Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu | Digital Marketer, Speaker, Agency Builder

Of course, they put on the outward show– maybe even more so in the affiliate world. One tech CEO I know, who just raised $20MM, used to buy flat screen TVs from Best Buy to put in his conference booth, then return it when the show was over.

He’d also fake expense receipts– charge the client business fares, but use miles to fly coach. They cooked their books, enough to pass an audit by Arthur Andersen and even raise a second round of funding this year.

I’m not advocating cheating. Just saying we all face tough decisions. Networking and keeping up appearances is hard.

You’re not the only one facing challenges– not enough cash to make payroll, internal squabbles that threaten to rip your company apart, losing your top customer, product not ready by the deadline, etc…

Plato said “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

And I’ve come to respect folks who have the drive to make something out of nothing.

I’ve failed so many times, it’s ridiculous. And those that mock you— it’s because they aren’t winning themselves. Insert your favorite story here about a role model who failed repeatedly before making it.

Your friends and loved ones, who mean well, will tell you that your ideas won’t work, that you should just give up.  Believe me– one fellow who we did a lot of work for (made him a lot of money, but we didn’t see a penny), went so far as to write a negative article about me. If you want to do something good in this world, a lot of people will try to stop you.

First class isn’t all that.


I’ve flown about a million miles in first class over the last 20 years. But I’ve also taken my fair share of MegaBus and Greyhound.  You can go one-way from Portland to Seattle for $17 and enjoy wifi the whole way– same with NYC to Boston. I fly Southwest a lot. I’ve eaten my fair share of McDonalds and ramen noodles, too! saves you a ton on hotels— get a room in NYC for $40 a night, instead of $250. And maybe meet interesting folks in the process.  The founder of himself left his house for a month to live exclusively via his service.

I’ve even stayed in a dog kennel with chicken wire for a ceiling that pretended to be a hotel.  Barely bigger than a toilet stall.

The book Founders at Work interviews now-successful tech companies to find out what their formative days were like. Many flew red eyes from the West to East coast to keep the illusion they were everywhere.

I’ve gone from rich to completely broke and back again.

Are you making business decisions based on appearances or what’s practical?

Every entrepreneur I know works SUPER hard.


Not the same thing as busy or not getting enough sleep. If you’re the one holding things up, that’s a lot of pressure from other folks who won’t understand or are to understand.

But when the public sees pictures of you on Facebook living it up, it’s easy to get the wrong impression. Certainly, there are those more interested in the glamor of being an entrepreneur than putting in the pound of flesh that it takes.

And it’s true that not all founders or solopreneurs are noble or necessarily work harder than the single mom who is trying to make ends meet.

But to those of us here who are putting it all on the line to make something big come to life, my hat is off to you.