Month: November 2012

Nov 15 2012

Gone Fishing

I’ve always wanted to say that but don’t think I ever have, especially since I don’t particularly like to fish. But I’m going fishing, at least metaphorically, for a while. It’s time to recharge my batteries.

I’m taking one of my Qx vacations and going off the grid through 11/26. I’ll still be on vacation through 12/3, but I’ll be checking email daily during the second week. But I won’t be blogging, tweeting, or enjoying any other kind of online interactions.

I’ll talk to you when I return.

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Nov 14 2012

Amazon Top 10 Business Books of 2012

I just found out that Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City made the Amazon Top 10 Business Books of 2012.

I’m not a huge “made that list person” but as a writer this is a very cool thing, especially when I look at the other books, and writers, on the list. I’m downloading all of the other books right now and taking them on my two week vacation which is coming up.

I’m at Defrag this morning listing to Kevin Kelly explain how the global super organism already exists and why it is different than the Kurzweil defined Singularity. Awesome – and extremely consistent with how I think about how the machines have already taken over. Kevin’s intellectual approach is clearer and deeper – which I like, and will borrow heavily from. Kevin’s book, What Technology Wants, is also in a swag bag and I’ll be reading it next week.

One of the powerful concepts is that the “city is the node.” As I’ve been talking about Startup Communities, I’ve been explaining the power of “entrepreneurial density” and why everyone is congregating around cities again (intellectually referred to as the reurbanism of American). It’s really cool that he’s using the Degree Confluence Project to “show” (rather than simply “tell”) this.

A few of the books on the Amazon Top 10 Business Books of 2012 touch on this theme – I’ll be looking for it as I read a lot on the beach the next few weeks.

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Nov 13 2012

A Critical Vote on the Off Ramps In Boulder’s Energy Policy

Please ask Boulder City Council to vote NO on proceeding with inadequate decision criteria November 15.

There is a critical vote in Boulder City Council on this Thursday, 11/15, about the “Off Ramps” in the exploration to explore the municipalization of Boulder’s power system. My understanding was that this was still in an exploration phase. Apparently, this particular vote is to effectively eliminate the “off ramps” that would potentially cause Boulder not to municipalize in case it wasn’t economically feasible.

My partner Jason wrote an important post yesterday titled Boulder It’s Time to Get Serious About Our Energy Situation – Call City Council. His key finding in his early exploration was:

This Thursday, on November 15, 2012 the City Council will vote on these off ramp metrics.  In other words, this is the framework they will rely on to determine whether or not Boulder is going to go-it-alone on power.  And I feel these metrics are very flawed and bias the decision to separate, rather than unbiased to get us to the correct decision.  I’ve spent time with several folks in the community who are experts on these matters and who are spending their own time and money analyzing these metrics.  They are convinced they are flawed and I’m convinced their scientific method is sound.

Please send an email to Boulder City Council immediately (send the email to council@bouldercolorado.gov) that you do not support a vote for adequacy of the “off-ramp” decision metrics proposed by Heather Bailey (which are the current metrics).  They do not represent our risks of greatly increased electric rates, reduced reliability, and unsupportable bond debt due to creating a Boulder municipal power enterprise.

Please vote NO on proceeding with inadequate decision criteria November 15.

For more detail, take a look at the thorough presentation by Roger Koenig.

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Nov 11 2012

Resetting My Priorities

If you’ve been following along at home, you know I’ve had a tough fall. It started with a bike crash in Slovenia, followed by a few weeks in New York where I physically felt awful. Fortunately I was with Amy for her birthday (we celebrate her birthday for most of September), but I underestimated how long it would take me to recover. I ended the three week trip in San Francisco for my mom‘s 70th birthday, which was wonderful until I got a terrible stomach virus on Sunday morning. I can’t remember the last time I threw up – and as I somehow managed to get home that day, I’m sure I looked like warmed over shit. After a week at home I hit the road again around the release of Startup Communities and spent almost all of October on the road, reaching Boise, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Des Moines, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Lexington, and Louisville. While I had a great time, ran a marathon in Detroit in the middle of it, and met a lot of awesome people, I totally shredded myself.

I got depressed. And then my dog Kenai, who I loved more than almost all the humans I know, died.

I turn 47 in a few weeks. I’m extraordinary lucky to be married to an amazing woman for 22 years. We’ve figured out how to have an awesome relationship in the context of an entrepreneurial life, and we are wrapping up a book on it that will be out in January. I have extremely meaningful work with three partners who are my best friends. I get to work with incredible companies and entrepreneurs every day. And I get to define how I spend my time.

But I’m totally and completely fried. And I did it to myself. I already spend 60+ hours a week working with the companies I’m an investor in. So – all of the stuff I’m doing around Startup Communities is extracurricular activity. Writing Startup Life, while super important to me, is an extra curricular activity. Travelling all over the place is part of my work, and I have a lot of fun doing it, but plenty of the places I’m going are extracurricular activities. I feel like I’m getting all of my primary work done, but I’m neglecting one big thing in the mix – me.

I’ve found myself in a similar position every year. This is nothing new for those close to me – I run extremely hot and often up to the edge of my capacity. I keep adding stuff on top with some fantasy that my capacity for new stuff is unlimited. There is so much I want to do and I just keep going after it. I have a good internal algorithm for making sure I get all the “urgent / important” stuff done and I’m very aware of what work to prioritize over other things. When I start reaching my capacity, I focus more on the important stuff – both urgent and non-urgent, and insert a tighter hierarchy around my work, making sure my partners and the companies I’m an investor in are at the top of the stack.

But I neglect me. And that’s what has happened again this year. My extrovert is completely used up. While I’ve got a few more commitments between now and the end of 2012, I’m resetting my priorities for the balance of the year and focusing internally, on me, my health, my physical self, Amy, my partners, the companies I’m an investor in, and the writing I want to do.

I’ve been through this before – well – about once a year for the past 25+ years, so I know how to deal with it when it happens, although I clearly don’t know how to prevent it from happening. Maybe I’ll figure that out in my 48th year on the planet.

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Nov 9 2012

Kenai – RIP

Our beloved dog Kenai died Wednesday at 10:20 am. He was at our house in Eldorado Springs with Amy and our other dog Brooks. It was sudden and unexpected – he went quickly and painlessly. He was 12.

My last moment with him was the day before when I left the house to go to the office. I had my bags with me as I was heading out for an overnight trip to Oklahoma City. He always followed me to the door whenever I left town (he knew what my Filson bag meant). This time he was lying on his dog bed near the door downstairs. He looked up at me with one eye – in that magical way he sort of doggie-winked at me all the time – and I patted him on the head as I walked by and said “goodbye old man – see you soon.”

Kenai was a magnificent dog. 110 pounds. Beautiful. Extremely well tempered. He loved to be with us and he loved to run wild in both Eldorado Springs and Keystone. We’d let him out and he’d run off for 30 minutes, or an hour, or sometimes a few hours. He’d always come back, sometimes with a deer bone and a big smile, and demand his treat with his signature “rrrr-rrrr-rrrr” bark. It made me laugh every time – he knew what he wanted and damnit he was going to get it.

Until a few years ago we regularly went to the Reservoir. This was one of my standard short runs when I was home and a walk that Amy and I often do together. Kenai has this drill mastered – he’d cover about twice as much distance as us as he’d jog ahead 100 yards, turn around and come back to us, and then jog ahead again. When we got to the Reservoir, he’d always be in it already, going for a swim, chasing the ducks which he never caught, and just enjoying being a dog alive in the wilderness.

Like me, he was an excellent sleeper. I remember waking up late on many Saturday and Sunday mornings with him still asleep, often where Amy used to be in the bed. On weekend days after I’d worn myself out from the week, he’d just hang around close to me, doing nothing but keeping me company.

When we got Brooks, Kenai was six. This was the same age his older brother Denali was when we got him. There was something beautiful about the symmetry of this and, after a short adjustment from being the young dog to the old dog, Kenai played his role as older brother perfectly. He taught Brooks how to run around on our land, chase deer, elk, and squirrels, bark at the occasional bear, sleep through pretty much anything, and give us golden retriever eyes in an effort to get just one more treat. They played rough with each other – just up to the edge of too much – and Kenai would always back off when he knew it was getting out of hand. He loved Brooks, just like he loved Denali, just like we loved him.

Kenai – you were an amazing companion. I didn’t think I could love a dog as much as I loved you. I’ll miss you dearly. Thank you for making my life a better one. Enjoy the giant treat yard in the sky.

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Nov 8 2012

Community is Family

This week’s The Founders is awesome. It reminds us that there are real people and real families behind every startup. I’ve experienced this over and over again in my 17 years in Boulder and it’s reflected in both the Startup Communities book that is out and the Startup Life book that Amy and I are in the final copyedit phase of and will be out by January.

Take a few minute break from your day to enjoy the lives of some great entrepreneurs in a dynamite startup community that are part of an extended family that I’m proud to be associated with.

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Nov 7 2012

New Online Courses From Sympoz On Starting A Company

Along with my partner Jason Mendelson and our friends Brad Bernthal (University of Colorado Law School) and Mike Platt (partner at Cooley LLP) we have launched a series of courses in conjunction with our portfolio company Sympoz on starting a company. This is a bidirectional experiment for us – we are helping Sympoz launch their new set of programs for startups and entrepreneurs while continuing to experiment with new forms of media around education on a topic we know well.

My class, How To Light a Spark & Set Your Startup on Fire, is FREE for a limited time. It’s aimed at someone either thinking about starting a business, or just getting going. It’s a casual format – these should be easy, inspiring lessons – each of the three segments is about 30 minutes long Following is the outline of the content.

  1. Identifying the Right Idea: Is It a Relevant Idea? Does It Solve a Specific Problem? Is It A New Idea? Reduce Unnecessary Complexity! Are Your Great?
  2. Identifying the Right Idea for You: Are You Obsessed? What Do You Know? Are You an Infection Machine? Are You Consumed?
  3. Picking the Right Time to Start: If Not Now, When? Risk vs. Reward. The Idea Is the Easy Part! Resources for Startups.

Jason, BradB, and Mike’s class is a subset of the class that Jason and BradB teach at the CU Boulder Law School which has consistently been one of the most popular law and business school classes around startups, raising money, and venture capital. In the Sympoz course, The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Company, they build on our book Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist to help you turn your idea into a company, who and how to partner with, how to raise money, and what to do with it when you get it. There’s plenty of practical advice for interacting with VCs during the financing process along with lots of tips about what can kill your startup before you get it off the ground. The four hour course costs $29.99.

Sympoz classes are perfect for busy people; you can watch the professionally produced, HD videos anytime, anywhere on the planet, from any Internet-connected device, as often as you want. The Sympoz learning platform seamlessly blends discussions into the class experience, enabling you to ask questions of, and participate in conversations with your class community, including your instructors.

Join us in class – and give us feedback on what you think about it.

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Nov 6 2012

Startup CEO – New Book in the Startup Revolution Series

Matt Blumberg, the CEO of Return Path, has just put up a post about the new book he’s working on called Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Building and Running Your CompanyI’m super excited that this is going to be the fifth book in the Startup Revolution series and the first book not co-written by me.

Matt is an extraordinary CEO who I’ve had the pleasure to work with for a dozen years. We’ve learned a lot from each other and his blog at Only Once (as in – you can only be a first time CEO once, and Matt’s been one for a dozen years) should be reading for any and every CEO. Matt’s now putting effort into creating a definitive book for any CEO – first time or otherwise – of a high growth company.

When I started working on the Startup Revolution books, my goal was to expand it beyond my own writing with a goal of creating a large body of work that had relevance to a wide range of entrepreneurs and durability over the next few decades. Matt’s book is the first of what I hope to be a number of new additions to the series.

The five books in the series are now:

Look for a few more additions to the series soon. Matt – welcome aboard the Startup Revolution!

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Nov 5 2012

Finding Traction

Ever since I did the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run I’ve been fascinated with ultramarathons. After struggling through the emotional fallout of the six weeks after the race, I decided that for now I’m sticking to marathons given my work schedule and general life tempo, but I’m still completely intrigued by them and the people who do them.

A few months I watched the movie Unbreakable: The Western States 100 – it gave me chills and was hugely inspiring. A few minutes ago I watched the trailer for Finding Traction.

Wow – this is going to be an amazing movie. Nikki Kimball totally blows me away.

If you are into this stuff, go support the Indiegogo campaign for Finding Traction and help the film become a reality!

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Nov 3 2012

Build It

During the last few days in Kentucky I was asked some version of the question “how do I get started” a few times. It was usually in the context of “should I write a plan first” or “should I design a full system.” Sometimes it was in the context of “I’m having trouble raising money on my idea.” My answer was some permutation of “just get started, create something, and ship it” which of course could be simplified to “build it.”

Coincidentally The Founders – Episode 6 is titled Build It. I watched it just now and smiled – I could have just pointed some of the people at it. Well – I’ll do that now. Enjoy something on TV – at least TechStars.tv – other than cartoons and politics today.

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