Entrepreneur, Explorer, Angel.

Sometimes all at Once.

30TH April 2019

500 Start Ups - Angel Investor - Business Tricks - Family and Friends - Geopolitical - Good Story - Incubator - Legends and tales - Social - Timeless - Vision

The Black Tulip…springtime flowers, trends & bubbles. Yeah!

Tulip futures, anyone? It’s tulip season around here; The New York Times had a wonderful story today on Rembrandt and dutch tulips. They’re pretty, but I love them for more than their looks… A very special person to me loves tulips. I do too, and I also love them as a reminder of bubbles- financial ones. Tulips are the first great bubble in modern recorded history, as detailed in the wonderful book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. It’s an early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841. It’s still in print, and cited by financial wizards from Bernard Baruch to Michael Lewis. Tulips had quite a run in in the 17th century. As the flowers grew in popularity, professional growers paid […]

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18TH April 2019

Angel Investor - Business Tricks - Family and Friends - Timeless - Uncategorized

Busy could, sometimes, just be BS

We’ve been talking an awful lot about work norms. Goldman Sachs no longer requires suits. IBM allows flex time. MasterCard permits video attendance at weekly touch base calls. This is all terribly progressive, and probably helps with attracting, retaining, and motivating A Players. But one thing remains a fallacy; the common safe place called “being busy”. Maybe it’s the old puritan work ethic. Maybe it’s from back in the days when people- most- billed by the hour. Those warriors who worked on weekends. Brought files along on vacations. Always had a conference call, or a reason to burn the midnight oil. How impressive. What a workhorse. Such a team player. An animal. We gave you a pass because you were full on, all day. Frantically moving from one thing to […]

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13TH April 2019

Business Tricks - Entrepreneur - Leftovers - Platforms - Timeless - Uncategorized

We are the Factory

I’ve spent the last two years super optimized on one platform- I can’t believe the increased efficiency, and the decreased anxiety of this move. I credit Don Dalrymple. First, about my work: I mentor startup founders, and I am quite active in that role. Which means I have to be able to plug and play into their systems seamlessly. I do not, hell I can not dictate which conference line to use, which product management tool, which crm, etc. I have to adapt, quickly, to whatever they choose. It used to be maddening, but I flipped that; now I enjoy the challenge of learning how they communicate by diving in quickly, so we can get to the real stuff. Which meant my stuff had to be super organized. It wasn’t. […]

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08TH April 2019

Business Tricks - Entrepreneur - Food - Good Story - Incredulous - Timeless - Uncategorized

Avocados also come with Values!

Entrepreneurs are mad for Avocados- in shakes, on toast, even guacamole. it’s perfect as protein, and even better as a value reminder. Yes, true! I caught Seth’s Godin mention the Avocado principle recently: it’s a well cited mantra in the Bay and especially at 500 where I learned so many incubator scale tricks. It goes something like this: If you wait until you really want an avocado, the market won’t have any ripe ones. You need to buy them in advance. But… If you eat an avocado that’s not quite ripe, you won’t enjoy it. AND, you won’t have a chance to enjoy it tomorrow, when it would have been perfect if you had only waited. If you live your life based on instant gratification and little planning, you’ll either never have […]

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24TH September 2018

Business Tricks - Creative problem Solving - Good Story - Parenting - Timeless - Uncategorized

The Sharpless Method: We suffer more in imagination than in reality

The title quote is from Seneca. I grew up with a different phrase, but it still worked for me: “80% of the sh*t we spend time worrying about never happen anyways” ~Herbert “Sharpless” Spencer And it’s not that these guys were fearless. Rather, they broke down those fears, those worries, those paralyzing doubts and categorized them in bite sized pieces. My grandfather was a rifleman in WW-I; life expectancy in the trench wasn’t too good. But he survived to marry, to have and to raise twelve kids, to send some to college, and to comb the hair of his grandchildren… which numbered like [33] by the time he passed away. This was his system for dealing with worry and anxiety: Name each fear that keeps you up in explicit terms: […]

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20TH November 2017

Angel Investor - Business Tricks - Creative problem Solving - Entrepreneur - Family Office - Good Story - Leadership - Parenting - Portfolio - Timely - Uncategorized

Vaux Founder Profile- Theresa Claire of “Mixed Emotions”

Today, I couldn’t be happier to feature Theresa Claire, Founder of the Mixed Emotions Game. In her first pitch to me, even on the first slide, she told me all the reasons I should not get involved… I’m a solo entrepreneur- and Mom! I’m not the first mover. I don’t have a PhD. to my name. I need a side hustle to make this all work. To which I responded; so what. I tested the game with my kids, their friends, their parents, their teachers… and it totally rocked! Which is not the first reaction you would expect when discussing the subject of card games that teach kids emotional awareness. But here we are, launching a Kickstarter less than a month later and crushing it on social media. Because it […]

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23TH October 2014

500 Start Ups - Business Tricks - Trust Cloud - Uncategorized

Where did you come from, where did you go

  I was at dinner with 80 or so batchmates from 500 Startups last night, and with half of them coming from overseas the discussion turned to “IS America still great”. While that’s pretty subjective, the consensus was that.. “it is still better than where I came from”. And I thought about that a bit. If talent is evenly disbursed all over the world, (let alone the US) then bringing them to places that could accelerate that talent is a great arb. Dave McClure knows this well, and GOAP seeks out talent from the most crazy places. My batch ten buddies included great entreprneurs from Jordan (Silk Road), Thailand (Yoga Trail), Tomsk Russia (Promolta). I came from Pittsburgh, and my Dad was a coal miner from Clearfield. Taking a look […]

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29TH September 2014

500 Start Ups - Business Tricks - Entrepreneur - Mobile - Trust Cloud - Uncategorized

The 500 Start Ups Dogfood: Try it!

Part of the experience of 500 Start Ups is discovering new ideas and processes that other batchmates have blazed the trail on. And yes, after 30 years of being an entrepreneur and an investor, I still learn new stuff every day. Herewith, my list of favorite shortcuts: Founder wall is a great hack for short terms memory people like me- pictures, faces and logos there on the wall just before meeting someone. Open the door with lockitron. It’s just so cool to walk into the ante room, put the phone up to your head and presto, something opens. The batch 10 email blaster is for founders with challenges- any challenges. And it rocks! We have solved for everything from free lance graphics to interviewing coders. (sorry-internal) Ping board is an in […]

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19TH September 2014

Business Tricks - Entrepreneur - Uncategorized

Start up hack: Clothing

Uniqlo is a great start up hack: it like a closet in every major city that can make you look good, or at least warm for like… no money. I first caught on in SoHo last winter, when I was freezing cold and spilled Starbucks on myself en route to an investor pitch. I ducked in, found a pull over and …problem solved. But the cheap pullover was anything but cheap: I kept wearing it. And liking it . To the point where I went back. A lot. They have these reasonably priced, well-made,  mildly stylish solutions for a lot of looks. I use their light down vests, their chinos, their linens shirts, and their swill overs in high rotation. (I am a step and repeat dresser- I find what […]

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19TH May 2014

Business Tricks - Choate - culture - Entrepreneur - Family Office - Leadership - Mojiva - Timeless - Trust Cloud - Uncategorized - Venture Capital

Next Stop: Grand Central

My Mom used to answer the phone at our house : GRAND CENTRAL !@#$%^ STATION. It was nuts with activity; cats sleeping with dogs, kids not sleeping at all, random neighbors, dangerous art projects, three legged bunnies, ninja turtles- with real num-chucks, 1,000 ping pong balls, 60 foot tree swings, snakes in sleeping bags and ill-advised science experiments. It was an incubator of sorts, but all she was able to raise was a bunch of crazy kids and a few Estes Rockets (with pet mice aboard no doubt). The fact that four of us survived to adulthood was testament to her unique no-helicopter policies ( I am not sure how many she started with). To cry about anything short of a compound fracture was simply bad form. Cuts without stitches […]

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