to all 3 of those questions. Especially the last one – the chance of failure is what makes it a goal instead of a guarantee.

Do you want to be fit? It’s not gonna happen overnight. Instead, go get your body fat measured and decrease it by 2% in 6 months. That’s exercise, diet, and sleep – all packaged into one goal.

Do you want to be free of credit card debt? Great, grand, wonderful, but most Americans take on more consumer debt the more money they make (baffling, I know). Start getting out of debt right now with a real goal. Make $200 a month payments on that debt for 6 months.

Do you want to be more thankful? Simple – write down 5 things you’re thankful for every morning before you start your day for 1 week.

Last week, a friend texted me every evening with a productivity score ranging 1-10. If he did not text me a score, I would punish him. He’s a perfect example of taking the pseudo-goal of “being more productive” and turning it into an actual goal that was measurable (1-10), he had a timeline (1 week) and the possibility of failing.

The best way “to be” something is to start doing it today. Make a real goal. Tell a friend. Can you answer yes to all three questions? Great. Now get out there and do it.

And please, no #squadgoals, ok?

Tim

1 Month Old: How ungrocery is doing

As of yesterday (January 25), the ungrocery website has been live for a full month.

Here’s an in depth look at my work flow when creating ungrocery.com:

Ah yes, it’s been fun. Here are some numbers:

-ungrocery has generated $483.12 of revenue. We plan on doubling that in month two.
-our official launch email had a 57% open rate.
-we had 1 person use Internet Explorer to visit our site – who still uses Internet Explorer?!? Sadly, Netscape Navigator was nobody’s browser of choice.

Below is a chart of our website visits. Can you guess which day we sent out the launch email for ungrocery?


Even Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t need a magnifying glass to see email is not dead. Far from it, actually.

(A brief side note: I use MailChimp to get to people’s inboxes. It’s the OG among all the email service publishers, super easy to use, and has a great pricing model based on subscribers. Plus the founder gives cool talks and a good friend from college works there. Here’s what an unskilled designer like me can make with it).

In this post (and moving forward), whenever we discuss money it’s important to remember the difference in revenue and profit. Revenue is how much money you generate. Profit is how much you keep (before Uncle Sam).

For example, when you buy a bag of peanut brittle from ungrocery, you pay $16.74. Thank you, our revenue is now $16.74 higher.  Our profit from that sale is dependent on 3 variables: 1) cost of goods sold, which in this case is the brittle itself,  2) payment gateway costs 3) shipping costs (fyi if you’re considering purchasing, the shipping cost remains the same up to 4 bags…giving you a better price per unit the more you buy).

Right now, I’m building ungrocery with a bootstrapping approach, meaning profits are the only way to grow the business. Our next move is to introduce a premium product. Yes, it’s more expensive, but at the same time, it’s a high value item. It won’t be for everyone, but no product is. We’re talking 5 premium cuts of red meat, grass fed and finished, dry aged to perfection, and shipped to your front door. This product will be 10X the cost of the peanut brittle. Remember, we only sell products we believe in and use ourselves, and this steak collection is made for the conscious carnivore (ok, or omnivore).

The plan is to introduce a new vendor/product every week. For each vendor we create a ton of original content, but we need help distributing it. If you know any food/health/lifestyle bloggers I could reach out to, please let me know.
I’ll keep my ungrocery posting at a balanced level, I promise – perhaps a monthly update like this may become the standard?

Thanks for being here. And thank you for all those readers that have turned into customers – it’s because of you that I’m not working in a drive thru again 🙂

Thank you,

Tim

How ungrocery started

Like most good things in life, the concept for Ungrocery originated on the heels of a fishing trip. Having more fish than we could eat, my Guinness-world-record-setting, artist uncle and I decided to sell some in order to offset some of the trip’s cost. We sold as much as we wanted in the next 20 minutes. Hmmm..maybe there’s something here?

I phoned my friend Daniel back in Austin and asked him if he wanted to open a tuna stand on South Lamar. He laughed, then asked, why not sell it online?

So I tested out some other products I could acquire: jerky and raw honey. I had no trouble selling either online. What other bounty could we sell online?

Now, while this testing was happening, I was living in a shipping container outside of Austin. Before you get all judgmental, it was a really nice shipping container. Check out the white oak paneling and chrome flashing on the ceiling. Pretty dope.

If you’ve ever lived in a shipping container, you probably didn’t have much cash either. “Broke” was a nice way to put it.

Even so, on November 5, 2014, I purchased the domain name “mundobo.com” thinking I’d made a great new word to represent the ‘world’s bounty’ (’Mundo’ meaning world in spanish and the B-O from bounty).

And so I excitedly sold under this name. Then one of those telemarketers from India called and could not pronounce ‘Mundobo.com.’ While his attempts were humorous, if the guy trying to sell me a website design couldn’t pronounce it, we’re in trouble.

Next, my cousin called me. I had told him about the idea previously, and he had created some sales on the jerky. The convo started, “Hey Tim, how’s that Mun-DODO…I mean Mun-DOBE or whatever going?”

My response, “Well the name sucks but I’ve sold some jerky.” That’s when I knew it was time to change the name. The name Ungrocery came shortly after, inspired by my ceaseless search for “un” foods, as in unwaxed apples, undyed fish, and unprocessed meats.

The tests had proven people desire honest food. And I knew I could sell food directly to consumers. Who knows, perhaps it’d allow me to move out of the shipping container. It was time to begin.

If you’ve ever started something before, you know you don’t start with thousands of users. You start with one. We started with perhaps the best beekeeper on the East Coast, Mr. James Knox, who had been keeping bees for 67 years by the time we approached him. He had an established customer base for his honey, sold nucs (bee hives) consistently, and could have very easily declined.

The weekend we spent with him was one of the most impactful experiences of my life (I wrote about it then and when I heard of his passing). After getting to know him, the pursuit became clear: find people who are passionate about what they are creating.

Back in Central Texas, we started working with passionate people creating delicious products like peanut brittle, jerky, and pasta. We attempted to capture their attention to detail, careful processes, and constant energy in short videos. We weren’t creating an online retailer—we were building a community.

And that’s still the work I do today. Whether hosting dinners, driving around the country, or launching new products, the goal remains the same: connect people to people through real food.