Jan 29 2009


I’ve been quiet lately. I’m rather displeased. I’m trying not to bother others or bring them down with me.

My venture is encountering some roadblocks. Usually when things go off track it is due to my ability to procrastinate. While I may well be procrastinating on some things, the problems these days aren’t on my end. I’ve been on the edge for a while now.

Then this afternoon I heard from a fellow entrepreneur that he is headed back into the job market. On top of several friends cut lose from Home Depot on Monday, it has been one heck of a week.

The mantra “fail fast” is one I quote often but don’t seem to be able to live. I really want to make this venture work and I still believe in the product. But these delays are absolutely killing me.

An hour ago I received a message from the engineering team. They are back making progress…

Too soon for hope, but at least it is improvement! Maybe I can pull this off…

Jan 23 2009

Suppose you were an idiot…

I generally don’t like those forwarded messages, but this list is too good to keep to myself.  No idea if these are accurate, but they are good!


“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”

- Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot.

And suppose you were a member of Congress….

But then I repeat myself.

-Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity

is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by

the handle.

-Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul

can always depend on the support of Paul.

-.George Bernard Shaw

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep

voting on what to have for dinner.

-James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money

from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

-Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at  Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like

giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

-P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which

everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

-Frederic Bastiat,  Economist (1801-1850)

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short

phrases: If it moves, tax it.

If it keeps moving, regulate it.

And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

-Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don’t make jokes.

I just watch the government and report the facts.

-Will Rogers

In general, the art of government consists of taking

as much money as possible from one party of the citizens

to give to the other.

-Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics

doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!

-Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe

while the legislature is in session.

-Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap…except when Congress does it.


The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal,

with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

-Ronald Reagan

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist

is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

-Mark Twain

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class…

save Congress.

-Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

-Edward Langley, Artist (1928 – 1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want,

is strong enough to take everything you have.

-Thomas Jefferson

Jan 13 2009

How it is…

Mistakes People Make Before Starting a New BusinessFree Legal Forms

Jan 5 2009

Thank God It’s Monday

I love the holiday season. Really. But I have to tell you I’m glad we can get back to work.

The past month and a half have been great from a family and friend perspective. I’ve traveled, relaxed, and “gotten away”. Left on my own I probably would have stayed in the office trying to get things done, but it was good to have the distance and change of pace. I even picked up a few business leads. But I’m thrilled to getting back to work.

For a month and a half it has been tough to get anything accomplished even when I was in the office.  Apparently everyone else was off as well.  Good for them.  Now can we get some things done, please?

I hope your year is starting off well and that  2009 exceeds your wildest dreams. I’m looking forward to a great year… a productive year… and I’m thrilled that we can get started.

Thank God It’s Monday!

Dec 15 2008

Greatness is in the gaps

There are new gaps that open in times of change.

It is in these gaps that new products and services will grow to displace the old and the slow.  Within these gaps problem solvers will stitch together solutions that will create significant value. From these gaps will grow the jobs and wealth that will once again increase our GDP.

Greatness is in the gaps.

Nov 27 2008

Entrepreneur’s Anti-Holiday Gatherings Association and Thanksgiving Support Group

And so begins the annual reporting period… from Thanksgiving through the 2nd of January we get to reflect on what has transpired over the past year and make plans for the year ahead.  In many businesses the money folks close the year’s financials and managers scramble to provide evaluations for team members to justify that forthcoming disappointing raise.

For the entrepreneur, this is a time to face the stakeholders – The Family.  Whether you have raised a family and friends round of financing from these folks or have avoided even telling them you left that corporate gig, it is nearly impossible to make it through the next 40 days without getting the question… “so, what are you up to these days?”

The question is often asked in an honest manner, designed to gather info and demonstrate concern for your well being.  Just beneath the surface for many folks lies another set of issues.  If you are lucky you’ll only receive a few crinkled foreheads.  More than likely you’ll encounter this response: “why would you try that NOW?  Isn’t the market going to be better next year?”  Sure, this year things in the market are decidedly crappier than usual.  Real pain.  But the sentiment is persistent – it is *always* a bad time.

If your family is anything like mine, there are several key members of the family that are security oriented.  These fine people rate job security (or the appearance of it) as the highest value to seek.  Security puts food on the table and a roof over your head.  Security avoids the financial and emotional pain of unemployment.  Security is rewarded with cost of living raises and the promise that if you stick it out 30 more years you can retire and do what you want.

Talking with these loved ones is a challenge for the entrepreneur.  It certainly is for me.  I explain – quote both numbers and learned men – but find I’m speaking another language.  All of the reasoning, spiritual exploration, and emotional exercises are in a completely different paradigm.

This year is going to be especially tough for me.  I have encountered several setbacks this year… great learning, but not great income generating.  Last year I was full of optimism – this year I’m full of experience.  I have struggled to find peace myself with the challenges of being an entrepreneur.  I will struggle more to help family members find peace with my quest, especially given the security mindset.

So what do you do?  As you climb into the car or plane to head to join the family, what answer do you give?  I have a few that I may call upon:

  • Take a picture - play big!  Tell someone to document the moment so that when you get together for Christmas 2011 you can look back and remember how worried everyone was that you were crazy.  Keep that picture on your desk as a reminder to make it happen.
  • Is something burning? Avoid the topic.  Not healthy.  Not likely to actually get away from the topic.  But you may be able to stall.
  • Lifeline - call out to the crazy (and ideally, rich) uncle to back you up.  If there are family stories of other people that were entrepreneurial use them to help provide context to your own craziness.
  • Get a pen - if a doubting family member wants to tell you why you shouldn’t do what you are doing, get a pen and paper.  Ask where the problems are with your business.  Keep the focus on what you are doing, rather than on what you are giving up.  Honest feedback is hard to come by at times – you may be able to discover great objections from family members that will help when you have to pitch to other people later.  Those future folks won’t voice their true feelings.  The family member will.  And for the love of all that is good and holy don’t argue with them! Once you have captured and recited back, break the conversation for 10 minutes to get another slice of pie or a beer and then offer a well reasoned response.  But don’t try to fight every point.

I’m sure I’ll come up with a few other coping mechanisms.  What are your favorites?  Have you been able to find great success that evolved out of a stressful family holiday gathering?

Enjoy the turkey, football, and most importantly… that crazy family.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 22 2008

The Google Search Monopsony

Reading over a question on LinkedIn about trends in internet search for 2009 a problem clarified that has been rattling around in the back of my brain.  Google has done a tremendous amount of great work, but is becoming a search market monopsony.

No, not monopoly.  A monopsony is similar to monopoly, but exerts power in the the opposite direction.  A monopoly exists when there is one seller in a market.   Monopsony exists when there is one buyer in a market.  For example, Wal~Mart exhibits monopsonistic tenancies when they dictate to suppliers conditions to carry products.

Google may also have monopolistic traits, but this post isn’t about that.

Google is headed in the monopsony direction, if not already there.  When Google sets a policy it quickly becomes the de facto rule in the search space.  As a content provider (website), you can feel free to disregard what Google has stated they want with regards to search, but you will quickly put yourself in serious peril if you rely on search results in any significant way.

Economists will likely quibble with this assertion, since websites don’t actually pay Google for organic listings.  But the force fits the pattern, and there is value created by both the content providers and by Google.  Allow this relaxation for the discussion.

As long as the good folks at Google continue to parse useful sites from non-useful sites, this force is a good thing.  But once the pretenders (non-relevant results) are identified and eliminated, how do legit competitors fare in the clean-but-cloaked world?  The free wheeling internet search space will consolidate further.  Companies that are large enough to invest significant money in search management will crowd out smaller players.  To some degree this already exists today, but as the market continues to mature this trend will accelerate.  Once we reach this future, the search market essentially ceases to function.  Although nominally organic, to the companies seeking listing, it will be strictly pay-to-play.

Google as the 8,000 pound gorilla in the search space will be able to dictate to the market what practices they must use.  Disagree with their formula?  Feel free to ignore – and lose your traffic in a blink of an eye.

There will undoubtedly be other innovations in the space, but in the mean time it seems that we are headed towards the Google Search Monopsony.

What do you think?  Are we headed this direction or are there other trends that can stop it?

Nov 17 2008

Say that again?

Why do we marvel at how badly we predicted the future in our past but cower at the predictions of the future made today?

Isn’t there an old saw about repeating history?  Shouldn’t we apply that to our belief about systems?  Today’s trends will not be tomorrow’s trends.

If you happen to be paralyzed by the current economic news, unplug the TV, radio, and internet for a few hours and read The Black Swan by Nassim Talib.  (Twitter-esque summary – we think the bell curve describes our world; it doesn’t.)

Nov 10 2008

I’d rather be a failure

Several months ago I hit a wall with my product.  I realized it was no longer worth throwing money after the platform we were developing.  I was faced with a decision – walk away or start over.

After struggling with the decision, running new analysis on the new realities, and reflecting on the business, I decided to move forward with a completely new platform.  I was many months in to the business with a lot more knowledge and a lot less money, but the core business still held promise and so I committed myself to the second wave.

Within the next few weeks we will finally be passing the point where the first version died. In the interim I have struggled with the question “so what are you up to these days?”  “Redoing what I was doing six months ago,” while true, leaves a lot out.  Most of the time I explain that I had to go back through R&D a second time.

Last week I was delving further into the setback over beer with friends I had not seen in months.  I explained that even if the product doesn’t light the world on fire, I’m happier with the outcome on the path of redesign.  If I stopped when the first version had to be put down I would have been a quitter.  I’d much rather lean into the challenge and fail than try once and give up.

Quitting is saying I couldn’t do it.  Failure says it couldn’t be done.  Quitting indicates a weakness of personal fortitude… a weakness that feeds further upon the decision to quit.  Failure indicates a lack of expertise or insight… a lack that is often corrected by that very failure.  Quitting is easy.  Failure is hard.

I’d rather be a failure than a quitter.

Nov 5 2008


There have been a lot of things to worry us lately.  Wars and financial woes dominate the news while energy and mortgage issues weigh heavy upon our heads.

But tonight we have a shared moment of hope.  Tonight we have come through the years of debate and discussion are are set upon a new course.  We take this path no longer as parties, but as a country.  There will be time for more debate again soon, but for now we have a respite from the fight.  The road of opportunity lays open before us.

So congratulations to our President-elect, Senator Barack Obama.  Congratulations to his supporters.  And congratulations to all of the citizens of this great country of ours.  I look forward to seeing great things in our future.

May the promise of our future be eclipsed only be the measure of our accomplishments…