Emerging Encouraged
Apr 2014 18

“We believe at a certain point, if we can retain enough of the talent that we’ve uncovered, we can build a community that makes Silicon Valley and New York less of a default.”  This quote, and many others like it, seemed to be a theme in the conversations I had last night at the kick off party for the Hello Tomorrow conference I am speaking at here in Paris later today. I spoke with entrepreneurs and investors from here in France as well as those from Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, and Israel and they all seemed to have a similar sentiment. Each one of them, while aware of the attraction and pull of the larger tech hubs in Europe like London or Berlin, or ultimately San Francisco, believe that the geographical centralized nature of technology is on its way to the history books.

My good friend and partner in Exopshere, Skinner Layne, wrote a wonderful piece on this them earlier this week: Burst It – Not The Bubble You Think.  “A hundred new entrepreneurship nodes would do far more good for the world than three new Silicon Valleys.” We are seeing this play its out at Exosphere in Chile and in the communities that our Bootcamp members return to.

The barrier to entry to build a web based company is so much lower now than it used to be. This is both good and bad. The bad being that there are a lot of really bad ideas that are seeing the light of day because they no longer need the approval of any outside source before they are launched. The good being that no one needs the approval of anyone else to begin working on the idea you believe is the next big thing. And the same goes with the communities of entrepreneurship and innovation that are popping up around the world.

Each of these communities is unique to its location and the resources that are already in place. Some are being informally incubated around a system of universities and others are being pushed forward by the alumni of a technology company long since relevant. Some are built on the backs of entrepreneurs that left and made a name for themselves in a bigger hub but have returned to bring their experience, and in some case, investment dollars, back to their home town.

There will never be another Silicon Valley, and that is a great thing. But there can be “Silicon-Everywhere” and that is an even better thing.

You Are Not Your LinkedIn Profile
Apr 2014 16

It has been a challenging start to the year.   A lot of left over loose ends from the mad rush that 2013 turned out to be made themselves known to start 2014.  A lot of which, on their own, are just part of life. But condensed into the sprint that took place, if felt a little like running through a row of paddles as part of some initiation. Life kicked the life out of me, I felt like I was the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

Annie asked me early this week, “How can I help you avoid the tailspin?” A very fair question from someone who my peaks and valleys directly and viscerally affects.  A question that I have asked myself on more than one occasion recently. At the pace I am going right now, I will finish my current moleskin notebook in half the time of my last one, ideas were captured and the long looks into the mirror exposed. It was a little like insomnia, you’re need really asleep and you’re never really awake.

I realized over the past few years, that I have defined myself by my work. “Who is Andy?” was a question answer using the names of companies. “Who is Andy?” was answered with “not sure, think he’s different now” if someone hadn’t seen my latest update. “Who is Andy?” didn’t have an answer that I was comfortable with outside of the version of Andy that I could fit into 140 characters.  If you posted something different for each social network, were you a different person?

And as I continued to allow myself to define myself by what I was doing, I allowed my mental status to be defined by something external to me. If what I was doing wasn’t doing well, then I wasn’t doing well.  If a project I was involved with was floundering, so was I. If a big pitched ended up as a failure, I claimed that status for myself.  That stuff was my life.

But as the question of “Who is Andy?” began being asked less as more and more of what I was doing began to change.  Projects I’d been involved with wrapped up or moved on.  Pitches I’d been really proud of didn’t pan out and the void left wasn’t immediately filled with something else.  And I just let that space exist and leaned into its awkwardness. When friends asked if I had time to catch up, I did and we did and nothing about the laughs we shared was not contingent on what I was doing.  I wasn’t my LinkedIn  profile.

And so now, clearly in the midst of more change, I am finding clarity in the question of “Who is Andy?” Not in what I am doing, but in who I am in the eyes of the people around me that matter the most and in the slow moments where I am not a human doing, but a human being.  But as those previous edifices fall and a new kind of freedom is uncovered, it is fair to say I couldn’t have powered through this with out my friends and family, even if recently they met me at a very strange time in my life.

Stepping Back To Step Forward
Apr 2014 15

Sometimes when you believe in someone or something, you have to step back in order to see it mature the way it needs to. As BOND continues to grow, I’ve chosen to step down from my day to day role with the company and will be formally joining the advisory board to allow the team to remain lean and execute with ruthless focus on the immediate technical initiatives that lie ahead.

While moving on from something that I’ve been so fully invested in on an hourly basis for the past nine months will take some time to get used to, it is something that is a familiar road for a lot of founding team members in the world of young companies. I am confident the team will continue to build towards the original vision we began that undertaking with: Thoughtfulness At Scale.

With that said, I am extremely excited about the new company that I’m joining this month. There is a lot of new hustle ahead, but having worked with some of this team before, I am thrilled to be stepping in at such a pivotal time in the company’s history.  Much more to come on that in the future.

But for now, I am letting the lessons learned in building BOND to this point reveal themselves as I percolate on all of the new experiences and exposure I’ve gained throughout this process. And as the dust of those ideas settle a little more, I’ll do my best to capture some of them here.

Making Room For The Good
Apr 2014 01

If we’re being honest, I waited too long. But hard things are hard to do. I’d seen it coming for weeks if not months. But the excuses were plentiful. I was busy. It wasn’t that bad. I was probably the only who’d even noticed. Maybe it would stop. This was my first time and maybe there was something that I didn’t know.

But, this evening, I finally did it.

I pulled all the weeds in my backyard and the flower beds.

And while I put my lower back through a new exercise regime, some thoughts occurred to me about weeds.

- They’re there because we let them be.  We see them popping up and could stop them immediately, but we don’t. We let them grow because “it’s not that bad.” Yet.

- They blend in and aren’t that different from what is supposed to be there. They’re not that bad, we can let them stay a little while longer right? We’ll get to them.

- The longer they stay, the deeper they’re rooted. If we’d taken care of them right when they first showed up, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, they’d barely established their place. Now they’ve got an entire root system.

- They’re choking out the good that is supposed to be in their place. They grow faster and bigger and have an easier time showing growth. But, the longer they stay, the more space and resources they’re taking from every else around them.

- When we do get ride of them, they leave a mark. If we go for the whole root system, they’re gonna leave a bare spot in the yard. It is going to be obvious to anyone looking that something use to be there.

- We won’t get all of them the first time around. No matter how thorough we are, there will be some that come back that we’ll have to deal with again and again.

And whether the weeds we’re pulling are in the backyard or in our life, everyone has them. But, not everyone is willing to living with them. And not everyone who wants to do something about them will. But, when you do, even through it will leave a mark and you’ll get your hands dirty, you’re making room for the good that can grow in their place.

And that’s worth the pain.

Caveman Inspired Trends
Mar 2014 28

The speed of technology and innovation has never been faster. Everywhere we look, everything is different and being disrupted. Across industries, corporations, and countries, those that can’t keep up and simply left behind as a warning to everyone else of what happens if you don’t adapt to what is right now.  We are bombarded with more information than we can handle and all of it is apparently urgent. Our smartphones make sure that we are never more than three swipes away from a flood of content about anything and everything that happened, might have happened, and could happen everywhere in the world.

And we’re completely burnt out.

And the pendulum is swinging back the other direction.

And fast.

Right now, the hottest trends are being inspired by cavemen.

Not the Jetsons, the Flinestones.

  • After years of using state of the art equipment in perfectly lit and scented gyms, millions are flocking to previously abandoned warehouses to get their caveman work out on and push a tractor tire around for a hour.
  • Instead of rushing out to sample the latest in molecular gastronomy and high art cuisine, the current diet trend is based on the bench mark of what the paleolithic beings from 15,000 years ago might have consumed.
  • Apparently as it became easier and easier to communicate instantly, the thought and meaning of long form communication has gone the way of the dinosaurs and short form emoji-laden bursts of text have brought cave drawings back as the preferred standard of communication for the next generation.

 

So with our workouts, diet, and communication already reverting back to caveman inspired standards, what is next?