The Grinch Who Hated On The Ice Bucket Challenge

As with all fun things on the internet, haters show up quickly. And given the recent surge of videos from all ends of society in the name of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, haters are showing up and are doing their best to hate. Now, first let me set the stage: Israel and Gaza are launching rockets at each other and killing hundreds by the week, racial tensions are flying high as a result of the tragedy and response in Ferguson, MO, and anyone who has ever loved laughing is reeling from the loss of Robin Williams. Against that backdrop, people start dumping ice water on themselves in the name of a good cause and encouraging their friends to do so as well.

A chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

An excuse to laugh with some family while putting yourself through a moment of discomfort in the name of good cause.

An opportunity to have some fun, pass on the fun to others, and raise awareness for a disease that isn't quite as sexy as cancer or diabetes.

(And for what it is worth, I think I did a pretty decent job with my attempt.)

People who I haven't seen on social media in a long time jumped back on to be a part of something that captured their attention. Companies and corporations made it an event their top executives were the victims of. People went up the societal food chain and made the asks of people a couple pay grades above them.  By most accounts, it was something that didn't require picking a side.

Until the trolls showed up.

Because it is the internet.

The trolls always show up.

And publish articles called "Dumping a bucket of ice on your head doesn't make you a philanthropist." 

Really? No shit sherlock.

People claimed this is just "hashtag journalism" and another "attempt by Millennials to feel good about themselves."

Or another way to look at it is this:

If I am doing the math correctly, that is almost a 600% increase in donations. An increase that didn't cost the ALS Association anything more than the price of that first YouTube video.

In a time when there are so many things wrong with the world, those of you hating on something going well for the world might need to get your heart checked, Grinch style.

If you haven't been challenged to join in on this great cause and really fun movement, let me know in the comments and I'll dump more ice water on my head and challenge you to do the same. If you are interested in joining me in financially supporting the ALS Association, here is the link: http://www.alsa.org/donate/

Your Reaction To Richard Sherman Says A Lot About You

Last night, after an incredible football game between two conference rivals, a winner was crowned.  The most important play of the game happened within the final minute. Emotions were running incredibly high.  The player responsible for causing 70,000 fans to erupt into euphoria and send his team to the Super Bowl was given a microphone less than three minutes after he made the biggest play of his career. He went on to explain that he was the best and that his rival shouldn't have tested him with it all on the line. And, while it was a little closer to center ring WWE than a Tom Brady post game interview, this excited athlete didn't curse or slur anyone, just threw down some good ol' fashion trash talking. And then the internet blew up.

And, a solid 12 hours later is still blowing up.

In 2007 I participated in an amateur boxing match sponsored by the local sports radio station and went three rounds against my roommate. It came down to the final 10 seconds of the third round and I landed one final blow just as the bell rang. It was enough to tip the scales in my favor and be awarded the victory.  Before I could even catch my breath, I was live on the airwaves and gave the worst interview in the history of sports radio. I was amped up from the win but also completely out of breath. I have the audio and sometimes listen to it before I give speeches to remind myself no matter what happens, it won't be that bad.

I am in no way comparing my amateur fight night interview to the pinnacle of a professional athlete's career post game interview, but, there is something about the endorphins that are coursing through a competitors body that just might take their enthusiasm to a level that makes others uncomfortable. Mine to the point of uncomfortable for lack of breath and mumbling. Richard Sherman to the point of uncomfortable that his intensity in that interview was so much more raw than any level of competitiveness you've ever dreamed operating at.

When you say "Richard Sherman's interview makes me cheer for the Broncos in the Super Bowl" I see you saying "I don't like my team being that competitive."

When you say "Richard Sherman just said he is the best, what a douche bag." I see you saying "I've never thought about believing in myself that much."

When you say "Richard Sherman shouldn't claim being a Stanford Communications grad, that's embarrassing." I see you saying, "Has he ever even raised a seed round?"

When you say "Richard Sherman is a thug." I see you saying "I thought I was watching Tennis."

Ignorance and Wonderment

Remember when it was possible to not know something? A time not so long ago when over dinner, someone would ask a question or try and recall a fact and the entire table would discuss what their memory of the topic was and perhaps even a debate about who knew what would ensue.  A time not so long ago that when everyone had shared their thoughts, the conversation would progress without a definitive conclusion and later, on the way home, "I was actually right" statements would be made and the conversation might progress again and new opinions might surface. But, now with Google in our pocket, these conversations are much shorter. The debates don't carry on, an answer can be presented and factually laid out by the fastest search engine connoisseur.  Facts can be known in the blink of an eye, no one has to remember anything, and unstructured conversations last only moments longer than they statement, "someone google it."

What kind of toll is that having on our ability to think outside of the box and beyond what is "known?" On the older end of the millennial generation, I still remember life before I got my first cell phone (2002) and Facebook (2004).  I remember a time not too long ago when I used to be able to have a clever thought and not worry about whether it took more than 140 characters to say. In fact, this blog post it self only is now 243 words long because I couldn't figure out how to say this thought in one tweet.

But what about kids that are in elementary school now that learned to type their names before they learned to write them? What about a generation whose attention span is now too short for Facebook but prefers images that disappear after 10 seconds?

In a world that moves this quickly and where not knowing isn't a viable answer to a question, where does wonderment and naivety fit? Are we always to know everything and react accordingly? If we have an idea and think there is room to develop it into something bigger, are we brave enough to do so without checking to see if someone else already had the idea or bought the domain?

Pendulums swing even as the world moves forward. The question I am now asking myself is where does it swing back to from here.

 

Vulnerability Makes You Look Smart

I recently met with a young entrepreneur who has had some recent successes. We talked through some of the wins and how they came about with his new company and the momentum he felt like he had. Intrigued by where he was hoping to take things, I asked what I could be doing to be helpful going forward. He responded, "There's nothing that comes to mind, I think we're good." Having seen my share of start-ups over the past few years, not needing help from someone  can only mean one of two things:

1) You don't like the person and are doing your best to keep them as far away from you and your company as possible. You think they have the potential to be a hanger-on and have no value to provide.

OR

2) You're in denial about how hard the road ahead is going to be and haven't even begun to think about what it means to build a company from scratch.  Not knowing how someone can help is tipping you hand that you haven't even scratched the surface of how hard the road ahead is going to be.

Some of the best entrepreneurs and professionals I know are the most skillful at involving anyone and everyone in their initiatives. Not in a "cry for help" kind of way, but by understanding who their audiences is and what value they can create together. When we play the tough guy and show no vulnerability, we are missing out on the chance for others to work their magic on our behalf. Not out of pity, but out of caring and the desire to see us succeed in our endeavors.

The next time someone asks how they can be helpful, think about who they are, what they've done in their career, and if nothing else, look to them for advice about a situation you know they've encountered that you may run into further down the road. The last thing we need is more tough guys that don't need anyone else. Being an entrepreneur is tough enough as it is, why handicap yourself further by doing it alone?

Invest 90 Minutes

I aspire to have Jerry Colonna to be my professional coach.  We swapped notes last year and he told me he is at full capacity and isn't accepting any new clients. I've gotten to know a couple of entrepreneurs to have made it on his client list before he closed it and they've told me that I am in fact missing out. So, when Jason Calacanis had Jerry on This Week In Start-Up, I was intrigued. After I pressed play, I took three full pages of notes and became even more determined to earn a spot on Jerry's client roster int he future.

I considered posting my notes here, but then reconsidered as each of the pieces of wisdom that Jason and Jerry share is incredibly and refreshingly personal.

I know that 90% of you reading this will not invest the 90 minutes to watch this in its entirety, but for those of you that do, I know that you will see the adventure ahead differently.  When you're finished up, shoot me a not or leave a comment below, would love to hear which piece of the discussion jumped out to you most.

UPDATE: Jerry mentions a talk he gives called The Crucible of Leadership. I found a great summary he wrote about that talk over on Fred Wilson's blog HERE. Another great piece of thought provoking questions and deep thoughts worth pausing to explore.

Rainy Day, Keeps The Fake Friends Away

A friend of mine recently had his birthday party in a Meatpacking Gallery space. He invited just about everyone he knew in NYC to be there. He knows a lot of people in NYC. The day of the event, torrential down pour and the kind of rain that no one, regardless of size of umbrella or having Uber on call, escapes.

As a result, the attendance of his birthday party was about half of the RSVP list.

And it was, by his telling, the best weeding out process of real friends vs. tag along when it is convenient friends. He said it was one of the best birthday parties ever because it was just real friends that didn't care about showing up looking like a drown cat for the first five minutes, friends that wanted to be there for him despite the conditions.

Will Smith said, "If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present for my success."

Woody Allen is famous for saying, "Half the secret of success is just showing up."

Whenever there is a change in life circumstances, for the better or for the worse, you learn a lot about your friends. Which ones show up on a rainy day, and which ones wait for the sun to come out.

Here's to being able to spot the difference and be a better friend regardless of weather.

Terrorism of the Mind

This week, wow. So many things in such a short amount of time. And the effects of them all are going to be much further reaching than the attention span of the 24 hour news cycle. Families in Boston and in West, Texas and those surrounding areas are going to be dealing with the impact that these tragedies made for a long time to come. And, while it is in a much less direct way, I am concerned about the long lasting impact that events like this have on me. Whenever there is an intentional act of evil committed, there is an obsession and in depth look the perpetrators. When the terror is committed in the name of an ideology or religion or as an act of war from one country against another, my mind can wrap my head around it. Not completely, but a little bit more than when it is an act of individual cowardice and pure evil, one human being deciding that he is going to take out as many other human beings as possible. For whatever reasons eventually come forward, they are never understandable.

On September 11, 2001, my 2pm Economics class wasn't canceled when just about every other class was. My professor, a grizzled old Vietnam vet, explained to us that for ever minute of that day and every day going forward that we lived our lives differently because of the acts of terror committed against human kind, for each moment we spent in fear, the terrorist won. They hate our way of life and each moment of our way of life that we lived differently because of them, they claimed victory.

I thought about that statement yesterday afternoon when getting on an incredibly full New York City subway. And I hate that I thought about it then. I hate that, because of these two brothers in Boston, I looked at everyone on the subway with a little bit of suspicion. I hate that their act of cowardice and evil caused me to look at my fellow New Yorkers and their backpacks and wonder. I hate that the shrapnel of the bombs detonated in Boston landed in my consciousness and now requires some healing on my part.

These are insane times we live in. Both here in America and around the world. But, as my professor said, every moment we spend in fear is a moment that they win. Here's to beating back that kind of mental terrorism and reclaiming the benefit of the doubt.

Always remember, "the brightest lights cast the darkest shadows..."