Volunteering in Costa Rica

When each of my kids is 12, I take them volunteering on a dad/kid trip with Globe Aware. This spring break it was Delaney’s turn. We just returned from a week in the Orisi Valley of Costa Rica. Like when I did this in China in 2013 with Andrew, who is now 16, I wrote a daily email home and am just posting them all here chronologically with a few photos.

Day One
Picked up delaney at school on friday before spring break at 1pm. Flew to Houston, and had dinner there. two hours on the connection then on to San Jose, Costa Rica. We got an upgrade on that second flight due to my status, so had first class. 3 hour second flight. Arrived just before midnight (it’s the same time zone as colorado here). Luggage came quickly, super easy customs, took 5 minutes. I changed a little
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The Startup Playbook

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. So, when Techstars mentors, investors, and friends Rajat Bhargava and Will Herman told me that they were writing a book to help guide founders on their startup journey, I was immediately excited. I’ve known Raj and Will for a number of years now and they are great entrepreneurs and also great mentors at Techstars. Their experience and wisdom can help many of our companies and extend the reach of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I particularly like their approach which is a founder-to-founder discussion. Founders need more data points from other founders!

If you are a founder, part of a startup team, or thinking about starting a company, grab a copy of The Startup Playbook. I think you’ll be happy you did.

 

The post The Startup Playbook appeared first on Hi, I'm David G. Cohen.

The Startup Playbook

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. So, when Techstars mentors, investors, and friends Rajat Bhargava and Will Herman told me that they were writing a book to help guide founders on their startup journey, I was immediately excited. I’ve known Raj and Will for a number of years now and they are great entrepreneurs and also great mentors at Techstars. Their experience and wisdom can help many of our companies and extend the reach of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I particularly like their approach which is a founder-to-founder discussion. Founders need more data points from other founders!

If you are a founder, part of a startup team, or thinking about starting a company, grab a copy of The Startup Playbook. I think you’ll be happy you did.

 

The post The Startup Playbook appeared first on Hi, I'm David G. Cohen.

One Last Talk in Boulder

A friend of mine is putting on a really interesting event called One Last Talk in Boulder on March 3, 2018. It’s called One Last Talk. All profits go to the non-profit Believe in Youth.

From the One Last Talk web site: “Imagine standing on a stage, and delivering your One Last Talk to the world in 15 mins. In these talks speakers have previously shared the core of their greatest triumphs, their greatest failures, and what are the building blocks of what has created the essence of their leadership style. In short, their stories give us a glimpse into who they really are, why they do what they do and how they want to change the world. One Last Talk is a potent mix of raw courage and pure inspiration. It is the perfect arena to explore the nuances of the modern day human experience. It is the place

Continue reading "One Last Talk in Boulder"

One Last Talk in Boulder

A friend of mine is putting on a really interesting event called One Last Talk in Boulder on March 3, 2018. It’s called One Last Talk. All profits go to the non-profit Believe in Youth.

From the One Last Talk web site: “Imagine standing on a stage, and delivering your One Last Talk to the world in 15 mins. In these talks speakers have previously shared the core of their greatest triumphs, their greatest failures, and what are the building blocks of what has created the essence of their leadership style. In short, their stories give us a glimpse into who they really are, why they do what they do and how they want to change the world. One Last Talk is a potent mix of raw courage and pure inspiration. It is the perfect arena to explore the nuances of the modern day human experience. It is the place

Continue reading "One Last Talk in Boulder"

One Last Talk in Boulder

A friend of mine is putting on a really interesting event called One Last Talk in Boulder on March 3, 2018. It’s called One Last Talk. All profits go to the non-profit Believe in Youth.

From the One Last Talk web site: “Imagine standing on a stage, and delivering your One Last Talk to the world in 15 mins. In these talks speakers have previously shared the core of their greatest triumphs, their greatest failures, and what are the building blocks of what has created the essence of their leadership style. In short, their stories give us a glimpse into who they really are, why they do what they do and how they want to change the world. One Last Talk is a potent mix of raw courage and pure inspiration. It is the perfect arena to explore the nuances of the modern day human experience. It is the place

Continue reading "One Last Talk in Boulder"

The pessimist in the room

In my startup investing, inside portfolio companies at the highest leadership and board levels, I always want to make sure that a pessimist has a seat at the table. I want a table full of optimists, but I also want at least one respected pessimist sitting there.  That pessimist should carry a general lack of confidence in humans to behave logically or ethically. They should also have seen many shit-shows in their lives. You don’t want someone who is just irrationally afraid that the sky is falling, but you do want someone always thinking about the downside case.

As it turns out, often that pessimist is the CFO or the General Counsel. These tend to work well as long as they are respected and have a voice. Without a pessimist in the room, with a seat at the table where the big discussions happen, there is no balance.

The

Continue reading "The pessimist in the room"

The pessimist in the room

In my startup investing, inside portfolio companies at the highest leadership and board levels, I always want to make sure that a pessimist has a seat at the table. I want a table full of optimists, but I also want at least one respected pessimist sitting there.  That pessimist should carry a general lack of confidence in humans to behave logically or ethically. They should also have seen many shit-shows in their lives. You don’t want someone who is just irrationally afraid that the sky is falling, but you do want someone always thinking about the downside case.

As it turns out, often that pessimist is the CFO or the General Counsel. These tend to work well as long as they are respected and have a voice. Without a pessimist in the room, with a seat at the table where the big discussions happen, there is no balance.

The

Continue reading "The pessimist in the room"

FaceID vs TouchID

Regarding the iPhone X vs previous models, so far I prefer TouchID to FaceID.

TouchID is something I learned to forget about. I trained multiple fingers on it, so even if the phone was lying flat on a desk and not facing me face, my finger successfully unlocked the phone without me thinking about it at all.  Now, in that flat on the table position, my phone requires my code because my face is not within view. That takes a lot longer.

I like everything else about the iPhone X, especially the battery life and better use of screen real estate. The absolute best new feature is wireless charging (not new to Android, but new it iPhone), but you can also get that on the iPhone 8.

FaceID works great when your face is in view.  It’s every bit as convenient as TouchID 90% of the time, but

Continue reading "FaceID vs TouchID"

FaceID vs TouchID

Regarding the iPhone X vs previous models, so far I prefer TouchID to FaceID.

TouchID is something I learned to forget about. I trained multiple fingers on it, so even if the phone was lying flat on a desk and not facing me face, my finger successfully unlocked the phone without me thinking about it at all.  Now, in that flat on the table position, my phone requires my code because my face is not within view. That takes a lot longer.

I like everything else about the iPhone X, especially the battery life and better use of screen real estate. The absolute best new feature is wireless charging (not new to Android, but new it iPhone), but you can also get that on the iPhone 8.

FaceID works great when your face is in view.  It’s every bit as convenient as TouchID 90% of the time, but

Continue reading "FaceID vs TouchID"

FaceID vs TouchID

Regarding the iPhone X vs previous models, so far I prefer TouchID to FaceID.

TouchID is something I learned to forget about. I trained multiple fingers on it, so even if the phone was lying flat on a desk and not facing me face, my finger successfully unlocked the phone without me thinking about it at all.  Now, in that flat on the table position, my phone requires my code because my face is not within view. That takes a lot longer.

I like everything else about the iPhone X, especially the batter life and better use of screen real estate. The absolute best new feature is wireless charging (not new to Android, but new it iPhone), but you can also get that on the iPhone 8.

FaceID works great when your face is in view.  It’s every bit as convenient as TouchID 90% of the time, but

Continue reading "FaceID vs TouchID"

Integrity

Saw this post from Techstars co-founder David Cohen and thought I’d explore it a little more deeply.  David talks about the moment of integrity.  Your life leads up to that moment.  Sometimes your family values it and so it’s deeply ingrained in you.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

Integrity is messy because even though there is a Webster’s definition, the human interpretation is pretty variable.

When I went to the US Air Force Academy I dropped off my bags and I toed a white line.  An upper-class cadet taught me how to stand at attention.  Then he backed up and uttered these words.  “From this moment on you will say five statements.”

  • Yes Sir/Ma’am
  • No Sir/Ma’am
  • Sir/Ma’am may I make a statement?
  • Sir/Ma’am, may I ask a question?
  • No excuse Sir/Ma’am

Here is a blog post by a West Point cadet on their similar ritual. Continue reading "Integrity"

The moment of integrity

I was on a panel at FounderCon last week with Noah Pittard from Cooley and Service Provider Capital. Something Noah said on that panel was so insightful that it really stuck with me. Someone asked about the types of founders we want to invest in and the types of people we want to surround ourselves with, and the conversation meandered until we were talking about the concept of integrity.

People do stupid things all the time. They make bad decisions. It’s just a part of life. But a bad decision is not an indicator of integrity. How you handle yourself after you make a bad decision is a much better measure of integrity.

The part that really stuck with me was when Noah talked about the moment that inevitably occurs where you first have to answer the question “what happened?”. Those with high integrity quickly take responsibility, disclose uncomfortable

Continue reading "The moment of integrity"

The moment of integrity

I was on a panel at FounderCon last week with Noah Pittard from Cooley and Service Provider Capital. Something Noah said on that panel was so insightful that it really stuck with me. Someone asked about the types of founders we want to invest in and the types of people we want to surround ourselves with, and the conversation meandered until we were talking about the concept of integrity.

People do stupid things all the time. They make bad decisions. It’s just a part of life. But a bad decision is not an indicator of integrity. How you handle yourself after you make a bad decision is a much better measure of integrity.

The part that really stuck with me was when Noah talked about the moment that inevitably occurs where you first have to answer the question “what happened?”. Those with high integrity quickly take responsibility, disclose uncomfortable

Continue reading "The moment of integrity"

Assume good intent

There’s a phrase that I’ve been using more and more with startups that I’m working with closely. That phrase is “assume good intent.”  I first heard this phrase in my office at Techstars and i’ve found it useful, so I wanted to share it.

In any team or customer dynamic, if you start off assuming good intent, life is easier and good stuff happens. On the other hand, if you assume bad intent, life is hard.

I’ll give you an example to illustrate. Let’s say that you receive an email from a customer that says “The new feature in your software sucks. It’s costing me a ton of wasted time and energy.” Your initial reaction to this email likely represents your default mode and the intent you assume. When we assume bad intent, it sounds like this customer is trying to tear us down, to criticize us, or

Continue reading "Assume good intent"

Assume good intent

There’s a phrase that I’ve been using more and more with startups that I’m working with closely. That phrase is “assume good intent.”  I first heard this phrase in my office at Techstars and i’ve found it useful, so I wanted to share it.

In any team or customer dynamic, if you start off assuming good intent, life is easier and good stuff happens. On the other hand, if you assume bad intent, life is hard.

I’ll give you an example to illustrate. Let’s say that you receive an email from a customer that says “The new feature in your software sucks. It’s costing me a ton of wasted time and energy.” Your initial reaction to this email likely represents your default mode and the intent you assume. When we assume bad intent, it sounds like this customer is trying to tear us down, to criticize us, or

Continue reading "Assume good intent"

How to fail gracefully

Of course nobody wants their startup to fail, but the fact is that it happens and it’s a completely normal part of company building. Investors understand this and realize that failure is often a part of the process. If your company has failed, make sure you go out of your way to let all of your investors know what’s going on. At Techstars, part of our Code of Conduct is to communicate with your investors at least every six months. Even if the news is bad, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Your investors have poured time, money and energy into your company, so they’ll appreciate your transparency—and be more likely to work with you again in the future. Ideally you’ll let them know how it’s going well before you let the know you’ve failed, as they might be able to help. Many companies that aren’t working
Continue reading "How to fail gracefully"

How to fail gracefully

Of course nobody wants their startup to fail, but the fact is that it happens and it’s a completely normal part of company building. Investors understand this and realize that failure is often a part of the process.

If your company has failed, make sure you go out of your way to let all of your investors know what’s going on. At Techstars, part of our Code of Conduct is to communicate with your investors at least every six months. Even if the news is bad, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Your investors have poured time, money and energy into your company, so they’ll appreciate your transparency—and be more likely to work with you again in the future. Ideally you’ll let them know how it’s going well before you let them know you’ve failed, as they might be able to help.

Many companies that aren’t working

Continue reading "How to fail gracefully"

How to fail gracefully

Of course nobody wants their startup to fail, but the fact is that it happens and it’s a completely normal part of company building. Investors understand this and realize that failure is often a part of the process. If your company has failed, make sure you go out of your way to let all of your investors know what’s going on. At Techstars, part of our Code of Conduct is to communicate with your investors at least every six months. Even if the news is bad, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Your investors have poured time, money and energy into your company, so they’ll appreciate your transparency—and be more likely to work with you again in the future. Ideally you’ll let them know how it’s going well before you let the know you’ve failed, as they might be able to help. Many companies that aren’t working
Continue reading "How to fail gracefully"

True Blue by Eliot Peper


These are troubling times, not just for the United States, but for the world. To be sure, there has been tremendous progress over the last 50 years with regard to human rights and equility. But today the remaining factions that support racism, hate, sexism, and other-ism have grown more vocal, more frustrated, more visible, and more extreme. Those who persist with their misguided attempts to categorize and repress people based on nothing more than the circumstances that they are born into have many lessons to learn and many opportunities for personal growth. I had been thinking about this in the days after the election of Donald Trump as POTUS. In that moment, I was thinking about aliens someday descending on our little planet. They’d surely see a bunch of humans in a variety of shapes and sizes. But would they even seen things like black and white? Gay and straight?
Continue reading "True Blue by Eliot Peper"