May 16, 2013
I've flown 152,820 miles since 1-13-09
According to tripit.com, I've flown 152,820 miles since January 13, 2009.
I'm a big fan of tripit.com. If you travel at all, you should check it out because it is the very best way I've found to organize travel information such as flights, hotel reservations and rental cars. When I book a flight, I get an email from the airline. I then forward that email to firstname.lastname@example.org and it magically puts it into my intenerary for that trip. Same thing for other reservations. Then while I'm traveling I can use the web or a mobile device to look and see where I need to be next. It's even smart enough to tell me if a flight is delayed and it will suggest alternate flights. They also make it easy to print a paper copy, just in case the electronics fail, and you can easily email your travel plans to other people.
This afternoon I was planning a quick business trip and I noticed that Tripit also keeps track of total trips and miles flown. Here are my stats since I joined Tripit January 13, 2009.
That's a lot of miles, even though many people fly a lot more than I do. This year I've done a lot of customer visits and a couple of personal trips. In the past four years and four months, I've flown the equivalent of a little more than six times around the world, at the equator. Again, I know people who fly way more than me, but I was surprised at just how many miles I've flown. I wish I knew how many miles I've flown in my life! United says I've flown 555,171 miles just with them, not including all the flights that they didn't credit me for, so maybe the total is a million or more. Wow, I've probably flown more miles than I've driven!
February 10, 2013
Interviewed on W3W3.com
Last week Larry Nelson, co-founder of W3W3.com made the trip up to Boulder to catch up and do a podcast interview with me. If you are in the entrepreneural community in Colorado, you've probably met Larry and his co-founder Pat. Larry is the guy in the sharp looking suit at every event taking photos of everyone. His joke is that the photos go up on the website for free, but you have to pay to get them removed.
I'm fascinated by the work that Larry and Pat have done, because he has documented so many companies in Colorado and beyond. I keep telling him someone needs to interview him so he can tell his story, and while he was here, I created the world's shortest podcast.
To listen to the interview that Larry did with me where we talked about Gold Systems' new Vonetix 7 Voice product, click here. Be sure and check out http://www.w3w3.com including the Entrepreneurs, Software and Venture Capital Channels. If you would like to get your company name in front of business leaders from Colorado and beyond, ask Larry about sponsoring on of these channels.
January 16, 2013
Sitting is worse than smoking
I lost both of my parents to smoking, yet here I am doing something that might be even worse for my own health - sitting at a computer all day and half the night.
I just read Nilofer Merchant's blog post "Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation" on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. It's a good reminder that we need to get up and walk around. She says that we're averaging 9.3 hours a day of sitting compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping and that it is a huge health threat. Personally, I think that is an overestimate of the number of hours most people sleep every night!
Nilofer goes on to say that the death rate associated with obesity in the US is now at 35 million, versus 3.5 million for tobacco. What can help? Get up. You don't have to run, just get out of your chair. Trade sit down meetings for walks or even hikes. Sit down even a little less each day, and your health will be better for it. "Can't run" you say - fine, just stand up, but get out of the chair.
My friends know that I've been a runner now for a little more than three years, but the people I work with know that I'd just as soon go for a walk on the Boulder Creek path than to sit down for a meeting, so when the weather cooperates we have our meetings outside. TC North told me years ago that there were benefits to walking meetings, such as it is easier to be creative and that it is easier to talk about tough subjects when walking side by side than it is when sitting face to face.
Read this article, and then get up out of your chair and walk around, even if it is just to the water cooler and back. Your health will be better for it.
October 31, 2012
The new Microsoft Surface
Two things arrived from Microsoft today, and one of them was the new Microsoft Surface RT.
Wow, I'm impressed! I've been playing with a Samsung Series 7 running Windows 8 before this, but the Surface seems way better with no fans. It just seems nicer somehow. Starting at $499, I think Microsoft is going to get some market share with this device, and not just for people who want to be able to use Microsoft Office. It feels different than the iPad or any other tablet I've played with. Kind of like how Xbox felt different from all the other consoles when it first came out.
I thought I would not want a keyboard, but the TV ads convinced me to give it a try. I actually got each of the two available keyboards and both are nice, but I'm writing this with the one with real keys and it feels like a great keyboard, with the keys in the right place for me. The keyboard really does just snap in place like magic and then it just works. It's actually been awhile since a piece of technology made me think, "that's cool" but this did.
Sizewise, it is a little bigger than the iPad 3 but it feels about the same even with the keyboard attached. The two keyboards weigh about the same, so I'm guessing most will go with the one with real keys if they get a keyboard.
I have resisted keyboards on touch devices, but I'm giving it a second thought now since this one is so light and gets out of the way easily. The photo above shows the Microsoft Surface next to an iPad 3, and the extra keyboard above that.
This is an RT version, so I was surprised that it came with Microsoft Office installed. The one drawback to RT is that you can't just install any Windows application on it. For that you'll need to wait for "Surface with Windows 8 Pro" which isn't available yet.
I'll do an update after I've had it for a while, but for now, I'm impressed!
October 22, 2012
Colorado Entrepreneurial By Nature
Gold Systems is now over twenty one years old, and our offices are less than a mile from where it all started here in Boulder. It's really hard to imagine starting Gold Systems anywhere but in Colorado, so I'm happy to lend our name to Colorado Entrepreneurial By Nature. It's a grass roots campaign to make sure the world knows that Colorado is a great place to live and to start a business. I've benefited so much by being in a community that supports and encourages entrepreneurs and I'm happy to give back that support to the new people starting up here in Colorado.
If you are an entrepreneur in Colorado, lend your name to the effort by going here: http://www.entrepreneurialbynature.com/
October 04, 2012
The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time
My old YPO buddy Verne Harnish has written a new book, and it is available today. His previous book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits is a favorite of mine. After you read Built to Last and Good to Great, read Rockefeller Habits to learn how to opererationalize what you've just read. I'm sure The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time will be fantastic, and the forward is by Jim Collins himself. Every time I talk to Verne, he teaches me something and helps my business so I'll be ordering the new book first thing in the morning!
Boulder would be a very different environment for entrepreneurs if both Brad and Verne had not come to town and decided we needed a YEO chapter. (Now EO) Thank you guys, you've really made a difference in the community and the world, and it has been my pleasure to know you both. Brad's book is what he's learned about helping communities attract and support start ups, and I just started reading it on my Kindle. I'm sure it's great too!
October 03, 2012
ANZ Inovyz START announces Year One Results
In July I wrote about my experience going over to the wonderful city of Adelaide, Australia, where I was a mentor in the ANZ Inovyz START technology accelerator. I had a great time, met some great people and found that I could be homesick for a city that I really didn't know anything about before that visit. Since then I've been spending a little time on Skype with two of the companies, Australian Baby Bargins and Be Intent. And there is a new company in Boulder that was part of the first group of Innovyz entrepreneurs, Beneath The Ink. They went a long way to participate in the program!
The books are closed on the first class of entrepreneurs and they are off to a great start, and they have just announced that they have been funded for the next season and applications are already being accepted. If you are an entrepreneur in Adelaide, Australia, or really anywhere in the world, check out http://www.innovyzstart.com/ and hit the "Apply Now" button if you think you've got what it takes to join nine or so other hot startups in the great city of Adelaide. U.S. folks - remember, it will be summer there in Adelaide while it's winter here in the states. Applications close November 30, 2012. Check out this FAQ too.
August 29, 2012
Nine Tips for the the bootstrapping start up by Art Reisman
My good friend and local entrepreneur, Art Reisman, has written a thoughtful blog post with practical advice for the start up entrepreneur. The title of the post is "Nine Tips for Organic Technology Start ups" and it's well worth a read because it has advice you won't get from most places, such as "Be leery of late 1990's dot com moguls." Art has nothing against moguls I don't think, he just cautions that the new entrepreneur needs to be able to tell the difference between lucky and smart. Some were smart, some where lucky. By the way, that's the name of a book you might want to check out too - Lucky or Smart?: Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur, by Bo Peabody.
Check out Art's post, I think it is worth reading if you are just getting started and it is a good reminder for those of us who have been doing this for awhile. Art has built a very successful company that is running circles around far bigger companies.
August 07, 2012
TC North on Olympic athletes on 9 News
I've written about TC North before, and last week he was interviewed on 9 News by Greg Moss about what entrepreneurs can learn from Olympic Athletes. Check it out!
Click here to read the transcript or view the video. TC's website is at tcnorth.com.
July 06, 2012
A week at Innovyz START in Adelaide, Australia
My good friend Jana Matthews has been going to Australia and other parts of the world for years to work with start-ups and fast growing companies. I was thrilled for her when she told me that she was going to be spending the summer in Adelaide, Australia working with a new technology accelerator. When she invited me to come over for a week and work as a mentor to the start up entrepreneurs, I thought, "that should be fun, and I can repay Jana for all she's done for me over the years." After getting home from Adelaide and thinking about my experience there, I realize now I didn't repay anything and I believe I'm now deeper in debt to her!
Jana and I have spent many mornings sitting at Turley's talking about the challenges of leading and growing a business. She's seen me at my worst times and at my best times, and through it all she has given me great advice that I've sometimes listened to. I'm not always the best student, but it is fair to say that without Jana's advice over the years, Gold Systems would not be what it is today.
Boulder, Colorado is home to TechStars, which is the #1 startup accelerator in the world. I was asked to be a mentor in the first year of the Boulder TechStars, and it was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot and I gained a close personal friend in the process. The Innovyz START accelerator in Adelaide is modeling a lot of what they do on TechStars, and they are part of the Global Accelerator Network which the TechStars guys also support. Both David Cohen and Brad Feld have helped get them off on the right foot.
My experience with the people of ANZ Innovyz START was fantastic. I was in the second week's flight of mentors to arrive and we were welcomed with a great dinner put on by Jana, Philip Vafiadis and Jerry Kleeman. I was the only Boulderite in that week's group of mentors, but Sherri Leopard, Catherine Merigold and Lu Cordova were also mentors other weeks. Most of the other mentors were from Australia or other parts of the world, and I really enjoyed getting to know everyone in my group.
Monday morning started with quick introductions and then we jumped into one-on-one's with each company. There were ten start-ups selected to participate in the program, and the founders had all relocated to Adelaide and for the most part seemed to live in their offices. They are working hard to make the most of the program and to be ready for Investor Day on August 17.
I felt for the entrepreneurs, because they had to quickly explain their company, and then process questions and suggestions from mentors that though they had a lot of experience, had just the smallest understanding of the company. As I think about it, that is one of the first lessons you have to learn as a new start-up entrepreneur. How do you to take all the advice people are willing to give you and make sense of it? Often the advice is conflicting and threatens to take your company into an entirely different direction. I did my best to let them know that while I might have an insight or an opinion for them, it could well be wrong and it was ultimately up to them to decide if it was helpful.
New entrepreneurs get a lot of advice on hiring. "You need a strong tech person" or "You need an awesome sales or business development VP." Maybe, but that advice can get a - into trouble. The founders first need to be competent in all areas. Maybe not great, but competent. A founder needs to be a fast learner and willing to dive into things they know nothing about, and then do the job until the company can really afford to bring in the experts. Except for running out of cash, nothing will kill a start up faster than hiring the wrong person at the wrong time. Getting someone who doesn't fit the values and culture that the founders want to create is deadly. Hiring a VP from a big company who "loves the idea of a start-up" but has no idea how to execute without a big staff is killer. I spent a fair amount of my mentor time with the entrepreneurs just reassuring them that they were in fact very capable people who could get the job done. Everyone of them was passionate about their idea, smart, and hard working or else they would not have been selected for the program.
That's the basic idea behind accelerators. Get lots of entrepreneurs to apply, select the very best, and then give them mentoring, introductions and financial help. Do that, and most of the companies will exit the accelerator a few months later and be on their way to success.
I'm happy to have been a part of the first year of ANZ Innovyz START in Adelaide, but I'll bet that next year and the year after will be even better. Adelaide looked like a great place to start a technology company and I hope to get back there again soon. I asked Jana, "How is it possible to miss a place I didn't even know existed a few months ago?" I wish the best of luck and success to ANZ Innovyz START, the entrepreneurs, my new mentor friends and the city of Adelaide!