Chicago And Food

I go back and think about the first meeting we ever had of Hyde Park Angels, the angel group I spearheaded, in April of 2007.  It wasn’t a pitch meeting, but a “meet us” meeting at the Gleacher Center in Chicago.  We introduced ourselves and had some hors d’ouvres and cocktails.

The audience that was there were people who were interested in doing things with startups in Chicago.  Setting up an ecosystem had been tried a few times and always failed.  It failed for a number of reasons.

  • People had their hands out rather than lending entrepreneurs a hand up.
  • They tried to remake Silicon Valley in Chicago.
  • They charged entrepreneurs and they charged funders to participate.

When I was at the podium speaking, I was asked “Are you going to be like Silicon Valley?”

I was adamant.  “No.  We are going to be building companies that stand Continue reading "Chicago And Food"

Remote Work, Can You Do It?

I have followed the remote work movement ever since I spoke with Sam Rosen and Pat Griffin at a breakfast in January of 2012.  That conversation lead to investments in Deskpass and into Nextspace.  Nextspace didn’t make it but Deskpass chugs along.  They are expanding and growing into new cities.  If you do remote work at all, you need to look into Deskpass.  It can be a game changer for you.

However, not all companies can be remote.  At least in their beginning.

My daughter works for an agency, One Design Company.  They have had remote work incorporated into their culture for a long time.  For a while, the company operated out of The Coop in Chicago.  Sam and Pat started The Coop, which was the first co-work space in Chicago.

My wife works for The Policy Circle.  They get together at least once a week.  For this month, Continue reading "Remote Work, Can You Do It?"

Why You Need to Learn How to Follow in Order to Lead

In Major League Baseball when a rookie comes up, they have to carry bags and do other menial stuff.  It’s part of ritual hazing that goes on.  It’s also a part of learning to be a pro.  Having respect for the people that do those things for you every day makes you a better teammate.

Pilots learn how to pack their own parachutes.  Eventually, some grunt packs their parachute for them.  But, those guys never forget about the grunt because if you have to use a parachute, that grunt just saved your life.

In hierarchical organizations, you often start at the bottom and work your way up.  There is ready mentorship.  There is example.  You learn from experience.  But, where do you get that seasoning if you never were in an organization like that?

One place you can get it is athletics.  A good coach is similar to a good Continue reading "Why You Need to Learn How to Follow in Order to Lead"

The Google

If you are in tech no doubt you heard about the engineer who was fired at Google for writing a ten page document on employment practices and the corporate culture.  Many women felt it was especially sexist and demeaning.

Here is a link to the memo with title: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber  How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion

I have not read the full memo.  I have been way too busy with my job, and rehabbing this cabin up in Minnesota to spend the time I’d need to actually read and thoughtfully think about it.  I have read a couple of articles that were pretty insightful.  A lot of the opinion I have read from people has really been dependent upon their biases going in.  Personally, I just want people to have choice and opportunity without judgement.  The key is without judgement.

Let’s be clear about something. Continue reading "The Google"

Should You Always Wave the Pom Poms?

Yesterday at Fred Wilson’s blog, AVC, he talked about the backlash he was getting from a post on greed. In the crypto community, there is a lot of greed lately with the run up in value of several currencies.  There isn’t a lot of fear which usually goes hand in hand with the greed part.  Crypto markets also aren’t developed enough so the invisible hand can operate unfettered.  Fred is doing the crypto community a favor by pointing out things he sees that might be troubling.

In the comments, I mentioned that often times even if you are a believer in the mission, you lose points with the community if you aren’t cheerleading all the time.

In Chicago, it’s against the local norms to be critical of anything.  When you do criticize, you are seen as a gadfly even though you believe in the mission.  That’s certainly true with Continue reading "Should You Always Wave the Pom Poms?"

Can We Be Friends?

The other day I noticed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t his friend anymore. Rauner had mentioned that even though they differ politically, he considered the mayor a friend.   I wasn’t surprised.

My fear is that actions like this will make it more acceptable for majority parties everywhere to discriminate against the minority party.  There is overt and covert discrimination against Republicans in places like Chicago and Cook County.  It’s social, it’s business.  It costs you to be out of the closet.  I am sure that in places that are overtly Republican, the opposite is true.

I never worry or ask about a person’s political beliefs before I decide to befriend them or not.  I never ask before I decide to help, or not.  It’s not in the entrepreneurial “Give Before You Get” ethos.  But, even in entrepreneurial circles I am starting to see people question Continue reading "Can We Be Friends?"

Entrepreneurial Blind Spots

Everyone has a blind spot. When I work with entrepreneurs, it’s sometimes easy to see what their blind spot is.  It’s harder to recognize it in yourself.  You have to work to uncover them.  It’s important to do that, because you can round out your team with people who are strong in things you are weak.

Often when I ask entrepreneurs who are engineering focused what they are going to do next they tell me about all the different engineering things they will be doing.  New websites.  New features inside a product.  A new engineering wrinkle that is cutting edge or current in the main stream VC world.   They think that will increase their valuation and allow them to raise money easier.

What they forget about is the customer might not need or want it.

Other entrepreneurs that aren’t technically focused turn their attention to their strengths.  If a Continue reading "Entrepreneurial Blind Spots"