Carl Esposti, Founder of Crowdsourcing.org
Carl Esposti’s BIO
Crowdsourcing.org is the leading international website devoted to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. Massolution is a research, advisory and implementation firm that specializes in crowdsourcing solutions for private, public and social enterprises.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. What prompted you to start Crowdsourcing & Massolution?
Carl: For over twenty years, I have helped large enterprises figure out how to design and implement new ways of delivering mid-back office services (IT/F&A/Procurement/ HR etc.). Common models included outsourcing, offshore services, and captive centers.
I discovered crowdsourcing in 2008 when it was in its formative stages. I recognized its potential as a high value and disruptive model for delivering labor, expertise and innovation to all sizes of businesses.
Having some familiarity on how new “categories” form (i.e. definition, scale and competition), I knew that as part of the inevitable ecosystem there needed to be a reliable source for information, insight (i.e. data and advice) and practical support.
I knew that in order to understand the model, track its use and evolution and to become a relevant part of the developing ecosystem, I needed to take a leading position and help build it. Crowdsourcing.org is our platform and community while Massolution is our research and advisory business.
2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Carl: I can explain my day but I hope it’s not typical for everyone. It’s a seven day 70-80 hour week.
6:00am-7:00am to hit the first 100-200 emails that have arrived over night and to review the day’s agenda. I stop to take my daughter to school.
8:30am – 5:30pm it’s non-stop!
After a couple of hours of homework and catching up on my daughters day, it’s back to my office den until midnight. It’s been like this for three years.
On Saturdays, I work from 1pm through 8:00pm-9:00pm and manage to get about half of Sunday at my desk.
It’s a lot of work but apart from getting tired, it’s still somehow a breeze. The reward, success and excitement of seeing it work fuels you.
3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Carl: I don’t have tricks other than tips for getting as much done as possible.
I have completely changed the style of 90% of my emails. Client/potential partner emails get three times the attention and polish, while internal/team/extended team-network emails are churned out in seconds. I don’t capitalize and I don’t punctuate. I even figured I could save ½ second per email if I didn’t use an end period.
Every meeting is as short as possible, to the point and action oriented.
I have no choice but to skim my email and I select what to action. I have a good team I fire off short instructional or feedback emails to.
Once you accept that you will never be on top of it, you learn to relax with the fact that 30% will slip through. You just have to get good at spotting the 70% that will have the biggest impact!
5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Carl: Nobody (regardless of what they say in the corporate world) gives a damn about your career. It’s down to you! Don’t become a corporate slave. Big corporations (and some small) are guaranteed to slow you down and to stop most good ideas in their tracks. There are two ways to change an organization with BIG ideas. You can nudge but often that takes too long and you have to give up occasionally. You can also be disruptive but you might not last beyond 2-3 years.
6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of your business for short term and long term growth?
Carl: Pick a business that does good in good times and even better in hard times. Crowdsourcing saves you money, helps businesses do work better and can be a source for new ideas. In a good economy, people will adopt it to do things better. In a bad economy, people will adopt it to do things cheaper.
7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?
Carl: I feel fortunate that for the first time in my life, I saw something early (I was 4 years ahead of my peer group).
I’m proud that we capitalized on first mover advantage and secured the opportunity we saw. We have worked hard to earn an admirable position in our field. I feel proud that we are recognized worldwide for our thought leadership as a pioneer in the space. We are respected in academia, industry, and by world class enterprises.
We get constant feedback on the value we provide.
We have wonderful and bright people wanting to work with us and be associated with us.
We have team members that are having as much fun as I am!
8. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Carl: Balance is my work and my daughter.
9. Your top 3 book recommendations?
Carl: I haven’t read a business book cover to cover in the last three years. I read the first couple of chapters of James Kiyosaki’s [amazon_link id=”1612680011″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Rich Dad Poor Dad[/amazon_link] which enticed me to resign from a secure partnership, not wanting to remain a slave to the corporation. Once I resigned to figure out what to do next, I had time to read chapter three which said to not resign until you have a good idea and know when it will start making money. It was too late then as I had already left my firm.
When I was figuring out what to do, I read enough of Jeff Howes book[amazon_link id=”0307396215″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Crowdsourcing[/amazon_link] to know that it was relevant and that it was going to be my direction. There are many books to read on crowdsourcing if you want to learn what’s going on and learn about its the potential)
- [amazon_link id=”0143114948″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Here Comes Everyone[/amazon_link] by Clay Shirky
- [amazon_link id=”B006RINW9K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Wisdom of Crowds[/amazon_link] by James Surowiecki
I read Shell Silverstein’s books to my daughter and learned more about relationships from [amazon_link id=”0060256575″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Missing Piece Meets the Big O [/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0060586753″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Giving Tree [/amazon_link] which reminded me of the pleasures of unconditional giving.
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Carl: Before I started the business, I was involved for a couple of years and was the president of a 503c SPAC. Its focus was helping families and children through high conflict divorce (there is a story there). I read a lot during this time (e.g. DSM IV).
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Carl: One of my 1st managers Keith Breadmore. I was 26, successful and very determined. I produced results but left a big wake. He taught me that you are not as you think you are but how you are perceived. Basically figure out how you impact others and work to improve yourself. I have learned and grown a lot throughout my career. Mostly that it’s not about self, but rather about how one can lead, influence and inspire while getting what you want done.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in entrepreneurship?
- Don’t kid yourself that another year in a big firm is going to give you that little extra experience you need to be successful on your own. Go for it as early as you can and continue until you succeed.
- Don’t underestimate how hard you have to work, what risks you have to take and how much it’s going to cost you (i.e. money, social life, and work-life balance). At least understand that until the business becomes established and is on a safe trajectory, it has to be 110%!
- Make sure you either have 100% support from your partner or ensure there is nobody that’s going to get in your way.
- Know how you are going to fund it or at least make sure you have twice (or three times) what you think you need at the beginning.
- Don’t worry too much about planning. At least have a basic plan and direction for the next six months. It’s all going to change and what you started out with is not going to be what you end up with. Be flexible and adapt.
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