Archive for April, 2013

Right Hand Intern/Apprenticeship

Posted on April 18, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

If you are a reader of this blog, you likely know by now that Doug, Eric, and I have been cooking on a new startup for the past few months.  We’ve arrived at a stage where I am ready to bring on someone to help me be a more effective CEO.  I had this “right hand” relationship with a very talented MBA student while running Hyperpublic and I’ve learned that I like working alongside a right hand guy/gal.  The only reason to take this gig is to get a crash course in startup operations, strategy and company building.  We have been bootsrapping. There’s no cash to be had, so you have to really want to learn and be a part of the earliest stages of building a technology company.  For the right person, this is your window into the “how to build a successful company playbook.” My goal will be to hand you the bottom 10% of work that I do as CEO, and to share with you my process and thinking around the other 90%.  I will invest heavily in mentorship and guidance, and I will expect you to invest heavily and getting shit done.  This is a job for someone who takes deep pride in EVERY single thing they do.  There will be a lot of small jobs. A lot of unsexy work…and some really important, very sexy work… I envision this being a sort of 2-3 month gig.  At the end, my hope is that you will go on to start your first company, with a playbook and model for early stage execution in your head and a network/platform within the technology community to succeed.   It may be that you fall in love with our company and we evolve to a point where there is a full time role for you here, but that is not why you take this opportunity.

The ideal candidate

–       you were born with your sleeves rolled up

–       you might be trying to move from another industry into the tech/startup world (my last right hand guy came from Goldman Sachs)

–       you are the hardest working person you know

–       you are a self starter who can get things done without a lot of direction or help

–       you might have an MBA, but one is not required

–       operations, execution and project management excite you

–       you have deep attention to detail

–       you like research and analytical thinking

–       you are upset by the experience of using the internet on your phone

What you’ll get

–       a ground floor seat on our rocket ship

–       I’ll teach you everything I possibly can

–       You’ll spend your days sitting next to some of the brightest minds in our industry

Commitment: 4-5 days per week, 2-3 month gig

Start Date: ASAP

Send resume / relevant web links to: (put Intern/Apprenticeship in subject line pls)

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

Flow State

Posted on April 15, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

Lately I’ve been thinking about flow state.  For a Wikipedia definition of flow state, click here.  In my mind, flow state transcends any specific activity or task.  There is a more generalized form of effortlessness that a person can carry from one task to the next..from one realm of life to another.  At the core of flow state I believe is a surrender…A few years ago I wrote this post about dropping into the zone…at the time I was just discovering and getting to know this state of mind…I was so excited by it that I kept trying to “hack” my way back…actively constructing reminders and triggers that would keep me in an unconscious state of flow.  More recently, however, it is clear to me that surrender is much more powerful than control in the pursuit of flow state.

I was riding the subway the other day and I saw an advertisement for a casino in Rockaway Beach.  Two large red dice tumbled almost out of the poster, rolling in my direction.  I was reminded of my days as a college student when I could not get enough of gambling…it wasn’t about winning or losing, although of course I loved to win…rather it was about dropping into this zone of chance, playing games in my head, trying to become one with the game, see around corners…literally to participate in this perfect rule of chance that I could not influence but could act in.  There was a meditation in the turn of a roulette wheel or the flip of a blackjack shoe that I craved…To gamble was to surrender completely to the forces of chance…to a rule of the universe that I could not control…I could almost drop into the rule, or that energy, and ride it….

I believe people “pleasure seek” to areas or arenas where we can fully surrender to a rule or law of the universe that is, again, completely out of our control…and although we don’t realize why, it is the surrender to this rule or law that brings us closer to flow state.  Riding a wave, in fact, when referencing the ocean, is yet another example of flow emanating from surrender.  We paddle and position and work and exert, and then, as the wave takes us, we surrender completely to the force of the sea.  We jump out of planes to drop into the law of gravity…again, surrendering completely to a fundamental state or law where we cannot influence or act upon it, but can become a part of it.

As we walk through day to day life, it feels that we are interacting with many forces, as universal and fundamental as chance or gravity, but perhaps more complex and less visible…we have a choice to either participate in surrender or attempt to control the daily moments of our lives that are tied to these rules or forces…our instincts, or at least my instincts, have always been to control…to exert my will on the way things happen, believing that control to be a path to success and happiness…but as I grow and learn to surrender, I find so much more grace and success and happiness in letting things happen as they will, in “dropping into” the forces that pull me in various directions or situations, more listening and riding waves than paddling or controlling them.

In work, it is so hard to surrender.  The very word “work” seems at odds with surrender. Brute force seems like such a powerful tool to get to where we want to go.  But surrendering to the self, listening to the fundamental rules and forces pulling on you, your company, your team, your market…and simply “dropping in,” participating, instead of pushing…I think is where the flow state lies.  Sometimes the market will ask you to push, to force, because that is the way it expects to interact with you…I haven’t fully resolved how to surrender even in these moments that seem to command an exertion of my will. Sometimes it really feels like controlling for an outcome is necessary…but every time I let go, and surrender without fear, the outcome trumps that of control.  The games that Michael Jordan owned were not the ones he stepped onto the court trying to control…it was when he was “unconscious,” listening to himself and to the forces and rules around him, to the physics of the court… in which he chose to participate, but not control, that he did the greatest damage.

I hear the market asking me to write my future story.  I hear the market asking me to begin exerting my control…but my heart says fuck control…seek surrender…and my story will emerge.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Keeping it Simple

Posted on April 5, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

3rd time around, the learning continues.  Today’s observation: as counterintuitive as it might be in the early stages of company development, I am finding myself keeping days pretty simple.  I focus on one or two things in a day, and that’s kind of it.  They are the one or two most important things I can possibly be thinking about, and I punt on just about everything else.  I used to stress about a “to do” list that went unfinished, or an inbox that went uncleared…but not anymore.  If a startup is trying to get to the promised land as fast as humanly possible…nailing the big things can put a nascent project 6 months ahead of what I’ll call the mean trajectory/timeline.  Conversely, knocking down the small things is what prevents a company from derailing or losing it’s way.  I believe the optimal approach, or at least my optimal approach as a founder, is to spend as little time as possible on the small things, but just enough to keep the company out of the redzone, while taking hacks every day at the one or two things that are going to get us our 6 month leaps.

Let’s make it real.  I’ve had paperwork for a new bank account from SVB sitting on my desk for a week.  I would never ask Doug or Eric to deal with this administrative task because our engineering effort is much more important than having a bank account.  The same logic applies to a founder’s time.  In a previous life, I would have stressed that “return SVB paperwork” wasn’t getting crossed off the list…but the reality is…there is no possible way that getting that bank account in place is going to push our company 6 months closer to the promised land…so I will leave that SVB paperwork sitting there until I need to wire a shit ton of venture capital into it, and then I’ll focus on it.  Instead, I dismiss that “small things” voice and spend the mental energy thinking deeply about how to construct our early team.  The impact that the next 3 people we bring on will have on our company is so great…almost nothing else matters at this point…especially not “return SVB paperwork.”

There is a tendency to think that crossing everything that can be done off a list is the same thing as progress…it certainly is a visualization that you are getting shit done…and I guess that can be true, but it is certainly not optimal progress.  Slow down, keep your day simple, find the 6 month levers, and allow yourself the mental space to get those perfect…early days of company creation are no time for optimization and incremental wins…Developing instinct for any given effort to know without stress or deliberation if something is “now” or “later” is so valuable.  Some of it comes with experience, and there aren’t a lot of shortcuts to developing it, but I am consistently amazed at how productive a simple day can be.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )


    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...