crippled by fear of failure

What he said:

America today is crippled by fear of failure. The birther movement is, at the very least, a testament to how fear can have us take leave of our good senses. The antidote for this fear is to realize that failure can be a powerful tool if we embrace the lessons it wants to teach us. But to do so, we must first be willing to see our actions as failure.
– Tavis Smiley (full article here)

Jason Calacanis on Scurvy

“Hey wait. You’re the captain of the ship. We can talk about what direction we’re going. But we’re going in a direction. And if there’s a debate about what direction we’re going, it’s my ship, I’m gonna pick at the end of the day. I’m gonna take everyone’s input. But there’s gonna come a point when the ship has to go. Because there’s only a certain number of lemons. And you’re gonna get scurvy and we’re all gonna lose our teeth. And it’s gonna get f*cking crazy. And people are gonna lose their minds. We need to keep the ship moving. You can get your own ship.” - Jason Calacanis

and

“What gets you out of bed in the morning to win? You have to have some love for the game.” - Jason Calacanis

 

So ya, I respect the dude. Passionate? Yes. Overly honest? Yes. Respect? Yes.

the guilt of a confessed pre-prayer

Guilt. Guilt is a major factor for me. It is something we Catholics specialize in. Sin is human. You must confess your sins. This is ingrained in you. mary and jesusYou step out of the confessional and you glance at a young woman in your seventh grade class and her breasts are pressing up against her blouse, purchased by her parents a year before she bloomed, not replaced because it was all they could afford, nicely pressed of course, and seventh-grade-you notices perhaps too much. This is followed quickly by the realization that “damnit, now I have to get back in line. shit. it’ll have to wait until next week when we all wait in the freezing church on a wednesday morning in connecticut for confession.” And you prayed. Not to be forgiven for looking at breasts. No, you prayed that next week would not be a week when the Monsignor was working the confessional. The girls in your class were probably just as curious, although all parties too innocent to ever verify any of that. But the Monsignor, while a good and blessed man (see what I did there) did not seem so innocent on these matters. No, in fact he scared the ever living shit out of us. Me in particular I believed. I knew.

I killed time waiting for my turn in confession (never go first. you don’t want a fresh and energetic priest. you want a tired-and-i-wanna-go-back-to-the-rectory-priest) by pre-saying my prayers. I mean, I had time. You knew it was going to be some combination of Hail Mary’s (mostly) a few Our Fathers (the old-reliable) and if you were particularly bad you would get an Apostles’ Creed. And the prayers were doled out as if they were the same. (For the record, they are NOT. To say a Hail Mary, even speed-talking in your little brain can easily take 20 minutes. So the penance of “Say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys” kind of made you mad at the lady of the house.) But back to the point. I never asked if pre-saying prayers for penance counted because I didn’t want to know. I figured nobody ever told me that pre-praying explicitly was not allowed. Surely every other kid had thought of it, right? So I ran with it. I pre-prayed. This worked well and sometimes reduced post-confessional-penance to one or two prayers. I thought this must impress my teachers because they would think I was a really good kid so the priest didn’t give me much of a penance. Who doesn’t like the kid who got one Our Father and could scoot?

But I felt guilty about it.

You get over it.

No, actually you don’t.

Guilt is permanent.

Bless me Father for I have sinned….

 

a doctor who isn’t afraid to look up the right answer

Great read on closed book medical board exams. I want a doctor who isn’t afraid to look up the right answer personally. From the post on KevinMD:

In this era of patient safety and emphasis on reducing medical errors, it doesn’t make much sense to rely on rote memory to practice medicine.

Watson antiquates closed board exams.  Instead of sitting in a testing room, doctors should be evaluated on how well they can find the necessary information “” not how well they can recall something they memorized.

 

 

2011 tech bLubble & developers as your audience.

No tech bubble this time? Arrington’s thoughts on 2011 versus 2010 in Silicon Valley. Then a few comments of my own after the jump.

Fruit Loop

From techcrunch blubble:

A perfectly reasonable 2000 tech startup business decision ““ spend $10 million on a massive advertising campaign that may bring in $500k in revenue. The “branding“ value makes up the difference, and those few new customers will continue to spend money and tell their friends! Grab territory while it’s there to be grabbed, the thinking went. We’ll figure out the business later. Money was so easy to come by, it made sense to some.

and

In the most innocent cases Company A would buy a bunch of ads or whatever from Company B. Maybe a $5 million deal over 24 months. Company B would then buy a bunch of stuff from Company A. Say $4 million over 18 months. As long as the deals weren’t mirrors and they were separate and binding contracts the accountants were high fiving everyone.

versus the 2011 Blubble:

2011 Blubble: Drag blubbering angel investors into Series A rounds valuing your company at $6 million instead of $4 million. Hire engineers, lots of them, as many as you can. Don’t hire non-engineers or other overhead people unless you absolutely have to (thus the dearth of VP Biz Devs around). Your APIs are your sales team!

I’m not in Silicon Valley today, although we have an office there, I am not the one in the coffee shops on a daily basis and I don’t understand “the game.” I do think the author makes a good point about 2011 not being the same type of tech bubble as 2010. The investors have matured to the point that triangular deals aren’t a source of revenue and people actually care about revenue. As a small business I care much more about profit than revenue. Profit is your future cash which controls your growth. If you aren’t profitable you die in short order. Thus we grew 12% last year profitably. Not an easy task in this economy.

The post also highlights one of the biggest challenges with tech companies. Salaries will KILL YOU. It’s not the rent. It’s not the insurance, although health insurance is approaching the deathly-expensive-zone. It is salaries. You can’t cut billable employees as they generate profit. Programmers build your product. Sales hunts and drives profit. The one thing you generally don’t want to be is admin as that is the first thing that gets cut. But if you can automate any of it, you are better off.

Two common methods of automating and outsourcing something that historically has been done in house.

  1. APIs. As Arrington says, if other companies program to your API you don’t need sales. But you need to convince those developers to spend their valuable time working with your API and that isn’t easy.
  2. Open Source. If programmers on the Internet extend your product to meet the needs of more customers then you are more likely to sell more. But you need to convince those developers to spend their valuable time adding new modules to your products.

Think about that. If you are going to automate to increase profits you have to change your business model to include remote developers as a primary audience. Or at least one strong constituency that your messaging goes to. Maybe all of those events we have sponsored in the past will pay off as I have thought of them mostly as “supporting the community” rather than seeking an ROI from a sponsorship. Hmmm.

Hopefully we can explore that more at SchipulCon with a few leaders in the open source community. More on that as it approaches.

 

 

buy gold – thanks t.u. – pay more for electonics – higher interest rates – oh my

silver and goldTurns out Glenn Beck was right; buy gold. Because Gold is now over $1500/ounce!

Radio and TV host Glenn Beck likes to talk about the potential collapse of the American economy. He also likes to talk about buying gold as a hedge against the unknown.

Thanks in part to UT Austin buying 1 billion dollars worth of physical gold bars.

In one of the most remarkable turn of events in Gold history, the University of Texas endowment fund managers announced they have taken delivery of $1 Billion Dollars worth of physical Gold!

UT took delivery of 6,643 actual bars of Gold Bullion, or 664,300 ounces”“ a quite unusual transaction for any university, one that may set a trend for soaring physical Gold demand in 2011. Note that the investment was not in a Gold ETF or individual Gold mining shares or in Gold futures”“ but in real, physical Gold Bars.

And expect to pay more for electronics.

The most important industrial use of gold is in the manufacture of electronics. Solid state electronic devices use very low voltages and currents which are easily interrupted by corrosion or tarnish at the contact points. Gold is the highly efficient conductor that can carry these tiny currents and remain free of corrosion… Gold is used in many places in the standard desktop or laptop computer. The rapid and accurate transmission of digital information through the computer and from one component to another requires an efficient and reliable conductor. Gold meets these requirements better than any other metal.

And all of it timed at the same time S&P received an open letter to downgrade US debt.

He acknowledges the turmoil it would create, punishing Treasury bonds and causing interest rates to spike. In Weiss’s view, however, leaving the AAA-rating untouched could ultimately prove far worse. It gives Congress a free pass to add to the public debt and encourages investors to buy Treasury notes and bonds, whose low yields, he believes, don’t compensate for the dangers.

“Worst of all,” Weiss writes, “by continuing to reaffirm America’s triple-A rating, you help create a false sense of security overall–the recipe for a possible meltdown in the market for U.S. sovereign debts.”

which S&P then did

The closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange sounded at the end of a jittery day of trading. Stocks had plunged at the outset, when one of the nation’s largest bond-rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, downgraded its long-term outlook on U.S. Treasury debt from stable to negative.

S&P said there’s a — quote — “significant risk that Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on spending and deficits until after the 2012 election.” The agency said, “We see the path to agreement as challenging, because the gap between the parties remains wide.”

OK, for those following at home. Your elected officials are squabbling and trying to get reelected instead of running the country. And that raises interest rates. Which makes it even LESS LIKELY that people will be able to sell or buy homes, start businesses, etc, etc. Or that a lot of my unemployed friends will get jobs. Which just sucks.

Not sure what happens next. But I am pretty sure this isn’t good for our business or for job creation. Keep on keepin on I guess…

 

 

 

t-rex 450 project continues (tail boom complete)

T-Rex 450 project continues

Tail rotor hub (preassembled) successfully mounted to the tail boom. Tail blades installed. Haven’t tightened everything yet as the tail boom braces and the tail pitch ball link will need to be adjusted once connected to boom mount in the main frame. (Note to self: order the helimax ball link pliers….)

on suicide and entrepreneurship

Because entreneurship is so misunderstood and suicide is such a sensitive subject I felt the need for a few disclaimers when I did this blog post on Governor Rick Perry’s business tax increases in Texas. I was very careful with my wording to be as respectful as possible, yet be honest about the visceral reaction I had when I read about the tragedy in Austin. I will let that post stand for itself and add nothing further.

Yet in the process of writing that post I did a bunch of research on entrepreneurship and suicide and those notes turned into this post. It is not particularly well organized. Sorry, they were just notes so here goes…

First – I don’t agree with suicide. And nobody can make the case for murder. But we have all heard the stories about business men jumping out of windows after the crash of 1929. And more recently the son who had the courage to testify against his father the crook took his own life. So you can’t argue it’s just the “guilty capitalists” who lose.

And there is apparently a correlation between entrepreneurship and suicide as well. You have to be crazy to start a business to begin with (only partially kidding) so this isn’t surprising. The book For Entrepreneurs Who Considered Suicide When Business Got Tough! tells a story to prevent business owners from making that mistake.

The anchorwoman says, “like many of the three million entrepreneurs who have committed suicide, John Dough was depressed by failed business alliances and naysayers who criticized him for quitting his corporate job to pursue his dream.“

This article on the collateral damage of economic recessions clarifies the statistics.

Unknown to many, people who commits suicide in the wake of economic recessions and financial crises are not individuals with pre-existing mental illnesses.  They are commonly middle-aged men on the verge of debt and bankruptcy.

Add to that most entrepreneurs are men. And (sadly) men are four times more likely to commit suicide. This was news to me as I thought the stereotype was of a young woman. From wikipedia on the epidemiology of suicide regarding gender.

In the United States, males are four times more likely to die by suicide than females.

And then lets throw in race and add another bit of trivia I was unaware of:

In 2003, in the United States, whites were nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than were blacks or Hispanics.

Oh that’s just great. Sheesh, nobody mentioned THAT when we were in college being told that white males had it easy. e.g. “The Pinto is a great economical car that you can afford and we should mention IT HAS A HIGHER LIKELIHOOD OF BLOWING UP!”

And the correlation between failed businesses and suicide isn’t specific to the United States. In fact apparently we do a better job of accepting failure than other countries like Japan. From this post called “Japan: To Fix Your Economy, Honor Your Failed Entrepreneurs” by Vivek Wadhwa

In any country, innovation and economic growth come from startup ventures.  But most Japanese don’t want to take the risk of starting a business.  Indeed, the social stigma and financial repercussion of failure are so great that the founders of failed businesses become social outcasts; no one will work with them again or fund them; and all too often they end up committing suicide.

Entrepreneurs are crazy enough to think that “sure, 90+ percent of start-ups fail, but I’ll be in that minority that makes it!”

As a young man I remember talking to a friend and my point was “if you are considering suicide, why not just up and go on an adventure? If you are working the fishing boats in Alaska you are alive and enjoying life, right? If things are so bad, just leave?” That logic worked for me in my formative years. As I have gotten older I have learned to be more sympathetic on a very complex subject. This recent post by Jenny really highlights the correlation between mental illness and suicide. You can watch the coming out video here.

Money problems are common for entrepreneurs. We are like that. If we have a nest egg we risk it again and keep attacking. This isn’t rational, I get that. But the country need us. We create jobs. We create the economic growth that generates the wealth that pays the taxes so we can educate the kids. If you want public sector employees you need private sector jobs to pay for them.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. I don’t know why. Me? Well, 13 years ago I had two investors lined up for 10k each (sounds funny in hind sight) and one client doing 1200/month. The client fired me, he was also one of the investors so I lost one investor. Ethically I had to tell the other investor and they backed out. Three young kids at home, the youngest 2 years old, my spouse was not working and I had 7k. And I quit to start a company. That’s not “business minded entrepreneurship.” That is just PLAIN STUPID. I have NO idea what I was thinking or why my wife put up with it. She got a job and it eventually worked out. Miraculously I am still married. My point is that just isn’t rational behavior. It isn’t. And I am the one that did it. Why? I really don’t know. And I was 100% positive that I would be successful. And for the record, “I” did NOT do it, but with a TON of help from family and friends and the Houston community WE did do it. We are still here and proud to serve our clients. THANK YOU!

See what I did there? I told the creation story (all true) and the success story (where we are now) but I left off the part about being screwed over by a former business partner, losing a best friend, finding a trusted employee stealing from you and having to fire them. I left off being sued because a water pipe broke in our building and we flooded another suite (no fault of ours, but we got sued anyway). I left off the part about former sales-people stealing leads for billion dollar companies and feeding them to their friends for a kick back. I left off the part about the second mortgages. I left off the part about almost going out of business in 2001. I left off the part about oil companies and financial companies stealing employees right after you get them trained. I left off the heart wrenching loss you feel when you lose a major client. I left all of that off that last paragraph.

I left all of that off because that is what mother culture tells you. If you listen to the stories it goes “Jeff Bezos rode across the country, wrote a business plan while his wife drove, and is now worth billions.” – I don’t know Jeff but I bet if you KNEW Jeff he would tell you it wasn’t that easy. I may not know Jeff, but I bet he worked his ass off and has earned everything he has. (side note- I have met him several times and he was very nice and gracious every time.)

So if you are an entrepreneur reading this, realize a few things. You are different. Not better nor worse than other people. But different. The biggest audience that has to accept it when you fail, as we mostly do, is you. Let it go. Just let it go. You didn’t care when everyone told you that you couldn’t start a business so please don’t care what they think now. If you accept it, it will be OK. Accept the failure and embrace the lessons you learned. Get help and get back on the bike. The rest of the country and the planet needs you to go back to risk taking and creating jobs! Seriously – we need you.

OK, now quit with the negative thinking and go make some jobs. Yes. You. You may be feeling down but I’m pretty darn sure you aren’t out of ideas for great products. Go. Go invent something amazing. Go!

 

 

 

seeking ambitious, ethical, personal-assistant/apprentice

Listing: Detail oriented slightly ADD CEO of high growth tech company seeking ambitious, ethical, personal-assistant/apprentice. 5 year minimum commitment. High stress. Long hours including weekend and evenings as needed. Travel required. (Experience ordering replacement rc heli parts from Hong Kong helpful.)

Gov. Rick Perry predicted $23 billion shortfall

In 2006, former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn sent a letter to state Gov. Rick Perry predicting a $23 billion shortfall over the next five years due to Perry’s tax plan.

and

“You find something like this and you want to go, ‘they knew’,“ Haterius explained. “Hopefully, this mess will cause us to look at the funding system and that’s what we want. We just want a plan that makes sense and is supported.”

Abilene ISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Burns said he is also outraged that state lawmakers blame the budget deficit on the current economy. He told KTXS in a written statement: “I believe that any politician that feigns surprise about this issue is likely being naive. To attribute shortfalls to spending means that the politicians must completely disregard the warnings of the comptroller. This is a revenue shortfall. It was predicted. It has arrived.

Yup. There it is. (emphasis added)