Monday, March 26, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 26, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the internet. In the last 24 hours I've had a couple of experiences that have demonstrated the power of the internet to make something that would have been very difficult or clumsy into a simple task. I really can't imagine how day-to-day life would work
without it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 23, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the return of the birds in the spring. I was struck by the sound of their songs this morning when I walked out the door. There presence makes the morning so much more dynamic. A month ago it was the sound of cold snow under foot. I like the change.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 20, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for having fun at work. The last few days at work have been a real pleasure which isn't always the case. It's not the case often enough that it stands out when it is this way.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 17, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for already knowing how to solve a computer problem that has resurfaced. A couple of weeks ago my windows XP laptop wouldn't start up after upgrading some software. I spent 3 days and some very stressful time trying to fix it. I eventually figured out the solution. This morning the problem is back. But this time I know the fix. The second time through these things is so much easier and I've grateful for that right now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 14, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the arrival of spring. OK, I know it's supposed to snow again tomorrow but it was so nice yesterday to have temps in the mid 60s. It's been a long time since I've felt that kind of sunshine on my skin as I didn't take a vacation this winter.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 5, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the early morning hours. I got up a bit earlier this morning to start my day and week and it's feels good. I love those early morning hours when my thinking is clear and the world seems fresh and full of possibility.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day March 2, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for flexibility. I had a meeting yesterday at 4 PM that got rescheduled to this morning at 6:30 AM. I was able to attend from home, using an online meeting, and it went great. Usually I don't like these kinds of early morning things but today I was grateful that the technology available allowed the flexibility in planning and execution.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 27, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for my family. We had a fun family gathering on Sunday evening for dinner and to celebrate my Dad's birthday. It was a lot of fun and a good reminder of how much I appreciate them.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 24, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the anticipation of a big snow storm. We're supposed to be getting whopper of a storm in the Twin Cities this weekend and it's been fun to watch people scurry around in preparation. Now we just need the storm!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 21, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the touch of spring weather we've had the last couple of days. After the deep freeze of the last month 40 degrees and sunny feels so great!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 18, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for patience and the internet. On Thursday afternoon a laptop I use for work crashed and I didn't discover the severity of the problem until Friday AM. I spent most of Friday afternoon trying to recover the system, most of Friday night stressing about my lack of success and what I would have to do, most of Saturday rearranging my life so that I could work on this problem and start to figure out what I would do if I couldn't recover the computer, and then Sunday morning I fixed it!

Without patience and very generous people on the internet I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this task. I'm very grateful for all of these people even most of them will never even know that the information they shared was what I needed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 15, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for making change in my life. A couple of days ago I woke up in a bad mood. I realized what was behind that mood - frustration with myself for not following through on commitments I've made - and have put a plan into action to change. It feels good to understand the source of these feelings, create a plan and start working the plan.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 12, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for having the opportunity to improve my mode. I've woken up in a bad mood today. This is pretty unusual for me and makes it all the more powerful. What I'm grateful for right now is that I know I'm the one that has the power to change my current mind state and I'm glad that power is mine and that I'm not dependent on someone else to make it all better.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 5, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a warm home. This cold snap we've been having reminds me of how dependent I am on technology such as indoor heating and, heating fuel/natural gas and double pane windows.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 3, 2007

I'm changing my strategy for my Gratitude-A-Day posts. I've decided to change my priorities a bit and although this exercise doesn't take a lot of time each day it's adding to my cumulative stress. So, I'm going to post a Gratitude-A-Day every 3-4 days rather than every day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Abundance and Scarcity

When resources (whatever resources are involved in the discussion – can be people, food, time, money, natural resources, territory, prestige, pride, …) are abundant there is less pressure on the parties involved in determining a course of action and therefore opportunities for compromise and “win-win” solutions are more readily available. When resources are scarce it is less likely that “true win-win” solutions are easily agreed upon. Often one or more parties feels like they are getting short-changed in these situations and they will “fight back” in some way or another.

Appropriate Actions – Unspoken Assumptions, Beliefs about “what is right” & Goals

It is not possible for a group of people to agree on a set of actions that should be taken in response to circumstances unless there is agreement on the assumptions, beliefs about “what is right” and ultimate goals. If there is fundamental disagreement between groups or individuals about any of these things then there are two possible outcomes. One is that one party will dominate (either physically, emotionally or due to the structure of relationships/authority) and the second outcome is that there will be direct conflict leading to a new structure of authority. This conflict can be physical (war and fighting), emotional (oppression, ridicule), financial (sanctions, boycotting) or legal (lawsuits, elections). The party that wins in this conflict has the opportunity to initiate their preferred agenda and set of actions.

All to often in communication between parties we do not take the time to understand the unspoken assumptions, beliefs and goals of all participants. We like to jump directly to the discussion of goals and then apply arguments that make sense based on our own unique set of assumptions, beliefs and goals. A good example is global warming. For the sake of argument I’ll discuss this issue in simple terms of two different parties. The first party is represented by people that believe that global warming due to human activity is a bad thing. The second group is represented by people that either are not willing to acknowledge that change is occurring or that if it is occurring it isn’t really that bad of a change. “What’s wrong with winters being a few degrees warmer?” is a common question from this second group. At this point in the debate it is often the first group that will make suggestions for actions that will prevent the continued trend or will potentially reverse the trend. The second group, coming from a completely different set of beliefs, assumptions and goals, does not agree on the course of action and therefore tries to erect road-blocks to prevent any action.

The only way around this dead-end is to initiate a conversation that goes to the root assumptions, beliefs and goals of the parties involved. It may be that there is substantial common ground among the parties involved so that a common set of actions can be developed that fits for all parties. It may not be possible.

What do you do when it isn’t possible? War, unilateral action…

Often the most confusing situations arise when all parties involved assume that they are operating with the same set of assumptions, goals and beliefs. It may be that there is common agreement on the high-level goals, assumptions and beliefs but there are radically different “secondary” goals, beliefs or assumptions at work.

Any time that you find yourself in a situation where there is confusion regarding suggestions for actions it is a good idea to step back and identify the goal, belief or assumption that is behind the action. You may discover that the source of the confusion is a difference at this level.

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 2, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for taking things head on. When something is bothering me I'm much happier when I address it directly. I don't always do this but when I do I'm grateful for doing so.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Feb 1, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for my triathlon coach. I hired him about 4 weeks ago and having a coach has made a huge difference in my training and motivation.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Guy Kawasaki in Minneapolis

I went to see Guy Kawasaki speak at the University of Minnesota a couple of weeks ago on January 19, 2007. I wasn't able to get a seat in the main auditorium at the McNamara Alumni Center but I was able to see a simulcast of his presentation at the 3M Auditorium at the Carlson School of Management. I decided to post my notes from the talk here as a way of keeping track of them for myself and I figured that a few other people out there might be interested. I haven't taken the time to edit these notes carefully but you should be able to get the main points.

Sponsors:

  • Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota Venture Center
  • Haberman and Associates
  • James J Hill Library
  • STWA Ventures

“The Art of the Start”

Apple 1983-1987, software evangelist.

Started Several Software Companies

Returned to Apple

Now a Venture Capitalist

Learned that most high-tech CEOs suck as speakers

They have no concept of time – start late, go long.

Top 10 format for speeches:

  1. Make Meaning
    1. What is the reason a startup should start? To make meaning. To change the world. If you start off this way you will also make money. If you start with “lets make money” you will attract the worst kinds of people. MBAs, Investment Bankers, etc.
    2. You will be acquired, go public, or die. Those are the only three choices.
  2. Make a Mantra
    1. Don’t make a mission statement. Use a mantra instead.
    2. Mission statements are “BS.” They’re too long and don’t get to the core essence of the company.
    3. A mantra should be 2-3 words. Wendy’s - “Healthy Fast Food”, FedEx - “Peace of Mind”, Nike – “Authentic Athletic Performance”, Target - “Democratize Design”.
    4. The test for the mantra is that everyone in the company can repeat it.
    5. Dilbert Mission Statement Generator website.
    6. Use a mantra to get to the point where you need a mission statement.
  3. Get Going
    1. Don’t try to be perfect.
    2. Think Different – product or service that I would like to use.
    3. Polarize People – don’t intentionally piss people off but don’t be afraid to polarize people.
    4. Find a few soul mates – the concept of people doing it by themselves is not accurate. Find a team of people that balance each other off. Three is the perfect number.
  4. Define a Business Model
    1. Five years ago you didn’t need a business model. Now you do.
    2. There are examples of companies that don’t have business models that are successful but these are the exception.
    3. Be Specific. Who is my customer? How do I get my money out of her purse?
    4. Keep it simple. The business model is not the place to innovate. The product is the place to innovate.
    5. Ask Women about the idea and business model. Men have a fundamental flaw in that they want kill things. One of the places where this desire to kill things is that it’s OK for men to kill another company, product or service. Women don’t have this flaw.
  5. Weave a MAT (milestones, assumptions, tasks). Starting a new company is a blank slate. You need to:
    1. Establish milestones. Finish design, ship product. Big things!
    2. Assumptions of business model. What things are you assuming about your business model? How may calls can you make a day? How many new customers can you contact a day? Then test them.
    3. Task. Tasks are things that allow you to accomplish a milstone or test an assumption. These are the smaller things.
  1. Niche thyself
    1. Chart.
    2. X-axis: Value of things to customer
    3. Y-axis: Ability oto provide unique product or service
    4. Upper right corner is the goal.
    5. Lower right – price
    6. Upper left – stupid
    7. Lower left – Dotcom (stupid and no value)
    8. Upper right – this is where to be. Only we can make it and has high value. Just like our president – “high and to the right”.
  2. Follow the 10/20/30 rule of pitching
  1. 10 Slides – Power Point

    1. Title
    2. Problem
    3. Solution
    4. Business mode
    5. Underlying magic
    6. Marketing and sales
    7. Competition
    8. Team
    9. Projections
    10. Status and Timelines

    Delivered in 20 minutes. You may have 1 Hour but you should be able to pitch in 20. Remaining time for Q & A.

    30 point font. Not 20, 14, or 12. Fid out who the oldest person in the audience is and take their age and divide by 2.

  2. Hire Infected People
    1. You should hire people who are infected with a love of what you do. They might not have a perfect background but that isn’t as important as loving what you do.
    2. Ignore the irrelevant. Does the person “get it” – what you doing? If yes, then go for it. If not, then pass by them.
    3. Hire better than yourself. If you don’t this is called the “bozo explosion.”
    4. Apply the shopping center test. Go to the mall and if you see someone that you’re interviewing that you really like. You have a couple of choices. 1) rush up to them enthusiastically and say hello, 2) Avoid them but don’t leave. 3) get out of there. If you’re not compelled to do #1 then don’t hire the person.
  3. Lower the barriers to adoption
    1. Flatten the learning curve.
    2. Never ask people to do something that you wouldn’t.
    3. Embrace your evangelists. These people want to help you because it will make the world a better place.
  4. Seed the clouds
    1. How do you get sales? Sales fixes everything.
    2. Let a hundred flowers blossom. You might not know exactly who your customer will be. If this happens, non-targeted people start buying, first thing to do is take the money. Then figure out why they’re buying.
    3. Enable Test Drives. Allow people to use the product.
    4. Find the True Influencers. This not always the CXO level of an organization. Find the mid-level people who are the true influencers.
  5. Don’t let the Bozos Grind you down.
    1. The dangerous bozos are the ones that look “like they know what they’re talking about.” Don’t let these people be overly-influential in your thinking.

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 31, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for waking up on time. That didn't happen today. Slept right through the alarm or never set it last night. Not sure which, but either way it makes me grateful for the days when that doesn't happen!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 30, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for insight into things that are bothering me. Yesterday I took some time to identify where some stress was coming from and put an action plan in place to make some changes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

FizzBuss for Programmers

I read this post about a FizzBuzz test for programmers (which I was pointed to by Joel's Reddit page) and decided to give it a go. I like doing exercises like these for fun of them and because I’ve been “promoted” in my career to the point where I don’t get to write much code on the job. Doing exercises like these keeps the mind fresh and allows me to remember what it’s like to write code. Probably took about 5 minutes but that’s because I never try to remember syntax. I just look it up when I need it.

var output = "";

for( var i = 1; i < 101; i++ ){
if (i == 1){ output = output + i; }
else if ( i % 3 == 0 && i % 5 == 0){ output = output + ", FizzBuzz"; }
else if ( i % 3 == 0){ output = output + ", Fizz"; }
else if ( i % 5 == 0 ){ output = output + ", Buzz"; }
else { output = output + ", " + i; }
}

alert(output);

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 29, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for going to bed early. One of the most pleasant experiences is going to bed early. It feels luxurious, relaxing and restful. It also makes it easy to get up early - something I love doing.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 28, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for...
I'm having a tough time with this today. Usually it's pretty easy for me to figure out what I'm feeling grateful for but today I'm having a hard time identifying something specific. I feel grateful, I just can't isolate one tangible thing. So I guess, today, I'm grateful for general gratefulness. That sounds kind of silly to me, almost like a cop-out, but it's my experience today.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 27, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a break from the stress of the project that I've been carrying with me each of the last 7-8 weekends.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 26, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. I saw this last night - kind of by accident - and loved it. This movie touched me on a number of levels including Chris Gardner's struggle to care for his son and the impact of becoming homeless. Two things I've never experienced personally but this film provided me a sense of the struggle that is all too common.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 25, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for optimism. I hosted a monthly breakfast gathering this morning and the question I posed to the group was "What are you optimistic about?" I'm not big on New Year's resolutions but I enjoy taking time at the start of the new year to ponder a question. We didn't talk all that much about this question but asking it got me thinking and has put me in a good frame of mind.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 23, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for restful sleep. This might be a repeat but the last two nights I've slept very well and it makes such a big difference in my day to have a good night's sleep.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 22, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for motivation. The urge to do something can come in many forms and I'm in the middle of a wave of it for a specific project. I was wondering when and how it was going to kick in this time and it arrived yesterday afternoon like a wave. I'm glad it did.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 21, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a fresh coat of snow. At this time of year the snow can start to look pretty dirty. A fresh inch or two every few days keeps things looking nice. Today, we're getting that new cover.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 20, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a gorgeous winter morning. It's bright, sunny and crisp. I love these winter mornings.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 19, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for sleep. I've been running a little empty the last few days and this morning I was able to sleep in a bit more. I'm also cutting my schedule back today to lighten things up a bit. I'm hoping that puts the spring back in my step.

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 18, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for mindfulness practice. The class I mentioned a couple of days ago has had the expected effect of spurring me to practice on a more regular basis and has also introduced a new element to my mindfulness practice which I really enjoy. This new element is mindfulness of feeling states when a thought comes up - pleasant, unpleasant or neither pleasant or unpleasant. This is tricky to learn to start to incorporating into my practice but I'm learning a lot from the process and what it's illuminating for me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 17, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for being re-inspired in my interest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. I'm spending the day at the Local Energy / Local Opportunities:
The Second Clean Energy Resource Teams Conference
in St Cloud Minnesota. The last few months I've been busy working on lots of other things and I'd kind of lost track of this thread in my life. It's great to reconnect!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 16, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the opportunity to participate in a class on Mindfulness of Feelings that started last night. I take a class like this about once a year and this one started last night.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 15, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a new way of understanding long established behavior patterns. Every once in a while a new idea comes along that helps me understand myself better and yesterday provided one of these moments in the form of the book The Two-Step: The Dance Toward Intimacy. Of course the ideas in this book aren't the answer to everything but they provide a new thread of understanding.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 14, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the potential for a nice snow fall this evening. It's been a very warm and brown winter and I'm hopeful that we might see some good snow this winter.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 13, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a full day ahead of me. Not sure what I'm going to do with it but I'm happy that I can make it my own.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 12, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for learning and the clarity that can come from new understanding. Now the trick is going to be putting that new clarity into action on a regular basis.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 11, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a different start to my day. I was at Al's breakfast in Minneapolis when they opened at 6 AM this morning and now I'm next door at Espresso Royal to get my day started. This is very different from my normal morning routine and it's a fun change.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 10, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the future. I've been planning for and thinking about the future and I'm feeling optimistic about it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 9, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for great conversations. I had one last night and another this morning. Both touched me deeply and provide motivation to be the best person I can be and to not accept an average life.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 8, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a good night's sleep. I had a wonderful and intense weekend. Sleeping well on Sunday night was the perfect way to cap off the weekend and I'm in a fantastic mood this morning.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 7, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for so many things - it's been an incredible 24-36 hours. Far too many to list out so I'm going to pick just one. Today, I'm grateful for the gift my mom gave me this afternoon - "Go for it!" This is the best gift I've ever received from her and it will continue to unfold throughout my life as long as I draw breath. Additionally, as a recipient of this gift, I'm now empowered to pass it along, which I look forward to doing someday.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 6, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for a strong feeling of excitement and optimism about the future. Lot's of different things are contributing to this feeling today. I'm not going to list them out here but each of these by themselves would put a smile on my face. In this case the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 5, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for being able to learn and change. This is something that I experience in many areas of my life but I had a specific experience with swimming over the last few days that has highlighted the joy I find in learning something new.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 4, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for dancing. Last night I touched the joy that comes from dancing and was reminded why I sometimes go out even when I know "I shouldn't."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 3, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for the combination of dynamic conversation and great food.
Great food seems to lead to more interesting conversation and as the conversation gets more dynamic the food just keeps tasting better.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gratitude-A-Day Jan 2, 2007

Today, I'm grateful for taking action in the face of my fears. The pattern is that the most difficult, challenging, and scary things are often the most rewarding. I'm not much for New Year's resolutions but this pattern has been top of mind as the new year started and is something I intend to continue to explore.