Stranger 26, Day 26 – Meet Ed, the “Entrepreneurial Racer”

Stranger 26, Day 26 - Meet Ed

Today, I wanted to meet someone at my office and break up the string of Starbucks connections. Not anything wrong with Starbucks, but I was just curious. I walked right into the coffee shop on the first floor and saw my guy. I actually saw him give a pitch on his startup at a Startup Village meetup, but didn’t know him, and happily, he was up for sharing his story.

Meet Ed, 29 (for a few more hours)

First, happy birthday, Ed!

Who are you?

“I grew up here in Atlanta. Went to Georgia Tech, and started an exotic car rental company while at Georgia Tech. Sold that as kind of a transition to be the Director of Sales at the local Lamborghini, McLaren, Aston Martin, and Lotus dealership. Left there last year and started a new company called VINwiki that’s a social vehicle history reporting platform — kind of a like a social version of Carfax or AutoCheck. We launched in June, and just growing and raising money and having all the fun we can.”

“…car guy. In 2013, I set the world record for driving from New York to Los Angeles — the Cannonball Run.”

What are your passions? Do you have any dreams, and if so, what are they?

“Cars have been a passion for quite some time, and doing things in cars. A lot of it is just the challenge. One of my heroes is Brock Yates who started Cannonball in the 1970s while he was writing for Car and Driver. He passed away Wednesday, and so I was writing in his obituary for this week for Jalopnik, which is an auto blog — about what kind of a trailblazer he was, and how most of us have big gaps between THINK, WANT, and DO. For him, that didn’t exist. Have a good idea? Let’s do it. I think as entrepreneurs we have to think that way and act that way. It was a good example to see if people that do that sort of thing.”

Ed continues, “to me, the big allure of Cannonball, about entrepreneurship… is evaluating a big problem, and figuring out just how to overcome all of the obstacles that other people might think would otherwise be insurmountable.”

What was it about cars that drew you to follow someone like Brock Yates?

“Just the idea of a device that we can sort of socialize based on what it means. It can be beautiful. It can be powerful. It can be fast. It can be sexy. It can be exciting. It can illicit emotion that that’s not necessarily the design. The idea is transportation, but it elevates. I think that’s a lot of what we do at VINwiki — let that social context become the life. We see a lot of content that just comes to how peoples have become attached to their cars. And what it really takes for someone to fall in love with a car.”

What car are you in love with?

“There are a few. We used a Mercedes CL55 AMG for the New York to LA drive. I still have that car, and I love it. My dream car was always a manual transmission Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. I’ve had two of them now, and I just bought another one a couple weeks ago. That’s the dream car until we decide to buy a McLaren F1. That’ll be a little while and a big exit away!” Haha, we laugh.

What’s a Life Lesson you’d like to share?

“To me there’s always that thing that sort of looms out there that checks all your boxes — appeals to your interests but also the abilities you see yourself having. That’s what Cannonball was for me. It was just this idea that I felt like I could solve, and I felt I could overcome it. And fortunately, we were able to. I think for every one of us whether it’s starting a business or climbing Mount Everest or just doing something when you find that it can carry you through the darker times in life, and let you choose something that you didn’t dream was possible.”

You talk about these races. These exotic cars. You’re chasing the entrepreneurial dreams. It’s all about speed. But everyone who also appreciates speed, also understands the value of good brakes. How do you balance all that speed, all those dreams with ‘how do I put the brakes on for a little bit to enjoy the moment’?

“I think that all comes in how good you are at setting your goals.”

“If you can truly figure out what it is that you’re running at, then you’ll know when you catch it.” Ed mentions how he just wrote a book about his drive that will come out about December. In it, he has an analogy with his dog growing up — a 235-pound English Mastiff. Ed tells me how the dog always chased cats and other animals. One day, Ed heard a cat whimpering, and when Ed went to check out what was happening, the dog had finally caught a cat, and had the cat in its mouth. His eyes were “as big as saucers”. He finally caught one, but didn’t know what to do next. (Ed got the dog to let the cat go, and the cat was just fine.)

“The metaphor has always resonated with me that if you don’t know what you’re going to do when you achieve the goal, is it even worth starting to chase it? Because if we just keep getting into the mindset that the rat race and the constant struggles are what we’re always after, then you’ll never be happy.”

“For me, having precise goals of what it would take to consider any outcomes of success, then it let’s you take that step back and relax, and at least have some lull while you prepare for the next one.”

What an interestingly deep thought… I loved it.

So what makes you happy?

“That’s a bit of an interesting question because I… I’ve got a wife. I’ve got a two-year-old. I’ve got just about everything I could ever want.” I mention the fancy cars to which he laughs.

“The victory, success… all those things are great, but to me, I teach a Sunday school class. I try to spread the word of Jesus everywhere I can, and that’s to me what makes me happy. The rest, hopefully, fuels and provides that opportunity.”

I share with him my personal mission to “Change the World for the Greater Through Entrepreneurial Endeavors”. For me, the “Entrepreneurial Endeavors” is my Lamborghini to inspire and execute change. This project being one example of that entrepreneurial endeavor. It’s not about “Entrepreneurial Success” as much as it is the endeavor itself and how it impacts others around me.

He responds, “I think the fallacy of charitable contribution is the need for runway to do it. We all get sucked into that thinking that whatever good we want to do, we need millions and millions of dollars to do it. Places like this (the office) foster a lot of idea of ‘we’re going to sell our companies for nine figures’. Maybe some of us will, maybe we won’t. But you can’t make that a condition of acting on whatever compulsion or motivation you’ve got.”

Ed shares all the “ridiculous stuff I do is a great foot in the door to mentor… to do things that I enjoy doing to do and I feel proud to do. But it’s not that those were necessary.”

“It doesn’t take $10 million to be happy. It doesn’t take $1 million to be happy. It takes being happy to be happy.”

If you can change one decision in your life, what would it be, and why? (Thanks to Renice, Stranger 25)

Ed thinks about this for a while and looks around.

“I don’t really have any. There are cars I could bought that I would’ve made a ton of money on. There are investments that I could’ve made, but that doesn’t matter if I’m happy with where I’m at.”

Ed thinks some more… “I can’t think of any.”

I confirm with him that he doesn’t want to change anything because he’s happy.

“Presumably, any change would have changed other things that I like how they came out.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“If you could run into any Stranger with the intention of creating a conversation with them, who would you like that to be… of people you know of.”

Ed shares how he got a chance to meet Jason Statham in the back of the Today Show after his race. Jason is someone Ed truly admires, and Ed was going to talk to him no matter what.

After the handshake.

First, Ed has a great voice. That might be weird to say, but he’s got a clear, authoritative voice. He could be on radio. Sidebar out of the way.

Ed’s about to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, and given he’s a couple years younger than me, I’m a little envious. It’d be cool to check out his garage one day. He been (and still is) successful, and he constantly pushes himself. I love the connection to Brock Yates and the gaps between think, want, and do. That’s powerful for me perhaps because I push myself to be go through the whole cycle — I’m a “doer”.

Also, I thought Ed’s lesson around knowing what to do when something is achieved is a great lesson that I hadn’t thought much of. Oftentimes, we think so much about some goal we want to reach, but why? What happens when you reach that? Then the question, “is it even worth starting to chase it?”

Great to meet Ed, and we had some good talks around what comes after this project, and if I had thought about creating a business out of this. I haven’t really thought too much about this, but maybe I should given our talk. Hmm…

Meet Ed. No longer a Stranger.

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  1. […] mentioned to Jarvis about Ed, Stranger 26. Jarvis found Ed’s Cannonball record run very interesting. These serendipitous Stranger […]

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