“The compensation for the Xerox PARC technology sharing deal with Apple was in the form of one million dollars of pre-IPO Apple stock. The rationale: if Apple does well, Xerox will benefit from Apple’s success. The compensation is not bad for showing some prototypes that Xerox didn’t know what to do with.”—Myth: Copyright Theft, Apple Stole GUI from Xerox PARC Alto | Obama Pacman
A few years ago, I took my first vacation without checking my inbox and wrote about it here. That post was about taking a one week vacation and staying off email.
But this August, I did something I haven’t done in 10 years. I took two consecutive weeks off.
And tomorrow we are heading home.
Some additional thoughts on re-entry and this vacation
1. i changed my out of office automated message so it now says i’ll be off email for the most part, but Kik or text me if it’s extremely urgent. Over the past two weeks, I had three people reach out due to urgent issues. Victory.
2. I couldn’t stay completely out of my work inbox for two weeks. But I didn’t check it every day. And when I did check it, it was during certain bounded times of the day and no more.
3. Sanebox is a game changer. It’s reducing my inbox re-entry stress big time.
4. We havent watched TV in two weeks. When I’m home I don’t watch a ton of TV but we do watch baseball and have a few HBO favs at the moment. And we overdosed on the Olympics before we left.
The only reason I know about Jeter’s many homers and the Yankees is because of Twitter, Kik and the MLB app on my phone. Otherwise, nada. And it felt pretty damn good.
5. Exercise. Working out on vacation is pure joy. No rush before getting the kids ready to school or an early office meeting. Made being a beach bum the rest of the day feel justified :)
6. The only time i used my mac on this trip was to process photos in Lightroom each night from the pics I took during the day and an occasional blog post.
7. The Mophie juicepack was a godsend. I’m happy to be a backer of POP and looking forward to bringing that along on my next trip.
8. Apps I used during the trip each day: Foursquare, Maps, Twitter, Tumblr, Lift, MLB, VSCO Cam, exfm and Runkeeper (on work out days). Twitter gave me all of my news. Tumblr gave me my media (music, entertainment, fun).
9. i read two books. That’s a first for me believe it or not. Usually i’m too buys with the kids to read a lot. But now the kids are reading a lot. I ended up reading the first two books of the Hunger Games. Yeah, I know I’m pretty late and I haven’t seen the movie. Book 1 is great but I loved Book 2.
10. The amount of electronics this family brings on vacation is getting a bit nuts. On this trip, for a family of 5, we brought:
-one macbook air 11”
-two ipads (so kids could watch movies on the 12 hour flight from boston to hawaii)
-3 iphones and 1 ipod touch
-two cameras + 4 lenses
The sheer amount of devices and associated chargers feels a bit odd to own and carry around. And it feels like it’s only increasing especially with my continued photography addiction. But at the same time it feels like way too many digital toys for a family vacation. Maybe next time, I’ll leave a few things behind.
Time for me to end this post. We have one last day left and I’m gona make the most of it. I’ll leave you with this pic. It’s one of my favorite from the trip taken during our stay in Kauai.
All of our portfolio companies struggle through tough times.
Its never easy. It always looks easier from the outside which is why it can be frustrating to folks on the outside. Why can’t they move faster? Why can’t they ship sooner? What’s going on with morale right now? Why are these big companies trying to kill our small portfolio company?
Many founders have a tough time dealing with this. And it’s hard to blame them. It’s beyond difficult.
To the ones that grind it out, day after day, well…I frankly couldn’t be more proud to be associated with. It’s an honor.
One person in particular struck me this week. Out of respect, I won’t mention his name but this guy has been through the works. He lost his mom recently to a terrible illness. His cofounder left the company. Big companies are routinely doing their best to destroy him using the most ugly techniques I’ve seen in a long time.
But he’s grinding it out and making it happen the best way he can. He treats his employees and investors with respect and honesty. Some days are tough but this week he’s having a good week and I couldn’t be happier for him.
This hasn’t been an easy experience for any one in the company. Especially the founder/ceo. But everyone is rooting for him and this team. And I will go to the mat to try and support him the best I can.
Whether this company works out or not - he’s my hero for life.
“I don’t think there’s too much money sitting around. I think there’s too much money in too few hands. So when six white guys in suits control two and a half billion dollars, that’s not a good thing. Instead of being allocated just to one firm, it would be better if that two and a half billion dollars was allocated to 25 firms at $100 million each. It would lead to more diversity or people trying more things: data sciences, urban sciences, transportation, energy, materials science, and many others.”—Fred Wilson - Technology Review
It’s absolutely my favorite way to see a new place.
Along the way, we hit a fruit stand which had the most amazing apple bananas I’ve ever had. There was no one running the stand. Instead it used the honor system. Take what you want and leave money in the box.
We ended up putting more money in the box than the amount of fruit we took. There is no change in the honor system.
For the next several miles I couldn’t get the honor system out of my head.
We all talk about how many of the best founders are a eccentric, passionate, highly intelligent, opinionated and willing to take a chance they are wrong.
We want to be around those people and help them with their dreams - whether we are employees or investors.
We don’t want to work or back clones or incremental ideas.
We want people daring enough to change the world and put a dent in the universe. That’s why we often toast the crazy ones.
Two gems amongst many from this mighty fine summary of Peter Thiels CS183 come to mind as I think about this topic.
PayPal’s founding team was six people. Four of them were born outside of the United States. Five of them were 23 or younger. Four of them built bombs when they were in high school. (Your lecturer was not among them.) Two of these bombmakers did so in communist countries: Max in the Soviet Union, Yu Pan in China. This was not what people normally did in those countries at that time.
We are biased toward the democratic/republican side of the spectrum. That’s what we’re used to from civics classes. But the truth is that startups and founders lean toward the dictatorial side because that structure works better for startups. It is more tyrant than mob because it should be. In some sense, startups can’t be democracies because none are. None are because it doesn’t work. If you try to submit everything to voting processes when you’re trying to do something new, you end up with bad, lowest common denominator type results.
But pure dictatorship is unideal because you can’t attract anyone to come work for you. Other people want some power and control too. So the best arrangement is a quasi-mythological structure where you have a king-like founder who can do more than in a democratic ruler but who remains far from all-powerful.
Somehow the very thing that attracts employees and investors to creative, brilliant founders is same thing which challenges founders keeping their teams/investors engaged and supportive through all the many ups and downs.
It’s usually some combination of heartfelt inspiration, loyalty, friendship and a belief that the founder led company is the best of them all.
“Curiosity could never have built, could never have flown and could never have completed its daring touchdown onto the floor of Gale Crater without the overlapping efforts of government, universities and private industry. Some of these folks probably voted Republican in the last election and some voted Democrat. Some go to church each week and rely on the power of faith. Some don’t understand what faith means. None of that matters. They worked together and solved an impossible and unsolvable problem.”—Curiosity’ Signal From Mars That We Can Solve Our Problems On Earth
“So if children are able to live with mistakes and even failing, why does it drive us crazy? So many parents have said to me, “I can’t stand to see my child unhappy.” If you can’t stand to see your child unhappy, you are in the wrong business. The small challenges that start in infancy (the first whimper that doesn’t bring you running) present the opportunity for “successful failures,” that is, failures your child can live with and grow from. To rush in too quickly, to shield them, to deprive them of those challenges is to deprive them of the tools they will need to handle the inevitable, difficult, challenging and sometimes devastating demands of life.”—Gotham Gal: Raising Successful Children
Clear : A fresh perspective in an existing category
When I see developers create a new product to take on the market leader or into an existing category, I like to look for something that is completely different.
Something that will sweep me off my feet.
More features is typically not the thing I look for.
It’s some combination of extraordinary team, design, thoughtfulness, a fresh new approach and how the app feels.
(That last one is the toughest one and why I’m not surprised many enterprise VCs that decided to become consumer VCs are switching back. )
I can’t tell you how many Twitter & Tumblr clones we have seen over the years. They may have a different approach but the look & feel are practically identical. We wouldn’t invest in a competitor anyway but I’m always surprised at how competitors think about this.
Or consider how many folks are ripping off the Pinterest look and feel.
All of this came to mind as I’ve been using an iOS app called Clear.
It’s a to-do list app.
Sounds pretty dry right?
That’s because every single to-do list app ever created has the same point of view and a similar user experience. They are heavyweight apps where you put in dates, priorities, notes, etc. And all of the to-do lists I’ve seen take a desktop or web approach to their mobile apps.
Clear thinks about to do lists entirely differently. It’s completely designed for touch. It’s designed for mobile. And it’s a fresh perspective an old, tired category.
I love it.
I would encourage all startups to put this much care into their apps if they are going after an established category.
“Then, the court was shown cumulative unit sales for the iPhone and iPad and Schiller explained Apple’s simple metric for success of each model it released: Each new generation sold approximately equal to all previous generations combined.”—
In startup land, we smile when we see graphs go up and to the right. New users. Revenue. Engagement.
There is a personal graph where up and to the right isn’t good for me — and that’s my weight.
Earlier this year I realized I was the heaviest I had been in 7 years.
I’m just 5’7” and I had reached 167lbs. And I felt bad about it. I was tired and the weight was impacting my wellness. Or lack thereof.
I figured I needed to lose at least 15lbs. Maybe more.
My friend @biz (who lost a lot of weight recently) talks about “paying attention” as the most important way he’s been able to do it.
So in mid April I decided to start paying attention. I weighed myself everyday. And I logged it. That was step 1 in paying attention.
I tracked every single run and bike ride in RunKeeper. That was step 2 in paying attention.
Getting active wasn’t hard. I like exercising.
My real problem was not paying attention to my calorie intake. I was simply eating poorly and not noticing. Or caring I guess. I was also sleeping poorly.
So I started using Lift (lift.do) each day to track habits that would help me get healthier in addition to other things I care about (which I’ll save for a future post). I checked into habits like low carb lunch. And I made sure to simply eat less (mostly eating simply).
Today is another day and like every morning I weighed myself.
I’m now 153lbs and feel better.
I want to lose another 5lbs. I have a feeling the next 5 will be hard and keeping the weight off will be harder.
But I’m more mindful than I’ve ever been. And I’m hoping that will be positive difference.
(please excuse lack of links and typos. wrote this on my phone)