Tag: do more faster
It’s always fascinating to me to actually be interviewed on live radio – in this case on Wall Street Shuffle in Dallas on CNN Radio 1190 AM. I’ve never listened to talk radio but have done a lot of interviews over the years. The folks who are the publicists for Do More Faster have been lining up some radio interviews around entrepreneurship recently and I’m always happy to hop on the radio and talk about the entrepreneurial revolution in the US and entrepreneurial communities.
In this case, the interview was in a Clear Channel studio in a building in Dallas. I was in town for a day hanging out with Tech Wildcatters, a TechStars-like program in Dallas that was co-founded by my cousin Jon Feld (a successful Dallas-based entrepreneur – Hitachi acquired his company Navigator Systems several years ago.) They are in year two of their program and Tuesday was their preview of the finalists for their second class. I gave a talk to the mentors, watched some of the presentations, and did a big entrepreneurial social event that evening sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark where we gave away copied of Do More Faster to everyone that attended after they listened to me talk and answer questions for a while.
In the middle of the day, Paul Ford (the VP of Marketing at Softlayer) chauffeured me to Clear Channel and back. We had a great talk (Paul is a blast – smart, fun, and super creative.) When we arrived at 14001 North Dallas Parkway, I realized that it was the location of the office of my first real job – a company called PetCom Systems. During the summer of my senior year in high school (1983) I was their first non-founder employee (two founders – husband and wife) and proceeded to spend the next two years writing a couple of their products (PC Log – a well-log analysis system for oil exploration and PC Economics – an oil exploration economic simulation system.) I remember 14001 North Dallas Parkway really well – we were on the seventh floor and I felt like a real grownup sitting in my office coding for $10 per hour and a 5% royalty on all sales of the two products I wrote.
The radio interview was fun and I think it was pretty good – Dan Cofall did a solid interview, asked really good questions and kept things moving along nicely. It’s not embeddable, but you can listen to it here.
Last summer, my long time friend Martin Babinec and his colleague Nasir Ali asked me if I’d come spend a few days in Upstate New York talking about TechStars and entrepreneurial communities. I first met Martin around 1990 at one of the very first Birthing of Giants events and we were both early YEO members together. At the time, Martin had recently started a company called Trinet which today is a large and successful PEO. We’ve been friends for 20 years so it was easy for me to say yes to spend two days with Martin in Upstate New York and help him further his mission of expanding the entrepreneurial communities throughout the region.
Martin’s organization, Upstate Venture Connect, is hosting me on February 2nd and 3rd in Ithaca, Rochester, and Syracuse. The full agenda is on the website and the public events include:
2/2/11: 4:30p – 5:30p: Sage Hall Room B9, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
2/2/11: 6:00p – 8:30p: UVANY Capital Forum, Ithaca Country Club, 189 Pleasant Grove Road, Ithaca
2/3/11: 11:30a – 1:30p: Somewhere in Rochester (TBD, hopefully by 2/3/11!)
2/3/11: 3:00p – 4:30p: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester
If you are interested in getting together, go check out the agenda which lists who to contact and how to register for the various events. If you bring a copy of Do More Faster, I’ll happily sign it. And yes, I realize that it is very cold in Upstate New York in February. Hopefully we’ll generate some entrepreneurial heat together.
TechStars is currently accepting applications for the Boston program in the spring of 2011. Do More Faster and go apply now if you’ve been thinking about it.
Today Howard Lindzon takes on Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC in his Do More Faster interview series. Jeff has been an awesome TechStars mentor since the very first Boulder program in 2007, has made a number of investments in TechStars companies, and has co-invested with me and my partners at Foundry Group in several companies, including SendGrid, Gnip, and Next Big Sound.
Jeff has been Doing More Faster since I met him – he’s one of the most prolific investors in consumer Internet companies and his firm SoftTech VC was the original “micro-VC firm.” He also has thought hard about how to Do More Faster by “decoupling value provided from time spent”, something that is key for anyone who is as an active investor as Jeff is.
If you go to Feld Thoughts, TechStars, or David Cohen’s web site, you’ll notice a little red tab on the right side of the browser that says “Marginize”. If you want a chance to win a copy of Do More Faster, click it!
Marginize is one of the TechStars Boston 2010 companies. Since their soft launch at the end of the TechStars program a few months ago, their users of the Marginize browser add-on have used it on over 150,000 sites. They’ve just launched their new publisher widget and are on a number of sites, including Boston.com and Xconomy. Marginize enables an additional social interaction layer on existing web sites, including things like checkins, shares, comments and badges.
For example, see who has earned the Do More Faster badge by visiting one of Feld Thoughts, TechStars, or David Cohen’s web site. Our friends at Marginize will choose three random winners from the full group of Do More Faster badge holders on Wednesday night, so you time to check in is short. All you need to do to earn the badge is take a Marginize action on one of the three sites (write, reply, like, or check in.) Since you use your Twitter, Facebook, or Buzz credentials to sign in, the Marginize folks will message the winners directly to coordinate getting them a book.
Today’s interview on Do More Faster is Greg Gottesman, a managing director at Madrona Venture Group in Seattle. Greg was instrumental in bring TechStars to Seattle and has been a great friend and co-investor over the years. Among other things, Greg teaches at University of Washington and recently built a class around Do More Faster.
Greg’s chapter is on the characteristics that define an innovative startup culture. He’s also part of a firm that just celebrated its 15th anniversary with a fun roast reflecting on their successes, failures, and missed deals.
Next up in the StockTwits.TV Do More Faster Interview series is Ben Huh, the founder/CEO of Pet Holdings, better known as the guys who do ICanHasCheezburger, Fail Blog, and about 50 other crazy and hilarious sites.
I was introduced to Ben several years ago by my friend Micah Baldwin (Graphic.ly CEO, TechStars Mentor, contributor to Do More Faster, and hilarious dude in his own right.) I care deeply about community and have learned a lot about it from both Micah and Ben. Ben was pretty serious sounding in this interview, so if you need a good end of the work week office laugh, one follows. But – listen to the interview with Ben – you’ll learn something.
see more Monday Through Friday
Our friend Howard Lindzon (StockTwits CEO, TechStars Mentor and Investor) did an interview series with a number of the contributors to our book Do More Faster. I’ll post one each day or so over the next week. They are all short (15 minutes or so). Howard starts the series with an interview with me and David Cohen (TechStars CEO and co-author with me of Do More Faster.)
This interview happens via Skype when David and I were at my house in Keystone (where we came up with the idea for the book) during the recent TechStars Managing Director retreat. In NY starting tomorrow is the annual TechStars Alumni Retreat (gang – sorry I’ll miss y’all) followed by TechStars for a Day for folks that have applied to the New York program.
If you are an entrepreneur I hope this stuff inspires and informs you. Or, in the worst case, occasionally amuses you (if you listen carefully around minute 9, you’ll learn about my “fuck me once” rule along with why I think work-life balance is important.) Enjoy.
If you are in Boulder, come to my community hours today between 1 and 5 at the Boulder Bookstore on Pearl Street. David Cohen (TechStars CEO and co-author of Do More Faster) and I will be hanging out all afternoon, talking to whoever shows up about anything that is on your mind, and signing copies of Do More Faster until the Boulder Bookstore runs out of them.
As readers of this blog likely know, I do monthly community hours (also known as random days) where I’ll meet with anyone for 15 minutes about anything they want to discuss. Usually they are scheduled – today’s is an open free-for-all.
Come hang out, buy a book, and talk about entrepreneurship with me and David.
As part of our Do More Faster book tour, we’ve been having a pitch session each day called “Pitch More Faster.” During the hour, we hear four pitches that are five minute each and give direct feedback / suggestions on the pitch itself (not the content or the business, but the pitch.)
In my experience, most people suck at the five minute pitch. It’s really hard to do well. There are lots of variants of suckage, including cramming a 30 minute pitch into 5 minutes, doing a 5 minute pitch for the first time (and having no comfort with the material), or talking at 732 word per minute and being impossible to follow.
We’ve done Pitch More Faster in about ten cities now and it’s been really interesting. I think we’ve been helpful and have found that when everyone is in the room (e.g. all four companies that are presenting) the conversation becomes even more impactful and robust as by the fourth presentation everyone is weighing in with feedback.
I’ve noticed one consistent thing in virtually every presentation. It’s what I call the “read vs. listen” problem. Most of the presentations have slides with lots of words on them. Since the presentation is only five minutes long, the stuff being said is important. Most presenters know not to simply read their slides, so they say things that are not necessarily on the slides. And that’s the essence of the problem.
I learned a long time ago (probably junior high school) that I learn by reading, not by listening. In college, I was a “go to the minimum number of lectures that I can get away with but read everything” guy. As an adult, I’d much rather read and write email that talk on the phone. When someone wants to explain something to me, I’d much rather they just email me. And when I want to really understand something, I need to sit quietly and read it (or about it).
Furthermore, when you talk to me, if you don’t keep my attention, or if I don’t purposely focus on you, I drift quickly. If you’ve ever interacted with me, you may have noticed the look in my eyes when I drift. It’s sort of the equivalent of my eyes rolling up into my head. It’s definitely a me problem, not a you problem – it’s just hard for me to process a lot of verbal information for a continuous time.
Now, map this to the five minute pitch context. I can concentrate on you for five minutes. But if there are words on the screen, I go straight to the words and start reading them. And then I can’t hear anything you are saying. If there are a lot of words, I spend all my time on it trying to read everything and absorb it. And I hear nothing.
It turns out there are a lot of people like me. Many of them don’t realize it. When you are presenting, you probably have a mix of “readers” and “listeners” in the audience. In a five minute pitch, you want me to listen the entire time since your goal is to get me to engage and want to spend more time with you. So the words on the slides are a distraction.
I’ve long been a fan of minimalist slides – a few words and/or a picture to use as a guide for whatever is going on. I never completely understood why – now I know. If I close my eyes the next time you are presenting to me, it’s because I’m trying to concentrate, not because I’m falling asleep.