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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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Marathon Running and Lying Don’t Mix

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Boston Marathon, mile 25, Beacon St., 2005

Boston Marathon, mile 25, Beacon St., 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Success rests in having the courage and endurance and, above all, the will to become the person you were destined to be.” - Dr. George Sheehan

When I heard that presidential VP candidate Paul Ryan said something like he had run a “2-hour-and-50-something” marathon, I knew immediately he was lying. I don’t know a single person who has ever run a marathon who doesn’t know the exact time it took him or her to do it. The 2-hour-and-50-something language didn’t ring true to me and I smiled when I read Andy Burfoot and George Hirsch’s essay in the NY Times titled The Honorable Clan of the Long-Distance Runner.

This isn’t a political post but my disclaimer is that I have no time or energy for Paul Ryan so my bias is out of the way. But I simply hate when people lie. As a kid, my parents made it painfully clear to me that lying isn’t acceptable. I remember being punished a few times before the age of 10 – once was for stealing baseball/football cards (my cousin Kenny’s OJ Simpson card and another friend’s cards – a bunch of them) and once for lying about where I had been. In each case, I was grounded, but also had to admit I had lied and then tell the truth to the person I had deceived, which was even more painful than being grounded.

Those are the two lies I remember. I’m sure there have been other white lies or lies of omission since then, but I feel confident from about age 10 forward I turned off the “it’s ok to lie” switch in my brain. It’s part of my approach to life – I am honest and direct, even if the information is painful to hear or to say. I try to say it in a soft way when it is painful, but I don’t dodge it.

If I make a mistake, which I do often, I own it and correct it. I view making a mistake as very different than lying. I used to exaggerate more and my first business partner Dave Jilk would often call me on exaggerating and we’d have long conversations about the difference between exaggerating and lying. I ultimately agreed with Dave and now I try not to exaggerate – I’ll be optimistic in the face of an uncertain outcome, but I try never to exaggerate about historical or factual data, and when I do I correct myself publicly.

I hate lying. It’s a non-starter for me. I have passed on investing in companies that I wanted to invest in because I thought the entrepreneurs had lied to me about something in the deal process. I’ve disengaged from companies I’ve been involved in because I’ve been lied to, even ones that were doing well. I’ve stopped interacting with people who I had developed a relationship with because they lied to me. I’ve ended friendships, including long ones, over deceit. The stimulus for my first divorce was a lie from my ex-wife (an affair that she had.) And I simply have no time to develop a relationship with someone who I think lies.

Marathon running is the ultimate example of this. You can’t lie about running a marathon; you will eventually get caught if you do. Every marathon I’ve been involved in (now 22 of them), including several with under 250 people in them, has a tight set of rules around finishing that are easy to understand and are recorded diligently. I think I can, without looking, tell you the time of all 22 marathons I’ve run. I can’t get it to the second, but I learned after my first marathon when I was a teenager that you get to drop the seconds – a 5:07:40 marathon (my Boston time) is 5:07; a 4:05:27 (my Chicago time) is a 4:05. But there is no such thing as a 2-hour-and-50-something marathon (which turned out to be a 4:01, which is still super impressive in my book.)

Just finishing a marathon is a huge achievement in itself. Paul Ryan’s 4:01 is faster than my PR over 22 marathons (4:05) – it’s beyond me why he would feel compelled to lie about this. He should be proud of his 4:01!

Don’t lie. It’s simply not worth it. And if you are going to lie, don’t bother wasting your time with me.

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Justin Is Cancer Free!

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Let’s end Friday on a high note. The recipient of our first Random Act of Kindness in support of my marathons is now cancer free! If you go out this weekend, do a random act of kindness. Buy the meal for a young couple in the same restaurant you are in. Tip 50% instead of whatever you normally tip. Do something unexpected for someone you don’t know.

Missoula Marathon

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Marathon #22 is in the books. I ran the Missoula Marathon today in 4:48:00. It’s my first marathon since the American River 50 Mile Race and it put the demons from the 50 miler firmly in my rear view mirror.

I was a little nervous going into this one as my longest run since the 50 miler was only 12 miles (last weekend). I’ve been running consistently up in Keystone the last month, but shorter distances because of the altitude (9000 feet), the hills (lots of them), and the trails (most of my runs). Last week was my first week over six hours of running and I got to around 32 miles, but I felt very light on the distance going into this marathon.

I knew I had a huge base from my training for the 50 miler but I hadn’t really started enjoying running again until the beginning of June. So I started off slow using an 8:2 pattern (8 minutes running, 2 minutes walking). It took a few miles for me to settle down but my goal was to do the first half in 2:30 and then see what I had in me.

 

I went through the first half in 2:31:38 right on target. I felt really strong and decided to just keep cruising to mile 18 and then open it up and see what I had left. Mile 17 was 11:34 and then the following miles were 10:19, 10:06, 9:57, 9:58, 10:11, 10:21, 10:02, 10:08, 9:14 with a 7:54 for the last 0.2. Eight of the last nine miles used an 8:2 pattern (I ran the last 1.2 without a walk break) so the times are even more powerful since my running pace during these segments was often sub 9 minute miles, which is very fast for me.

Basically, I scorched the second half. 2:16:22. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a big negative split (2:31, 2:16). While I was glad to be done, I had plenty in the tank when I crossed the finish and could have easily kept going for a while.

Missoula has been really fun. I can’t remember if I’ve been here before (I’ve been to Bozeman plenty) but it’s a neat town, the people are super friendly and smart, and there’s a budding startup community which I’m going to blog about tomorrow.

For everyone who has welcomed me here the past few days, thank you! For those of you who supported my random act of kindness for Justin Salcedo, we ended up raising $11,487 for him. Wow. Huge thanks and hugs to everyone.

And Amy, once again, you are an amazing sherpa. I couldn’t do this without you.

The Joy Of Shipping A Day Early

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Yesterday at 4:57pm I hit send in Gmail and submitted the final draft of my newest book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneur Ecosystem In Your City to my publisher (Wiley). I’ve still got two more revision cycles – one in a few weeks when I get the final copyedited version and then one last review of the page proofs but the book is done. The publication date is early October but if history is a guide it should be out by mid-September.

Startup Communities is the first book in a four book series I’m doing called Startup Revolution. I’m spending most of this summer in maker mode at my house in Keystone and doing all my normal work, but I’m not travelling at all and trying to spend as little time as possible doing random stuff. June was just awesome – I feel rested, happier, and more productive than I’ve felt in a very long time.

My deadline was the end of day on July 5th. Specifically 11:59pm on July 5th. It felt phenomenal to get done a day early. I went for a short bike ride (I have a marathon this weekend in Montana so I’m tapering), had some dinner, grabbed some ice cream and popcorn, and watched the first six episodes of Damages with Amy. Four hours later my brain was calmed down from a 40+ hour focused push to get the book out.

Today feels like a total bonus day. I’m heading out for lunch with Amy, grabbing some salt tablets for my marathon, working on random stuff this afternoon, running an hour to dinner and then eating with two good friends (and Amy). We get up early tomorrow and head to Montana.

Life is good.

Random Acts of Kindness – Marathon Fundraising

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[embedit snippet="giveforward"]

When you support a family member in need, you’re doing the right thing. The community you are part of is counting on you, and fulfilling your obligation to them is part of being a member of that community.

What happens, though, when you help someone you don’t know? What happens when one community deliberately seeks out someone who needs a leg up and attention and support and reaches out – with no possibility of reciprocity? That feeling is extraordinary, and as I run the 29 marathons I’ve got left to go to make my 50 marathons by age 50 goal, I have been thinking harder about fundraising as part of this experience.

After my close friend Andy Sack was diagnosed with testicular cancer, the impact of a medical emergency really hit home for me. Andy’s fully recovered after surgery and a 62 day chemo regimen – the experience caused me to think a lot about what families go through when a loved one is ill.

During this time, I met Ethan Austin, the co-founder of GiveForward at Lindzonpalooza. I was blown away by what they are doing and decided to team up with them to do 29 random acts of kindness over the next few years.

For each of my upcoming marathons, I’m going to run in support of one of the GiveForward campaigns. Amy and I will kick off the fundraising with a commitment of at least $145,000 ($5,000 per marathon) and encourage our extended community to contribute whatever they can. We may increase this amount in the future ($5,000 will always be our minimum) depending on the total level of contribution (more contributors = bigger contribution from us.) I’m also going to do some random things for the people who contribute on a marathon by marathon basis – look for me to have some fun with this rewarding my community for helping with a random act of kindness.

The people we will support will not be people we know. Rather, they will be people who inspire us and who we want to shine a random act of kindness on. Our fundraising efforts will be a complete surprise to these families, and our hope is that we can create a little unexpected joy for the people we support.

The first random act of kindness is Justin Salcedo from Devine, TX who has testicular cancer. I’ll be running the Missoula Marathon on July 8, 2012 in Missoula, Montana for him. His  family friend set up a GiveForward page for him and wrote the following description:

Justin Salcedo is from a small town south of San Antonio, TX. We live in Devine, TX. He is a good athlete, a good son, and a good friend to everyone. Always has a smile on his face. He just recently found out he had testicular cancer. His mother is the one who told me the story of how he found out about his cancer. I have known him for about 17 years. My sister-in-law baby sat him when he was little. My son and Justin were in pre-K together, they were in little league baseball, our local youth basketball league, Middle school athletics and 2 years highschool athletics. So for this news it was a shock to me and I am not his immediate family. It feels like dream…..

The GiveForward campaign is called Kicking Cancer. Our goal is to raise at least $10,000 by May 31st to help out Justin and his family. Let’s do this for Justin and show the world how the power of a community can deliver random acts of kindness.

PS – if you can’t afford to donate, I urge you to share Justin’s GiveForward page on your Facebook wall or give Justin a “virtual hug” by leaving words of encouragement on his page.  Neither of these things will cost you a dime but they might mean the world to Justin.

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