It’s the big moment where I tell you to go check out BrazenCareerist.com. It’s the first stage of our company, and it’s a network of fifty young bloggers who I love, all blogging about their professional interests.

This would be a great time to tell you the grand story of the birth of my grand company.

When people tell you about their company they always tell you the mythology. You know Pierre Omidyar deciding to sell his girlfriend’s Pez containers and then making eBay, James Hong talking about sorting through photos of girls with his dad in the early days of hotornot. But those stories are really the ones you create after the fact.

During the very early days of a startup, there is no mythology. There is only doubt, Ramen, and fighting. For the lucky few founders, there is probably some smooth-things-over sex, but mostly early startup life is suffering. Suffering with a twist.

The twist is that entrepreneurs are generally very optimistic, so we can spin suffering into fun. I never thought of myself as optimistic until I took a test in Oprah’s magazine and found that I was so optimistic that I’m maybe borderline delusional.

But without the optimism, here’s what a startup really looks like: nothing.

For a while, my startup was my column. I always knew it was the basis for something bigger, but I couldn’t tell people that. People think you’re crazy if you tell them you’re doing a business when it doesn’t look like a business. So I kept building my column and the audience and then my blog and its audience until I could think of a company to launch with it.

What I’ve learned by now is that when you start doing your company, there is nothing really to do, and everything to think about. In fact, researchers know that there is no single entrepreneurial trait that predicts success except the propensity to mitigate risk. That’s right. Entrepreneurs are not crazy risk takers but rather people who are trying to decrease the risk as much as they can.

So successful entrepreneurs decide to start a company and then think about it. They play with it in their mind. Maybe they talk about it, just a little. And then they make a commitment to the company, and you know what? Nothing changes. It still looks like a lot of nothing, because it’s mostly just thinking.

And there’s no one to talk to because you’ve been fighting with your partner for weeks because you’re so angry that there’s nothing to do. And you can’t talk to your friends or business associates because they’ll say “When are you going to start your company?” and you’ll snap, “I told you ten times that I already have started the company.”

If people knew what they were doing at the beginning of the startup then early investments would be much less risky. But the truth is that business plans are so apt to change that no angel investor has even asked us for one.

Here’s our business plan: Leverage our established brand to build a big community of young professionals. Here’s what we have: a network of fifty bloggers who have agreed to participate in a community of people helping each other with careers.

And this is also happening: we have a slew of companies asking us to consult with them to tell them how to deal with Generation Y. But that is not in our business plan. We are so excited to take in money that we’re doing it anyway.

Our mythology will not be about how we spent months not knowing for sure what to do, and sort of launching and then pulling back to rejigger things and then going at it again. That is not typical startup mythology; that is typical startup constipation.

Our mythology is going to be something like: we knew we were experts in Generation Y, and we did a lot of consulting to fund a community of young professionals. Or, maybe our mythology will be that crazy startup that Penelope couldn’t stop blogging about.

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  1. Gautam
    Gautam says:

    Hate to be picky but Andy Grove did not startup HP, Dave Hewlett and Bill Packard did ;-)

    And Andy did not startup even Intel :-) He was the employee number 3 :-)

    * * * * * * *

    Oh gosh. That’s such a bad error. So often I am amazed by the errors I end up publishing. Thanks, Gautam. I deleted it. The paragraph reads better without Andy in it anyway.

    –Penelope

  2. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    Penelope:

    Interesting. I took a look at your new website. This is what struck me. To create a company in the 21st century in the United States with an all-white cast of bloggers and coaches somehow strikes me as rather an interesting note on the world view of the firm and its founders. Just an observation – I am sure most of your readers and your clients do not care.

  3. thom singer
    thom singer says:

    Good luck. You are spot on with the line: “People think you're crazy if you tell them you're doing a business when it doesn't look like a business.” I live this everyday as I try to grow my professional speaking business. Few people get it as a real thing. So I just shut up and keep doing it.

    See you next week at SXSW. Looking forward to meeting you in person.

  4. Mark Kruen
    Mark Kruen says:

    I haven’t gone to the site yet. That’s next. I had to laugh. I too have just started my business and no one takes me seriously yet. I guess it’s hard to, even for yourself until you see it grow from an idea to a reality. The reality is it’s a great idea. I’ll continue to follow you, wish you great success.

  5. Joselle Palacios
    Joselle Palacios says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Congratulations. I just breifly checked it out. Will take a closer look as the weeks go on. Now two things: I hate the video guy picture. If the site weren’t attached to you, I probably wouldn’t look further due to that alone. And two, I second Shefaly’s observations. Is Race in the Workplace involved/going to be involved in anyway?

    Anyways, good luck and congrats again.

  6. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke says:

    Congrats to Penelope, Ryan, and Ryan! I can only imagine how the three of you are feeling right now. Enjoy the big launch day!

    And thanks for inviting me along for the ride!

  7. Seth Mattison
    Seth Mattison says:

    Ha! Its finally here!! I’m so pumped for you guys. I’m sure the last few weeks have been agonizing. Now it’s time to start really rocking. Can’t wait to see where it all goes.

    All the best!

  8. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    And you can't talk to your friends or business associates because they'll say "When are you going to start your company?" and you'll snap, "I told you ten times that I already have started the company."
    Frustrating, isn’t it? I would say you have done your homework on your new company and it looks great to me! I especially like two things – you (or someone) chose what happens to be my favorite color (blue) and you have a link at the top of the page to your blog. While reading this post (and which goes to your above statement) I thought about the job of painting a garage door. You know a successful painting project is determined in large part by the prep work (scraping, sanding, etc.) – about 90 percent of the total work involved. I painted my garage door about seven years ago and if you examine it close up you can see it needs attention in certain areas. It has held up well because I invested the time in that (boring, unglamorous) prep work. Approximately two years ago I happened to notice my neighbor painting her garage door with no prep work whatsoever. Now it’s obvious to anyone passing by her house that her garage door definitely needs to be painted again (or replaced with something that doesn’t require maintenance). I’m jealous Penelope … but then again why should I be – I didn’t put in all the hard work that you have done. Well done and keep up the good work.

  9. Alice Bachini-Smith
    Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    Congratulations! I’m so excited for you. The site looks great, although I too hate the video guy, but what do I know, I’m 40 and hate video games. Although I’m going to be studying everything you guys say over there, both as a returner to work and as a would-be Gen Y employer. Fantastic!

  10. Louise Fletcher
    Louise Fletcher says:

    The site is beautiful. Good job!

    I’m honored to be included – and you’re right. Everything about my business is different from the way it was when I started it!

  11. Dale
    Dale says:

    I like the idea of your new business, but given what I know of you and the career related info you’ve offered over the years, I’m suprised that attention/information/blogs on physical and emotional well-being, as they pertain to young careerists :) are not given more specific attention. Oh well, I guess you can’t cover everything.

    Also, could you sort of identify the areas these fifty bloggers tend to specialize on – next to their names would be nice. Or was this intentionally left out so we could surf and discover them and the site ourselves?

    Much respect for this major undertaking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything even remotely of its kind anywhere.

  12. Greg Rollett
    Greg Rollett says:

    The site looks awesome and I am proud to be included on the site launch. Hopefully I can live up to it!

    There is so much promise with Gen-Y and the way technology has played a role in our lives. There is no telling where we are going to be tomorrow, next week or next year. By taking the initiative to start something great you have shown that networking above all is the foundation of something bigger than yourself. Looking forward to the coming months.

  13. Elaine Basham
    Elaine Basham says:

    Congratulations to all of you! My mythology, Penelope is that people like you encouraged me, believed in my work, and understood that our process has always been all about doing what’s right, what’s best for our clients and what will help them achieve their goals. Our company has grown leaps and bounds during the last year, in no small part because of your support. I wish all of you phenomenal success. Sue and I are thrilled to be a part of Coachology!

  14. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I had to check out the hotornot web site. When you read the ‘about’ page you get the feeling these guys really fell into it big time in a great way without much effort. I’m not so sure about that and I have to agree with the mythology concept. I tried to get back to Guy Kawasaki’s site by using my browser’s back arrow button and I kept getting new photos on hotornot. There’s a little bit more than meets the eye here!

  15. Ally S
    Ally S says:

    @Dale: if I understand the premise behind Brazen Careerist correctly, then I have seen something similar: Damsels in Succes, which has been around for a while. Similar, but targeted towards women in business. I believe Penelope was affiliated with this?

    http://www.damselsinsuccess.com/blogs/allpostbyauthor.aspx?id=40

    @Shefaly – I counted at least 4 non-white faces on the list of contributors. There could be more, but it’s hard to tell.

    Either way, I’ll definitely be reading the new site!

  16. Scott Hepburn - Small Business Marketing. Simplified.
    Scott Hepburn - Small Business Marketing. Simplified. says:

    Congrats on the launch of BrazenCareerist.com, Penelope. I took a spin through the site and fell in love!

    It’s funny how we always create a myth to narrate the birth of our own success. I’m sure there’s something in there for Freud to chew on.

    Good luck with the new venture — I’ll be sure to share the news with my readers.

  17. Yasmin
    Yasmin says:

    I’m 27, and don’t like the video guy either – it makes the website messy. What game system is that anyway? The blue color theme is nice easy on the eyes though.

    Congratulations! I wish you all the best.

  18. Milena
    Milena says:

    @ Shefaly – I have no clue what site you visited, but Penelope’s bloggers and coaches are definitely not all-white.

    Penelope is not an “elitist careerist” after all. Although I was ready to jump on the tawdry scandal bandwagon, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide range of guest bloggers on the site, men and women of all colors (as far as I could tell from the B&W photos, and perhaps ranges of ideas too.

  19. Aruni
    Aruni says:

    Great post and as a serial entrepreneur I can definitely relate. I’ve been figuring out how to proceed with my business for the last couple of years with kids around and trying to figure it all out. It all just came together end of last year and now I’m fundraising so although I had a business I really wasn’t sure what it could be until now. And as you said, we still don’t know how it will all pan out.

  20. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    So far, I'm not grabbed by these BC.com bloggers at all – the posts next to those unoffensive, smooth faces unlined by travel and failure don't really hold much interest for me – it just made me sick of twentysomethings (and I am one!) This sure ain't Down and Out in Paris and London – but then again, I guess it isn't supposed to be. Maybe BrazenCareerist.com is for people pondering whether to throw a few grand at a video game room? I'm sure that's a tale of adversity many can relate to, but I think I'll just stick with your blog, for now. I just didn't find the grit I was looking for. Yet?

    Aaaand – ditto Cindy: how do you make money from this? I didn't see any ads.

    (posted to the right date, apologies!)

  21. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    Congrats Penelope – I know you’ve been working at this a long time. What a great example for your readers.

  22. Carla
    Carla says:

    Hi! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of your new venture.
    I think the site looks good, except for that cartoon of a woman holding out the money on the front page. It’s not her pose or expression, it’s her overly made-up face, teeny-bopper outfit, and–gasp–her navel ring (which, by the way, is so 2003). As a 25-year-old professional woman, I figure I’m pretty much your target demographic. If I came across your site, I’d instantly discount it for that image alone. You can appeal to young, trendy people without going the Tiger Beat route.

  23. brian
    brian says:

    So, why exactly is there a questionably-clad GenY chick (baring her midriff) and waving money at you sprawled across the header of the page? Is that what screams “professionalism” to you? At first, I thought I had been railroaded to some spam site.

    It screams “sex sells” and “flaunt it if you’ve got it” to me. Not exactly admirable qualities in any career.

    Maybe I was railroaded, after all….

  24. apronk
    apronk says:

    I was about to change my bookmark to the brazencareerist.com, then I visited the site.

    Who in the name of Zeus thought it would be a good idea to put a huge picture of some midriff-bearing chick on the home page of a financial site? Sites w/ ginormously distracting images of chicks showing off their bellies are entirely too gawdy and tacky to be considered safe browsing at work.

    Which, I bet, is where most of your readers access your site from.

    Please, clean up the front page and make it look more professional. For the sake of your at-work readers.

  25. Susan Bernstein
    Susan Bernstein says:

    Congrats, Penelope, Ryan, and Ryan!

    I’m honored to be included in Coachology – thanks!

    One of the important ways I resonate with your message is in the authenticity (not just a buzzword) about the experience of being an entrepreneur.

    I’ll be interested to read about your ups AND downs. Personally, I think all-too-many people expect the “Oprah effect,” as though they’ll launch their company on a Monday and appear on Oprah on Friday. Hello?!? We need a reality check, behind the scenes.

    I laughed as I told someone yesterday that my first website was screaming yellow and turquoise, and that my mother got a raging headache looking at the color combination. But, hey, I put myself out there. If we all waited until we reached perfection to launch, we’d stay in place, holding back our energy and passion from those who need us.

    From my vantage point, you are providing great content for people who want to make the most of their careers and lives. And it’s up to each reader to see how that information impacts them.

    Way to go for taking a big leap into a new venture!

    Cheers,
    Susan

  26. JC
    JC says:

    I like the content…BUT please get rid of the tacky teeny-bopper waving the money! If I didn’t know it was your site I wouldn’t even take the time to browse.

    Conagrats & much success!

  27. Dale
    Dale says:

    Becoming the object of scorn and criticism is something one calls upon himself or herself when he or she ventures into the public space. And when one present a blog to the public, you invite positive and negative responses to your ideas and messages. But while mean spiritedness is subject to interpretation, casting insults is not.

    Most of us read blogs for the exchange of ideas, if we disagree, most of us like “Shefaly,” “Brian” or “Andrea” respond cerebrally and have the guts to put our names next to our comments – I doubt that “apronk” is your name, but I also respect your opinion, and your manner of stating it.

    In contrast, individuals who choose to remain nameless and make insulting comments add nothing to my online experience, and in fact diminish the experience for everyone else. Anyone considering posting a comment to which they would not want to take public ownership – like “Mr. Adrienne Roston” – please do us all a favor and click the red X if you have nothing constructive or insightful to add to the discourse. Or… at the very least brother, have the stones to use your real name.
    Just my two cents worth.

  28. Joselle Palacios
    Joselle Palacios says:

    I had a chance to look around a bit more today. I only read the post in the writing category on juggling freelance writing and a fulltime job. It was a good post, one I related to, and I’ll be back to peek around some more.

    But I must add to chorus so all of you at bc.com can know how disappoining and uninspiring your first two main pictures have been! I fourth and fifth the motion to banish the Tiger Beat/dumb slacker look. It’s not fresh. Not even sexy. It’s tawdry and vapid and, as I said before, I’d bypass the site if it weren’t attached to PT’s name. Also, they just look like generic stock photos. I am excited about the launch and even signed up to join. This is all growing pains and I’m sure a lot things will change as you grow and learn. But I do hope tomorrow’s photo is better. :)

  29. Jacqueline Carly
    Jacqueline Carly says:

    @Dale

    It’s not ‘brother’, it’s sister! And JC is in fact what my friends call me, so I’m not hiding, I use it in real life. I still stand by my comment, the pic should go.

  30. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I agree with the prior poster, the content is good, but the graphics don’t really lend to a professional image.

  31. Dale
    Dale says:

    JC, you were not the object of my scorn:) That post seems to have disappeared.
    Thanks for the shout out though.

    Dale

    P.S. I hated those pictures too.

  32. Florence Brown
    Florence Brown says:

    Congratulations, Penelope! The site looks great and it looks like you have a wonderful crop of writers. If you ever find yourself with an opening on your blogroll, I’d love to apply :)

  33. RS
    RS says:

    When I went to the website, my first thought was that I’d been redirected to a spam site. So, I went back to your page to double check the link. Then I went to the site again and realized that it was your actual page. The images aren’t doing the content any favors.

  34. Jenn Sutherland
    Jenn Sutherland says:

    Congratulations, Penelope! I look forward to seeing where this business takes you, as I’ve enjoyed reading your posts for a year here.

    I am with many of the other posters in that the look/feel of the new site does not in any way line up with your personal brand. The site is cold in feel, and looks like a cheap direct marketing site. I know this is not what you intended, so I’m keeping the site bookmarked to watch its evolution. I’d strongly recommend a design re-focus for a more warm, high-touch user experience. Drop the current artwork and color scheme immediately. Go for a warmer palette, and professional look. Ditch the corny cut-out blue monotone thumbnails of your featured bloggers – that’s a very dated look.

    Using the site, it does not make me feel like there is info inside to help me navigate my career and life – the navigation is not quite perfected yet.

    Look/feel aside, clicking through, I can see that you DO have a lot of great content, and I will read it because I trust the reputation you’ve built with us here. Keep up the good work, and with some design/interface tweaks, I know that you will find the success you’re looking for with this site!

  35. apronk
    apronk says:

    @Dale, This is the internet. It’s the realm of anonymity. If you *must* know my name, it’s Katie. “Apronk” = a small way for me to call myself “a programmer named katie.”

    I’m not usually of the picky or no-sex-allowed type (in case you were just trying to gauge if I were a male or a female). I specialize in UI design and so I’ve always got a keen eye out for first impressions. The new BC site, with its overwhelming graphic of the Money Chick (which I have now dubbed her) is extremely distasteful and unprofessional. Had this been a myspace page, who cares?

    I think the point is that Penelope is trying to boost readership big time, and really gain an audience and foster a community for financial discussion/advice.

    The Money Chick graphic contributes nothing positive to the site whatsoever.

    I want the new BC site to do well, and so I wanted to make my opinion loud and clear so as to land on the ears of those responsible for making design decisions.

    Perhaps a random headshot of a BC contributor would be more in good taste. I usually enjoy the sense of closeness to the author(s) some blogs have to offer, so maybe this suggestion should be taken into consideration.

    Hopefully only my first name will satisfy your curiosity. I will not in future posts provide my middle or last names, my street address, phone number, or social. Sorry to disappoint.

  36. apronk
    apronk says:

    Also @ Dale, I really don’t think my post was too negative. I worded it with concern for Penelope’s readership.

    I could have used a slew of words in place of “chick”.

  37. Senia.com Positive Psychology Coaching
    Senia.com Positive Psychology Coaching says:

    MEGA-CONGRATS on the launch!

    Finishing is such a key component of life – you can only sometimes move forward once you’ve finished some things. And you’ve finished the launch.

    Site looks fabulous – readable, clear.

    Am very much looking forward to hearing about more future success!

  38. Bucks Vault
    Bucks Vault says:

    pen,

    glad to see that you have zero negative comments posted. Great going in censorship. I’m the 51st poster for the post and you have 50 bloggers. Where are the 150,000 visitors? hope all goes well hitting critical mass.

  39. apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname)
    apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname) says:

    @penelope, thanks for updating the graphic. Will this be changing on a regular basis?

  40. Eric Palmer
    Eric Palmer says:

    Wow, the site seems really slow, dog slow. The design is also super cheesy, did you get a professional to do it? If not you should.

    Also, the comments link on the main page of your blog should actually jump to the comments and not leave you at the top of the post.

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