MF 056 : Crossing Bridges: From Serial Entrepreneur to Investor to “Piranha,” with Gore Bolton
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Gore Bolton is the founder of Piranha Tank. Gore has done it all: from engineer to serial entrepreneur to investor to CEO of Piranha Tank. Gore reveals what it takes to become a “piranha,” sharing his best productivity hacks for moving forward.
Successes at a glance:
Business engineer | serial entrepreneur | investor.
Founded several companies, including Bolton & Associates, Bolton Investments.
Founder of Piranha Tank (promo video below):
Currently co-writing “Spawning Piranhas,” a book aimed at guiding entrepreneurs towards becoming investors.
How Gore gets inspired to conquer the day:
Gore has a powerful support system in his wife, a two-marathon a year runner. In addition, Gore is a self-proclaimed “student of history,” especially of the founding fathers and the works of Benjamin Franklin. Ben Franklin’s calendar and daily living template provides a model for Gore to set up a daily routine that “props you up for success.” This begins with a faith exercise followed by a plan for how to attack the day. In addition, Gore follows a motivational exercise of printing out the words “everyday I play like a champion,” putting it on a wall and reading it daily. For Gore, having the mindset of a champion is key to establishing the correct framework for daily success. However, as Gore shares, this is not because you’re going to “bat 1000” but because you will face failures and setbacks as part of the journey. Thus, having the champion mindset will give you the versatility and perseverance to face those setbacks so you can continue to move forward.
Setback or failure that led to pivot and shift:
Gore candidly points out that any entrepreneur that is honest with him or herself, will admit to having more failures than one can remember and enough to “know that I’ve done it.” One of Gore’s memorable failures was in 2008. Gore was on Wall Street, being interviewed by different investors and investment houses to raise capital for a tech startup that he and his business partner had launched in 2007. That very day, the market crashed resulting in several cancelled meetings. On the cab ride back to the train station, Gore and his partner came to the realization that things were going to come to a grinding halt. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, as many would do, Gore took a few months off to regroup and allowed himself to refocus and reset. A friend of Gore’s analogized the situation to “being at the mall” and looking at a wall map with the “you are here” arrow. The map doesn’t know or care how you got there and will not tell you where to go. You have to make that choice yourself. More importantly, this experience gave Gore a moment of true self-actualization: thinking about the people who extended themselves to him during this extreme downturn. This in turn, gave Gore an appreciation for being able to empathize and be generous to those experiencing those crashes. As one of Gore’s mentors put it “if you have five people that will call you when you have a problem, you are rich.” A truly poignant illustration of what it means to pivot and move forward.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Gore to move forward:
Cultural experience: courses on emotional intelligence and emotional fortitude at Landmark.
How Gore stays organized and manages his time:
“Work it down and keep in simple,” based on Benjamin Franklin’s routine. In addition, spend disciplined time working on principles that facilitate your growth and development. Gore recommends Andy Andrews’ The Seven Decisions: Understanding the Keys to Personal Success (hardcover) | Kindle, which guides readers in seven key areas: being responsible, taking action, having a decided heart, being joyful, being compassionate, being forgiving and being persistent.
Favorite app / website / resource or productivity hack:
Productivity hack: Gore had the opportunity to meet Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (hardcover) | Kindle. During a group discussion on this very topic, Gore learned the value of the “stop doing” list. Too often, companies focus solely on “to do” lists, piling on more and more action items. However, Collins’ research found that highly successful companies also focus on “stop doing” lists; eliminating tasks that haven’t gained traction or have lost momentum. This really gets to the heart of the frustrations that prevent individuals and organizations from moving forward. Since meeting Jim Collins, Gore now starts all strategic planning sessions with this productivity hack.
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Gore’s Advice for you to Move Forward:
Choose what you want to do and realize you have a right to change. Keep choosing until you find the intersection between “what gets you out of bed” and “what people will pay you for.” Also realize that this is not a one-stop destination. You may find once for a brief moment or at different points in your life. The important takeaway is that if something is making you unhappy, take a hard look at why that is and determine if the unhappiness is necessary to get you where you ultimately want to be or is a drudgery dead end. As noted above, this is why the “stop doing” list is critical to that self-discovery and the game changing productivity hack that will keep you moving forward.