Earlier this evening we celebrated my dad’s 82nd birthday using the appropriate COVID-19 social distancing approach.
St. Patrick’s day has always been a special day for my family because of my dad’s birthday. Ever since I was a little kid I can remember the outrageous green outfits with the green buttons and the green bangles and a bunch of other green things my dad would drag around each year on March 17th.
My mom always makes a super delicious chocolate cake. We usually sneak in chocolate ice cream sometime during the day. If I’m lucky, we pull off a DQ Choco Brownie Extreme Blizzard when my mom isn’t looking.
While we weren’t together in person this year, we had 30 minutes of laughter on video at the end of another intense day.
My parents are healthy, happy, and settled into their own social distancing routine at home in Texas. I have a small family, but deeply love my parents, my brother and his wife, their daughter, and my wife Amy. In times like this, I realize how lucky I am.
Dad, thanks for being you, even on days when The Hulk would be jealous of your outfit. And Mom, thanks for always being there with the cake and the candles.
Techstars was born 13 years ago. There’s a delicious article in the Denver Post that was the launch article of the first accelerator in Boulder titled How TechStars was born from 5/18/07. The photo is fun.
Some of my favorite lines from the article include:
Jared Polis, Brad Feld, David Cohen and David Brown are the “professors” – the founders of an organization called TechStars, created to mentor 10 startup companies for the summer. The inaugural session kicks off Monday.
“I had never met David (Cohen),” Feld said. “We had a random meeting and in 15 minutes, I was totally in love with the idea.”
“I was thinking about the gaps in my own experience. I made a lot of mistakes,” said Cohen. “I wish I had had more mentorship, and more access, not only for capital, but the critical thinking. How to think about (starting a company) and approach it from a strategic standpoint.”
“Certainly people who are investing look into us and what we’ve done. There’s really a strong bench of support and proven success there,” Polis said. “I wish when I was first starting out I had access to this kind of brain trust.”
“I love helping start companies,” Feld said. “The four of us funded TechStars this year. If it’s successful, we’ll do it again.”
TechStars hopes the summer will shine light on Colorado as a top destination for technology startups.
Happy birthday Techstars. It’s pretty awesome to see what you’ve become after 13 years. And, thanks to everyone who has been involved throughout the entire experience, as Techstars simply wouldn’t be relevant without all of you.
I woke up this morning to another Storyworth history from him, this time titled Birth Of An Entrepreneur: Brad Feld. I read it and loved it, especially since it reflected so significantly on how integral he was to the entrepreneurial path I ended up on.
As a tribute to my dad turning 81, I thought I’d share another experience from my childhood in Dallas when he was 46 and I was 13.
I know I have been incredibly fortunate to have the parents that I have. I appreciate and love them both more than words can express. Hopefully this story gives a little flavor of the basis for the depth of that appreciation.
Birth Of An Entrepreneur: Brad Feld
by Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
Brad Feld’s Bar Mitzvah in 1978.
Many boys receive presents of cash when they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Gold coins were hot in 1978.
Many Of Brad’s Bar Mitzvah friends exchanged their new found fortune for two gold Krugerands. Gold was being predicted to increase to $1400 an ounce in the coming year.
Not Brad. His cash gifts totaled $1300. He wanted an Apple II Computer. The Apple computer company released the Apple II computer in 1977. I was delighted that he wanted to invest his Bar Mitzvah money in himself and not gold.
At age 13, he was certain that he could learn to program the Apple II computer. I asked him how much an Apple II would cost. He said about $1300.
The following Saturday, after his soccer game, we went to the computer store on Coit Rd and Beltline Rd in Dallas to buy his Apple II computer. Brad convinced me during the preceding week that “we” needed an Apple II.
He spent his $1300. We spent $3100. After spending $3100 for the Apple II computer and all the necessary peripherals, “we” walked out of the store with all the pieces “we” needed to “create the future”.
As we were walking to the car I had an “aha” moment. Brad’s willingness to spend all his Bar Mitzvah money on his future convinced me to spend an additional $1800. I was sure he had all the characteristics of an entrepreneur. He told me the future was in personal computing. He was correct. “We have to spend the money on the future”. This was a pretty profound statement for a 13 year old boy in 1978.
He was right. Not only did he learn how to program the Apple II himself, he started a business. He taught boys and girls in the neighborhood how to program in Basic for a fee.
In 1982 he was tiring of the Apple II. I needed a program to print out laboratory reports generated in my office chemistry laboratory. Brad volunteered to write the program, design the pretty printout and sold the Apple II computer and all the peripherals for $1600. The laboratory program he created was a bargain to me.
Brad monetized his asset for a profit. He added value to my practice while he leveraged his acquired talent.
The moral to this story is many of our children are very perceptive. We should listen to them.
We have to create the environment for them to want to learn and be excited about learning. We have to make them responsible for their actions. They have to then put “skin” in the game.
Our country’s greatness was built on this entrepreneural spirit. It is parents’ responsibility to help promote the tradition of entrepreneurship.
I am convinced that by creating an environment in which my sons can be creative and innovative, I have learned more from them, than I have taught them.
Both Brad and Daniel understood my goal for them. I am very proud of both of them.
My dad turns 81 today. He’s one of my best friends. He loves the color green. And, a few of my other friends have a birthday today (happy birthday Dave.)
Lots of people don’t realize that I grew up in Texas (did you know that 33.3% of the Foundry Group partners are from Texas?) My parents have been living in Dallas since 1969.
I’ve been doing a
Why We Moved To Dallas
by Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE
Cecelia and I lived in Great Neck, N.Y. during my internship and first year of internal medicine residency. We loved Great Neck. It was an upscale suburban town just outside Queens. Its public parks, library and entertainment facilities were excellent.
I had decided that I was going to be a practicing clinical endocrinologist before the completion of my first year of internal medicine residency. The chief of medicine at Long Island Jewish Hospital decided to have me become LIJH’s first chief of endocrinology.
Then the trajectory of our life changed. President Johnson expanded the Viet Nam War. I was drafted into the U.S. Airforce. My Berry Plan deferment meant nothing when America was at war. I was assigned to Blytheville, Arkansas.
Cecelia and I had to go to the library to get a map and find Blytheville, Arkansas. I did not try to pull any strings to avoid going to Blytheville. I was afraid I would be reassigned to Viet Nam. The Viet Nam war was a war I did not understand, nor did I want to be involved in.
Blytheville, Arkansas turned out to be a glorious experience for two kids that had never lived outside of New York City and its environs.
The chief of medicine at LIJH helped me get a clinical endocrinology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston when I completed my two years of Air Force Duty.
At the time a fellowship at MGH was the most highly rated clinical endocrinology fellowship in the country.
The two years at the MGH were great. I not only learned a lot of endocrinology, I became comfortable around famous endocrine physicians.
In October 1967 Boston had a tremendous snowstorm. Large snowstorms were called nor’easters. The drive home during the storm took 8 hours. The trip usually took 20 minutes. Cars were left stranded on Storrow Drive. I had my 1963 Dodge Dart 170. It had a great air conditioner, but the heater was broken. It was fifteen degrees outside with no heater. I had a thin winter coat on and was freezing the entire time.
I could not get on any of the bridges crossing the Charles River to get to the other side of the river. Finally, I made it across the Watertown Bridge.
A driver in front of me skidded and made a 360 degree turn. He just missed me. Thankfully it did not end in an accident. When I got home and got out of the car I kissed the ground.
When I got into the house, I asked Cecelia if she would go to the library after the storm and figure out where we should go to settle. I did not want to have anything to do with cold, snowy weather.
She picked a few cities that had the right demographics for a clinical endocrinologist in 1969. Dallas was one of the cities.
In the summer of 1968, I was selected to give a paper on acromegaly in Mexico City. My preceptor, Bernie Kleiman, knew Cecelia and I were considering Dallas, Texas as a place to settle. He said he would to happy to introduce me to some of his friends at Southwestern Medical School.
Bernie set up a lovely dinner in a restaurant in a park in Mexico City. Dan Foster, Norman Kaplan, Jean Wilson and Marvin Siperstein were there. We had a great time. We liked each other.
I decided to stop in Dallas on the way home to Boston. It looked like a great town. It was easy to get around. The hospitals were modern. The medical school had excellent teachers led by Donald Seldin.
Norman Kaplan set me up with some hospital job interviews. They were all very encouraging, but nothing came of them.
I called Cecelia the first night I was in Dallas and told her Dallas was the place. The only thing missing were hills and trees. After fifty years there are plenty of trees. There aren’t any hills yet.
We made the decision to come to Dallas on very little information except Norman Kaplan saying the town needed a clinical endocrinologist.
We have never doubted our decision or looked back. Cecelia and I have had a fabulous life in Dallas, Texas.
I turned 51 today. I’ve been telling people I’m 33 (since that’s my age in hex) and when I feel like having people say “whoa – you look a lot younger than that” I say I’m 63 (since that’s my age in octal). I like to look forward on my birthday instead of backwards, so when I woke up this morning I had a handful of things in my head for the next version of myself. So, here’s what I’m going to try to incorporate into v51.
No Booze: I’ve never been a big drinker (my parents don’t drink so other than awful Manischewitz wine on the jewish holidays I rarely saw booze as a kid. I don’t really like wine or beer that much so my go to drink is scotch. I have a moderator problem with all things in life – I’m either off (abstainer) or on (all in) so it’s a lot easier for me to abstain. I go through long no-drinking phases and I feel like v51 should be one of them.
Mission Sub-200: I weighed in this morning at 218. My weight fluctuates between 205 and 220 depending on how much I pay attention to it. My adult low weight is 192 and I feel really good around 200 so in v51 I’m going to figure out a combination of food and exercise that gets me permanently below 200. Fortunately, I have an awesome coach (Gary Ditsch) who can help me with that and I expect the no booze feature will help.
Religious Digital Sabbath: When I take Friday night through Saturday night off the grid (Digital Sabbath) I always feel a lot better on all dimensions. I’ve been inconsistent about this in v50. For v51 I’m going to be religious about it.
Focus On My 2%: I’ve written about this many times in different ways. On a daily basis, I pay almost no attention to the macro. When I was a kid, my dad once said to me “focus on the 2% you can impact and spend all your time there.” That’s generally how I live my life, although like many others I got swept up into the most recent election madness and found myself spending a non-trivial amount of time paying attention to the macro, even when I knew I couldn’t impact it. I’m recommitting my energy to my 2%, recognizing that my whole world is a network and my activity is almost entirely bottom up engagement rather than top down. v51 is recommitted to that.
Reset Social Media: While I’ve always been a broadcaster on social media (primarily Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), my consumption and engagement patterns ebb and flow. For v51, I’m going to select ebb. So, while I’ll still be broadcasting, I won’t be engaging or reading the streams. Email remains the best way to get me, although I will continue 1:1 interaction via whatever channels find their way to me (SMS, txt, FBM, LI, DM).
More Maker Mode Expansion: v51 will include more travel and more maker mode. I’m writing daily again and working on several books (the 2nd Edition of Startup Opportunities and the 1st Edition of Give First.) I get so much emotional and intellectual joy out of the process that I’m just going to let it be a bigger part of v51.
Travel Mode Expansion: I’ve been traveling more and feel like I’ve figured out a comfortable way to do it. The biggest shift is that I spend my traveling time “in the moment”, I don’t over schedule when I’m somewhere and instead focus on longer time with less people. I also give myself plenty of me time on the road. I’ll take longer breaks from any travel or settle in one place for longer stretches with Amy. v51 will try this again, but will be careful not to over do it.
Those are the big features I am modifying or expansion packs I’m adding. As today is day 0 of version 51, I expect I’ll iterate on plenty of these – and others – on my way to v51.365.
For those of you who have wished me happy birthday on Facebook and Twitter, thank you (per my reset social media, don’t expect a reply on my wall …) For my one friend who called me on the phone to wish me happy birthday, I treasure what is now a 34 year (in decimal) friendship. And, for everyone else, v51 looks forward to engaging with you.
I’m glad I get to live in the United States of America.
I started reading the Declaration of Independence every year on America’s birthday a while ago and just read it again. The famous line that always gives me chills when I read it is:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I believe that all men and women are created equal, but it took our country until 1920 to acknowledge this for women. And then it took until 1964, the year before I was born, to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. And same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015. It took a while, but we have, and continue to make, progress as a country, and a species.
As we enter what most expect will be a very contentious, hostile, and nasty election cycle, I encourage everyone to remember that ultimately we are all on the same team. I think one of the brilliant parts of our democracy is how resilient it is. We are each allowed to have our own beliefs and, as long as we follow the rule of law, we can express them however we’d like. This is a unique characteristic of the best democracies and one I value tremendously.
I expect that over the next 40 years it’s going to get more, rather than less, complicated. We are currently in the middle of a confusing debate around gender identification which was presented in an easy to consume way in the New York Times Magazine article over the weekend titled The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes. We are beginning to talk about the idea of enhanced humans, and whether they should have the same rights as the un-enhanced. And, our fears of the coming AI Apocalypse are making headlines on a periodic basis.
I’d like to believe that in America, we’ll continue to be at the forefront of human society as we work through these issues. We have been since 1776 and I hope that continues at least until 2076. Happy birthday America.
My dad – Stan Feld – turned 78 years old today. He’s one of my closest friends and a life-long buddy. He always rocks a wild green outfit on his birthday.
In honor of him turning 78, following are 7 things I’ve learned from him:
- Be kind to everyone.
- Treasure you wife.
- Never lose your anger in public.
- If you aren’t standing on the edge you are taking up too much space.
- Naps are awesome.
- Chocolate ice cream is the best food in the universe.
- Learn something new every day.
and 8 things I love about him.
- Same as #7 above – he’s always learning.
- He knows how to laugh.
- He not afraid to try new things, like blogging.
- He always says what he thinks, and then see #1.
- He loves his sports car.
- Whenever we are together, we are really together.
- With his brother Charlie, he set an amazing example of brotherhood for me and my brother Daniel.
- With his wife and my mom Cecelia, he set an amazing example of marriage for me and Amy.
Dad – I love you.
Amy and I are back in Boulder after spending a week off the grid in Aspen. We sent my mom a birthday present from the Prada store and she responded with an OMG so I figured it was ok for a 49 year old to use it publicly if his mom used it privately.
On our way to Aspen last Friday, I spent most of the time in the car asleep. I could tell I was super grumpy based on the tone of some of my recent blog posts, what was rolling around in my head, and Amy’s mildly concerned questions about how I was doing.
After a week doing nothing but reading, sleeping, eating, running, hanging out, being in the mountains, shopping, and adult activities I feel a lot better. I was just very, very tired. Fitbit tells me that I got an average of 10 hours and 27 minutes of sleep each night last week, which confirms things on the fatigue-o-meter.
I paid very little attention to the world last week. Other than watching the first hour of the Republican Debate, mostly just for the amusement factor, and the finals of the US Open, the TV was off all week, along with the computer and the phone. Yesterday I took a look at the Techmeme River and saw all the tech news I missed. I took a deep breath and archived all my email. And then I was back and refreshed.
The most enjoyable book of the week was The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh. While it’s perfect for a teenager interested in sci-fi (the heroes are all kids), the concepts played around with are fun for any age. After bailing on The Girl in the Spider’s Web after 10%, I gave it another shot on the behest of Howard Morgan and enjoyed it a lot. Ironically, these were both on my Kindle, as all the “good for me hardcover books” sat on the shelf, other than Kafka which was excellent.
My favorite day was shopping day. I hate shopping and the idea of spending time in a retail store makes me need to go to the bathroom. So, I made sure I was empty and then ventured out into the mean streets of Aspen with Amy. She loves to shop so my birthday present to her this year was a day of shopping together, with me paying full attention, offering opinions, and supporting whatever purchases she decided to make.
I knew I’d scored when her first guess of what her “experience present” was the day prior was “shopping.” We had a blast together, just wandering around and being together while she lit up on a zillion different things, buying only the ones she really loved. Yes, she has a few more purses now.
When we went to Paris for our Q2 vacation, we were both exhausted. Once again, we found ourselves in a state of deep fatigue, reenergized by a week in a beautiful place away from humans (other than the friends who came to visit). And, as I return to Boulder, I’m more determined than ever to stop wasting my time on stuff I don’t care about or want to spend time on, which I know is just wearing me out in the midst of an otherwise extremely busy life.
I turned 48 on December 1st. I took a week off the grid (from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until the Wednesday after my birthday) – part of my quarterly off the grid routine with Amy. We had a very mellow birthday this year, spent it with a few friends who came to visit us in San Diego at the tennis place we love to hide at, and basically just slept late, played tennis, read a lot, got massages, ate nice food, and had adult activities.
I returned to an onslaught of email (no surprise) which included a long list of happy birthday wishes. I had 129 happy birthday wall posts and about 50 LinkedIn happy birthday messages.
As I read through them, I was intrigued and confused.
- The Facebook wall posts were nice – almost all said either “happy birthday” or “happy birthday + some nice words.” I received one gift via Facebook (a charitable donation – thanks Tisch, you’ve got class!) Ok – that felt pretty good.
- The emails were mixed. Many of them were like the Facebook wall posts. A few of them were online cards. But about 10% of them asked me for something, using the happy birthday message as an excuse to “reconnect.”
- About 50% of the LinkedIn messages were requests for something. The subject line was “Happy Birthday” but the message then asked for something.
I decided not to respond to any of them. There were a few emails with specific stuff that I wanted to say, but the vast majority I just read and archived.
I found myself noticeably bummed out after going through the LinkedIn ones. I woke up thinking about it again today, especially against the backdrop of reading Dave Eggers awesome book The Circle (more on that coming soon.)
I’m an enormous believer in the idea of “give before you get.” It’s at the core of my Boulder Thesis in my book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City and how I try to live my personal and business live. Fortunately, many of the people I am close to also believe in this and incorporate it into the way they live.
When processing my birthday wishes, especially the LinkedIn ones, there was very little “give before you get.” That’s fine – I don’t expect that from anyone – it’s not part of my view of an interaction model that I have to impose it on others. But I was really surprised by the number of people that used my birthday as a way to “get something” without “giving something” other than a few words in a social media message.
This confused me. The more I thought about it, the more I was confused, especially by the difference between email, Facebook, and LinkedIn. When I tried to organize my thinking, the only thing I could come up with was that email was “variable”, Facebook was “generic”, and LinkedIn was “selfish.” I didn’t love these characterizations, but this prompted me to write this post in an effort to understand it better.
I’m going to ponder the “culture of different communication channels” more, but I’m especially curious if anyone out there has a clear point of view on the different cultures between email, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Feel free to toss Twitter in the mix if you want.
It’s amazing to me that Techstars is now 7 years old. We are involved in over 300 active companies who have now raised over $400 million. 27 of them have been acquired. They’ve created over 2,000 jobs. And we are just getting started.
There’s some awesome classic footage from the last 7 years in the 3:37 video below. Enjoy. And thanks to EVERYONE who has been part of the Techstars community – we wouldn’t exist without you.