Mar 5 2021

Techstars Foundation Accelerate Equity

The Techstars Foundation recently announced a new program called Accelerate Equity.

We created the Techstars Foundation in 2015 to help make innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive. Since then, the Techstars Foundation has been investing in and accelerating nonprofits that deliver scalable impact for underestimated entrepreneurs.

Through Accelerate Equity, the Techstars Foundation identifies early-stage nonprofits and ideas to empower and support underestimated entrepreneurs. Each non-profit has a significant nominating donor. We then call on the Techstars network to pitch in, provide mentorship, and add additional financial donations. The Techstars Foundation will add a 5% match to the total raised at the end of the calendar quarter.

Amy and I helped get this program started by nominating and underwriting initial grants to Grid 110, Sistahbiz, and HBCUvc. The Techstars Foundation added Knox St. Studios to the list.

  • Grid 110 – pathways to success for entrepreneurs in LA
  • Knox St. Studios – building community wealth through entrepreneurship in North Carolina  
  • Sistahbiz – membership organization for Black women entrepreneurs 
  • HBCUvc – directing how capital is formed and distributed to increase opportunities for Black and Latinx innovators

If you are interested in supporting any of these organizations, please click on the respective link above or reach out to the Techstars Foundation. Or, for the three I’m involved in, drop me an email also, and I’ll make an appropriate connection.

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Mar 3 2021

The 15 Second Commute

At 7:52, I was upstairs having coffee with Amy. It’s a new routine that we started at the beginning of Covid. Every morning we have coffee together. Long-time readers of this blog or our book Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur will recognize this as the evolution of our daily “Four Minutes in the Morning” ritual.

“Morning coffee” lasts about 30 minutes. We each make a cup of coffee in our magical Nespresso machine. Mine is simple – put a random capsule in and press the button. Amy’s is more elaborate since it involves milk, a microwave, sugar, and the Nespresso machine. We then sit together in the living room and talk about how we slept, our Whoop recovery scores, and what is to come for the day ahead. That’s the four-minute part. We then let the conversation take us wherever it goes. The last few days, we’ve talked about octopuses, the Nature Conservancy, a Zen garden we are designing, tents, the dog next door who barks hello to us, winter turning into spring, summer adventures, estate planning, friends who just had a great exit for their business, and knitting.

When I finish my first cup of coffee, I make an exaggerated “grunt.” This is a new part of the ritual that makes us both laugh. Amy loves to do acts of service, and making my second cup of coffee (decaf) during our morning coffee ritual is a daily one that makes both of us smile.

After I finish my second cup of coffee, we get up, hug for eight seconds, and then I go to the office. Which, in this case, is a 15-second commute downstairs from our living room.

This used to be a 30-minute drive from my house to my office in downtown Boulder. We’ve repurposed this 30-minute drive into our morning coffee. Not surprisingly, I enjoy our 30 minutes together a lot more than I enjoyed my 30-minute drive to the office.

So, at 7:53 this morning, I was in my office, at my desk. While I’ve worked from home part-time for 30 years, I’ve never had a continuous rhythm of this. It’s been almost a year where I’ve done this every day. My last day in an office was March 10th, 2020. My last dinner out for business was at Jaipur in Boulder with Mike Platt that night. It wasn’t really a business dinner since we talked about life and our anxiety about this new thing called Coronavirus.

While many people want to get back to an office, I don’t. I’ve found a much better rhythm. While it took a 120-nanometer virus to reinforce it for me, I embrace it.

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Mar 2 2021

Movie: My Octopus Teacher

After my blog post Book: The Soul of an Octopus I received a flurry of emails telling me I needed to watch the movie My Octopus Teacher on Netflix.

I watched it last night and it was beautiful.

I’m fascinated by which blog posts generate email responses. Sometimes is zero. Sometimes it is a lot. This one was a lot.

Octopuses are crazy interesting. And Craig Foster is pretty awesome.

Thanks everyone for the email with the recommendation.

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Feb 28 2021

Book: The Soul of an Octopus

My favorite animal is a polar bear.

For some reason, I have always related to polar bears. When I’m reincarnated, I hope I come back as a polar bear.

I’ve always like octopuses but never thought much about why. After reading Sy Montgomery’s incredible book The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness, I now know why. It’s simple – we don’t understand how they think.

While a quick throwaway thought is, “Brad, we don’t really know how animals think” or some other assertion around that, there’s such an enormous gap between this question when applied to a dog versus an octopus. This lives in Sy’s subtitle: “A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness.”

I read the book over a week and had several incredibly complicated dreams, especially around processing stimuli. I had magic superpowers in my hands, arms, legs, and feet in one of them. I remember waking up thinking, “that would be so cool.” And then the dream slipped away.

One of my favorite movies of the last decade is Arrival. We’ve watched it a few times, and I think I’ll watch it again.

Time and language play key roles in the film. As humans, we have a very linear view of time and a constrained view of language. Sci-fi plays with time a lot, and Arrival plays with both time and language.

That leads me back to octopuses. Humans often anthropomorphize everything, where we apply our concept of time and language to other species. As I read The Soul of an Octopus, I kept flashing back to Arrival. The book itself is linear through time, but the octopuses in the book don’t feel like they are necessarily operating in a time-linear fashion. The protagonist (the author Sy) hints at this but doesn’t fully embrace it. I wonder what she would have written differently if she approached the experiences she had with octopuses as ones where the octopuses weren’t experiencing things in a time-linear fashion.

Sy embraced the difference in language processing more fully. The octopus brain has around 500 million neurons (similar to a dog) – the most of any invertebrate. However, two-thirds are in their arms. The eight arms appear to process information independently of each other, resulting in octopuses being incredible multi-taskers. Their non-verbal communication has many levels, and they seem to be taking input simultaneously in multiple dimensions.

Combining this with non-linear time is fascinating to me. Other than sci-fi, the only other non-linear time entity I consciously engage with is a computer. It also uses a different approach to language.

And then the rabbit hole gets deep, twisty, and really fun.

Octopuses are now my second favorite animal.

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Feb 25 2021

What Is Your Worldview?

Amy and I have coffee for about 30 minutes every morning. It’s been one of the wonderful positive side effects of the Covid crisis.

Some days we land on a topic. Other days we don’t. Today, after a few minutes, the question “What is your worldview?” popped up, and we bashed that around for a little while.

The last year has had an enormous impact on my personal worldview. My underlying value system and beliefs haven’t changed, but I’ve reconsidered, rethought, adjusted, and modified many external perspectives. But that’s the easy stuff.

Amy said something this morning that caused me to jump out of my skin with delight.

“You have always been the weird kid in the corner with a big book.”

At the moment she said this, we were discussing how we understood others and how others understood or misunderstood us.

My internal perspective is unchanged, but in the last year, it has surfaced much more clearly. About four years ago, Jerry Colonna and I had a conversation described in his book Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up where I said, “I’m no longer striving.”

I didn’t completely understand what I meant by this back then, but it was the beginning of me bending the arc on my internal worldview. Jerry linked it to equanimity, which has deep roots in Buddhist thought in addition to its traditional definition.

In Buddhismequanimity (Pali: upekkhā; Sanskrit: upekṣā) is one of the four sublime attitudes and is considered: Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.

I’ve anchored on the phrase the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience which speaks to me and feels reflective of my current internal worldview.

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Feb 24 2021

Boulder Chamber Memberships for Black-Owned Businesses

Amy and I just underwrote one-year memberships to the Boulder Chamber of Commerce for 62 Black-owned businesses in Boulder.

Last summer, Aaron Clark started putting together a list of Black-owned Businesses in Boulder. The current list is at 62.

A few weeks ago, John Tayer at the Boulder Chamber mentioned an initiative he was working on with Aaron to get discounted memberships to all 62 companies. The Boulder Chamber is a long-standing and important part of the Boulder business community, and John has been a great leader for many years.

In an attempt to eliminate any friction associated with a decision for these 62 businesses to join the Boulder Chamber, Amy and I decided to underwrite their memberships for a year. I hope that all 62 will join, and the overall Boulder business community will engage deeply with and support these business owners.

I appreciate Aaron and John’s leadership enormously. I’ve gotten to know and work with Aaron on several initiatives over the past nine months, including participating in an equity learning initiative led by his firm Equity Solutions, supporting Justice Reskill, and experiencing a lot of equity activity Aaron has lead for Energize Colorado.

John recently did one of his Chamber Chats with Aaron. It’s a great overview of some of the work Aaron is doing, along with a discussion of Black History Month.

If you’d like an intro to Aaron or John, just email me.

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Feb 22 2021

WindowSwap – Travel Around The World From Home

The only time I go outside right now is to go running. I had an awesome run in the dark at 5:30am today in 10 degrees. There were only two cars that passed me and one person near the end of my run walking his dog.

As Amy and I sit in our office in Aspen and grind away, we are blessed with a magical view.

A few moments ago, my EA Annie sent me a link to WindowSwap. It’s a treasure. I felt like hanging out in Ukraine for a bit, so off I went.

Each video is 10 minutes long with sounds, so on a big monitor, it feels pretty close to looking out the window.

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Feb 19 2021

Finding Meaning

A few minutes ago, Amy sent me this to ponder as we head into the weekend after an intense week.

Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but “steal” some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

 – Albert Camus
Notebooks, 1951-1959

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Nietzsche lately. I expect I’ll be adding some Camus to my diet.

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Feb 16 2021

Book: The 80/80 Marriage

I haven’t been posting about my reading lately. While I continue to read at my typical pace, I think I was a little tired of writing book reports, but that has passed.

Last night I read The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship. Kaley and Nate Klemp have written an excellent book that can help any married couple improve their relationship. This is especially true in the time of Covid, given all the additional dynamics about being home together most of the time.

When Amy and I wrote Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur in 2013, our goal was to write something different than YARB (“yet another relationship book”). Whenever I worked on it, I had in my mind, “Do not let this be a YARB.”

The 80/80 Marriage is definitely NOT a YARB. The framework comes from the idea that many marriages are 80/20 with a goal of shifting to 50/50, where the partners are equal in the relationship. Kaley and Nate’s goal is to do better than 50/50, hence 80/80.

Amy and I have had an equal partnership in our marriage from the beginning. However, as any married couple knows, that ebbs and flows and at times doesn’t feel equal. The two of us talk about it often, and when we get out of balance on any dimension, we both own what is going on, discuss what we need to do to get back in balance, and then move forward.

Once you start deconstructing this, many traditional relationship tools fit nicely in the 80/80 Marriage construct. Amy and I are big fans of the Five Love Languages. I like receiving acts of service, she likes receiving praise, and both of our #1 is quality time. We also like giving what we like receiving, and fortunately, we both like receiving acts of service and being together all the time.

But what if instead of each person being at 50% of the relationship, the goal was to exceed expectations? That’s where the 80% comes from. An example would be from this morning. Amy is a huge knitter and has been wrestling with a giant yarn tangle. Rather than throw it away, she spent some time last night unsuccessfully trying to untangle it. Today, while she was on a board call and I was upstairs, I spend 10 minutes and untangled it. When she came upstairs, she was delighted with the minor act of service that she didn’t ask for.

There are hundreds of things like this we do for each other each month. Some are significant. Some are trivial. But they are all unexpected and unrequested. That’s what pushes the 50% up to 80%.

Kaley and Nate cover all aspects of a relationship, including roles, priorities, boundaries, power, and sex. And, they finish with the 5 essential habits of the 80/80 marriage:

  1. Create Space for Connection
  2. The Call-and-Response of Radical Generosity
  3. Reveal Issues, Misunderstandings, and Resentments as They Arise
  4. The Shared-Success Check-in
  5. Create Space from Digital Distractions

This felt great to me, as Amy and I have regular approaches for each of these. Our Qx vacation approach is highlighted in the book as an example of #1. My yarn story above is an example of #2. Our Life Dinner is how we practice #3, although we do it in real-time also. Morning coffee and Life Dinner is #4, along with shared meals (typically lunch in the time of Covid.) And our Qx vacations and Digital Sabbaths are #5. Of course, what we do is more than just labeling the activity, but if you read our book or follow along on this blog, you can probably related to some of the examples I’ve given in the past.

Kaley and Nate Klemp have made a significant contribution with The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship and written something that is not-YARG.

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Feb 12 2021

Venture Deals Online Course – Spring 2021 Edition

We are running the Venture Deals Online Course from March 7, 2021 – April 30, 2021.

We’ve moved the Venture Deals Community from Slack to Mighty Networks where we have much more functionality and flexibility.

Once again, we’ll do a weekly AMA with a variety of people participating.

For now, registration is open. Please sign up if you want to take the Spring 2021 Venture Deals Online Course.

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