My -$50,000 Parking Ticket – Skate across America Day 75

strong>December 17th, 2010



Total Distance for today: 0 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 553 miles
LOCATION: Tour Paused for Holidays in Raleigh, NC. I’m visiting with family, friends, and fans back in Fowlerville, MI
STATUS: Moving Detroit Project Forward!

The Best Opening to a Business Meeting… Ever!

“This is our guy. No question about it.” That’s what I thought after Phil Cooley walked in to Avalon’s International Breads on Friday and gave the best opening I’ve ever seen to a business meeting. He walked up to our table, after grabbing a coffee, and asked if it would be ok for him to make a quick phone call. Turns out, he needed to call a police officer friend of his who was on the way over to Phil’s house to GET DRUNK for a demonstration about DUI’s. Hilarious and amazing!


Phil’s sort of an “entrepreneurial all star” in Detroit, and Dillon and I have been working on meeting him ever since our meeting with the Mayor’s Group Planning Executive in November. He’s got his hands in a lot of cool projects, and he has a reputation for getting things done. He’s is one of the owners of Slows BBQ, which is an extremely successful restaurant down near to where old Tigers Stadium used to stand.


We were meeting Phil to discuss the global startup competition we want to start in Detroit, beginning in 2011. We were looking to build connections in Detroit and get some office space donated for the competition, which is being modeled after a similar competition in Boston, MassChallenge. The CEO of that competition, John Harthorne, has offered his help as an advisor. The startup competition will serve as a launch pad for our overall revitalization efforts in Detroit, which will include opening the entrepreneurial academy that I keep talking about.

Phil Moves FAST

To make a long story short: Within 5 minutes of meeting Phil, he had suggested four different organizations we ought to collaborate with, each of which he had good contacts with. Within 10 minutes, he had contacted a friend, Brian, who he thought could help us with office space. Within 45 minutes, we were meeting Brian. Within about 90 minutes, we had verbally secured the donation of the office space that we need for the competition. Incredible!

My -$50,000 Parking Ticket

Unfortunately, I only had two quarters in my wallet when we parked to checkout the potential office space. We overstayed our 30 minutes, and I came back out to a parking ticket on my windshield. Do you know what I did? I laughed hysterically. I now owe $20 to the City of Detroit, but let’s think about this just for a second: We needed office space for anywhere between 50 and 150 people to work for about 3 months. We needed desks, phone lines, and internet. Even at the modest $150/month price that Brian estimated he would charge new tenants, that would still come up to $22,500-$67,500 in donated office space! Do you realize: That’s more than I owe on my school loans for 4 years at a prestigious engineering university? I’m going to go ahead and say that $20 parking ticket was well worth it. It was a nice parking spot. I would have gladly payed $500 for it!


I was able to laugh at the parking ticket, and that’s very important. I honestly believe that the attitude that allowed me to laugh at that minor expense has been essential to get me this far. Without it, there would have been no sponsor, no skate, no idea for an academy, no global startup competition, and no $50,000 in donated office space. Now understand this: Even though the office space will be donated, many of the companies that compete in the competition are likely to make that building their headquarters after the competition. Essentially, this sponsor, by being willing to pay it forward and help in this important cause, is producing customers for the future. Also, it brings life to this small section of the city, which will lead to more development. Brian said it best: “I’ve got nothing but space!” I say: “Might as well use it for something cool!”


I am constantly being forced to redefine what I believe is possible because of this tour. First, it was $15,000 in 2 weeks. Then it was $50,000 in 90 minutes. Should I dare tell you what Dillon and I are trying to raise for this project by May? I’ll hold off for now. :-) The bigger the action you take, the more you will realize that it’s all just numbers, and the real question is: How big is your vision?


My -$50,000 Parking Ticket:

Negative 50000 Dollar Parking Ticket

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