Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Black Rock Oregon MTB - One Sick Place To Ride

When I first started mountain biking I was more of an cross country rider (and still do a ton of that). In my spandex, while riding a 3" bike, I would see all these jumps, berms and wooden tricked out features. I remember thinking how "crazy" these guys were. In fact, I would almost scoff at them. "Who needs that kind of thing..." I would say. Funny how things come full circle... The spandex is gone (safely hidden underneath baggies) and I'm the one either building tricked out terrain or searching for it.

However my perspective changed again when I went to Black Rock Oregon. The stunts go to the next level at Black Rock (and so too with the trail building innovation). In the deeply wooded area, the dirt is tacked out and the building materials are endless. As you wind up the old logging road, you see riders jumping all around you. There are 20' tall wooden bridges with road gaps at the end of them. The trail builders are a dedicated group of serious riders that put some serious love in to each and every berm.

As for me, I only spent a short time there. I tried really hard to jump/gap/shred above my level. Alas, without more time, I could only do so much. But we can all dream of the big lines can't we?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tao And The Tortoise

How old were you when you first heard of the Tortoise and the Hare?  One of my first introductions was Saturday morning cartoons starting the iconic Bugs Bunny. The race starts out with Bugs taking the challenge, and the Tortoise doing a little calisthenics to warm up. After a quick laugh, Bugs takes off at the starting gun and the Tortoise slowly inches along... Then, well, you know the story, and if you don't, watch it below (Looney Tunes style). But there is a bigger, and more powerful story at play here. To me, the Aesop Fable represents the Tao at its finest moment. The tortoise is all things perseverance. In the book 365 Tao by Deng, Ming-Dao perseverance is described as maturity, preparation and steady pace. Sounds a lot like the Tortoise, right? The Tao teaches us to cultivate patience and to build resources even when circumstances seem to be against us. So, in the quiet moments of reflection about your life, are you racing through each day like the Hare, or patiently building you power for the long-haul, like the Tortoise?

Click here to watch the original movie by Warner Brothers Looney Tunes - YAY!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How I Want To Buried - In A Mushroom Suite

When I was 8 years old, I saw my first dead body. We had these surrogate Grandparents that my mother befriended down the road. On Sundays, my Mom would drag me and my sister on an outing that usually involved going to Furr's cafeteria. While we ate our Strawberry Shortcake, we watched in awe at the extremely slow pace of eating of our adopted Grandmother. We figured she was eating so slowly to torture us on, what always happened to be, the most beautiful Sunday afternoon, like ever! Although the Sunday outings were not so cherished, they were still the sweetest couple and friends to me and my family. No matter what we needed, they were there. Our Grandfather was always teaching me how to build bird houses or other crafty things by hand. He taught me how to take apart a lawn mower engine. Due to the distance of my real grandparents, I couldn't have asked for a better proxy. Then, one day, my substitute Grandmother died. I had never realized or seen death before, other than what I saw on movies. This was real, and it was sad.

My Mom dressed us in our Sunday best and we went to the funeral home to say goodbye. She told us we would see a dead body, my Grandmother's body. Gulp! It was kind of scary. As we walked up to the coffin, I didn't really know what to expect. And then I saw her. She looked asleep. Her face looked vibrant. She looked full. She was dressed exquisitely. This wasn't the dead body I had expected. This person didn't look dead at all. She looked beautiful. I was confused, and frankly I have been ever since.

I've been through several funerals now. Each of us plan our burials in our own way (if we are so lucky). Either because of religious reasons, where we bury our dead, or because of symbolic gestures, where we spread our ashes in a sacred place, we all do something that marks our departure from this life. To me, I've always struggled with confusion over coffins and the expense of a funeral. I'd rather someone spend the money on a party in my honor - get wasted and celebrate my life. Again, this is just how I approach the destruction of my body. So I think I've finally found my body's path once my life force has been terminated - decomposition by mushroom.

I'm not kidding! Check out this TedTalk where Jae Rhim Lee discusses a new path to return our bodies to dust, and maybe truly push up some daisies!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Death Of A Salesman, Hardly!

Mark my words, in two to five years from now, your HR manager is going to come to you with this: yeah, it has been nine weeks and we still can't find any qualified technical sales reps! What's more, I talked to Richard in Finance and we are already planning on reducing our forecast for your board presentation. Sales has always had this thing about it where folks downplay its significance. Oh, we can find people. Not a problem... That's a great story to tell yourself, but not a staffing strategy that any smart investor would buy.

In my reading (read Peter Thiel's new book Zero to One - about the sales process), discussions with investors (many of my friends are now investors) and tech entrepreneurs I've found only two positions that this group wants to talk about (I'm highlighting these peers as they have to be laser focused on hiring and staffing plans - limited dollars to throw around):
  1. Product engineers - do you have them on your team?
    • Those that build great products with a passion!
  2. Sales executives - do you have a plan to higher the best?
    • Those that sell your product, and effectively lead your biz dev (sometimes marketing) operations
Finding #1, a lot easier as the job market has taught this generation the importance of building software. Finding #2, getting really, really hard (re-read the qualified part). Your sales team is more (why I added the marketing part) than just a sales team in these grand times. Many more are coming with Navy Seal-like training to the job market. They are smart. They know tech. They know marketing. They know finance. There are a few stars that can effectively drive your product management team (certain ones). They can sell, lead, train, pitch, present, find leverage, build relationship, establish your brand, are highly organized and are the hunter/killers in your organization. Need to have them figure out a product to pitch to that all important client, well if you're looking for scale and the CEO can't pitch it that day, you had better call on a trained sales person do it! Do you have one? Happy hunting!

This entire post was inspired by this Wall Street Journal article today! A very important read for you today!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Well, About Those Hard Things...

When I workout I don't really listen to music that often. Instead, I flex my muscles or shred my bike to a podcast. On Friday's, I typically listen to the Diane Rhem show. While on Sunday's, I listen to Meet The Press. The opportunity to learn while exercising has been one of the most joyous parts of my outdoor shredding career, and sometimes the most distracting. On one particular Meet The Press, I was getting so fed up with the political jabber that I had to keep stopping to calm down. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was actually talking out loud. And with the volume turned up I couldn't really notice anyone but me and my political frustrations. When I stopped to pull over, another bike rider rode past me and said, "I totally agree. That was a little ridiculous he said that on Meet The Press last Sunday." Ha! True story...

I'm amazed by what the internet can offer. I didn't go to the Stanford Engineering School, nor was I raised in California for that matter. But I love the fact that I can go online and watch an entrepreneurial presentation by Ben Horowitz from the VC firm Andreesson and Horowitz. For starters, Horowitz is a hip hop fan, so despite his amazing achievements, he's already piqued my interest. Secondly, I'm enamored by his peace time vs war time CEO concept. The talk is mainly about his new book The Hard Things About Hard Things. I've already purchased a sample copy, and then promptly bought the whole book. Go ahead and check out the talk for yourself:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Silence Before Thought...

My father recently gave me a picture my Great Grandmother took of the Newcomb trading post in Newcomb, NM. My family owned the trading post for many years. In the picture are my Great Grandfather's associates as well as customers. You can almost feel the traditional west in this sepia-toned artifact. The women in the picture proudly promote the Navajo rugs on display. Rifles and tools are not too far from the hands of the sun-battered men. Our family's Indian tradition goes back to before New Mexico gained statehood. Growing up my Grandmother bestowed many of the cultural beliefs about the Navajo on me and my Sister. One thing she spoke of, but never quite sunk in was the quietness of the Indian people. Perhaps it was my Grandmother's love of colorful story telling that prevented us from truly capturing what it means to be silent - she's an incredible story teller at that! Over the weekend I read something that reminded me of silence. A Sioux Chief wrote about the traditional politeness of their culture. One path to practicing this form of respect is silence before thought. This struck me, as those of you who know me, find that I am probably the worst at this (probably my Grandmother's genes passing down to me). I love flying off the handle with free-forming ideas. However, as I get older, I realize how, not just quiet for quiet-sake is important, but the formation of ideas is important, and that takes silence before thought. Today, as I consider my interactions with people, I will try to remember this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Defense Of Brevity...

I worked with this accountant once, more like a chief council kind of guy. He was about 70 with bulging eyes and a powerful look. At meetings he wouldn't say much. However, at a key point, he would spell out these one-liners that got all of us grasping for an answer. Classic grey-haired man, right? Yep... He was that kind of guy. Quick little quips about what we were planning that boiled us in business meditation (in some cases we actually abandoned our ideas). I wouldn't say the approach was that genius, but it did teach me something. Many times the best commentary or insight comes in small packages. It is the very act of simplicity of action/thought. One might call it thinking before one speaks