Lessons in Entrepreneurship, Seahawks Style

Lessons in Entrepreneurship, Seahawks Style
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In that miracle masquerading as the NFC Championship game last Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks taught entrepreneurs and all of us in the startup world five of the most important lessons about starting and building successful companies.

1. Nothing ever goes as planned.

For the first three-and-a-half quarters, nothing worked for the Seahawks. Quarterback Russell Wilson had thrown four interceptions and couldn’t run the ball. Penalties killed every promising drive. The Seahawks were down 16-0 at half and 19-7 late in the fourth quarter, and it wasn’t that close.

Every startup leader knows the feeling. Your product breaks in unexpected ways at unexpected times. You lose customers

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Spare5 Harnesses the Collective Power of Everyone

Spare5 Harnesses the Collective Power of Everyone
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“Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.” –John F. Kennedy

Most experts who wax about the ongoing mobile revolution focus on the growing power and functionality of our smartphones. I have always believed the more important change has less to do with our increasing access to these new brains and more to do with ones we already have.

Human beings have so many talents and insights that in a feature phone world were difficult to expose. Today, anyone with a smartphone can produce high-quality, specialized work 24 hours per day. As an example, I am writing this post on

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Stop Spending Time with People Looking for Reasons to Say No

Stop Spending Time with People Looking for Reasons to Say No
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“Um, excuse me, I … I think you forgot my bread.” “Bread, two dollars extra.” “Two dollars? But everyone in front of me got free bread.” “You want bread?” “Yes, please.” “Three dollars!” “What?” “No soup for you!” — George and the Soup Nazi, in “The Soup Nazi,” Seinfeld

I spend far too much time trying to convince people to say “yes,” especially people who are looking for reasons to say “no.” I think of myself as a pretty good salesperson, but I don’t think I have ever convinced someone to change his or her mind

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Best Product Nominee: The Dirty Diaper

Best Product Nominee: The Dirty Diaper
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I love great products.

Not just tech products, either. Game of Thrones is a great product, which is why I feel the need to blab on and on about it until I nauseate those who haven’t gotten hooked yet.

With summer approaching, I feel the need to share with you another truly great product: the Dirty Diaper.  The Dirty Diaper is the result of roasting a marshmallow with chocolate shoved into it.  Done correctly, you are treated to a toasted marshmallow with hot melted chocolate inside.  Think new-and-improved cousin to the s’more, sans graham cracker.

I can’t take credit for this revolutionary dessert.

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To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately

To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately
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In a 9-0 decision Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to cap the number of UberX, Sidecar and Lyft drivers on our streets — to protect the legitimate interests of taxi companies and the revenue they create for our city.

So, I thought we should come up with 10 other important limits that we as a city can and should place on new technology-based business models. Here they are:

To protect the legitimate interests of the U.S. Postal Service and keep the price of stamps reasonable for our citizens, the City should … Continue reading

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Part Two

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Sequels are rarely better than the original. But there are exceptions. Being a sucker for happy endings, I liked Rocky II more than the Oscar-winning original. Speaking of great sequels, I was back at West Mercer Elementary this morning for Career Day, meeting with third, fourth and fifth graders and listening to their startup ideas.

My session was entitled “Your Billion-Dollar Idea.” Like last year, I explained what a venture capitalist does, laid out the criteria we use to make investments (team, product, market, business model and timing) and gave each student the opportunity to pitch

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A “Breaking Bad” Guide to Entrepreneurship

A “Breaking Bad” Guide to Entrepreneurship
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I just binge-watched all six seasons of Breaking Bad. If you haven’t downloaded the AMC show (but plan to soon), prepare yourself for experiencing someone else’s mid-life crisis, with healthy doses of terminal illness, murder, infidelity and drug-dealing thrown in to keep it interesting. Spending time with chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White, his family and the surrounding characters is exhausting and engrossing at the same time. The characters (and Walt especially) are more complex than any you have spent time with on the TV screen.

Instead of reviewing the show, as others have done far better than I could, I

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Pole Dancing and Self-Censorship

Pole Dancing and Self-Censorship
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“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.” –Ice Cube, “Check Yo Self”

I was snooping through my son’s middle school yearbook recently when I came across a disturbing inscription from a fellow classmate.  This preteen had taken up an entire page to draw a schematic of a strip club, replete with a stick figure woman doing a pole dance and another stick figure woman giving a lap dance to a stick figure man.  How do I know that he intended it to be a lap dance?  Mercifully, he handwrote “lap dance” with an arrow pointing to the stick

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Walk With Me

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“Sitting is the smoking of our generation.” –Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review

Can you help me with an experiment?  I want to have more walking meetings.

I have two reasons for this goal. First, I think meetings where we talk while walking are more effective. Steve Jobs (and now Mark Zuckerberg) are famous for taking long walks to interview employees or discuss key strategic initiatives.  For some reason, moving stimulates more creativity and easier dialogue.  My best recent meetings with entrepreneurs have been on walks around the Pioneer Square area.

Second, sitting in meetings all day is killing

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My February Resolution

My February Resolution
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“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” –Jack Handey, Saturday Night Live

I was scheduled to have foot surgery last Friday morning.  As I was both reading my emails on my iPhone and helping my wife Shannon with the kids’ school lunches that morning, I popped a bite of cheese and salami into my mouth.  A minute later I realized I had broken the cardinal rule of no food or drink eight hours before surgery.  My surgery had to be rescheduled, and

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