David Tamm is the founder and CEO of Pencerita, a groundbreaking legacy preservation platform that makes it easy for people to document the most important life moments. He is an accomplished leader with extensive experience with tech startups and building systems for scalability and sustainability.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I recently recorded a podcast episode on my life from tip to tail — found here.
I grew up in Boulder, CO, and came from a troubled upbringing. I was the only of three children to graduate high school, was kicked out of CU Boulder and was homeless for a brief period of time. After years of struggle, the military was the springboard that propelled me out of mediocrity into self-actualization and growth. I’ve now started five companies, written a book, and am trying to make a positive impact on the world. Your past does not define you. Your actions today and how you treat others do.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That you really do have something special to offer this world, even if you don’t see it right now. You are capable of leading and building incredible things, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to go out on your own and grow. Jump when you are ready, not when they are. A lot of this journey is going to be lonely, so keep close to those that deliver on their word and are truly kind – not just in words but in action.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
It’s hard out there, you’re better off staying where you are.
You should work with family because you can trust them.
All the good ideas have already been done or taken.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
From a brutal divorce, to a combat deployment, being kicked out of college, and literally sleeping in a car, going through a coin jar to scrape enough money together to eat. The list goes on and on, but I wouldn’t change any of the “negative” experiences if I could. I love who I am today, and they made me who I am.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Expand your horizons and take the time to really get to know people and what drives them. I’m constantly reading, listening to podcasts, hopping on calls to network even if there isn’t a business opportunity, and pushing everyone on my team to do the same. This is where some of the most incredible relationships and opportunities arise, when you really put in the time, make an effort, and try to help one another.
Shaking a hand, collecting a business card, and expecting to do business is not how the world works anymore.
What is your morning routine?
Wake up (5-6 am depending on the day), say good morning to the dogs and wife, put on the coffee, read a bit, shower, do some gratitude & writing exercises, and make a yummy breakfast; which is usually meal prepped unless it is the weekend. From there, jump into calls, inboxes, and slack channels!
I’m typically an evening workout kind of guy, which is a habit from my military years. With no kids at home, we have that luxury and would encourage others to play around with their schedule until they find what works for them. You may be surprised by what you find.
“There is no guru, only you”
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Fitness and books. That’s it. If I can keep my body and mind challenged and engaged on a daily basis, the rest of my life becomes so much easier.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I “double dip.” When I’m in the gym for 2 hours, I’ve got a personal growth or business podcast on, with a notebook, scribbling down ideas between sets. I try to use that time away from the monotony of daily workflow and so I’m truly getting four hours of productivity out of two. If I’m driving in the car alone, I always have an Audible book on. Music is for when the wife is in the car. I work one day every weekend. Maybe not a full day, but I have found that this is some of the most productive time I can get, since my staff “can’t get to me” and I can work on brain-intensive tasks for extended periods of time. Then I start Monday ahead of everyone else, with low relative stress.
All of this is possible by finding a partner that supports my work ethic, also has her own career, and keeps the communication constant and positive.
If anyone wants to reach out to learn more, please check out our new website.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Driven by Dr. Douglas Brackmann. I thought I was broken, and my brain didn’t work like everyone else’s. It turns out there are answers and research that can help.
The Lord of the Rings Series by JRR Tolkien. Because we all need to learn to dream and ride the waves of our creative inspiration.
Good to Great by Jim Collins. When you are lost or things aren’t working out in business, this book can be your compass and map, if you’re willing to look hard enough.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Thoughts untangle themselves through lips and pencil tips.”– My high school freshman history teacher, who shall remain unnamed.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Gandalf.