Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Planning in Advance

I have been following the collusion allegations about super angels with amusement. It started with an article in Tech Crunch Occasionally I invest as an angel. 95% of the time I co-invest with other angels or VCs. So I often meet with other angels.

Collusion simply cannot happen when there are too many players. There are thousands of Angels and VCs. I guess if there is a concern, the entrepreneur should shop their opportunity to a few different places. I would not want to invest in any entrepreneur that was not savvy enough to do that.

It is smart for Angels to talk to each other. We often need expertise, contacts or knowledge that they might have. Yes we influence each other. Hopefully we are able to use collective intelligence to be better investors.

I even joined an Angel network in NY (Goldenseeds) in order to tap into the great energy/knowledge etc. I love Goldenseeds. Lots of bright minds wanting to contribute and help. Amazing talent and energy. Nice too. What do we do? Sit around and talk about investee companies. And yes, this includes valuation. It also includes a lot more like how to help them win.


I know it is redundant to say planning in advance since by nature, planning is done is advance. Still, it is what I call one system I use to keep on track.

I find I accomplish more and stay on track more if I spend 15 minutes at the start of the day planning what I need to do. Like many things in life, it seems obvious but it works.

I find I do not eat well when I am on the road so planning in advance really works well. Rather than just pick up a menu when I sit down to dinner, I have already decided what I will have.

I use this to plan my workout. I like to write exactly what I am going to do. Look for barriers. Figure out when I am going to do it. For example, today I am going to run 5 miles before dinner. And if I am feeling good, continue to 10K. I am not going to go for speed - just distance so it will take me 40 minutes or a bit longer.

Like any goal, I try to be very specific.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Post on The Body and Leadership

The following is a guest blog post by Mark Walsh who heads leadership training providers Integration Training: based in Brighton, London and Birmingham UK. Specialising in "embodied" ways of working they help organisations get more done without going insane (stress and time management), coordinate action more effectively (team building and communication training) and help leaders build impact, influence and presence (management training). His background includes work with blue-chip companies, non-profit sector work in war zones, an academic degree in psychology and an aikido black-belt. In his spare time he dances, meditates and enjoys being exploited by two cats and one baby niece. His life ambition is to make it normal to be a human being at work.

Much leadership training reflects the common privileging in the Western World with the cognitive. My claim is that this is a grave mistake and that leadership is an embodied affair.

The Body and Leadership

The body is integral to who we are and how we lead. It is much more than just a way of carrying the head around, and is involved with every aspect of leadership. For a leaders to know and manage themselves, let alone others, they much be familiar with embodied knowing and presence. What do I mean by this? When I refer to the body I don’t just mean the body athletic or aesthetic - while appearance is important and physical health is of course any leader’s foundation, there is much more to it than that. Let’s look at a few aspects of leadership and see how the body is relevant.


Charisma, gravitas, presence - that special something that leader’s have is an embodied phenomena. If you have ever been in a room with Bill Clinton or the Dali Lama this much is clear. It can not be learnt from a book.

Communication, Emotional Intelligence and Trust

What most leaders are paid for is communication. Can they influence and inspire? Can they build trust? Do they have the necessary emotional as well as cognitive intelligence? These matters rely upon the body.

Stress Management

A leader must be calm under pressure, embodied techniques are vital for “centring” and “grounding” as stress is a bodily not purely psychological occurrence.


Each of us has a disposition for certain actions and not others. Perhaps you have a friend who is optimistic and cheery whatever the weather, or another who would curs their luck even if they won the lottery? This long-term mood is normally apparent from a leader’s posture and movement and can be managed through these once body awareness has been established.

Embodied” Management and Leadership Training

There are many more aspects of leadership that are related to the body, in fact I would say that as the body is part of being human, all aspects of leadership are intertwined with embodiment, however the our above will give a flavour. The next question then is what can leaders do to develop skills in this domain? Basic physical health and wellbeing are a good starting place and beyond this I would recommend some kind of body awareness discipline. Martial arts, yoga and dance are particularly useful. There is also non-athletic Embodied Management Training that is highly beneficial for any leader looking to “get themselves together”, manage how they are perceived and what they are capable of, and step-up to the challenges of the modern work-life. The world desperately needs leaders who are in touch with themselves physically and this opens up emotions, ethics and integrity. The future will not, and should not, be written by those who can not walk their talk.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Sue a Telemarketer

I thought it was a joke and partly it is. "How To Sue A Telemarketer: A Manual For Restoring Peace On Earth One Phone Call At A Time" is a book by Stephen Ostrow. I figured I could use some humor in my life.

It turns out to be a cute little book. And it certainly does add some humour to life. I am sort of hoping a telemarketer calls me now.

Interestingly enough it actually contains real information on how to sue in small claims court. Of course I am certain the time payoff is definitely not there and I would suggest you get a real life if you have time to do that.

What you can sue for:

1. Calling a residential telephone number that is on the National Do Not Call Registry;

2. Using a pre-recorded dialing device to initiate a commercial sale;

3. Using a blocked telephone number when initiating a commercial sale;

4. Soliciting a consumer before 8am or after 9pm;

5. Failure to provide a copy of the company’s Do Not Call Manual after demand for a copy;

More interestingly, there is also a good case to sue for junk faxes.

Too much legal for me. Funny book though.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More Time For You

I am wondering if virtual will overtake live in the world of learning/conferences. I know they are more time and carbon efficient.

Sept 28th there is a virtual summit "On-Demand Computing: Soaring with the Cloud". They have an awesome lineup of speakers. Cloud and SAAS are both hot. From their promo materials:

a four-and-half-hour global summit on cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology, specifically tailored to the concerns of high-growth enterprises. We have assembled a comprehensive roster of industry experts and thought leaders (details attached), for a deep dive into SaaS. We’ll address everything from when to turn to an On-Demand solution, to how to evaluate vendors, to case studies of companies that have successfully implemented SaaS solutions.


I read a great book "More Time for You - A Powerful System to Organize Your Work and Get Things Done" by Rosemary Tator and Alesia Latson.

You would think since I wrote my own book on Time Management that I would be critical of other books on the subject but actually the opposite is the case. I love Time Management books. I always figure I can glean a few more ideas. And I think reviewing "what I know I should do" keeps me more on track.

There was a good section on ADD. How our busy world, email, voicemail etc makes us ADD. It talked about brain overload. The section reminded me that there is power in focus. Multitasking does not increase productivity - it decreases it.

There was a section the the "weekly" review. Setting aside a time to review goals and tasks. One thing I can add to my weekly review is "clearing my brain". They suggest an exercise to "clear" yourself so you can get more from the review. Good idea.

There were lots of quotes (and everyone knows I like Motivational Business Quotes)

"The challenge is in the moment - the time is always now" James Baldwin

"Reality is but an allusion - albeit a persistent one" Albert Einstein

"If a person knows not what harbor, any wind is the right wind" Seneca

"The shortest pencil has the longest memory" Old Proverb

There was quite a section on using tools like outlook to keep organized. Nothing revolutionary for me but a good primer for someone new to the topic.

Good book. Read it and all the time management books you can get your hands on.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Off The Wall Leadership

My last post on seeing the future got me in trouble with a lot of the companies I have invested in. The message is "I love you all or I would not be involved with you". And I will profile some of my other investments over the next quarter. I had found the blog was evolving almost into a book report and race report blog so perhaps so profiles will spice it up.

One great company that gets the right answers to "Will everyone want to do it" and "Will we accept as normal?" is Printeron. There is a short video on their Printspot technology on Youtube. The gist of it is you can print from your device (like a Blackberry) on a printer and do it securely (so other people will not get your document). I think the time is ripe for them to blossom.

I view print from device or public print as being at a similar stage as wireless networks. It was only a few years ago that there were few places you could get connected. Now they are pervasive. The same will be true of printing in public.


I read a great short book on leadership - Off The Wall Leadership - all based on quotations leaders have in their offices. Those who connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin know I like quotations.

Quotations are a way to state a view without having to take the blame for that view.

Quotations often simplify what I want to say.

Quotations can make us think.

Quotations are short and fast so very time efficient (and they usually fit the 140 character Twitter limit)

When I say the book is short - it is only 37 pages - even shorter than my Time Leadership book.

The chapters cover all the basics of leadership - Communicate, Change the Status Quo, Goal Setting, Make Decisions, Take Action and Live your Values. It does this by sharing quotes with comments by who has them on their wall.

Some of the quotes I liked:

"Just because it worked once does not mean it will work again".

"Chance favors the prepared"

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more - you are a leader" - John Quincy Adams

It is a book I wish I had written - especially given my love of quotes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Seeing the Future and 3D Search

I love being in on the start of big things. I like to try to see what our lives will be like in the future.

Part of what I have loved about my long association with RIM is they changed the world and created the future. When they first introduced the Blackberry, the concept of email to your device was unheard of. Now it is so common that people do not even think about it.

This love of "the future" is likely what drew me to the technology world. Most innovations that really change the world are technological.

One question I ask myself is "will we just accept it as normal 5 or 10 years from now?". If the answer is "of course", then the technology likely will be a winner. Or ask "will people still use X in 5 years?". If the answer is "of course not", then the future is clearer.

Examples of this - "Will people want to watch color TV?" Of course. "Will people still watch Black and white?" of course not. "Will people want portable phones (cell phones)" of course. "Will people want to use plug in phones" not likely unless there is a cost difference.

The company that is taking all my time right now is Three2N - a company that does 3D as data (so not simulation or fake 3D). 3D unlocks massive value. EG take a photo of a room or house - convert to 3D and figure out how much paint you need to buy.

3D also unlocks the value of search by picture or video much more accurate than 2D. So the question is "Will people want 3D?" Of course. "Will people still want to do 2D?" Not if 3D is the same cost. "EG - Will people want to be able to take a photo of a chair and be able to find it online" - "Of course".

Another company I invested in is MyReceipts. Simple concept - you do not get a paper receipt you need to file, you get it all in your online account. This allows much for flexibility. Ask the questions - it is the future. Good blog post describing this here.

I love being able to say "I was there when..."

Now just because someone might know the future does not mean that they make money on it. Much of it is timing. Much of it is figuring out who will profit. For example, personal computers were going to be big but where are Kaypro, Intertec, North Star etc. The timing and who controls the profit issue would be a good topic for another post.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pomodoro Time Management System

I am using the Pomodoro system a lot right now. The gist of the system is set a timer for 25 minutes and focus heads down on the task at hand. I like the idea because I tell myself "I can do almost anything for 25 minutes".

I also like that it creates high focus. I tend to flit from one task to another and often allow interruptions. Pomodoro helps me think of focus.

What I am enjoying about it is I am learning that many things actually take a lot less time than I think. Usually these are the things I have been avoiding doing. For example, I had lots of paper in my den for the past 2-3 weeks (my excuse - too much travel). Sure enough, one Pompdoro (25 minutes) and it was not only tidy but I had time to spare.

One time management principle is mess adds stress and detracts from good time use. The Skinny on Time Management Book reinforced this in me.

One easy way I deal with mess is to not ever let things get messy. The simplest technique for this is to leave the room (or car or garden etc.) just a bit tidier than when I arrive. It is amazing how that simple method can keep a car clean or a garden weeded (well not completely but much better than not).

I love eating fresh food from the garden but find the preparation time longer. But while using the Pomodoro system, I found that picking vegetables, cleaning, preparing dinner also only took 25 minutes. And kitchen cleanup was well under 25 minutes.

If there is any challenge in the system is it is very tough to be heads down focused for many pomodoros in a row. I am surprised that in a 10 hour period, I am only able to get 16 or 17 pomodoros in. Perhaps I do not work as hard as I like to think I do.

Today I ran Angels on the Bay 10K race today. It is a well run race (no pun intended). And one of the best value races. Lots of draw prizes, BBQ, great gifts etc. So to all the runners out there - support that race next year.

I came in 3rd in my age in 51:20. There were not many runners (about 90 in the 10K) so placing was not a major feat.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Run To Remember

I did a 5K race on Governors Island today called Run To Remember. Quite sad seeing all the race bibs with names of 9/11 victims - especially when it said things like "husband" or "brother".

Took most of the day which is ridiculously inefficient. On the other hand, if I count it as "recreation" of "regen" time, then it is ok. I was up shortly after 5 to get to the city, catch the ferry etc. Did not get home until the evening. Long time for a 20 minute run (well ok - 23:01 but who is counting).

I like 5 K races because they are short enough that I figure I can just about go all out. I approach them like the pomodoro time management system. In that system, you set a timer for 25 minutes figuring that you can do almost anything for 25 minutes. Then take a break. It is more challenging than you think to get 16 heads down "pomodoros" in a day. I bought a cheap timer on Amazon but often just use my Blackberry to time. I blogged on the system before.

Anyways I figure in a 5K, I can always breathe later.

The day was great. Cool to start which I love. Breezy. A bit crowded with 600 runners.

The run started into the wind (come to think of it, it was into the wind for the whole race despite the fact it was a loop). It was tough to set a pace due to crowding. But I tucked in behind a tall guy in a blue shirt who cut through the crowd. He was running too fast for me but he was navigating well, so I stuck to him right through mile 1 which the time clock said was 6:50. I knew that was too fast for me to maintain for 3.1 miles so I eased back a bit.

The runners had spread out a bit so there was no crowd. I did not stop for the water stop figuring why bother for such a short run.

The course was flat. The sun was high but it was cool. Conditions were great.

Mile 2 fell away but I was running at a 7:45 pace - too slow so I picked it up a bit.

The finish was about half a mile straight. You could see the finish so I tried to kick but had little steam left. I even let 2 runners pass me. At 3 miles I kicked a bit.

Finished strong. 7:25/mile average pace. Felt great. I am very thankful I can run.

I finished 3rd in my age picking up a plaque. First time I had done that in a while. It is motivating to me (even though it cost me a day and about $100 by the time you count the entry fee, transportation, lunch etc). But it was worth it.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Short and Fast is the New Trend

The world is becoming faster (I am hoping this is true and it is not just that I am getting older and slower) and people are wanting to do things in less and less time. Part of this is also enhanced due to things like Twitter (140 characters certainly limits things).

I'm wondering if quotations are getting shorter because of the 140 character limitation.

Harvard Business Review is doing an interesting cutup of books and taking books and cutting them into a series of short, what they call 10 minute reads.

I wonder if it will catch on.

I know I enjoyed "The Skinny On" series.

I know my favourite ab workout is Blackjack by Taylor Beech that takes only 10 minutes (and guarantees days of soreness). Less time - more pain. Efficiency at its best.

I read "15 Minutes including Q and A - A plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations" by Joey Asher. Long title but short book. At 105 pages but a small format, it is likely shorter than my Time Management Book even though that is only 80 pages.

Asher is a speaking coach so should know a bit about public speaking. He even makes the point that short is good. He suggests that a good speech is 15 minutes including Q and A (hence the title) The book starts with a chapter on the 7 minute speech.

I liked the chapter on "find your Authentic voice". I have always found presentations do not work well if someone else prepares them for me.

It is packed full of great ideas like "hook them in the first 30 seconds", "leave them with some questions to answer", "deliver your speech with intensity".

Even though it is a short book, I liked that it had "key takeaways" at the end of each chapter.

Short book but it covers just about everything I could think of on doing good presentations.