May 11 2020

Supporting the $1K Project

A month ago, Alex Iskold emailed me about a new initiative that he started with Minda Brusse and a group of 20 volunteers called the $1K Project.

The mission of the $1K Project is to help families impacted by the pandemic by connecting them directly with sponsors who are willing to gift them $1k a month for three months. This is intended as a bridge until government funding shows up, people can get back to work, or figure out another source of funding.

I committed to fund five families on the spot for three months. I just fulfilled my second set of committments to these families.

Alex told me that part of his motivation is that with all the different ways there are to gift money, families everywhere are hurting and are unable to provide food, basic necessities, rent, and utilities. Unless you know someone, it’s very hard to directly support another family you don’t know.

The magic of the $1k Project is using trusted connections to trace back to people known to the founders and other people connected to the $1k Project. Families get referred to us through friends, families, and through their former employers who are pained by having to let the employees go.

Think of it for a chain letter in CovidWorld.

If you are an employer you can nominate someone you laid off due to Covid. Alternatively, you can nominate a friend, a family member, a business owner, or someone else you know who lost their job to Covid.

In the last 30 days, over $500,000 has been given directly to families in need. Each has a story. Each has a need.

Alex and team – awesome job.

For the readers out there, if you are inspired to make a difference directly in a family’s life and you can afford $1k / month for three months, give the $1k Project a shot and sign up to be a sponsor.

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May 10 2020

Celebrate Governor Polis’s Birthday With Me

On May 14th at 5:30pm, a group of us are going to have a virtual birthday party for Colorado Governor Jared Polis. I’m co-chairing the party with my wife Amy Batchelor, my partner Seth Levine, his wife Greeley Sachs, and our friends Mo and Jennifer Siegel. Congressman Joe Neguse is joining as a special birthday guest as his birthday is the next day.

Jared always does a fundraiser on his birthday. This year, it’s for the Colorado COVID Relief Fund.

I’m on the executive committee for the fund and Amy is on the grants committee. Our gift was one of the first to the fund (I was part of the launch discussion and committed on the first committee call along with Kent Thiry and Denise O’Leary.) So far we have raised $16.5 million and have given grants of $8.4 million to those in Colorado in the most need. Our goal is to raise at least $20 million and deploy all of the money by the end of June. Over 8,000 individual donors have contributed along with organizations listed at the end of this post.

So, please join us for Jared’s birthday (yup – it’ll be by video conference.)

It’s a tough time for everyone, but I’m especially proud to be a Coloradan right now as we work together to help each other.


Some of the organizations that have contributed so far: Anchor Point, AT&T, Baird Foundation, Bank of America, Bender West Foundation, Boettcher Foundation, Bohemian Foundation, BPx Energy, Buell Foundation, Caring for Colorado Foundation, Chambers Fund, Charles Schwab Foundation, Christy Sports, Cigna, Colorado Garden Show INC, Colorado Rockies Baseball Club Foundation, Comcast NBCUniversal, Community First Foundation, Community Foundation Boulder County, Cranaleith Foundation Inc, Daniels Fund, David Altman Foundation, Deloitte, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Denver Broncos, El Pomar, Elana Amsterdam & Rob Katz, Empower Retirement, ENT Credit Union, First Bank, Gates Family Foundation, Gill Foundation, Good Chemistry Nurseries, Google, Greater Salina Community Foundation, Grogan Family Fund, HCA Healthcare, Hearst Foundation, Hemera Foundation, HomeAdvisor, John Elway, Ken and Rebecca Gart, Key Bank Foundation, Liberty Global, Liberty Media, Lockheed Martin, Madroño Foundation, MDC/ Richmond American Homes Foundation, Mile High United Way, Morgridge Family Foundation, Newmont, Norm & Sunny Brownstein and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Pat Broe, Patlaw Fund, Peyton and Ashley Manning, PhRMA, Pinnacol Assurance, PNC, R. Stanton Dodge, Rose Community Foundation, Santander Consumer USA Inc Foundation, Suncor, Target, Telluride Foundation, Terrapin Care Station, The Anschutz Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, The DaVita Village, The Denver Foundation, The Moes, The Seedworks Fund, Thiry-O’Leary Foundation, Tom Marsico, TriState Generation & Transmission Association, Twilio, VF & The VF Foundation, Walmart, Wells Fargo Foundation, Western Union, Wynne Health Group, and Xcel Energy.

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May 8 2020

Zoom Fatigue

Yup. I’ve got it. Zoom Fatigue.

But before I talk about that, thank you to everyone who emailed me about Brooks the Wonder Dog. He has a Canine Meningioma which we will treat with radiation therapy at CSU. He’s coming home from the doctor this morning (they kept him overnight for two nights for observation) and it sounds like he’s doing ok. So, thanks for all the kind emails, thoughts, and suggestions.

It’s been 58 days since March 11th, the day that I officially started sheltering in place. I’ve been doing around 40 hours of Zoom calls (with a few Google Meets and Webexes tossed in for good measure) between Monday and Friday each week.

A few days ago I thought I was just tired. I was super grumpy about a few things on Monday night. I felt better Tuesday morning but yesterday evening after my last call (at 5:30) I got up to go for a run but was just too tired to do it. So I went and watched a few episodes of Breaking Bad with Amy and then went to bed around 8:30.

I feel better this morning, but have little enthusiasm for the wall of Zoom calls that I have today.

On top of that, I’m feeling annoyed by the level of opportunism in the world around the Covid crisis. There seems to be an outbreak of it in Utah, as evidenced by a Utah-based startup says it has exclusive business rights to the use of smartphones and other electronic devices for tracing people who have come into contact with a person with Covid-19 and $67 million of State of Utah contracts for technology around the Covid crisis. As someone who personally has been shipping out a lot of money and time to help, it feels like private companies could be a little more generous about how they contract with State governments right now around the crisis, especially for things (like software) that have a marginal cost of almost zero.

Back to Zoom fatigue. I’m generally a good video conferencer. I rarely multitask, try to stay fully engaged, and have an excellent and comfortable setup. But the daily wall of video conferences has finally gotten to me. The zero latency transition (finish conference, start next conference, finish conference, start next conference, finish conference, start next conference, …) has eliminated any “catch my breath” time. Catching up on email and Slack is a huge batch process early in the day or at the end of the day (or both).

In the last week, I’ve found myself trying to scan email and Slack during video conferences when I’m not engaged. I know I’m not hearing much when I do that, which makes being on the video conference pointless.

I accept the reality that even though I’m 58 days into a wall of videoconferences, I’ve got a long stretch of this in front of me. So, it’s time to build more space into the day so that when I’m on a video conference, I’m on, and I don’t devolve into endless eight+ hour stretches of sitting on a couch wearing myself out.

Digital sabbath starts in about 12 hours. I’m ready.

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May 7 2020

Dog Seizure

There was a disturbance in the Force yesterday.

Our old dog, Brooks (age 13 – on the left) had a seizure mid-afternoon. He spent the night in the hospital where he had another seizure. He’s there now being inspected and detected.

We are lucky to have great vet care and a Rover co-parent for Brooks who loves him as much as we do.

I called it quits at 5 pm shortly after my last scheduled meeting. Amy and I watched a few more episodes of Breaking Bad and went to sleep early. I got a good night sleep, but woke up feeling sad, scared, and disoriented.

Meditation and coffee has helped a little, but there’s definitely a part of me that wants to write off the day and just lay the couch, read a book, and play with Cooper and Brooks.

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May 5 2020

GivingTuesdayNow – Colorado COVID Relief Fund

If you have a job, have been working from home, and haven’t been spending extra money on Starbucks (or local) coffee, lunch or dinner out, or other random things you spend money on during the day while at work, please consider making a donation to the Colorado COVID Relief Fund today. All contributions made today up to $250,000 will be matched by an anonymous donor.

GivingTuesday usually happens the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Amy and I have been involved in Boulder for many years, going back to the first year when the yellow Culture of Giving squeezy balls were part of the campaign.

This year it’s happening today. Globally.

The Covid crisis has created unprecedented stress and devastation on many people. The Governor’s Colorado COVID Relief Fund is raising and allocating funds based on prevention, impact, and recovery needs of community-based organizations in Colorado.

  • Children from families living on low income who are impacted by school or childcare closures
  • Communities of color
  • Healthcare, hospitality, service industry and gig economy workers
  • Immigrant and refugee communities
  • Minimum or low-wage employees displaced by business closures
  • Older adults living on low income
  • People who are immuno-compromised or medically fragile
  • People with limited English proficiency
  • People with disabilities
  • People without health insurance
  • Victims of domestic violence or child abuse
  • People living on low income
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Tribal governments
  • Workers without access to paid sick leave

To date, the fund has allocated $8.4 million to 371 organizations serving all 64 counties in Colorado.

We’ve all been working from home for the past 30 days (so, about 20 work days). Contemplate what your random out of pocket spending on food (coffee, snacks) is during the work day. $3? $5? $10? $20?

Consider contributing a day, a week (* 5), or a month (* 20) of whatever that number is to the Colorado COVID Relief Fund. Whatever number you contribute will be multiplied by 2 in the match.

Coloradans helping Coloradans. Because that’s what we do.

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May 4 2020

Voluntarily Extending Work From Home Until At Least The End of May 2020

At Foundry Group, we’ve decided to voluntarily extend our Work from Home policy until at least the end of May 2020. Until then, our office is closed. We will re-evaluate this on May 25th and decide whether to let our Work from Home policy expire, or extend it further.

We encourage all Colorado-based software and professional services businesses to consider this policy. Given our State’s current “Safer at Home” policy, overall limitations on testing, uncertainty around the current state of the Covid crisis, and the existing stress on many healthcare-related systems, we believe that many businesses can do their part to ease the strain by continuing Work from Home policies.

We are fortunate that we can run our business in a completely remote and distributed fashion, with everyone working from home. While the Safer at Home policy allows offices to have up to 50% of their staff working at any one time, to be truly safe at work requires numerous processes, including regular testing and tracing of employees, extensive office cleaning, and controls around visitors. We are not prepared to do this at the level we believe we need to in order for our team to feel safe and think that, at a minimum, we need more time to prepare.

We also recognize that many businesses cannot operate remotely. While we immediately think of hospitals and frontline health care workers, many essential businesses have not been closed during the “Stay at Home” order. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to these people and recognize that one thing that we can continue to do in May is work from home to keep the burden on the system lower.

Numerous businesses have been extremely impacted by the Covid crisis, including some, such as restaurants and retail, that are going to open more slowly and on a limited basis. Their environments are different than a software or professional services firm, as their employees and customers physically interact continuously throughout the day. Many of them, especially restaurants, are already tuned in to health and safety issues in a way that traditional office environments are not, so putting additional safety measures in place, while burdensome, is more natural for them.

We have been studying many things that larger companies are doing. It’s apparent that the private sector will need to be very involved in creating a safe working environment for their employees. While the government can give us parameters and constraints we are going to have to have to carry them out on a daily basis. And, to do that well, will require real preparation.

A number of tech companies led the movement to work from home, including a group of us in Colorado. You don’t have to be in an office environment to develop software products, practice law, trade stocks, or make investments. If you have the flexibility to work from home, we encourage you to consider being the last to exit the Work from Home dynamic, just as we were the first to enter it.

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May 3 2020

Book: The End of October

I took a digital sabbath yesterday. I ended up doing three things.

  • Read The End of October by Lawrence Wright
  • Took a nap
  • Watched three episodes of Breaking Bad

I feel so much better than I did at the end of the day Friday. After I finish this blog post, I’m going to participate in the Emerge Family Virtual 5k.

The End of October was intense. It’s the story of a modern day pandemic. It’s fiction, but deeply researched. I have no idea how much was modified to suit the actual reality, but given the time frame for publishing most books, my guess is “not that much.”

I was shocked by how close the ramp-up was to what has actually happened during the Covid crisis. The pandemic movies have similar ramp-ups, but other than Contagion have happy Hollywood endings. In contrast, many books do not. There is no happy ending in The End of October.

Wright did an amazing job of showing the collision of politics and science, economics and health, and top-down control vs. distributed collaboration. Some authors spend too much time “telling.” Wright just used his story to show, and show, and show.

We are still early on in the Covid-19 pandemic – probably 25% of the way through Wright’s book. The darkness in the last 75% is a fundamental warning for us in one way this can go. While I’m ultimately optimistic, I’m not at all comfortable with or confident in much of anything right now.

The End of October is a dose of heavy medicine for anyone who thinks “this is no big deal” or “this is all over” or “this is heading on a good path that can’t be derailed.” I’m not suggesting any of these things are true or false, but rather recommending the book as perspective on the bad path that might be in front of us.

It’s a beautiful day in Colorado. The animals are everywhere, enjoying spring. Amy and I are in our pajamas, experiencing a typical Sunday morning. But, we are aware that the overall context we are living in is very different than what we are used to.

My next book is The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

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May 1 2020

Launching Energize Colorado

I’m excited to announce the launch of Energize Colorado, a new Colorado-based non-profit to help energize companies in Colorado survive the Covid crisis and then thrive as we get the crisis under control.

A month ago (which seems like a year ago), I wrote a post explaining that the Covid crisis was actually three interwoven crises: health, financial, and mental health. As I went deeper through my work on various aspects of the Covid crisis on a volunteer basis across a number of initiatives, I began forming a clear view on the importance of the private sector taking a leadership role in helping the private sector.

I was fortunate that several of people who I started working with, including Wendy Lea, Erik Mitisek, and Marc Nager, were highly motivated by the mantra “Coloradans helping Coloradans.” The group rapidly expanded through both my network and theirs and quickly shifted to a mode of actively doing things, as volunteers on the private sector side, to actively support local businesses, entrepreneurs, rural businesses, women & minority-led businesses, non-profits, and contingent workers.

On March 23rd, a founding team of 15 people, led by Wendy Lea, got together to sketch out the idea for a new Colorado non-profit called Energize Colorado. The simple notion was to rally a large group of volunteers across the state who would donate their time and talent to help Colorado businesses under 500 employees stabilize, rebuild, and grow.

Amy and I have seed-funded many non-profits and are happy to include Energize Colorado in the list of things that we were the first funders for. Five weeks later, Energize Colorado is over 200 volunteers and growing daily.

In addition to creating new initiatives, Energize Colorado is focused on amplifying many of the activities happening throughout Colorado to help small businesses. Rather than duplicate efforts, Energize Colorado is adding to the mix, amplifying things that other non-profits are doing, highlighting new initiatives, and helping business people understand and navigate the many new initiatives from our State and Federal government.

The various categories of activities and information are currently organized as:

There will be at least two major new initiatives launched next week, with a steady stream after that. Follow along by subscribing to the newsletter or following the Energize Colorado twitter feed.

If you want to get involved and help in any way, please sign up on the volunteer form.

I’m proud to be a Coloradan helping other Coloradans in this crisis.

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Apr 29 2020

Times Like These

‘Nuff said.

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Apr 28 2020

Run A Virtual 5k With Me On Sunday May 3rd

The Second Wind Fund of Boulder County is hosting a Virtual 5k run on Sunday.

Second Wind Fund of Boulder County has a mission to decrease the incidence of suicide in children and youth by removing the financial and social barriers to treatment.

We are dealing with three crises right now: health, financial, and mental health. The first two are getting most of the attention, but I anticipate an increasing societal focus on the third, which results from the first two.

Amy and I are supporting a number of organizations doing things around mental health. I especially like supporting events like the Virtual Emerge Family 5k since they combine a bunch of things:

  • Financial support for a non-profit addressing mental health issues – in this case raising money to prevent youth suicide
  • Physical exercise in a virtual event that we can participate in – separately and together
  • Something different over the weekend that resembles something I might have done in the non-Covid world, but adapted for the Covid world

I haven’t been running much lately so I’ll use this week to train for my first 5k in a while. Join me!

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