Snow in Seattle

I spent the day in Seattle yesterday, starting off with an awesome early morning run along the ocean near downtown and ending the day walking back with some folks from a bar at UW in a freak Seattle snowstorm.

I spent time with four different companies yesterday – two that I’m an investor in (BigDoor and Gist) and then two others that I’m working on interesting things with.  As I went from meeting to meeting, I reflected on the tempo of the Seattle entrepreneurial community and how it feels like it has really come alive in the past few years.

I’ve been coming to Seattle for a long time.  In the mid-1980’s when I was an undergraduate at MIT, Microsoft and Oracle were two of the hot companies at the time who were aggressively recruiting at MIT.  For a brief moment in time I thought about seeing if I could get a job at Microsoft in 1986 but I was already working on my first company and was about to start a master’s program.  That moment passed, but in 1990 when my first company was growing, we joined the very first Microsoft Solution Provider program (created by Dawayne Walker if I remember correctly) and as a result started coming to Seattle regularly.

Over the years I’ve made plenty of investments in companies here.  Today it’s a regular part of my monthly circuit due to investments in BigDoor, Gist, Impinj, and activity around TechStars.  I like it here a lot – the food scene appeals to me, the city is manageable, the people are smart and fun, and every now and then you get totally bizarre weather like we had last night.

I’m going to head out for another run this morning before heading to LA for a few days and as I’ve tried to wake myself up from a very late night, I find myself reflecting on something I said at the UW lecture I gave last night at the MBA school.  Among other things, I talked about why I do what I do.  My answer was pretty simple – “because I love working with entrepreneurs and helping create new companies.”  But I could have just said “because I love what I do.”  Because I do.  And, bleary eyed at 5:51am, it’s really satisfying to both write those words and ponder that thought.

After my talk, a few of the folks in the audience asked me in different ways the question of “what should I do.”  Some of them presented me with two options; others presented with with a more open ended question.  The thought that guided my answer was “do what you love.”  It seems so simple and yet is often so hard.  But, as a guiding principle, I don’t know of any better one.

  • As usual, somewhere a nail is saying Ow!
    Next up, a what do I love app, to identify just what to work on.
    Hey, did I just do that?
    Back to mediumbluescarves!

  • Good luck running through the slushy mess that is Seattle this morning.

    Career guidance counselors usually start with the question “what would you do if you had 10 million dollars”? A different way to think about “do what you love” is “do what you’d do anyways/if you didn’t have to worry about money”. What’s exciting is that this seems to be more and more realistic and achievable every day.

    • I had an awesome time running in the slush. I went down First Ave at
      6am with TA McCann (Gist CEO). The slush at every intersection was
      ankle high. I’m sitting at the airport now in still-soaking-wet
      shoes. We had a blast – it was totally silly.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of BigDoor… Things I like about the new UI:
    – the Leaderboard displays all the top 10 so I can see myself @ #8 without scrolling (& if I’m not in the top-10)
    – the ‘?’ button helps me understand how to play the game. I had figured out 60% of the point generators via trial and error. Now I’m feeling motivated to search!

    It would be helpful to understand how to earn the next badge.

    What about rewarding comments, or comments with at least one ‘like’? (to avoid encouraging spam).

    • Thanks for the feedback Matt, very appreciated. (By the way, you’ll notice the “old” MiniBar look and feel for a bit – but Brad’s site will be back to the “new” look by this evening.)

      We’ve spent a ton of time in the past year working on building infrastructure, scalability and a robust developer API. With that being our primary focus up to now, the first couple versions of our MiniBar are admittedly very basic (doublespeak for “it sucked”). The good news is that you should see our widgets improve quickly going forward because it uses our gamification API and that allows us to iterate rapidly on the “front end.” I’d love to continue to get your feedback as we roll out new changes.

      BigDoor co-founder and CEO

  • I really appreciated your talk, Brad. Your thoughts on time management and approaching your day-to-day in particular were valuable. Thanks for coming out to UW!

  • Derek Scruggs

    Re: “do what you love” – I’ve found that a lot of people don’t know what they love. So I ask them to think about a time when they were doing something so engrossing that hours just flew by. If they think of something fitting that descrition, I advise them to find a way to make a living doing that or something very similar.

  • Frank Ille

    My first company was also a member of the original Microsoft Partner Program that was created by Dwayne Walker which was branded Microsoft Solutions Channel and you could join at the Alliance or Partner level. The Partner level fee was $10k annually…my how times have changed.

    • Indeed they have. And I remember really struggling to pay the $10k / year.