How to Look Smarter than Your Lawyer and VC

Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s book Venture Financings: How to Look Smarter than Your Lawyer and VC is now available for pre-order on I am looking forward to it having taking a venture financing class as part of my MBA this year. The more you know about venture financing, the better you off you will be when your startup is ready. Plus the less hand holding your lawyer has to do, the better for everyone.

Hitting home

Brad Feld wrote a post yesterday that really hit home: Feld Thoughts: A Message to Graduating MBAs. My career has been conventional and unconventional with the goal of always remaining relevant. For a long time this was implementing CRM systems. First Siebel then Motive. I worked my tail off with the result being some impressive implementations at some very notable clients. That even led to be branching out solo twice. The second time around sailing solo, the boat capsized. Unlike other downturns, I did not navigate this one well. I spent a lot of time and energy pursing opportunities that were not a good fit. My dad who was a software entrepreneur consistently said during my childhood that you cannot know good times unless you know bad. Bad found me big time in 2008. On many levels, I thought I had failed as a provider, husband and father.

About a decade earlier, I made the decision to not pursue an MBA. The opportunity cost was too high. Salary and position were comparable to graduating MBAs. Though it had been a goal since the age of 17, it did not make economic sense. I have been fortunate to have an amazing partner and friend in my beautiful wife Andrea. She suggested that may I think about going back to get that MBA. Being settled in making Seattle our home, the Foster School of Business at UW made the most sense. I am glad that I went back. First, it rejuvenated the intellectual passion that had faded over the last few years. Second, it fills any resume gaps that remained. Third, the environment has been incredible for networking locally. But best of all, it provided a space for me to get back to being me.

One of the cool things I have been able to do was to recruit Brad Feld to come speak at UW. You can read about his talk here. This lead me to start the Rock Star Venture Capitalist Speaker Series.

Brad Feld @ UW
Brad speaking at UW.

Brad’s post is not Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement speech, but his point is clear. Go making meaning. Do what you are meant to do. If it was written 20 years ago it would have been titled Carpe Diem. I will be finished in December and working to being my best again. Just a warning: Watch out.

Even monkeys fall from trees

Monkey falling

Great post from Garr Reynolds on courage and determination. Check Presentation Zen: Before success comes the courage to fail

Recently, I have been having similar conversations a lot. Brad Feld, my wife (who does not read my blog) and I were talking about marathon running. All three of us had an experience in long distance runs (Disclosure: I have never run a marathon, but have done a half) where you don’t really know where you are or what is going on. You are just running. It is a metaphor for business and life. Sometimes you need the courage and determination to see your goals through even if you do not know where they are going to take you. You know that there is a finish line, but you have no idea what it looks like or how you will feel when you get there. Sounds trite and rote. You have read it a thousand times. So have I. The funny thing is that I found my mind drifting to this monkey above on my last run and how many times I have “fallen from the tree.” Somehow, it never stops me. I get back up and keep on going.

Thanks Brad!

Brad Feld @ UW!

Huge thank you to Brad Feld for accepting my invitation to come talk to UW. In spite of the snow, which ridiculously shuts the city down, approximately 80 people from MBAs, biotech PhD candidates, computer science graduate students, VCs, entrepreneurs and the local startups Impinj, BigDoor made their way to Paccar Hall at University of Washington last night.

Brad kept the audience interested with a wide range of topics from marathon running as an analogy for business and why we will all have embedded electronics in 20 years. Questions ranged from TechStars to startup visa and intellectual property and how to get more connected to entrepreneurial communities. Brad blogged about it here.

His book Do More Faster is a must read. If for anything, you learn why Brad wants to grow up to be just like the Jedi Master Yoda.

Do More Faster, Second Edition