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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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I’m Done With Handshakes

Comments (84)

I’m been fighting through one of the worst colds I’ve ever had.  I started feeling crummy on Friday, spent the entire weekend in bed, suffered through work on Monday, and had the entire experience crest with the worst headache and one of the longest pain filed and sleepless night ever.  I finally am feeling better today, but man that was a nasty 27 headed viral monster.

I’ve never been a fan of handshakes.  While I get the formality of it, I hate germs and – in a parallel universe – would probably spend all my time with my extremities wrapped in saran wrap.  I’ve had a running joke of it with some friends, including Paul Kedrosky, who also thinks handshakes are stupid.

Today, Paul and I decided to start a movement – “No More Handshakes in ‘09"’.  Fist bumps, elbow bumps, and hugs are fine – just no handshakes.  Join us!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonRyan DonRyan

    I am with you. Twenty years of nursing practice have taught me that the hands are filthy; worse than the mouth. Donald Trump has a custom where he bows as a greeting like the Japanese. I think he's on to something.

    • Dr. Spock

      Okay. You boys who were never taught not to touch your faces, go ahead and stop shaking hands. The actual men, who learned not to touch their faces and who wash their hands regularly, will continue to shake hands just as they always have. The two different groups men were easy to identify anyway, even without handshakes. The former with shoulder bags, hair mousse and fag-rag jeans. You can take your queues from the ladies, they don't shake hands either. You already mimic everything else they do. Last step: your a genital operation. Then you'll be perfect for them and you've solved our problem too.

  • http://www.altgate.com/ FAN

    Perhaps the bow as a greeting is causal in the Japanese' claim to the longest lifespan…

    • Art

      I've been pushing this agenda with those who know me, for years (and with no real luck :-)

      Since I started being extremely conciencious about regular hand washing, especially immediately after hand-shaking, my rate of cold-contraction has plummetted.

      The CEO of the company my wife works for has stocked every meeting room in the company with Purell and actively offers it around after hand shakes. It draws some weird stares, but I'm with him.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 Steve Bergstein

        Purell has its own problems – helping the evolution of resistant bacteria chief among them.

  • cthrall

    Switching from working from home to working downtown again has taken a minor toll on my health…public transportation is very convenient, but it's also an awesome disease vector.

  • phil

    just think of all the germs you get from doorknobs, sink faucet handles, banisters, hand rails, car door handles, elevator buttons, credit card pens at the store, money, etc. Handshakes are the least of your problems!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/paul_kedros6594 Paul Kedrosky

      Speaking of which, I've become really good at using elbows, luggage, etc., to open/close doors, elevator buttons, etc. Really worries me that I'm newly so skilled.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    I’m not going to touch any of them either.  In fact, I think I’ll just stay in my hermetically sealed bubble until spring time.

    • Bill Mosby

      Is there a startup working on expanding "touchless" paper towel dispenser technology to the abovementioned mechanisms? And how about "multitouchless" computer interface technology? Anybody working on that?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

        Touchless paper towel: Dyson has a fantastic product called the Airblade that is in production (I used it at Heathrow recently).  http://www.dysonairblade.co.uk/
        target=”_blank”>http://http://www.dysonairblade.co.uk/
        />
        />Multitouchless computer interface: One of our investments – Oblong – has this up and running today.  http://www.oblong.com
        target=”_blank”>http://http://www.oblong.com
        />
        />

        • Bill Mosby

          Airblade- I ran across something like that (could well be that product) somewhere recently. It worked incredibly well.
          Multitouchless! I was only kidding, but now that you mention it I think I remember reading about it on your blog a while back. So much for older memories…

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/jennifer_b41241 Jennifer Breazeale

          I ran across the Airblade in a movie theater in Knoxville, TN of all places. It is awesome! No touching the towel dispensers, no paper mess, and *dry* hands. Why aren't these everywhere?

          I'm with you on handshaking, I wish bowing would become more common. It's such a nice gesture, plus you can't go wrong with a bow – (unlike a handshake which can turn into a battle of strength or a limp fish. ick.)

  • http://thefloggingwillcontinue.com/ Daniel James

    I think it's tough to skip handshakes, but I am a big fan of washing my hands obsessively whenever I'm meeting and greeting people. Perhaps the bow…

  • http://www.bijansabet.com bijan

    love the bow move. let's do it!

  • http://www.howardlindzon.com howard lindzon

    i vote for just flashing people

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      Nah – takes too long.  Inefficient.

  • Tim

    Here's a slightly different take on hygiene: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?_r=...target=”_blank”>http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.h…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/lou_paglia Lou Paglia

    Brad: I'm willing to consider signing up for this movement, I just wish there was a way to tell each other apart. You know the non-hand shakers from the hand shakers. How do you avoid insulting the hand shakers if they do not have previous knowledge of this new stance? :)

    One question: Will an entrepreneur get positive points when they walk into that first meeting with you and try to elbow bump? :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    I think I’m gonna start a Facebook group – that’ll help spread the word.  Bonus points – definitely!

    • http://www.concave.com/blog mark

      kinda like the polygamist wink

      as an intro is made – quickly rub derby (belly) in anti clockwise 180 degree motion. i vote for said 'secret handshake'

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/roebot3012 Roebot

    Kisses?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      Ick.

  • Bill Mosby

    Just one more way in which that genius Howard Hughes was 50 years ahead of his time! And all he had to work with was Kleenex.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/paul_kedros6594 Paul Kedrosky

    I think we've got ourselves a movement here. This is sounding like an uprising. Fight the power! End the shake!

    • http://www.concave.com mark slater

      i am telling you – we need a call sign

  • http://ventureswell.com LukeG

    I'm inclined to say that in the long run, handshakes – and the germs they spread – make us (humans/the human race) stronger.* Do you lick your fingers after you shake hands with someone? Wash your hands before you eat, like your mother taught you, and keep on keepin' on.

    *Um, higher rates of inflammation (associated with sickness) may lead to shorter lives. http://bit.ly/8OS9. shoot.

  • Dick Van

    Guys, ever heard of folded hands 'Namaste' ? No touching, please.

  • http://WhoHasTimeForThis.com David Cowan

    I am so in.

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  • Srini

    Namaste sounds like a great idea. The backup plan is to carry a small bottle of Purell!

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/alan_shimel2002 alan shimel

    I don't know Brad sounds like the start of a Howard Hughes thing to me!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/david_duey David Duey

    I'm with you on the no more handshakes thing. I've never been a fan of handshakes. The funny thing is, the first time I met you in person a few years ago I knew about your dislike of handshakes, but the first thing I did when I met you was to extend my hand. It's tough to overcome conditioning.

  • Lindel

    I expect a big hug at the annual meeting.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    For you, a hug, always!

  • Yuri Ammosov

    If a handshake can tip you off, you should begin with checking your immune system. Seriously.

    PS. What;s wrong with the message screen? Typed letters appear at a speed of 1 per second.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chase_barf55451 Chase Barfield

    Adopt the Japanese tradition…bow…they figured out germs long ago. Just make sure you have head clearance or you will trade a cold for a head ache.

  • Dicky Dick

    I think you've completely lost it. If you think handshakes make you sick, you're a neurotic hypochondriac.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      Can you at least grant me that I’m an “entertaining” neurotic hypochondriac?

      • Dicky Dick

        Granted, although with a negative outlook to be downgraded to "mildly entertaining" if you really start a movement which seeks to eliminate all human physical contact.

    • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 Steve Bergstein

      Colds are spread by touching your eyes and/or nose after getting viruses on your hands. Studies have shown that despite various cultural taboos, people (that would include men, "Real Man") do so frequently.

      • Dicky Dick

        So don't touch your eyes and/or your nose after getting a virus. Or alternatively, if you do feel a pressing urge to touch your nose and/or your eyes, wash your hands beforehand. Preferably with soap, and so stimulate domestic consumption.

  • Real Man

    The problem is, your generation has a nasty habit of touching their faces. Real men don't touch their face.

  • Myth Killer

    Well then you better stop shampooing your hair and brushing your teeth too. Because those contain chemicals which kill jerms.

    In fact, just ban soap altogether, lest we assist in the evolution of a lye resistant germ.

    Doofus.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 Steve Bergstein

      From http://www.webmd.com/news/20080529/safety-debate-on-anti...target=”_blank”>http://http://www.webmd.com/news/20080529/safety-debate-on-anti..."In 2005, an FDA advisory panel concluded that antibacterial soaps, as used by the general public, don't prevent illness any better than ordinary soap, and they may contribute to the rise of resistant bacteria."

      Non-anti-bacterial soap is a mechanical cleanser rather than a chemical bacteriocide.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/andi andilinks

      One of those very small spray bottles filled with ordinary rubbing alcohol (or Everclear) is way better than any smelly residue product. Works well for the car or purse, not so good in a pocket.

    • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/andi andilinks

      One of those very small spray bottles filled with ordinary rubbing alcohol (or Everclear) is way better than any smelly residue product. Works well for the car or purse, not so good in a pocket. Never ever in checked luggage on commercial aircraft.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 Steve Bergstein

    Colds are spread by touching your eyes and/or nose after getting viruses on your hands. Studies have shown that despite various cultural taboos, people (that would include men, "Real Man," do so frequently).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/paul_kedros6594 Paul Kedrosky

    Agreed. Some Masonic secret signal.

    • Troublemaker

      Yes, like a handsh……nevermind!

  • sigmawaite

    I got a cold in December without shaking hands and apparently just from going to a shopping mall. Rule: Wash hands before touching face or eating. Store signing pens? I use my own pen, heavily to avoid touching a pen held my so many other people. Last time I was in an auto parts store, I got a box of latex gloves. Should remember to carry several when go shopping! They are on a shelf unit in the garage right next to the driver's door! Before walking into a big business meeting in a board room, put a latex glove on right hand, do all the handshaking, conspicuously walk to the nearest trash basket and, with scorn and contempt, drop the filthy, infected article into the trash, and then turn and smile! No doubt women are cleaner than men. SOOOOOO, men would be better off sharing restrooms with women! "Equality in restrooms!" "Pro-choice!" "Free to choose! Free to choose!"

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/lou_paglia Lou Paglia

    All I know is that this comment thread has to be beyond even what Brad imagined. 51 (sorry 52) comments to this point on a thread about colds and hand shakes. A great post on VC or angel money in Entrepreneur magazine, nine comments! What is going on?

    Brad, seems the time has come for you to file a patent on the "anti-handshake", a methodology or process patent on all acts of greeting (eg elbow bumps) sans handshake. We know how you feel about patents. Go further, with two elbow touches, perhaps our group can test out Apple's patent claim on "multi-touch"!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    Actually, it seems like I should be able to patent the non-multi-touch non-handshake. 

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/andi andilinks

      Only valid for use with auto-billing hygienic handshake plug-in for most wireless devices.

  • Garett

    My personal favorite has always been what I call "touch fist," explained a bit more here from Wikipedia:

    Pound fist or Fist pound
    Pound fist is a greeting, in which two individuals touch fists. It is also known as a Dap greeting. Howie Mandel greets contestants on Deal or No Deal in this manner due to his mysophobia.

    In Major League Baseball, players will sometimes pound fists after a great play, such as hitting a home run with men on base or turning a double play.

    Also known as respect knuckles.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_gesture

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/micah105 micah

    we would have to get Howie Mandel to be the spokesman. And, have an allegory for really cool multiple action hand motions that involve no touching, but lots of spinning, twirling and tweeting.

  • http://ocvcblog.com Marc Averitt

    I couldn't agree more with this sentiment and have sporadically practiced it the past few years without much success. I've leaned pre-school is a petri dish and, with a pre-schooler, am beginning to think my "no handshake" efforts may be moot for the time being.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Cem_Sertoglu Cem_Sertoglu

    Aren't hugs worse?

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  • http://www.best-european-cruises.com/ Patrina Cook

    Asian people don't tend to handshake. Why not adopt the thai or japanese greeting?

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    Amendment Granted.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 Steve Bergstein

    I never know when I'm supposed to hug a woman in a semi-professional environment. A great addition.

  • http://www.concave.com/blog mark

    follow david brents example

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