I turned 50 in September and it surprised me how it got into my head in the two weeks leading up to it. Everyone joked about being on the backside of life, service dogs and other cliches. On thing they all had in common were that they had negative connatations and played to the notion that the best has passed and now it was just decline.
This is no different, in many ways, to how people may (unintentionally) make entrepreneurs feel about their venture. It won't work, look at the challenges, burning money, why isn't anyone buying, you're a CEO?, etc. It all comes down to how you frame your life and your journey. Below is one of many positive takes on turning 50. Hell, I would argue that you can create a similar list for any age and frame it as an opportunity to reinvent, to realize your freedom of choices, be inspired, have courage, etc. Life is a series of Hero's Journeys...50 is not the only one! So, seize the day (or Birthday) as the case may be and don't let those influences around let you think small or feel small.
Michelle Obama has turned 50, and now the nation is talking about this magical age. Is it over the hill or the peak of life? The benefits of turning 50 can outweigh the negatives if you look for them. And I looked! Here are 10 perks of reaching the half-century mark.
These are just a few of the many benefits of turning 50. I encourage you to look for these and more as you reach this magical age. The best is yet to come with the right attitude!
January 21, 2015 | Permalink
"If you can see it, it isn't the revolution." -- Steve Jurvetson
I wrote the following post in Nov, 2008. It demonstrated two things. 1) Tech and the stock market have a little dance they do...tech has roughly a 15 year cycle and the stock market has roughly a 7-8 year one and 2) tech is non-linear...just as FB/social was about to take off, many thought cleantech was going to be the next bellweather sector. If you can see it, it isn't the revolution.
I wrote in June 2008 that I thought the venture/market cycle was coming to an end and this one in Nov 2008. Today, lot of people are going to cash and getting nervous about the market this year. Fortune 500's are cutting ad spending for Q1 (some significantly) and I recently spoke to two elder ladies in a hotel lobby who were "short the market". Also, more VC money was invested in 2014 than any year since 2000. So, while I believe in the 15 year tech cycle (e.g. things go boom in the night in the coming year), with this many people looking for it, it seldom hits. That said, probably not a good time to aggressively put money out and a good time to get your house in order. I'll revisit as the year progresses...the IPO market vs. last private round valuations is a key metric to monitor.
From Nov, 2008:
"As the bad news keeps pouring in, a lot of people are wondering what we can expect in the coming years. Additionally, everyone is trying to figure out what hope exists. Well, I'll give two thoughts on this (briefly).
First, the world of technology is driven by two factors: the laws of exponentials and the Black Swan. Progress does not occur linearly but exponentially. We can expect to see changes the magnitude of the past 100 years in just the next 20 years. This means a lot of people are going to a) be really busy and b) be dramatically better off. These changes will come from places you can't predict (Black Swans). Market crashes and negative developments are not the only unexpected six sigma events.
Second, markets run in roughly 7 years cycles and technology in 15 year waves. Vacuum tubes to main frames to mini-computers (DEC) to PC's (Apple/Microsoft) to the Internet. The next wave, then, should start in 2010-11 and hit full force in 2015-16. Many in the business (us, Kleiner, etc) feel this will be in Cleantech. The energy market is 10-20x the IT market. We are not talking about billion dollar markets but trillion dollar ones. There will be a lot of casualties but some enormous wins.
So, there us no doubt that life is really brutal today. But, prepare and get ready for enormous, explosive market opportunities. It's going to be mindblowing.
So, I stick my neck out again typing on my small iPhone. I declared the old venture cycle dead last June. I am declaring the the next cycle, even bigger than the former, will kick in during 2010 with foundations forming by the end of next year. I also believe we will see 30-40% of remaining venture firms will not survive to see this through (food for another post)...
January 17, 2015 | Permalink
Larger Post coming...without appreciating the context (yesterday's post), it is hard to fully grasp the origin nor significance of the tech renaissance that is taking place in Israel. One has to see it to fully appreciate it. Much like Boston and Silicon Valley had its origins in military R&D and culture, Israel's tech ecosystem also comes out of this. It has had innovation after innovation emerge from its advanced defense work. For example, ICQ (not AOL messenger) launched instant messaging onto the world and originally came from te Israeli Defense Force's internal uses. Same with voicemail and many other innovations. Israel has some of the world's best minds in Big Data, IT security software, messenging, telecom infrastructure, etc. A lot of this is described in the book, Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Some of the numbers are eye-popping...one start-up per 2,000 people in the country for example. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Equally important is the Israeli resilience & tolerance for risk. This is at the heart of the entrepreneurship. When living in the charged environment discussed yesterday, you can't help but to grow up with a DNA that accepts risk/change's role in life and embraces the necessity of innovation.
I have to run to Tel Aviv's accelerator, SOSA (their equivalent to Chicago's 1871). More to come.
October 29, 2014 | Permalink
October 28, 2014 | Permalink
October 27, 2014 | Permalink
As many of you may know, I am a commencement speach junkie. One of the stars of this year's batch is Admiral McRaven's talk at UoT. He is a navy seal, Commander of the United States Special Operations Command & oversaw the final raid on Osama bin Laden. This has been going viral (approaching 2M views in 1 week). Enjoy!
Those who know me well, know that I am a big fan of Mihaly (formerly UoC) and his work on Flow (TED Talk: Flow, Secret to Happiness). He has been on the forefront of work around positive psychology, researching "experts", 10000 hour rule, Happiness/Achievement/Creativity and much more.
Csikszentmihalyi also found that intrinsically motivated people were more likely to be goal-directed and enjoy challenges that would lead to an increase in overall happiness. Great quote from him below. The following framework is at the heart of his work, around aligning Challenge and Skill Level. His work is a must read including (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
“A person can make himself happy, or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening ‘outside,’ just by changing the contents of consciousness. We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well. To develop this trait, one must find ways to order consciousness so as to be in control of feelings and thoughts. It is best not to expect shortcuts will do the trick. “ - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
March 16, 2014 | Permalink
I published this about 7 weeks ago when pricing was around $1,000. With the Mt. Gox implosion, there has been a strong pull back in the market. Eventually, there will be a more defined need/place in the ecosystem for Bitcoin. This recent episode illustrates that there are an array of components, security & circuit breakers necessary for this to be a more widely accepted currency. It is just the beginning of a series of market unjulations as well as catalyst for much needed infrastructure enhancement.
"Anyone watching Bitcoin's meteoric rise in price has to wonder what is going on. Despite all of the trappings of crypto modern technology, everyone has to remember that it behaves according to the laws of all markets (supply and demand).
Supply is capped at 21m coins, and as the global supply gets closer to this, growth in supply slows significantly. So, there is not significant spikes in supply.
Demand on the other hand, has both traditional currency use and an increasing amount of "momentum" speculative buying. Like any market, as people see the price rise, others jump in with the hopes of riches, driving the price higher...rinse and repeat and you hit bubble town. Supply is capped and demand does not.
When does it pop? Who knows but it unwinds exactly the same way it has for 5,000 years. A segment sells hard. It is an illiquid market and buyers start to dry up as the price drops and fear replaces greed. If something fundamental like a global equity crash hits or governments ban it outright, who knows where the bottom goes.
The issue is the very nature of its libertarian beauty. There is no lender of last resort, no market makers and no "too big to fail" government intervention. In 1987 and 2008, without this circuit breaker, we'd be in the Dark Ages again. People getting in today are bullish but nervous given the rise (when has an asset rising 9x in a short period of time not led to significant correction...could go to 100x before it blows or just 10x).
Have you wondered why there are so many positive, get into the pool, "there is Gold in them hills" articles? If I own Bitcoins, getting a ton of others coming in will drive the price through the roof. This is what happened in the 1920's and led to the Blue Sky laws, etc to mollify stock price manipulation.
I think the world government's printing presses have created a widespread interest in currency alternatives. However, Bitcoins have issues with being illiquid, having a nascent market infrastructure, no regulation on behavior (1800's style pump & dump manipulation), no circuit breakers and speculative demand. So, like in 1999, we all knew things would end in tears. It is only after the crash that the true fundamental building began (eg Amazon). So, buckle up. Things are going to get wild in the West..."
March 16, 2014 | Permalink
"I'm sorry, there's nothing more we can do."
I was always envious and impressed with one of my former entrepreneurs, David Linn. After HBS, he managed to arrange to play professional soccer during the summer (Chicago Fire) and work at McKinsey the rest of the year. He was our top deal guy at Centerpost and has an effusive energy and presence that makes you want to be involved with him & whatever he is doing. We were disappointed when he left Centerpost to go to New York and be with his fiancee, his soul mate but we were happy for him. Fast forward 9 years and imagine my surprise to see him on the stage of the Social Innovation Summit. My heart sank as I heard him talk about how his now wife came down with a rare sarcoma and, after 7 years of fighting, died in 2011.
But David is an amazing guy, a force of nature. As many incredible people have done, he took the pain, the sadness and the setback and redirected them towards making a difference. You see, for all of us, from the seeds of despair come greatness. For every setback and tragedy brings with it an energy, a yin to despair's yang. It can propel us to new heights to right unstoppable wrongs. To make the world a better place, whether through a business, a cause, a friendship or just a hug. As Buddha said, there will always be pain or disappointment but there does not need to be suffering. Where are you going to point your immense talent & potential to make the world a better place?
As I said in my earlier blog post this year, I vowed to give back more. David created Cycle for Survival in partnership with Equinox and Sloan Kettering to raise money for rare cancer research (total 50% of deaths). They have raised over $30m in the last couple of years and every dollar goes directly to researchers. So, inspired by David's awesome response to life, David Rosen & I set up our Team Pritzker for Cycle for Survival on Feb 8th. If any of you are moved to support the cause, please go to the TEAM PRITZKER CYCLE PAGE. The McCall's are dividing and conquering...my daughter, Avery, will be David R in Chicago and I'll be part of our LA office effort (you can donate to either team).
In closing, I wanted to add a link to David's blog about turning 40 and How to Dance After Losing It All. He made the video below with his wife on her 40th in 2010. Don't forget to dance.