Entrepreneur, Explorer, Angel.

Sometimes all at Once.

29TH March 2019

Baseball - Culture - Good Story - Parenting - Social - sport - Timeless

Ichiro is Life Well Played.

I like to write about baseball in spring. It reminds me of life and life lessons. Ichiro played a final game in Tokyo this week as the Mariners opened their season in Japan. It was fitting that he got to go out that way, to adoring fans, on the Island where he began his journey. A journey in which he squeezed out of his baseball body and life every ounce that could be squeezed. His dedication and discipline was amazing, but up close, it’s been said he almost looked like a prisoner. He had been playing baseball for 42 of his 45 years. And there’s the rub; he has made no bones about the tortuous training regimen his father forced upon him.. beginning at age three… making him at once […]

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03TH February 2019

Angel Investor - Entrepreneur - Leadership - sport - Timeless - Uncategorized

Communicating with teams in motion

I really enjoy mentoring start-up founders, and I’m happy to call that my avocation these days. Most, but not all, of these founders are young or younger (I took it as a compliment this week when one founder said “we could use some salt and pepper in our founder recipe”). And, with luck and hard work, some of them will grow teams in the hundreds in the coming years, though the majority will not. That’s why I was struck by this interview with LJ Spinnato, a prep school football coach who gives very few interviews, which seems counter-intuitive for a post about communication. But what LJ has done at Choate was inspiring to honing my craft, though most of my kids are a little older and wouldn’t know what “Double […]

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16TH June 2017

Adventure - Good Story - sport - Timely - Uncategorized

Hold my beer, #2. Free Solo of El Cap.

Here is my second crack at writing about someone that inspired me, and maybe some others. They are moments so utterly manly I call them “Hold my Beer”. Alex Honnold climbed the route known as Freerider on El Capitan free solo. That’s no ropes, no partner. It involves a complex system of cracks and a notoriously hard section about two-thirds of the way up with holds the width of a pencil.  Guides say to allow four days to do the climb. Mr. Honnold did it under four hours. (See photographs of his ascent.) One more time: Guides say to allow four days to do the climb. Mr. Honnold did it under four hours. You talk about a state of FLOW, this guy had it. If one could possibly set aside the fear, the […]

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04TH April 2017

Baseball - Good Story - sport - Timeless - Uncategorized

As baseball begins… Respect

As baseball begins again, all teams have hope. At least for the day. What caught my eye this year was this NY Times story about a kid named Frazier.  Since George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in 1973, players on the team have been prohibited from wearing beards and long sideburns, and have been required to keep their hair above the collar. In recent years, the policy has been adhered to largely at the insistence of Jennifer Steinbrenner, one of the four Steinbrenner children who now share in the ownership of the team. Call it the Yankee code. Call it old fashion. Call it out of touch with today’s society. But, if you do, keep on eye on the scoreboard: the Yankees’ clean cut locks have been as much a part […]

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07TH February 2017

Good Story - Leadership - Legends and tales - sport - Timely

Hold My Beer.

Ok, you are down 25 points in the third quarter. You need to score two touchdowns, two two point conversions, win a coin toss and engineer a touchdown drive to win the seminal event of your chosen profession. A profession from which you were suspended earlier in the year. Ok. Got it. So… Hold my beer. So said a man’s man in last night’s Super Bowl. And then he went out and completely ignored the probability chart. Tomas T. said it perfectly: The problem with predictive analysis like this is they never capture all the variables. They don’t account for great players like Tom Brady can increase their level of play, the emotional swing of a team building momentum, those moments when people enter what Csikszentmihalyi called Flow.  Brady and […]

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12TH April 2016

Good Story - sport - Timeless - Uncategorized

On Health, and the 70 Year Old Punt Returner

Though this pic is of my father, we all take lessons from his grandfather, Miles Sharpless Spencer (hero post); here’s another one. Productive well into his 70’s, Miles had my Grandfather Herbert in his 74th year. It was his 24th kid, and his third wife. Read that again. It’s 100%  truth. So besides counting the blessings of amazing genes, I also began to wonder what kind of shape the man must have been in. And this is where I take the reader on a detour with no better segue than this: the Spencers all love football, still. Punt returners are the jet pilots of the gridiron. Imagine looking up in the air for 5-6 seconds while ten predators are at full speed heading for you, and only you. Take your eye off […]

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02TH November 2015

Adventure - Legends and tales - sport - Timely - Uncategorized

Enough running from. Run to.

Personally, my summer pretty much sucked (how was yours!). The fact is amazing considering I wrote that last (2014) summer was the happiest of my life. As Victor Frankl wrote in Mans Search for Meaning (good one  BTW), we do not get to pick our challenges, though we can pick how we respond to our challenges. Besides cooking, I also began running. A lot. For anyone. Anyone from Pittsburgh, anyways. After a few consecutive 50 mile weeks, it was gently pointed out to me I was training for a marathon, without having actually entered one.  I quickly amended that error and entered on behalf of the MMRF in the NYC Marathon. I was stunned by the amount of support generated in just a few weeks: $5k worth. As for the running itself, I teamed […]

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29TH April 2014

Adventure - Entrepreneur - sport - Timeless - Uncategorized

Comparing marathons, over 30-some years

I’ll complete my first marathon this summer, on a challenge from my wife- woohoo. Ok, technically, I started the marathon in 1984 when I ran 13 miles in upstate VT, and I’ll finish it off in June of 2014 with another 13 in Fairfield, CT. But there’s no real statute of limitations to complete the run, at least none that I’ve found. This feat of course pales in every respect when compared to the exemplary angel/marathoner Brad Feld, who is attempting to run 50 (real) marathons in 50 states, I guess sometime before he dies. He talks about his progress with running here. No word on his ultimate deadline but for the sake of angels and entrepreneurs everywhere, I hope that deadline is not approaching anytime soon. I read about […]

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13TH March 2012

Culture - Family and Friends - Leadership - Legends and tales - sport - Timeless - Timely - Uncategorized

The Biggest thing that never happened on Long Island Sound: Broadwater Tumbles, KFAC rolls on.

News spread pretty quickly that the Shell Oil LNG platform destined for Long Island Sound sunk back into oblivion last week, likely for good. In its proposed form, it would have towered above all other structures on either side of that great body of water and inspired the curses of generations to follow. It should have been a procedural layup, with the interests of the Sound split between two states, both struggling with budget and resource constraints, and zero organized advocacy to oppose the revenue generating and cost saving proposal. Now the legend of how that didn’t happen continues to grow, just as quietly as it snuck up on everybody before the battle began. Begin with Leah Schmalz, a delightful director of legal and legislative affairs for Save the Sound, a program […]

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30TH January 2012

Creative problem Solving - Good Story - Leadership - sport - Timeless - Uncategorized

MoneyBall for the rest of us #2: What Choate Baseball Legend Tom Yankus taught me about life.

  Continued from Moneyball and TY #1… Choate will soon honor Baseball legend Tom Yankus in an as-yet-undisclosed grand gesture. But lifetime winning averages on the diamond are one thing. Winning averages over a lifetime are quite another. As Rod Serling once said, there were signs along the way. So thirty years on, what I have learned is that the signs he gave us, and the strategies we executed, were actually great lessons in life. One note: in an act of stunning simplicity and ultimate cunning, TY “changed the signs” every year- to the same signs! From from 1958 to 2010! No one on another team ever stole, in spite of their simplicity, because no one would have been stupid enough to use the same ones every year. And as TY adds “We made them simple to […]

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