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This is going to be a tough post to write, because unless you're an entrepreneur, you're probably going to take what I have to say the wrong way.
Being an entrepreneur means bending the rules... carefully. (It does not mean breaking the rules). Here's an example - a litmus test, if you will - about what the mentality of being an entrepreneur is all about:
If you are male, and you are in a Starbucks, say, or any location that has a "women's" and "men's" bathroom, and the men's bathroom is occupied, would you use the women's bathroom? Let's assume that it's just 1 person per bathroom, meaning if you were to use the women's bathroom, you could lock the door and know that no other women would come in.
Now, as an entrepreneur, my mentality is that both bathrooms are, generally speaking, exactly the same. One just has a sign that says "women" and one has a sign that says "men". To me, I would be bending the rules by using the women's bathroom. Of course, I would be extra courteous when in the women's bathroom (think: "don't sprinkle when you tinkle"), but I would have no problem using the women's bathroom, because the signage is meant more as a guide than an absolute. This is the mind of an entrepreneur in action, folks! Some people would steadfastly argue that the bathrooms are not interchangeable. If that's your mentality, then you probably wouldn't make a very good entrepreneur. I'd love to hear your comments on this perspective.
CEOs are busy. It's easy to be distracted with competing priorities coming from all directions. But there's one darkhorse mega-trend that I believe will catch many CEOs by surprise, and even cause some of them be fired by their boards for missing it: The Mobile Crush.
Two years ago, I did an in-depth screencast describing why I believed mobile would be way bigger than most people realize. And now the crush is starting in earnest.
There's a great quote by Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga in an article today by the New York Times:
AngelList is a platform that connects entrepreneurs to angel investors to raise seed stage capital.
Out of the $1.5 million dollars in angel funding we've raised for Socialize, over $1 million came from introductions made on AngelList. We were very early AngelList users under our AppMakr brand, with Brendan Baker doing a detailed analysis of our use of AngelList in his Anatomy of a Seed project. I also wrote a lengthy manifesto about our fundraising experience, and when AngelList was very new I interviewed Naval Ravikant, one of the AngelList founders.
Recently, using AngelList has changed the way I've been fundraising. Where traditionally, I've had to dedicate a block of time to fundraise full time, I can now fundraise passively, meaning just by focusing on having an optimized AngelList presence and a few specific techniques, I don't have to spend blocks of my time finding high quality angels. That is a game changer for us -- fundraising is an incredibly distracting process, and it's especially hard to innovate and iterate on your startup when you're distracted by bolstering the company's bank account. Being able to have angels come to me has given me a freedom as an entrepreneur that's just fantastic.
As I was talking to my friend Ben Young, CEO of Nexercise, about this sea-change in fundraising, I offered to critique his AngelList page to help him optimize it for this type of inbound passive investment.
Brothers Daniel and Sam Odio say D.C. doesn't sate entrepreneurial needs
Herndon natives Daniel and Sam Odio share a last name, two alma maters and a gene for entrepreneurial risk-taking. Each brother has created a well-known, successful tech startup , mobile app builder PointAbout Inc. for Daniel, picture-sharing company Divvyshot for Sam.
But only one Odio brother stayed in D.C. Sam left in 2009 for a sunnier West Coast startup climate.
Sam's success out West, however, now has Daniel on the verge of following his younger brother to California: His company PointAbout , though still headquartered in D.C. , is putting down Western roots as well.
I got to catch up with some friends this week while I was in Toronto for a mobile panel, and we started talking about the topic of personal branding. One of my friends is a real estate agent, and the other is an aspiring actor (well, not so aspiring -- he spent all day on set today shooting a US-based TV show. Turns out a lot of American shows are shot in Toronto). Both of them want to create a strong personal brand in their respective fields.
Having started a real estate brokerage in the past, I have some great tips on how to create a successful real estate brand, and I believe in the power of personal branding. So instead of sending a private email with my tips to my friends, I figured I'd write a blog about it in the hopes others can join the conversation about what's worked for them.
In 2010 I started writing a series of blogs titled "Fundraising Cribsheet" describing our experience raising a $1MM round for AppMakr.com.
My goal has been to allow other entrepreneurs to raise money more efficiently than the 14 weeks it took us. Brendan Baker, an MBA student at Oxford University, has added a deep layer of analysis to this experience by doing his thesis on our fundraising experience. Brendan's initial work is outlined in this blog post, with much more analysis here.
Here is my guide to this manifesto on fundraising, so you can consume the information in the chunks most relevant to you:
In 2010 I started writing a series of blogs titled "Fundraising Cribsheet" describing our experience raising a $1MM round for AppMakr.com. My goal has been to allow other entrepreneurs to raise money more efficiently than the 14 weeks it took us. Brendan Baker, an MBA student at Oxford University, has added a deep layer of analysis to this experience by doing his thesis on our fundraising experience. Brendan's initial work is outlined in this blog post, with much more analysis here. Here is my guide to this manifesto on fundraising, so you can consume the information in the chunks most relevant to you: Daniel's "Rule Of 10" Angel Intros + $1MM Raise Infographic with Brendan Baker. Cliff Notes on Raising Your First $1 Million Through AngelList' Keynote + Panel Interview with Naval Ravikant, co-founder of AngelList, an angel fundraising vehicle I highly recommend Interview with George Zachary, a partner at Charles River Ventures, on how to approach and pitch Venture Capitalists Interview with Stephen DeBerry, a partner at Kapor Capital, on recommended deal structures and more Interview with Shai Goldman, a director at Silicon Valley Bank A panel hosted by Shai discussing the differences in raising angel vs. Series A funding A blog showing visually how 8.47% of the potential investors I spoke to ended up funding us How to 'Hack Your Funding' by Naval Ravikant of AngelList Other good resources include: VC Panel at the Digital Media Conference Fundraising Panel at TechCocktail's Startup Mixology Event Don Rainey talks about investing in LivingSocial
Things on my to-do list before I die...
Here are things that were on my list but I've since taken off:
It's no secret that Google calendars and iCal don't play super nicely together. And it's even worse on the iPhone. It got so bad that I was using the Google calendar web app instead of the native calendar app because subscribed Google calendars (called "delegate" calendars) weren't even showing up.
But here's a trick -- a way to sync your subscribed calendars from Google's calendaring system onto your iPhone. This is part of my "lifehacking" series :)
You have to create a separate CALDAV account on the iPhone for each one, which is a pain, but doable.
(click links below for screenshots)
Step 1: On your iPhone, go into Settings >> Mail, Contacts, Calendars >> Add Account
I wrote this post in August 2014 comparing Betterment to Wealthfront, so it's been about 15 months, and I thought it'd be a good time to check in on relative performance, as a buddy of mine recently wrote:
"I saw your post on betterment. I'm thinking of moving everything over to a roboinvestor. What's your thinking on betterment vs wealthfront, and whether you'd just dump everything on there?"
As I wrote in my original post, I put $5k into both Betterment and Wealthfrontto test them against each other. To date, both have under-performed the S&P 500 by a considerable margin. S&P is up 10% since August 2014. Betterment is down by 2% and Wealthfront is down by 5.4%. So, should I just have invested in the S&P 500? And as per my other previous blog, Show Me The Money: Six Strategies to Put Your Cash to Work, how should I re-allocate based on this new data? And what would I recommend to my buddy? Let's dig into the data a bit to come to a conclusion:
I'm turning 40 this December, and that's caused me to deeply re-evaluate my health. In high school I had wrestled at the 152 lb weight level and was a gymnast. In my 20s, I ran two 50 mile ultra-marathons and a half dozen marathons. I had a 33 inch waist and weighed 185 lbs. I could eat whatever I wanted and stay in good shape. But after a decade of doing startups, I found myself in my late 30s in much worse shape. My metabolism hit a wall when I turned 30, and although I didn't eat terribly, I also found it hard to figure out exactly how to get back to where I was in my 20s. My waist was 38 inches and I weighed 245 lbs; 93 lbs over my wrestling weight. My triglycerides were 33% above where they should've been. I'd imagine this happens to many of us as we get older, and I felt helpless as I watched all of this unfold, almost like it was happening according to some script that I wasn't in control of. Most of all, I was really disappointed in myself for not staying on top of my health, but I couldn't find the right balance of eating and exercising to change the path I was on. It felt like I was on a slow motion slippery slope as I got older and more out of shape.
When my daughter was born in 2013, I made myself a promise: I would be in as good of shape when I turned 40 as I was when I turned 30. I didn't want to have a hard time keeping up with her as she grew up. I started doing CrossFit twice a week that year. I signed up and completed a few triathlons. But my weight still wouldn't budge from 245 lbs, and my triglycerides, although lower, were still 15% above the max recommended range. CrossFit was making me much stronger, but that was only part of the puzzle. I had to figure out the rest, and I hadn't quite cracked it.
In December of last year, I realized I was running short on time: I'd really have to hump it to get back in shape within the next year, before my 40th birthday in December 2015. By this time I had upped my CrossFit schedule to 3x per week and I started rowing for 15 minutes before CrossFit started in the mornings. But that still wasn't enough: By April I knew I was going to have to take some much more drastic measures to reach my goal.
This blog is a story of those drastic measures, and how they're going. It's a deep-dive into the rabbit hole that we call 'health' as I see it. It's a journey that I invite you to take with me as we all get older, together. I am only starting to unlock some of the things that affect my body and I would love your thoughts and opinions as well in the comments below.
Let me also caveat this entire blog by saying that some of what I write about below is contrary to the things we've been told to believe, and I fully recognize that. I'm not a medical expert and I'm not telling you to throw away what you believe to be true. But just walk into all of this with an open mind, as I'm trying to do, and more importantly, be willing to try some of these things yourself if you also want to experiment a bit to try to find a better path than you've found so far.