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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Seattle Startup Life Meetup – Wednesday 2/20

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Wednesday night I’ll be in Seattle doing a Startup Life Meetup with some of the contributors to the book Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur.

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Well – I’ll be in Seattle all day (and all day Tuesday) meeting with Startup Weekend, Rover, SEOmoz, Cheezburger, and BigDoor, but the real fun will happen at the Hard Rock Cafe between 5:30pm and 7:00pm on Tuesday. Or maybe after 7:00pm.

My co-hosts will be Emily Huh (Cheezburger Network), Geraldine DeRuiter (Everywhereist), Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz), and Keith Smith (BigDoor). great relationship in the context of the crazy, high intensity startup life we all life.

We’ve got some seats left – it’s free and everyone who attends gets a free copy of Startup Life. But you have to register before we hit the fire code limit - only registered attendees will get in.

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The Winners Of The Startup Life Win A Dinner

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Order me, email Brad, and maybe win dinner with Brad and AmyAs Amy and I sit in the sun at South Beach eating frozen grapes and waiting for the snowpocalypse to hit the east coast, we decided to pick the Startup Life Win a Dinner winners. There are two – one of Amazon orders and one for Barnes & Noble orders.

Five times as many people entered on Amazon, so the odds were better for the B&N folks. Except, one B&N person entered 10 times (by buying 10 books). The way we chose the winner was to count up entries, use Randomnumbergenerator to pick a random number between 1 and the number of entries, and then go to that entry in Gmail in the specific label we had tagged everything with.

The Amazon winner is Bill Soistmann and the B&N winner is Kristopher Chavez. Emails have gone out to them – we are arranging dinners.

Thanks to everyone who entered – we hope you are enjoying the book. And – if you like it, do me and Amy a favor and toss a review up on Amazon or B&N – every one of them helps!

I Am Enough

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I received a bunch of great comments and responses to my post Be Vulnerable. Several people asked if I was inspired by Brené Brown’s TEDxHouston talk in 2010. I hadn’t ever seen it so I watched it last night. After 20 minutes, it’s easy to see how it could have inspired my post – it’s absolutely wonderful. As a bonus, it’s an example of an excellent 20 minute presentation - Brené shows us how a 20 minute high concept talk is done.

I especially loved the thread on numbing vulnerability.

“We are the most in debt, obese, addicted, and medicated cohort in US history. You can not selectively numb emotion – so we numb everything. We numb joy, gratitude, happiness. Then we are miserable. And we feel vulnerable. So then we numb. And create this vicious cycle.”

Another great segment is around making the uncertain, certain.

“I’m right, you are wrong, that’s it. There is no discourse or conversation – just blame.”

Carve out 20 minutes and give yourself the time and space to watch, listen, and think. And let yourself be vulnerable, especially to Brené’s ideas.

Be Vulnerable

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We are told that leaders must be strong. They must be confident. They must be unflinching. They must hide their fear. They must never blink. They cannot be soft in any way.

Bullshit.

Last night, after my first public talk on the new book that Amy and I just released titled Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneura woman came up to me afterwards and gave me two pieces of feedback. The first was that I expressed incredible vulnerability in my talk. She thanked me for that. She then suggested that I hadn’t done a good job of weaving the notion of vulnerability into the importance of the dynamics of the relationship that Amy and I have.

She was absolutely correct on both fronts. Amy and I allow ourselves to be very vulnerable with each other. We aren’t afraid of each other and – by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable – we are more direct, honest, and clear about what is on our minds. It works both ways – we are more able to hear the other person, and more able to offer feedback in a constructive way, because we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

But it doesn’t stop there. I’m allow myself to be very vulnerable with my partners Seth, Jason, and Ryan. And they allow themselves to be vulnerable with me and each other. We embrace the notion of “brutal honesty” with each other – we say things as we see them, as we believe them, and as directly as we can to each other – while at the same time recognizing that the other person is open to any feedback, in any tone, in any way. Notably, we are each vulnerable to each other, which makes our communication much more powerful and effective.

I try to be bidirectionally vulnerable with every entrepreneur I work with. I try my hardest, but when I hurt someone, I want to hear why. When I let someone down, I want to hear why. When I am struggling, I talk openly about it. When I’ve failed, I listen to why. And I hope that every entrepreneur I work with feels the same way, or whatever their version of “being vulnerable” is.

I’m vulnerable to the broader community I engage with. I’m open about my struggles – personally and professionally. I’m not bashful about being wrong, and owning it. And, when I get feedback, my ears are always open. Sure, I get plenty of random criticism from nameless, faceless people. That used to annoy me – now I just put them in the bucked of “anonymous coward” and delete it from my brain. If they can offer me the feedback directly, in their own voice, with their own identity, I’m open to it. I’ll let myself be vulnerable in that context. But I draw the line at random, anonymous attacks, especially ad hominem ones.

The great leaders I know are vulnerable. Maybe not to everyone, maybe not all the time, and maybe not in all contexts. But the allow themselves to be, simply, themselves. Human. They allow others in. They know they can be wrong. They know they can fail. And they know they can improve. Vulnerable.

That’s part of being a great leader. And a great partner – business or personal. And it opens you up to be a greater human. Thanks to the person who reminded me of that last night.

Boulder Startup Life Event Tonight at Riverside

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I’m going to be doing the first public Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur talk tonight at Riverside at 7pm. If you don’t know Riverside, it’s a new co-working, event, and cafe space on 1724 Broadway in Boulder. It’s a beautiful old building that’s been a fixture in Boulder for a very long time. There’s a nice article about what Christian Macy and Richard Moser are working on with Riverside in the Boulder iJournal.

If you want to attend tonights event, please sign up. I’ll be there with a bunch of copies of Startup Life that I’ll be selling thanks to the magic of Square, my green pen to sign books, and to talk and hang out.

And, as the Startup Life marketing machine kicks into gear, don’t forget to enter Operation Win A Dinner with Us. It’s going on through Saturday, 2/2/13 at 11:59pm EDT.

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