Internal email sent to all Lovesac employees: Dec 10, 2015
Friends, followers, and members of the #LovesacFamily,
It was my mentor, Richard Branson, who once told me (while stargazing atop the roof of the main house of Necker Island), “I believe that we make our own luck.” I neither understood nor agreed with that comment at the time. I get it now, and 10 years later, I write this post to firmly plant a stake in the ground and to allow all of you (and the universe) to hold us accountable: Within 5 years, when people think “couch,” the first brand they’ll think of is “Lovesac.” If you want to know more about why I’m making this audacious claim and how its going to happen read more in this fantastic article published recently in Furniture Today.
WE’RE ALSO IN FORBES! I say this in caps because not only was it a great article about innovative marketing techniques, but the very publication of this article is exciting to me, and evidence of our finally taking outward, and deliberate steps toward making our own luck a reality. Check out the full Forbes article!
Lovesac has been laying low for nearly a decade—rebuilding over the legacy of a not-beanbag franchise that needed a reboot. Sactionals, with all of its 4 patents, is that reboot—and it has taken us years to retool our brand DNA and our company infrastructure in a way that would warrant us finally shouting from the rooftops: “There is a better way to couch!”
Finally, in the spirit of making noise: I’LL BE ON TV THIS WEEK! Wednesday, September 9, at 10pm EST, I get to appear on a CNBC show called “Make Me a Millionaire Inventor.” Check it out!
This is a show that is originally from England that is like the “Shark Tank,” but exclusively for inventors. I’m like the “Shark.” The invention I get to consider investing in is called The Wake Wing. Picture being dragged behind a boat at high-speed, standing on an airplane wing meant to fly. If you know me well, you know this was the perfect opportunity for me. But will I invest? Or will it crash and burn like most of my wake boarding attempts….find out live, tomorrow.
As a personal favor: please tweet, share, and continue to help us build the #LovesacFamily, as we do our best to make your life on a couch just a little richer—a little more stress free.
Thanks so much for your support!
I am thankful for you. My wife, Tiffany, is thankful for you. Lucky, Duke, Pepper and Valentine are thankful for you. YOU are our Lovesac family, and we are yours.
Have a happy and relaxed Thanksgiving. Stay thankful…and spread the LOVE to your own family, friends, and to all mankind over the next 24 hours and throughout the season.
I got to spend this past weekend in Orange County, California—one of my favorite places on the planet (having lived in Huntington Beach, opening up Lovesac stores circa 2002). I’m flattered to have been invited there to deliver a speech to the NGLV (Next Generation Laser Focused Visionaries) a group of young entrepreneurs, some of who are already making six-figure incomes while still in their teens!
I call this speech, “Get Off the Couch.” This is because I believe that the big divide—the major difference between entrepreneurs and people who wish they had their own business is that entrepreneurs actually get off the couch, usually right then, and go make something happen. Entrepreneurs do this over and over again in business and in life. They’re always (actually) doing something—not just talking about it. I typically incorporate a whole slew of “Shawnisms” into the telling of “my Lovesac story” with the purpose of making the entrepreneurial journey real and actionable for everybody. I think that the Lovesac story really resonates with just about anyone because it is so simple. I am not a computer programmer or even industrial engineer. I just thought it would be funny to make a really big beanbag, and I did it. Anyone can do that.
I’ll spare you all of the Shawnisms that I preach and live by—you can find them in the book (someday). But I will offer up my two summary pieces of advice that, in my mind, are the key to success for any would-be entrepreneur in any field:
1. Read, Read Read (see my post from last week!)
I know that this advice perhaps seems vague and not specific enough. But every business, every industry, every person, every idea and every situation is so different that the actual strategies and tactics that worked for me are very unlikely to work for you.
But, there has been so much written on the subject (hence my “Read, read, read” advice from last week) and there are so many accomplished people in this world who have done “it” before, that I truly believe: if entrepreneurs would just do these two things, religiously, they will most likely find success—or at least avoid so many mistakes and so much heartache.
As for networking, a good friend of mine wrote the book on that one. Check out “Up Your Game,” by David Bradford. But put simply, I recommend that you find someone smart, everyday, to take to lunch and learn from. Through this process you will find yourself a mentor or two…and mentors will change your life. To be totally honest, I have always been very bad at the networking part of things. I am classically too self-reliant. I am too headstrong. Some might call me cocky. Because of this I have a hard time asking for help. I recognize this, and at this point I almost force myself to reach out, ask for lunches and seek out people who are smart and successful.
One of the most influential mentors in my own life, of course, is Richard Branson. Having spent two months with him, traveling around the world filming The Rebel Billionaire, and then a few more months as President of Virgin, Worldwide, I got to know Richard pretty well. In fact, at the time, I don’t think that I realized how rare it was to spend so much time with him. I wish I would have appreciated it more. Speaking to this group of young entrepreneurs, I couldn’t help but wonder who among them might make the effort to connect with me, and try to learn whatever they might from all of (the many) mistakes I have made. In case your wondering: How does it make someone like me feel to have young or inexperienced people pump me for information, or try to connect with me? The answer is—I’m always flattered, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t support them. I’ll always go out of my way to take a phone call, an email, or make a personal connection with anyone who is truly ambitious. So thank you to tall of you in attendance and thank you to The Dillons at NGLV for having me out! I had a great time and I always learn just as much from these experiences as I might have to share.
In the end, the reason that these two basic principles are the absolute best and most comprehensive advice I can give to entrepreneurs is because they are all-encompassing. Between the best books and the best people are all of the advice and answers you will ever need. No matter what the industry or what the situation, elements of it have all been done before and it is simply cheaper to learn from other’s mistakes instead of your own.
Make it happen!
As an entrepreneur I get asked all of the time for advice, or words of wisdom—how did I do it? I have a lot to say about what I think for business, leadership and design…but what is the single best piece of advice I can give prospective entrepreneurs? Drumroll please…
…Read. Read from the best books. Read from the best business books. The next time you sit on your couch to watch some TV or play a game—read instead.
Ugh. What a buzz-kill. It almost seems like a cop-out right? But, in all honesty, business is complicated. It is multi-faceted and requires a lot of different skills and abilities to navigate. It is also very different from industry to industry and there is really just no getting around that. But believe it or not, there is very little that is new. There are very few things that people haven’t done—in one form or another, and then gone on to write about it. Apply this one piece of advice, and you will certainly have enough information and even motivation at your fingertips to build something great, and even avoid many of the pitfalls that would otherwise beset you—as they have those who have gone before you i.e.: ‘Tis noble to suffer the slings and arrows oneself…but the wisest of all avoids them by learning from the mistakes (and successes) of others instead.’
So on with it. Shawn Nelson’s top 10 book list:
- 10. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
- 9. Ben Franklin, by Walter Isaacson
- 8. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
- 7. Influence, by Robert B. Cialdini
- 6. Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
- 5. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard P. Rumelt
- 4. 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by Al Ries
- 3. Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
- 2. The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni
- 1. Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Honestly, I could probably create 10 different “Top 10” lists of my favorite books depending on which industry we are talking about. But I feel that this list is my most general one. Reading (and applying) the wisdom found within the books on the above list will be game-changing to anyone in business, entrepreneurship, leadership, or management in any capacity.
So find a nice couch to curl up on (I recommend one of mine) and read! Reading these days can come in many forms. I’m mostly a real book kind-of-guy. I like to underline and write notes. I like to collect them and fill shelves with them. And I am a painfully slow reader, by the way. But small flatscreen TVs are so cheap now that I bought one to mount at eye-level in front of my treadmill with my laptop connected, and I now can read at a full jog, no problem. Its amazing how quickly a workout goes when your mind is on something else. I am a TV and movie freak—but with a bit of discipline, I am always happier when I choose books instead. And if real books or Nooks aren’t your thing, then get the audio version and listen while flying, driving, or jogging. I do it all.
Imagine for a second that you only had one set of clothes. You woke up every single day and you had one pair of pants and one shirt. No matter the weather outside, you just had that one set of clothing. During the 90 degree days of August, you had this one shirt. During the 20 degree days of January, you still had this one shirt.
As you got older and your pants stopped fitting so well, or they lost color or shape, you still only had this one pair to wear. As the times around you changed- and so did popular style and design, you still had only this one outfit. And eventually as the fabric weakened and the pants and shirt wore through and were filled with holes, they were still the only clothing you had.
Pretty hard to imagine, right? Now think about your couch for a second. As the weather outside changes, can you change your couch with it? Imagine how nice it would be to have a cozy, furry couch to warm up in the winter- and then have a cool, breathable fabric to stay cool during the dog days of summer. Or imagine that when your tastes in style changed, you could change your couch along with them.
A few years back, this would have sounded crazy. People approached the couch-buying scenario with extreme caution, knowing that whatever they bought would live with them for the next 10 or 20 or 30…or 50 years. Now that Sactionals exist, everything has changed. When my wife and I had our fourth child Valentine this past month, we needed some extra couch space so we just simply added some on. But while we were doing it, she decided she also wanted to change up the “feeling” of the room a little for the summer. So just like that, we changed the clothes on our couch! …The same Sactionals pieces we’ve had now for nearly 8 years look new, smell new, and amazingly feel completely new again. (And they’ve seen some abuse!) Every time we change our Sactionals I wonder the same thing: What do people with normal couches do? I guess they just live with it. I guess they just hide that stain under a throw pillow. I guess they just try to get a few more years out of it until they can justify spending the money to get an all new one.
You know, this blog isn’t meant to be an advertisement for my company, Lovesac or Sactionals. This blog is however, a reflection of my own real life and the things I find to be changing the way we look at our life on a couch–and real life in general. I have devoted my life to creating products that disrupt the staleness of classic furniture. The feedback I’m seeing from people who truly LOVE their Sactionals is a confirmation that we really have created something special that is shaping the way people live their life on a couch. What do you think?
WATCH THE CHANGING PROCESS IN JUST 20 SECONDS…
Introducing baby Valentine! Excuse me while I wax personal for a moment:
On July 17th at around 2:15am our fourth (and final, so I’m told) child was born. We named her Valentine Nelson. My wife, Tiffany, is doing well. She is an amazing mother and I am so grateful for her willingness to go through with it again, and again, and again—as if once wasn’t traumatizing enough. I just wanted to take a minute to celebrate life, publicly. It is times like these that afford me the rare opportunity to reflect, and to contemplate the things that matter most.
“Babies,” everybody loves “babies.” Even if they don’t love babies its inhuman, un-American and practically unforgivable to say it out loud. Baby Valentine would be the first of my kids to end up on my Instagram page as a newborn, and judging by the reaction I’d say people are naturally baby fans (at least in moderate doses). “Family” is another one. Who can argue against anything “family?”
Because of this, there is no special, unique, or original way for me to say it…this will probably just sound like another “nice thing to say.” But in case anyone out there is feeling distracted, stressed-out, stretched-thin, or otherwise confused about things, let me say this: It really is all about our family, relationships, people…love. Everything else is dust.
Yeah, we all gotta earn a living and we all gotta make ends meet. I make couches. But in the end, if you really think back, the relationships we build with those closest to us are the things that not only makeup our fondest memories, but they are the only things that endure.
Our baby Valentine is the newest piece of our family, and at just over one week old, she has already joined us for an evening or two on the couch. (We’ve added another Base to our Sactionals just to make room for her.) I feel blessed and I feel grateful. In case it is not clear yet, this is what #LifeOnaCouch is all about, for me.
What does #LifeOnaCouch mean to you?
Goodbyes are never easy. In the case of the 1998 Gulf Stream F5 Tour Bus used for our promotional tours in the first years of this millennium, saying goodbye will be extremely tough. In an effort to focus funds on brand expansion, we’re auctioning off the vehicle which saw coast-to-coast trips throughout the early 2000’s as the brand was built. The auction started at $1 (although it’s gone up a little since then) and there’s no reserve set- it has to go! The list of celebrity visits, near-death experiences, and straight-up lunacy that occurred on this bus is extensive, some of which can be seen on the Lovesac Bus Blog. For those of you who are like me and don’t like prancing around the Internet, here is a list of my most memorable moments from the Lovesac Tour Bus:
5. The Trip to Huntington Beach
Each year in the early years of Lovesac, it was a tradition for me to personally visit each and every store across the country. Once we acquired the bus, I decided to just start driving it on these cross-country tours. Most of the tours ended in Huntington Beach, California, where I actually lived for a short time in 2002. Surfing the Pacific Ocean is something I’ll never forget.
4. Safe Driving Techniques
Much of the fun we had with the Lovesac bus came just from actually driving the bus. We tried our best to follow all posted speed limits and traffic laws, but it didn’t always work out as planned. One night we rolled upon an iced-over, vacant lot in Omaha, Nebraska, and a little bit of madness ensued- resulting in the Director of Retail who was filming nearby almost getting run over by the gargantuan rear-end of the spinning bus.
3. MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice Reunion Concert
In 2009, it was someone’s twisted idea to get MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice to reunite for a 90’s concert in Salt Lake City. We’re not going to mention any names, but someone at Lovesac decided it would be a good idea to sponsor the event. So for a couple days in March of 2009, the touring Lovesac crew hung around with Mr. “Too Legit to Quit” himself on and off the bus and witnessed a whole bunch of Hammer Time.
2. Winter X-Games Taxi Service
During the 2009 Winter X-Games in Aspen, Colorado, Lovesac was doing various promotional events in the areas surrounding the annual action sports extravaganza. These events required the Lovesac bus driving from the nearby village to the contest itself. At one point we thought it would be nice to help taxi some of the people walking and trying to get to the same destination as us. At one point we had over 50 people on the bus, disco light spinning, and the music blasting. Being at Winter X was definitely a memorable point for a lot of the Lovesac crew- and the bus made that possible.
1. Jessie James Tour Transport
During the rise of pop star Jessie James, we teamed up with Def Jam and used the Lovesac Bus to get her around the country for various shows and interviews. We zig-zagged our way across the southeast starting in Houston, going as far down south as Miami and finally finishing in our Country’s capital. The tour was packed full of radio station visits, performances, Impromptu Lovesac Lounges, pranks, great food, stories and lots of laughter. Easily one of my favorite moments on the Lovesac Bus.
The people we met and the places we saw while touring the country on this bus are memories that will last a lifetime. The bus itself is fully-loaded in every way imaginable, from thousands of dollars worth of electronics to Sactionals, Sacs, and pillows- even the motorized disco ball is still hanging in there! Read more about the eBay auction for the Lovesac bus by clicking here. Good luck to everyone bidding, and to the winner- take care of our bus, it helped us become the beloved brand that we are today!
The debate is heated when it comes to what the tastiest food is to grill during the summer months. Some will say burgers, others will say barbecue chicken- but its hard to deny the searing argument from those who say it is a good hunk of steak. Vegetarians aside, many people consider steak to be the epitome of “good eats”. Full of flavor and hard to resist, this simple to grill item still gives many people a tough time to cook. So here’s a simple guide to grilling a perfect steak to enjoy this summer:
Step One: The first step to grilling the perfect steak is actually in choosing the perfect steak. People have all kinds of notions and beliefs about what the best cut of steak is. You have people that love Porterhouse because it has two full cuts on it. You have people that love the tenderness of filet mignon. But a true steak aficionado will tell you that the steak-of-all-steaks is and always will be the bone-in ribeye. The fat content and marbling in a thick cut ribeye is second to no other cut. Go to your local butcher or higher-end market and buy a 1.0-1.5lb USDA certified prime bone-in ribeye. You can go a little bigger or smaller depending on how many you’re feeding, but figure a 1/2-3/4 pound serving size is pretty good.
Step Two: The next step in the process is pre-heating the grill and seasoning the steak. Go out a little early and turn your grill on high heat, clean the grates, and close the top. This will allow the grates to get nice and hot before you drop the steak on. After turning on the grill, move onto seasoning the steak. Once again, people do this in a bevy of different ways. I personally choose a simple yet guaranteed-to-please method- a dry rub of McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning. You can buy Montreal Steak Seasoning at just about any grocery store, and you want to be pretty generous with the application. You still want to be able to taste the meat, but don’t be scared to coat this stuff on because it will result in great flavor enhancement.
Step Three: The third step is the fun part aka the actual grilling part. Bring your seasoned steak and a fork out to the grill. Bump your heat up all the way to high and drop the steak on for about a minute. Then flip the steak to the other side for another minute. This quick “flash sear” will create a seal and allow the steak to retain its flavorful juices, essential to grilling the perfect steak. Now drop the heat to medium-high and turn the steak 90 degrees to create those sought-after diamond grill marks. Close the top and grill for about 7-8 minutes. This grilling time is based on a two-inch thick cut but times will vary for other thicknesses. There are endless sites like one from Omaha Steaks that will direct you to cooking times, or take it to “The Google” if need be. After 7-8 minutes, flip the steak and grill the other side for about 8 more minutes. This should give a two-inch thick ribeye a perfect medium-rare temperature. Depending on your preference and your grill, times can be shorter or longer. Just use a trial-by-fire (no pun intended) approach!
Step Four: This step is often overlooked but its so simple and it needs to be addressed. After you take your steak off the grill, allow it “rest” for 10-15 minutes. This will ensure the juices have settled into the steak before you cut into it. This is also the optimal time to prepare some sides and a cold drink to enjoy your steak with. You’re almost done, just one more step!
Step Five: The final step in the process is choosing and prepping your sides. My surefire steak sides have always been a baked potato and broccoli, but this can be altered to your taste. Nowadays with the push for clean-eating, some people have abandoned starch (and their carbs) altogether and opted instead for two veggie sides or a big salad. Get creative and do whatever works for you and your people! We used a garlic mashed potato and asparagus medley as our sides along with a chop salad and a pitcher of cool lemon water! Now it’s just a matter of finding a nice comfy place to sit and enjoy the spoils of your labor!
At the end of the day, people will continue to argue about the best food to enjoy during the summer. It just comes down to personal opinion. Some will say burgers, some will say dogs, some will say steaks. But no matter what you decide to grill and how good it actually comes out tasting (we’re not exactly pros right?) there’s nothing better than sitting under the setting sun enjoying time with the people you love. That’s life on a couch.
Recently, you said you wanted to get rid of Tony’s beloved Lovesac Supersac, the joy of his bachelor days. Please don’t! We know it is the most comfortable piece of furniture in the world, and it is totally re-coverable with a wide variety of fabrics.