Inspiration & AdviceWhen To Freak Out (Or Not): Speaker Spotlight on Sweetpea Bicycles’ Natalie Ramsland

Natalie Ramsland, Sweetpea Bicycles
Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles.

A lot of us in Portland love our bikes, but can our bikes love us back? Natalie Ramsland, co-founder and frame builder at Sweetpea Bicycles, would answer, decisively, yes.

Natalie went to grad school for architectural design and spent six years as a bike messenger in Portland, but decided in the end that the most important degree she could get would be from the United Bicycle Institute. She spent the last five years studying bike fit under Michael Sylvester, co-founder of the Serotta fit program.

Natalie will be speaking at our upcoming Entrepreneurial Summit on the tough lessons she’s learned in the entrepreneur’s proverbial School of Hard Knocks. To help prepare, we have asked her to imagine that such a thing as the School of Hard Knocks actually does exist, and that she has been invited to teach there.


Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles will be sharing her story on June 6 at OEN’s Entrepreneurial Summit: The School of Hard Knocks. (Tweet this.)


Here’s the course Natalie would design for aspiring entrepreneurs:

When To Freak Out: It’s Not As Often As You Think

Key lessons the course will teach:

  • Learn the most common failure modes in your work
  • Learn to play the Buddhist story game called “…And Then I Fell On the Floor and I Died”
  • Assemble your own resiliency toolkit

Key skills the course will develop:

  • Ability to distinguish between perceived and actual threats
  • Detached curiosity
  • Impulse to do the scariest thing first

Field Trips:

  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction all-day workshop
  • Visit grandparents (any grandparents, but the older the better). Bring cookies and ask them about the hardest thing they have ever done, what they are most proud of, and what they hope you don’t have to learn the hard way.
  • Take an accountant out for a beer and get her/him to tell you the craziest accounting stories s/he knows.

Final Project:

  • Solo 24-hour camping trip.

Reading List:

The School of Hard Knocks

Get schooled at The Kennedy School on June 6, where Natalie Ramsland and 14 other successful entrepreneurs will share their stories. OEN’s Entrepreneurial Summit: The School of Hard Knocks offers you a chance to learn their stories and the real-life lessons that they didn’t learn in school. 

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