Let me tell you just a few reasons why Miki Agrawal, whom I met through the inspirational Summit Series community, is a firecracker of a human being and one of my personal heroines.
- While working 100-hour-plus weeks as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank, Miki tried out for and earned a coveted starting lineup spot on the New York Magic, a semipro women's soccer team. Twice.
- At age 25, Miki conceptualized and opened WILD (formerly SLICE) -- a healthy, organic pizza shop offering gluten-free and vegan options -- in New York City on a shoestring budget. And it earned phenomenal reviews in the New York Times, Daily Candy, and many other media outlets.
- Through sheer chutzpah, Miki got Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh to support her in opening a second branch of her pizza restaurant, in downtown Vegas, and write the foreword to her book.
- Not content with starting just one successful company, Miki went on to co-found THINX with her twin sister, Radha. THINX is sexy, stain-resistant, micro-organism fighting underwear designed for "that time of month." For every pair of underwear sold, the company funds seven reusable cloth pads for girls in the developing world -- enabling them to attend school when menstruating.
- Miki recently married the Love of Her Life, the equally incredible Andrew Horn, at Burning Man.
- Miki just wrote a fun, light-hearted, super informative and practical book called Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After.
Miki wrote Do Cool Shi*t because she has always believed that if everyone had the basic tools and proper thought processes to authentically follow their passion projects, the world would be a healthier, happier, more successful place. But she didn't want to write a how-to book about starting a business that put people to sleep after page 3, nor did she want to share an autobiography void of helpful details about how to get going.
So Miki wrote the book she had once hunted for as a budding entrepreneur: One that told exactly what she said in the meeting to get her first investor to write a $25,000 check. And exactly what she did to get to the New York Times and Daily Candy to review her business when she was first starting out. And exactly how she built a community of inspiring friends when she first moved to a new city. In other words, Do Cool Sh*t tells people "how to go from Step Zero to Step One."
Miki and her twin sister Radha are a cool combination of Japanese and Indian ancestry. Her parents' love story and success in America against all odds is what inspired Miki to pursue her passion in life. For example, when Miki and her sister were little, their parents realized that kids had no idea how hardware and electronics worked. So they created a company called Tomorrow's Professionals, which teaches kids how to put electronic circuits together and create fun things like burglar alarms and light switches. "They were 'social entrepreneurs' before that was even a term," Miki said.
I asked Miki what the scariest, most challenging part of starting a business was for her. She laughed and said, "Raising money for my first business. I had no idea what I was doing and went about it all wrong."
Miki started fundraising by arranging to meet potential investors at coffee shops and in office conference rooms, even though the meetings felt awkward. After repeated failures, she finally asked herself how she could raise money more authentically, in a way that made her feel confident. She realized that it would be by organizing comfortable, familiar dinner parties at various apartments around the city, during which she and a colleague would deliver the pitch.
"It took all of the pressure off me and that's when I started getting checks," Miki explained. "It was a tough lesson to learn, but one that I will remember forever: The more you can put yourself in a place where you are most authentically yourself, the more likely you will get the results you want!"
Miki sincerely hopes that Do Cool Sh*t will give people the courage to find their authentic voice and create something they are truly passionate about, while also spending time with people who make them happy and inspired.
To other young entrepreneurs and aspiring changemakers, Miki offers this advice:
"You are as good as the five closest friends you keep," as the saying goes. If the people you spend the most time with inspire you to create, you will create. If they get drunk on weekends watching football, you will do the same and it will leave you uninspired, with nothing to show for your time. If they constantly put down your ideas, it's time to move on in the matrix of your life. Once you eliminate negative, uninspiring friends, colleagues, and intimate relationships, you will have the room to invite in the people who will inspire you to build the life you want.
Photo credit: Sarah Bartley