Go Fill Up Some Gas Tanks Today

I’m spending the day working at Yesware. I’ve been an investor from inception and love what this company is doing. I also love the culture – I wrote about it in my post The Monastic StartupIf you use Gmail and Salesforce and are not also using Yesware, take a look at email for salespeople right now.

It’s an atypical day for me. I was supposed to be in DC all day today and tomorrow. I had full days of meetings, including two Startup Communities related events – one with the World Bank and one with a Congressional Caucus on Innovation. I had a few company meetings along with some stuff I was exploring. And I was going to drop in on 1776 and check it out.

Congress decided to shut down for the week because of the pending snow storm so the two events I built my trip around (the World Bank and the Congressional Caucus) were cancelled. So I decided to punt on going to DC and stay in Boston. I decided to have a “work at one of the companies I’m an investor in” day and get caught up on some stuff.

Last night before dinner I had a phone call with someone who gave me a great metaphor about “filling up your gas tank.” We were talking about the introvert / extrovert dynamic and how always being in “give / support mode” drains an introvert like me. He suggested that I make sure I do things on a daily basis that fill up my gas tank. Yup – that makes sense. But then he said something that was a new thought to me.

“Encourage everyone you work with to put some gas in someone else’s tank every day.” 

It’s totally consistent with my give before you get philosophy, but it’s got a nice twist. Rather than being random, be deliberate about doing it, but random about how you do it.

For example, when a friend of mine had testicular cancer last year, I called him every day for 60 days during his chemo regimen. While I only talked to him every two or three days, I always left him a message. I was filling up his gas tank a little each day.

Another example is that I try to randomly call a different CEO of a company I’m on the board of every day. I don’t manage to do this every day, but I try. These are short calls, often voice mails that just startup with “Hey – thinking of you – no need to call me back.” I then often offer up an observation about something positive I see going on.

I like to be impulsive when I’m on the road. After lunch (I took out the Yesware team and yes, I paid) I stopped by Kinvey‘s new office on 99 Summer which is around the corner from Yesware. Kinvey went through TechStars several years ago and while we didn’t participate in their venture financing, I love the company and especially the CEO Sravish. I surprised him, gave him a hug, got a tour of the place, grabbed a few tshirts and some stickers, and headed back to Yesware. He sent me a link to a new post they just did titled The Boston Startup Map: Visualizing the City’s Tech Scene so I could do more random drop ins if I wanted.


These aren’t programmed, scheduled calls in that I’m being deliberate in advance. They are just me filling up someone else’s gas tank with some random positive feedback in the midst of an otherwise chaotic life. And it makes me feel good.

So – go fill up some gas tanks today. And tomorrow.

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  • Marie S Powers

    I love the culture that you have created…the world would be a better place if it was emulated.

  • Thanks. U r a great soul. Great advise. Wish many others do the same.

  • gotta spread good karma. love it Brad

    this post filled up my tank a bit today. thanks

    • Miss ya Reece. I’ll see you in April when I’m in NY. I’ll need a running buddy.

  • Brad, I’m at #7 on the map. Say hi if you want – 77 Summer St. 3rd floor, at Quantopian.

    Also, I met Matthew Bellows last week, and he introduced me to his 2nd grade best friend. Quite the story.

    • Cool – next time (I’m heading home tomorrow).

  • Your surprise visit certainly “filled my tank”. I’m still here cranking away. Thanks Brad (and thank you for the intros)

    • Loved seeing you. Psyched for all of your progress!

  • Glen

    Love the spirit in this post and the emphasis on randomness. Those small, thoughtful, things really seem to help people and they tend to stick with you. When I think about the meaningful ways people have impacted me, it is often the extra step or the random nice thing a friend has done.

  • This reminds me of the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” which was put out by the Gallup organization a few years back. There is an awful lot of research being done on positive psychology and its effects in the workplace. http://strengths.gallup.com/114079/Full-Bucket.aspx

  • Deliberate acts of random kindness add up to awesum. Inspiring!

  • Stop by Startup Institute (Boston Startup School). We’d love to hear from you.

    • Next time. Heading home now.

  • powerful advice, thanx

  • Great advice! Reminds me of yoga. Your breath is your “fuel”, and the more you control it, the better you can hold your positions!

  • When I was at the Community Manager UNconference in NYC a couple weeks ago, I heard Angela Maiers say she tells 5 people every day, “You matter.” and gives a short reason why. As a CM I have the pleasure of saying thank you to our community every day, but I have been trying to reach out to folks in my social networks. I try to do video if I can’t see them because the eye contact is important in recognition. It doesn’t feel the same via email. Here’s her piece: http://www.angelamaiers.com/2012/01/the-you-matter-manifesto.html

  • Im a huge fan of Yesware, and its not just for sales people. I’ve told them that. But how do you get involved with a startup from inception. I didn’t know the foundry did that.




    • panterosa,

      I love that you, FG, as a proponent of #beaewsome, see how motivating others to see potential in themselves, as well as in ideas, and in others, is a key to awesome.
      Your flip side is if you suck prepare to be eaten. I guess there is no grey area for you, or is there? You rock, chasm, you suck, where chasm is huge in between? Or just you rock, and rest is chasm where you fall to your death?

  • This could very well be one of your best posts ever. I love the message that you passed along about filling up others tank every day. I think it is so true and it is amazing how little effort can go along way in motivating others. Also, I think your idea of spending the day at on of the startups you invested in is terrific. Finally, I have interacting more frequently with Sales guys at my new job and they love Yesware!!

  • Great advise, it’s very powerful to have random support/msg from someone that you aren’t expecting it from. You never know when that random act of kindness can be the support that they need or the push to keep going.

  • Brad, YOU care about people, not just investments. And it shows.

    Thanks for reminding us about the human side of business. Without it, there is no business.

  • Love this. A formula for a good day: (1) do something for your body – e.g., break a sweat, (2) do something for your mind — e.g., intellectually nourish yourself, (3) do something for somebody else — e.g., fill up someone’s gas tank.

  • Ana M.

    Only slightly offtopic, but I love the startup map — especially that the Seaport (aka Innovation District) is becoming quite a hub. Needs page #2 & Cambridge though.

  • A few years ago I worked for then Maj Gen Mark Welsh (now 4-star Air Force Chief of Staff) and his direction to me was to find someone everyday to thank. I failed on many days and sometimes I’d have to find someone at the last minute of the day on the metro or bus, but each time it was amazing to see how this simple gesture “put some gas in someone’s tank.” Good post Brad.