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10 Questions with Sam Rosen of MakeSpace

INSPIRATION

WHO IS YOUR HERO AND WHY?

I don’t have a hero… there are too many that are influential in my life. And as I get older, or as my situation changes, those people change too. I believe there are people who are influential for moments in my life, but never one hero. There are many many heroic people… That’s what’s awesome about heroes.

I admire a guy named Jay Feinberg who I work with at Gift of Life, who literally helps facilitate life saving bone marrow and stem cell transplants. I admire and respect my mentor and board member Mark Shuster, who took the first bet on me with Make Space, and I admire and respect my new board member. I’ve got tons of mentors and heroes. There’s not really one that I could say. That’s what’s awesome, is everyone can be a hero. Anyone can be a mentor.

WHAT’S OUT THERE INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?

I fundamentally believe power of internet and the power of invention, that more people are optimistic and hopeful for the world than are pessimistic and hateful towards the world.

The reality that we now face, from environmental factors, to medical factors like cancer, (and what not), the world is a pretty optimistic place, even though sometimes it’s hard to see that. That’s what excites me. The idea that eliminating cancer might be the US’s moonshot, or that the number of drunk driving accidents and deaths that will decline as result of services like Uber or self-driving cars, or how cities will change, and jobs will be created by tech enabled companies like MakeSpace, that’s what really gets me excited. I’ve probably never been more optimistic in my whole life than right now.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A GOAL IS WORTH ACHIEVING?

The authentic answer is it’s hard for me to tell someone how to prioritize their goals because I’m not them.

How I prioritize my goals is specific to me. I could say to you, oh don’t prioritize a goal based on a monetary outcome, but that might be important to you, and who am I do say how you should prioritize it?

What they should do, in order to achieve them, is make them actionable, and accountable. You have to hold yourself accountable to whether you hit them or not.

“I want to lose weight.” Well, a lot of people want to lose weight.

Maybe that means going to the gym….

Maybe it means just putting your gym clothes on in the first place and just walking around in your apartment.

Maybe that means putting those gym clothes on and going for a walk…

Maybe it’s putting them on and GOING to the gym, or signing up for a membership.

Maybe it’s going to the gym 5 days a week, even if you just show up at the gym for 5 minutes.

More important… what happens if you DON’T go to the gym?

Do you deserve the piece of pizza? Did you say “if I don’t go to the gym, I’m going to donate $5?” Whatever your goals are, they have to be actionable, and you have to hold yourself accountable, or they’re probably not going to happen.

EDUCATION

WHAT DOES YOUR MEDIA DIET LOOK LIKE RECENTLY?

I’m reading Originals, by Adam Grant. I loved watching the Oscar shorts. I saw the Oscar nominated documentaries for the first time, I went to theatre to watch those and I thought they were excellent, even more so than some of the feature movies.

I like reading a lot of articles, the New York Times, blogs like Gothamist. I typically don’t make it all the way through a book, because my brain doesn’t work well sitting in one place for a long period of time. When I do read a book, it’s usually on something like management, or business, because that’s educational for me as a CEO, and almost required reading material.

WHAT’S THE MOST ACTIONABLE ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

My 7th grade hockey coach said to me “the cream rises to the top”. He told me that when I was cut from offense and had to move to defense. And by senior year, I was first team all division. I was the best defenseman in the league. You can look at life how you take it, and you can look at life how you make it. “The cream always rises to the top”, because at a certain point, you separate yourself, and I think separating yourself is a choice.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOU AT THE 2016 PROPELLER INNOVATION FESTIVAL THAT THEY WON’T GET ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD?

Brutal honesty and authenticity.

FUN

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW FAVORITE APPS, HARDWARE, GADGETS OR TOYS?

I think the Amazon echo is interesting, and that’s what everyone is talking about, but I’m also not that impressed.

What I’m most excited for is self-driving cars, so until then, I don’t think anything will excite me as much as that.

SOME PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF CROSSING THE RIVER… WHY SHOULD PEOPLE FROM NEW YORK MAKE THE TRIP TO JERSEY FOR THE FESTIVAL?

One, they should make the trip just to see the view, in case they haven’t already. It’s one of the most spectacular views of New York City I’ve ever seen.

Two, as someone who grew up in New Jersey, it’s pretty much New York, just a little West.

Three, there’s a lot of unique culture, and cool things about Hoboken/NJ/Jersey City, from Frank Sinatra, the first game of baseball, the music culture at Maxwell’s, it’s a really great place. I don’t think of New Jersey any differently, than I do of New York. The Path Train that’s 4 blocks from me goes directly across the river, it’s no different than a train ride going to Brooklyn, and really we’re all one big NY/NJ area. I don’t look at it as a delineation. I’ve been following the tech scene in NY/NJ for a while, since 2009 or so. I was at one of the very first NJ Tech Meetups, when it was the Hoboken Tech Meetup, and it was just 20 of us in a bar. I remember when Venmo launched at that event. There’s a lot of history that goes in that community and New Jersey, and I think it’s a big opportunity. It’s no different in my mind.

THERE ARE GOING TO BE PLENTY OF HIGH-FIVES AT THE 2016 PROPELLER INNOVATION FESTIVAL… WHAT MAKES A GOOD HIGH-FIVE?

A High Five only counts if it stings.

“‘The Cream Always rises to the top’, because at a certain point, you separate yourself, and I think separating yourself is a choice.”

How will you separate yourself?

Let us know: @letspropel #letspropel

  •  More about MakeSpace, the “Dropbox for real things”. It’s cheaper than storage units.
  • Jay Feinberg, Founder/CEO of Gift of Life. He was saved by the last person tested at the last drive to find a match.

Contributed by: Gil Olsen

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About the Author Anthony Idi