Action and Thought

Entrepreneur, Designer.

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A 16-hour Day: Re-discovering Indomitable Energy.

My day started at 8:30 am, awaking to a call and ends here at 2:10 am, blogging.

Today, I video-chatted with: Ray on a new opportunity, Imran on design/brands/social ventures, & Claire and Turner on their non-profit pilot and Kickstarter.

I had calls with: my Mom, Mark and Ray about a business opportunity, Omar about a medical review he’s starting, Emily and Luke about branding, Luis about future goals and intentionality in projects, Kim and Nicolas about deciding on next projects, Miles about his startup that mirrored a past potential avenue of mine.

I texted: Ted, Luis, my little sister, and my Mom about the laser, Maran about a raincheck, Ryan about a backup for space, Nolan about a price break for repairs, Jeddy about his new venture, Romi about his TED talk being posted, Kuljot about admissions, and Michael about something he wants feedback on.

I also drove over 400 miles...

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Action breeds action.

A new friend told me this quip today, and it really rang true with me.

His example was that he had, during college, taken advantage of an online deal to go to Boston from Austin, TX for $114 for a weekend. It was a one-way ticket, and he had no good friends in Boston, at least, not yet anyway.

But he proceeded to inform me that he ended up flying back by way of Chicago. And all of this with the simple catalyst of a cheap and ‘easy’ ticket to Boston.

His point was that ‘Action breeds action.’ And it makes sense, however simple the idea. By going to Boston, he forced himself to engage with reality and understand exactly what he was going to do.

For me, it has been such a process. Someone asked me today how you start at the beginning with a startup. And, just now starting on business 2, I found myself at first, at a bit of a loss. But then I realized that the process involves a...

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We choose our path.

I’m at an interesting place right now.

I’m still very early in my career, and yet, by taking a few risks, I’ve learned a little more than average, and gotten a little further than some in pursuing what I say that I want to pursue.

Generalities aside, I stand now with different opportunities and paths to pursue - different projects asking for my time for the next year.

And it’s gotten me thinking - how much of life is thrown at (or more ideally, pleasantly presented to) us? The best explanation I think lies in the idea of discovery.

I believe that we can’t, to take a line from John Kay’s Obliquity target exactly our goals, but rather we can endeavor to put ourselves in the right environments to discover things that best fit us.

A recent project is a music & design studio in Austin, TX. This tugs at me deeply, because not only do I sense opportunity and uniqueness here, but I also...

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The mic is always on.

A friend recently attended an event I held. Before the event started, he happened to be near the mic. He happened to make some comments about my lackluster event organizing. I’ll admit, it was rough, and as a pilot, it could definitely have gone better.

I was recording the entire thing.

My practice with events is to hit the record button half an hour before the start of the show. Period. And the reason I do that is very simple: so that I don’t forget to hit record later.

As a preface to this, I will say that the event ended up going very well and he ended up really enjoying it. In addition, we remain good friends after chatting about this - praise publicly and criticize privately.

This is an important lesson for all of us though, myself included. And so I’ll share it while keeping all anonymous.

In a world where everything is insta-hyper-tweetable and I can download a song...

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What will keep you awake?

In the latter half of college, I began to notice and understand that I had a major health issue.

Due to some pretty intense allergies, I would sleep for 8 hours, and if in an unclean environment woudl feel as if I’d slept for 3.

And then, I would go about my day, like a zombie. Using food and fruit juice intermittently to stay awake, I would go from class to class on the search for something interesting.

Because - that would keep me awake. My meter of how fun or interesting levels would be simply how awake I would stay. The class that kept me the most awake was 15.390, New Enterprises (MIT’s most potent startup class). Though I only read 2 of the case studies fully (they were a bit dull), I was sat with rapt attention, always plugged in.

I find that active experiences - presenting, pitching, conversing, projects, building things, jetskiing, and now, flying keep me alive...

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Shot Clock

I am writing this entry on a regional flight from Killeen TX to IAH en route to BOS.

A few minutes ago we took off and I heard those proverbial words - please turn off all iPads, iPods, etc. It’s amazing mobile device advertising really.

And it springs me into action. Because I know that my 3G signal is on a different band, and I have just under 5 minutes before I lose touch with the outside world. Remember - it’s 2013 and the large majority of planes still have yet to harness the power of satellite wifi.

But while I respect all of the other overarching rules, somehow I feel that this one in particular does not pertain to me. And maybe that’s because it makes me so damn productive. Wow - do my fingers fly faster than ever as those once dull emails become a challenge . I once heard a story of a famous rapper who had a 5 minute hourglass he would use to time tasks and thus...

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You Can’t Eat Shares

My grandmother is turning 90 next month, and today we had our quarterly chat. It’s not scheduled; it just generally happens that way.

We discussed the idea of working for early stage companies and how, at my prior venture, I went for nearly 18 months and paid myself less than the cost of a new Ford Fiesta. We lived in a closet for 6 months (I kid you not - we actually built a bunk bed in a walk-in closet), and had a decently good time.

Why deprive yourself so much? Dreams. The vision of building a great company and not necessarily optimizing for future financial wealth (that’s more secondary), but rather thoughts of simply being able to continue operating in hopes achieving that next goal or milestone.

But, as my grandmother says, you can’t eat shares. Well, not until someone is willing to buy them anyway. And at that point, you can eat a whole lot of shares. I’ll save the...

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Good Risk, Bad Risk

A friend recently spoke with me about his love for risk. Wait a second! Red flag. Isn’t that like saying you love driving 130 mph on a motor cycle through traffic?

Well, not quite. Richard Branson is quoted, saying: I have always thrived on havoc and adrenaline. Does this make Branson irresponsible? Before you make an effigy of me for defaming our British entrepreneurship patron saint, let’s take a step back. Risk is essential. Risk often means reward.

I too enjoy risk. Some risk makes me feel on edge, alive, and in the moment. Other risk makes my stomach churn, causes insomnia, and generally, I worry, shortens my life expectancy.

But what’s the difference? The differences are as follows:

1) Good risk is invited. Bad risk is unexpected.

2) Good risk is well-researched and has a clear intent. Bad risk comes without a solid purpose or concrete knowledge.

3) Good risk has tremendous...

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What’s your currency?

My good friend Ian Tracy is one of the more passionate guys that I know. He double majored as an undergrad in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering. These majors are usually just plenty on their own. Ian thinks deeply about what he wants to achieve, which is something that I admire, especially when matched with his love of learning.

We got into a deep multiple-hour conversation yesterday night that changed something about the way I think.

He asked, “What is your currency?” He noted that for academics around MIT, money ceased to be the currency. As long as they were basically taken care of, their currency had to do with research, papers, side projects, students, and their larger impact on the world.

Wow. That’s an incredible idea, isn’t it? Currency - such a word often is defined as something that is tradable, but I would like to think that it simply means an object that...

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You don’t manage creativity, you enable it.

An amazing HBR article I came across today.

My reflections:

When you’re doing something creative and focusing on the highest levels of management, it is so important to enable and empower creators. One of the things that I was so proud of with Ministry of Supply in my role of biz dev is that, as someone who studied product design, I got that products need wiggle room.

A concept and word that I’ve been loving lately, borrowed from my friend Greg Nance, is runway. It could be financial runway, time runway, or in this case, creative runway. That means that judgment needs to get left at the door and ROI models stowed away and left for the end of the conversation rather than the beginning.

I have, in the past, worked as a designer and felt managed, and I can tell you that there is nothing more stifling. But are we asking for unbridled control and infinite timelines here? Certainly...

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