Writing, Running, and Reading

Snoopy in SummertimeIt’s summertime and Snoopy is happy.

I’m happy also. Summer is my favorite season. I’ve always been at my most creative in the summer and some of the profound life experiences that influenced me happened during the summer.

When I was a pre-teen, summer meant tennis. Endless tennis. Eight+ hours a day in the Texas heat except for the three weeks I went to Camp Champions.  It was awesome. I remember one summer with over 30 days of temperatures over 100 degrees. A break for lunch inside at the North Dallas Racquet Club felt really decadent. It was always a challenge to get back outside at 1pm, but we did it. And kept playing tennis.

I spent the summer between 11th grade and 12th grade living in Knightsbridge, just outside of London, and working for Centronics at their office in South Kensington. I wrote software on an Apple ][ to design the character sets for Centronics printers, ran a lot, learned how to drink beer, got into the drama of the Falklands War, and endured a Tube strike.

In college, summer meant going back home to Dallas. I worked for PetCom for several summers, putting in 80 – 100 hours per week writing software. Then one summer I rented a house at 2430 Denmark in Garland, Texas from my mom where Feld Technologies really got its start. I drove my mom’s Mercedes 240D around that summer – it went from 0 to 60 in about two minutes.

You get the idea. Every summer is a different adventure for me. Several years ago I wrote Startup Communities and Startup Life over the summer. This summer I’m finishing up the 3rd Edition of Venture Deals and writing the first draft of my newest book #GiveFirst. I’m gearing up to be in marathon shape with the goal of running the Portland Marathon in October. And I plan to make a healthy dent in my infinite pile of books.

This summer is going to be about writing, running, and reading. While the rest of the US is playing politics, I’m going to side step that since I expect the amount of negative energy around it will be legendary this cycle. I’m in a great rhythm around our portfolio and investing so I know what that tempo will be like. And, while I’ll travel a little, Amy and I planning on spending the summer in Boulder.

I’ll see you around town, if you are here. And now, I’m off for a two hour run.

Venture Deals 3rd Edition Teaching Materials

We are starting to work on the teaching materials for the 3rd edition of Venture Deals, which is coming out in the fall of 2016.

If you have either taught or taken a class using Venture Deals and are willing to talk to our publisher at Wiley about what kind of teaching materials would make the book even more useful, please send me an email.

As part of this, we are doing a refresh of the Ask the VC website so if you have suggestions for that, just toss them in the comments.

The Next Reboot VC Bootcamp

Signups are open for the second Reboot VC Bootcamp happening January 19-22, 2017. It will – once again – be at my house in Longmont, Colorado.

If you are interested, here are some reactions to the first Reboot VC Bootcamp.

Book: Startup Rising

On my vacation a few weeks ago, I read Chris Schroeder‘s book Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East. It was outstanding.

I had dinner with Chris recently in Boulder. We were introduced by our joint friend Ben Casnocha. Chris made the effort to come visit me in Boulder, which I always appreciate as it’s a way for me to be completely in the moment for an extended period of time when meeting someone new. We met at Wild Standard around 7pm and left when they closed the restaurant.

It was one of my most enjoyable conversations so far in 2016. I immediately felt a kinship with Chris. While we’ve wandered different paths, we’ve overlapped a lot including on this a16z Podcast about How Innovation Ecosystems Grow Around the Globe. I had a copy of Startup Rising on my Kindle from a while ago but had never read it. Our meeting, dinner, and long conversation inspired me to move it to the top of my infinite pile of books.

Chris goes extremely deep on the state of entrepreneurship in the Middle East. His travels through the region are extensive and his story telling, interviews, and examples are as well done as any that I’ve read in a book about entrepreneurship. It’s all prose – he doesn’t take the shortcut of just telling standalone examples or having others write segments about what they are doing. The people he spends time with – along with the businesses – come to life as he paints a rich picture of things that are actually going on and the people behind them.

But the book isn’t just storytelling. Chris creates a framework for how to think about the different participants in the Middle East startup community. He describes various challenges in different countries along with how entrepreneurs work around or through them. And he isn’t afraid to address difficult subjects, like religion and geopolitics, as he explores what was going on at the time.

Chris wrote the book in 2012 and it was published it in 2013. While it stands the test of time and is an excellent introduction to entrepreneurship in the region, I’d love to see a second edition updated for the current reality of 2016. But, for now, I view this as the definitive guide the entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

Taking My Running Up to Another Level

I spent the day yesterday with Seth, Ryan, and Jason at our quarterly offsite. We finished, as is our tradition, with dinner at Frasca, which involved a lot of wine. I rarely drink wine anymore as I never feel good the next day (I’ve switched to mostly drinking scotch.) But Frasca is a special place and the wine choices I end up with when I’m with my partners are spectacular.

I’m running enough now (around five hours a week) to be in a disciplined routine where I follow what my coach Gary gives me each week. When I went to bed last night, I knew I’d have a hangover in the morning and it’d be tough getting out the door. I had a one hour run – a typical Tuesday run for me after a long run on Sunday – that’s a combination of recovery and gearing up for whatever is really coming at me this week.

I was not surprised that when I woke up at a few minutes before 7am I felt like shit. It wasn’t the “I have a cold” feeling, but “Wow – I drank too much last night” feeling. I drank about a liter of water,went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, put my running clothes on, and Facetimed Amy. I had a fantasy that when I got off the line with Amy I’d feel better, but I knew it was a fantasy.

As I got out the door to start my run, I decided to punish myself today. I knew that I wouldn’t have any speed in me, so instead I took a right on the Boulder Creek Path and headed to Eben Fine Park. I knew that I’d be going uphill on a steady grade once I got to the park and by that point I’d feel completely crappy as the hangover started to burn out of my system. I also knew it would be worth it, as by the time I hit the 30 minute mark and turned around, I’d feel good.

And I did. I glided down the hill back toward home, hangover gone, legs moving, and sweat flowing. I let my thoughts go wherever they wanted to, and as some point I thought “Ok – I’m at a new level and ready to start thinking about a marathon again.” The breakthrough was that I got out there and did a real run even though it would have been easy to roll over in bed, moan, and go back to sleep at 6:50.

If you are a runner, I expect you know this feeling. It’s the redemption after a night of excess, followed by the joy of the next day when your system is recalibrated.

The sun is out, it feels like summer, and life is good.