Turning now to the co-founder, Michael Gursha graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2010 with a dual major in Television, Radio, Film and Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises at Syracuse University. Michael has worked for major companies such as: Google, Time Inc. and Curemark. Given his diverse work experience and insatiable entrepreneurial drive, I think you’ll enjoy the interview below- ripe with perspective on what it means to truly live one’s passion.
MK: Tell me about Vouchboard.com. Where did the idea come from?
MG: My friend Andrew and I came up with the idea while at Syracuse University. We saw this huge hole between social media and social networking. We wanted to bridge the gap between the professional and social networking sites. We realized that people loved receiving recommendations on LinkedIn, friends writing on their Facebook walls and getting re-tweeted on Twitter. We wanted to create a service that utilized these favorite social media components to make something meaningful.
MK: What do you see Vouchboard.com going in the near- and long-term future?
MG: I think in the next year, the site will change a lot. As we grow the site, I know that we will get a lot of feedback. We will incorporate all of those changes to build the best website possible. Simultaneously, we want to make sure we spend time building the right team. We want to make sure we have a great group of people working to produce a great social networking site for our users.
Vouchboard.com is a site built for people to have a positive experience and get affirming feedback. Long-term, the site would extend not just to individuals, but also to businesses, non-profits, products and services. It would be a site that readily displayed how much people like other people, products and ideas.
MK: Where do you see social media going in the next 5 years?
MG: I think a lot of it is going towards what we are trying to do at VouchBoard. People want to be social. They want their inner circle’s opinions about everything they do, from who they are personally to the products they buy and places they visit. If you think about it, a lot of what we do is based on the feedback and recommendations we get from our close networks. Social media is in just the beginning stages right now. I think current sites will get even more interactive. You’ll be doing things based on what your friends are doing all the time. That’s the big point about life- doing things you love with people you love being around. Social media will facilitate our ability to do that.
MK: What mistakes do you think college students make when it comes to their early careers?
A lot of people go into school not exactly sure what they want to do. I think you do have to try different things in the beginning. I always knew what I wanted to do, so I was fortunate. But for those who don’t know, you just have to try as much as possible to figure out what you really like. Try everything. Even though I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I still tried working in corporations in different industries. You need to discover what you don’t like before you hit upon what you like. You will learn something from every experience, regardless of whether you ultimately enjoyed it.
MK: What is the key to “Living Your Passion”?
I think it’s about just following what you really want to do. If you don’t like what you are doing, you won’t be successful in it. I don’t mind working on the weekends or at nights because I’m really enjoying myself. If you don’t like what you are doing, you are not going to be putting your full self into it. And surround yourself with people that you work well with and support your growth.
MK: What do you think are the 3 common traits among people who are exceptional at what they do?
1.) You really have to be passionate about what you are trying to do. It’s not about money or clout. It’s about passion and belief in an idea.
2.) You need to be a little crazy. Because it’s not an easy path to do something that other people consider to be crazy.
3.) You need to be persistent and just do it, despite the roadblocks that stand in your way.
MK: What advice do you have for other budding entrepreneurs out there?
Just do it. If you have a great idea, it’s all about execution and getting it done. You can write up a business plan, but the biggest hump to get over is actually acting on it. Just try it. If it fails, so be it. You’ll learn a lot in the process about business and yourself. You have nothing to lose. Just put yourself out there a little bit.
MK: What is the biggest career lesson you have learned thus far?
Surround yourself with good people who you can trust and will help you move forward. A lot of success has to do with the people you meet and surround yourself with, as well as the people you choose to have working relationships with. You find out quickly that surrounding yourself with good people makes all the difference in the world. Make sure you work with people who will encourage you to do new things, be creative and think outside the box. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something you want to do. Make sure the people around you are positive ad encouraging.
MK: What is your advice to students in college right now?
The best thing about college is that you get to meet such a wide variety of people. Just try and put yourself out there as much as possible. You’d be surprised at who you meet a long the way that will become a significant part of your life. Put yourself out there, try everything and meet as many people as possible.
When it comes to entrepreneurship or exploring a new idea, keep going for stuff. People are going to tell you “no” all the time. They’ll tell you that it’s a dumb idea all the time. People aren’t always as encouraging as they can or should be. But what I’ve learned is that you can do absolutely everything. Don’t be afraid. There’s no downside. If you really want to do something, whatever it is, you can do it.