When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
If there is one thing I could recommend to someone who wants to change their life or become an entrepreneur, it would be to find something you’re passionate about and turn it into a product or service. Design this product or service in a way you would want it, then, once you’re happy with it — test the market and see how it reacts. You can learn so much about your idea once you make it and share it. You’ll never know what it could be if you don’t. If you have an itch for something, scratch it. If not, no worries — I’ve put together a challenge to extract it from your brain.
Scratch your own itch
“If you’re into kite-surfing and you want to become an entrepreneur, do it with kite-surfing.”
— Sir Richard Brandson
A high school coach wanted to make a lighter shoe for his track team. So he went in his workshop, poured liquid rubber in the family waffle maker and made a lighter shoe. Nike was born. Now it’s the best selling running shoe worldwide. (Bill Bowerman)
A kid that loved playing with iPhones wanted to create an app. He begged his parents to get the $100 Apple iPhone developer kit (to code iPhone apps) and coded all night. He now has two apps launched and works for a tech company in NYC, the best part — he is only 12 years old. Watch this amazing Ted video. (Thomas Suarez)
An unemployed factory worker who was passionate about cars, wanted a sports car that made him happy. While building “the people’s car” (Volkswagen Beetle) for Hitler, he slowly developed his dream car. Porsche was born. (Ferdinand Porsche)
A man wanted to share his favorite salad dressing with more than his family and friends. He got to work by making large batches of his dressing in a bathtub in the basement. Newman’s Own was born. They’ve also donated over $330 million to charities. (Paul Newman)
A college dropout who was addicted to technology, envisioned a personal computer in every household. So he went to work in his mom’s garage and started a computer company. Apple was born. (Steve Jobs)
I had it on my bucket list to bike the Mississippi river from downtown Baton Rouge, to New Orleans during the Rouge Orleans race (an ultra marathon). On the interstate, it’s only 65 miles, but on the winding river, it’s 120+ miles.
I had absolutely no experience distance biking before, but I had a plan — so I thought. The goal was to bike every week for two months getting up to 45 miles in a single ride. That didn’t happen. Then, before I knew it, the day was here. No preparation (I haven’t peddled 5 miles on a bike), no more time.
February 11, 2012
I woke up with ease at 4:00am, I packed everything the night before and I was ready to go. After making a quick breakfast (3 egg breakfast wrap with spinach and salsa), I prepped the bike for the trip and drove to downtown Baton Rouge, LA.
By 5:30am, I hopped on the saddle and began peddling. It was dark and cold. The moonlight guided the way. While biking down River Road, ran into some water at the bottom of the levee and my socks and shoes got a little wet. I continued down River Road cautiously and slowly being it was dark. It was peaceful.
About 40 miles in to the trip, I started to feel my toes get numb from the water that splashed on it earlier. I pulled over at a chemical plant entrance to take my first break and to thaw my toes. I took off my socks and in order to get warm I grabbed my lighter (thank god) and lit my socks on fire, then my feet. I didn’t feel a thing and my feet where ice. It looked like the beginning signs of frost bite.
I sucked it up and kept on trucking, then I approached a gas station with a huge sigh of relief. I was going in for coffee and to warm up, hey maybe they might have some socks. Mural was up and I was happy to see it. After taking off some gear, grabbed my card and tried to go in. I then realized that it was an abandoned store and the cars in the lot where abandoned too. In a panic to thaw out, I grabbed some trash around and make a trash fire to help warm me up. That lasted about 30 seconds and blew away.
I got back on the bike.
After a few miles I stopped and searched for a gas station on my phone. I found one about 5 miles out of the way, but I had to go. I was frozen.
That single drive was the worst. I was going north and winds were roaring, it must have been 20 – 30 mph. The traffic was flying. My nose was running like Dumb and Dummber, and I was about to call it off.
When I got to the gas station, it was very warm inside. I used the bathroom, grab some snacks/bars and was walking to the coffee pot — when I saw a breakfast bar! Man. I loaded up on hot grits, eggs, bacon and a biscuit. Slammed down a hot cup of joe and my wife, Kate, not only brought me a fresh pair of socks but she brought me back to River Road (2.5 miles back).
I completely recharged my batteries and was feeling great.
On that single drive, I must have been going a steady 30/mph for about 20-40 miles. I was hauling ass and loving it. The sun started to come out and life was good. Ice cold, but good.
I made a few more stops along the way, to meditate, rest and relax. I was really enjoying life.
When I made it to the spillway, I started to feel my body ache everything. My butt was sore, hands/wrists were bruised and swollen, neck was hurting, and my knees where grinding. It was about 3PM and I realized I wasn’t going to make it to downtown New Orleans. My uncle lives about 10 miles up in Destrahan, LA so I decided to make that call. I called my wife and asked her to pick me up at my uncle’s house.
I made one last top at this Shell gas station in Destrahan. To re-charge my batteries, grab some coffee and maybe some food. I scored it big when I saw they freshly baked pizza. Buffalo-chicken pizza. The woman said that she just made it fresh and it was hot. I happily paid for that, huge cup of coffee, a rice crispy treat, and a moon-pie for my girls.
I got back on the levee and made my way back to my uncle’s house. It was a huge sigh of relief when I saw his truck parked in the drive way. He greeted me with fresh turkey and pecan king cake. Life was good.
You can do all the planning you want to, but sometimes the best way to put it in the calendar and just do it.
I think I figured out why road bike handles look like a ram. I had a series of different positions to put my hands when it started to hurt.
Dress warm if it’s going to be cold.
Do it when it’s warm, cold weather + biking + river winds = sucks.
Next time I’ll say on a road, not gravel.
Pack extra food – maybe I made more stops being it was my first trip but I ran out.
Take a hot salt-bath that same day
I’m not nearly sore was I though I would have been. And I think it’s because of that bath I took. I took a long, hot Epson salt bath in a jacuzzi and massaged my back and feet for 40 mins. I shortly passed out after that.
If possible invest into a better bike
I made it in a $100 bike from Wal-mart (The GMC Denali).
It’s just easier and faster
Using one device (iPhone) for GPS, camera, phone, time, maps – will take a toll. Next time I’ll bring a solar charger or separate device for a phone.
First of all, I would like to thank every-single person that showed up to the launch party. This is the first time I’ve every done anything like this and it means a lot that you came out.
Secondly, I want to thank two special women that has helped me make all of this possible. My wife, Kate, who has put up with me during all this madness of launching a food business and has been extremely supportive. I also want to thank Gaye Sandoz with Editable Enterprise (an incubator for food entrepreneurs.) She helped me develop the dressing so that it could be on store shelves and has been extremely resourceful.
You know, I never thought a bottle of dressing could have made it this far, this is pretty amazing and I’m having a lot of fun.
Guerrilla Marketing — Undressing for honks
Being that I’m bootstrapping this project, I needed to find a way to tell the town about this salad dressing. So, the day before the launch, I made huge 15′ banner that said: “A local favorite, undressed. The best salad dressing this town has ever made. Honk if you want some.”
I then tied the banner to a catwalk/road above the interstate (I10 westbound, past College Drive [map]), during rush hour, and undressed — waving my shirt in the air. At 8am, that spot on the interstate is a 4-lane moving parking lot. I know this, because I use to work downtown Baton Rouge and I was stuck in it every morning.
Using a counter, I split tested my waving techniques to see which would get more honks. Waving my shirt in the air or twirling it above my head. Well, it turns out that twirling it gets more honks, 2 to 1.
Here’s the results:
A ton of waves
3 peopled yelled at me from their car
2 birds (the finger)
1 cop, made me take it down an hour later
1 article by 225 Magazine featuring the dressing (which lead to several orders)
Lessons learned: No one wants to hold a banner over the interstate and take off their clothes at 7 in the morning. For favors. Here’s a craigslist ad I put out to get some more recruits.
Here’s the banner:
The launch party
The launch party was more of a goal than the party. I picked this day a year ago and said: “This, is when it will be in stores.” Once I marked it in the calendar and made an impractical checklist, it went from nothing but a recipe on paper to having it bottled in a month. I even left my day-job (which I work with them as a contractor) two weeks before the launch so I could put all my time and energy into making it happen.
Ok, it was also a hell of a party. Even though we had our own corner in a wine bar, we walked around talking to other groups about the dressing and letting them try it.
Hats off to the great people at Blend for let us have it there
I’m extremely excited to say that Hanley’s Sensation Salad Dressing is making its début 9/28/12, after two years perfecting a family recipe. Although, my family has been making the dressing for decades. It has become our “house” dressing at every occasion.
One day I was at the grocery store getting ingredients to make our dressing, when I walked past the salad dressing aisle and just stopped. A lightbulb went off. I asked myself, “why isn’t this in stores?” Sensation salad dressing is a classic in southern Louisiana — not only is it a delicious dressing, but the locals know it and love it. Then, I ran back home, made the dressing, and started planning.
Dressing in the making
I became obsessed with the dressing. Our family ate it at least three times a week, every week for over year. I tried different ingredients to make the perfect batch, and even had “salad parties” to taste test batches side-by-side. My daughter would sit on the counter and help taste test as we made the dressing. She liked it so much that she would walk around with a little cup and a spoon eating it like ice cream.
Every time I went to the grocery store, I would wander down the salad dressing aisle and question random people. I would ask “so, have you heard of Sensation salad dressing?”. The usual response was “yes, but can never find it!” At the same time I’m thinking, “not yet!”
Not only did I want to fill the void with the dressing in Louisiana, but I wanted to make an impact if possible. Using locally sourced ingredients and making it as natural as it could be.
Here are a few pictures of the process:
It’s more than just dressing
It’s local. Bottled in Louisiana, Louisiana Certified, and made with hand-squeezed Louisiana lemons*.
It’s real. Made of authentic ingredients you’ve heard of — no gums, preservatives, or additives.
It’s good for business. 5% of proceeds go to Edible Enterprises, an incubator for food entrepreneurs.
It’s good for the planet. The recyclable glass bottle is better for the planet (and the flavor) than plastic. We also donate to 1% for the Planet to support environmental causes.
It’s low carb and gluten free.
It’s pretty damn good!
* = Working with farmer
Free coupon ( Promotion over )
Who doesn’t like free, right? All you need to do is comment on this blog post. Within your comment let me know if you’ve heard of Sensation salad dressing.
If you would like to pre-order a few bottles, or a case (retail only), click the link below. If you live in Baton Rouge, I’ll personally deliver it to your door.