When Amy and I had life dinner on March 1st, we were both tired after a three-week trip to Boston, Miami, and Atlanta. As we discussed the potential impact of Covid, we talked about the current state of things in the US. The stock market had already had a 15% or so drop but there were less than 10 deaths (all in Seattle) from Covid in the US.
I remember us having an anxious evening that included the statement “I’m really glad February is over and we are back home in Boulder.” Prescient, but not really what we meant.
Life dinner on April 1st was very different. While the Colorado stay at home order went into effect on March 26th, Amy and I had already been in a stay at home mode starting March 11th. The last time I left my house was on March 10th for a board meeting and dinner with Mike Platt for Indian food at Jaipur.
Today is the first day since March 11th that I’ve felt any semblance of space to actually think, rather than react.
While there is a huge amount of intensity everywhere and the Covid crisis rages on, many of the things I’m involved in are now fully operational, the leaders are leading, and everyone I’m working with is focused on solving problems. I have much more situational awareness and perspective than I had even a week ago. While I don’t have answers to many things, I have hypotheses, am involved in trying lots of things, and am focused on being proactive, rather than just reactive.
Notwithstanding the stress and anxiety in the system, I felt a real emotional shift in the last few days among the people I’m involved with. There is less confusion, randomness, speculation, denial, and fear.
For much of my non-work work, I have built several teams of volunteers. I have been amazed at the willingness of people to volunteer, especially in a time of crisis that is impacting and disrupting so many of them.
The leaders have been remarkable and I continue to learn about leadership by working closely with them.
But even more remarkable is the large number of volunteers pitching in. Some are people I know while many are people I’ve met for the first time during the Covid crisis. The level, quality, and commitment of the work being produced is mindboggling. This seems to be true in both validating hypotheses and implementing stuff, as well as invalidating hypotheses and deciding not to continue to pursue a particular path any further.
I’ve written several things that have been rapidly implemented by volunteers in this crisis. Many direct benefits are wired into the local community, so there is a powerful feedback loop around feeling good about helping by actually helping.
I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the next few months, especially around the intersection of community with a complex system, which is the thesis at the core of my new book with Ian Hathaway called The Startup Community Way. I never expected to be living what I just spent three years with Ian coming up with and writing a book about.
To all the volunteers in Colorado that I am getting to work with right now, thank you for everything you are doing during this Covid crisis.
This week’s The Founders is awesome. It reminds us that there are real people and real families behind every startup. I’ve experienced this over and over again in my 17 years in Boulder and it’s reflected in both the Startup Communities book that is out and the Startup Life book that Amy and I are in the final copyedit phase of and will be out by January.
Take a few minute break from your day to enjoy the lives of some great entrepreneurs in a dynamite startup community that are part of an extended family that I’m proud to be associated with.
I’m a huge admirer of Hacker News – it’s one of the sites I look at every day in my Daily reading routine. I scan the links, often click through to articles, and occasionally comment.
I’ve decided to try a similar approach for the Startup Revolution community that I’m calling the Startup Revolution Hub. Rather than reblog a bunch of stuff that I get from the world about Startup Communities, I’m going to open up the ability to put this up on the Hub to anyone who wants to contribute, starting now. I’ve built the Hub on top of SocialEngine, which is rapidly evolving as an amazing tool for building and managing communities.
As we roll out other books in the Startup Revolution series, including Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur, we’ll use the Startup Revolution Hub for these as well.
If you are interested in being part of the Startup Revolution, go to the Startup Revolution Hub right now, sign up, and contribute! And, feature requests about the Hub are welcome.
There are many things I love about Boulder. One of them is the powerful sense of community that exists. Talking about this is fine, but examples are better. Here’s one:
On the first Tuesday of every month is the Boulder New Tech Meetup. It’s one of the largest regular tech meetups in the world and is orchestrated by a bunch of folks, most notably Robert Reich of OneRiot who is the founder and ringleader. Given my travel, I can’t make it regularly but I try to go a couple of times a year. Each time is fascinating – I’ve always learned something, met some interesting folks, and had fun.
Last week Robert and the NewTech gang decided to do something different. They lined up multiple non-profit organizations who presented New Tech style, but with a twist. Once all of the groups were finished on the podium (they each got two minutes instead of the typical five minutes to present) they split up into rooms all over the CU Wolf Law Building (where the New Tech Meetup is held) and started hacking. The tech community helped the non-profits on tech issues ranging from web design to social media help, database support to graphic design, and everything in-between.
Robert sent me a list of the non-profits that presented. They follow and include several that Amy and I support philanthropically:
- Colorado Nonprofit Development Center presented by Kamela Maktabi
- Food Bank of the Rockies presented by Janie Gianotsos
- Cool Girls Science and Art Club presented by Mary Golden
- Boulder International Fringe Festival presented by Alana Eve Burman
- I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County presented by Lisa McAlister
- The WILD Foundation presented by Emily Loose
- Denver Curling Club presented by Alyssa Rossnagel
- Boulder Community Computers presented by Eric Jackson
- Ashoka’s Youth Venture presented by Matt Nathan
- The “I Love U Guys” Foundation presented by John-Michael Keyes
- Blue Sky Bridge Child Advocacy Center presented by Judy Toran Cousin
- Leave No Trace presented by Dana Watts
Here are the stats of what happened:
- 300 people showed up to listen to the non-profits present
- 200 people stuck around for dinner
- 130 people stayed around and directly helped the different non-profits hack
It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you put a bunch of smart techies in a room. Boulder – I love you and miss you. And, if you are in a NewTech Meetup in another city, I challenge you to help out some non-profits!