On My Mind Monday (3rd Ed.)

Yep. It’s Tuesday in the real world. But on this blog–it’s On My Mind Monday.  Here are your links for the week. Enjoy.

IMAG0670 1024x612 On My Mind Monday (3rd Ed.)

bg Blog: My Week Alone on the Internet
Why: I saw the author, Grant Blakeman speak recently at TedxBoulder about minimalism. (That’s him in the photo to the left.) He continues the good work here with a post on being distracted with what he calls CRS aka Constant-Refresh-Syndrome. This post details his experiment to circumvent this and what he found was that there are distractions everywhere. Insightful read.

The Daily Beast: Is There a Gender Divide in Startups?
Why: After a flurry of articles about where all the women are in tech startups the author herself a tech startup veteran gets to the point about what we should be focusing on. “I could keep writing about the lack of women in tech, but starting a new company sounds like a lot more fun.”

Seth’s Blog: The Fear Tax
Why: Ever the provocateur, Seth Godin does it again with this post. Simply? Fear is one of the biggest things that holds us back from success in business and in life.

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Good Boundary. Good Boundary.

1209407 stop Good Boundary. Good Boundary.Boundaries are very good things. They delineate what’s ok and what isn’t. I always like to say that everyone (adults, children, dogs) needs boundaries. It lets them know where the line is for what’s acceptable. It makes them feel safe. And in some cases, actually makes them safe.

In my work I see many companies with organizational and/or business issues where the lack of strong, articulated boundaries were the culprit. In some cases they didn’t have enough business experience to know what kind to set. In other cases, they had boundaries they wanted to set but didn’t for fear of losing clients or valued staff. Or worse? They set boundaries but then didn’t enforce them. This eroded their credibility and built distrust because others didn’t know what to expect of them. This = not good. The founders became frustrated. Left to the whims of others. And? The business was less profitable.

An epic fail.

When Boundaries are Bad
I’m having a hard time coming up with a time when at least some basic boundaries aren’t good. One of my friends, thinks that not all boundaries are good. Especially in extreme sports.

IMAG1157 179x300 Good Boundary. Good Boundary.I think what he’s actually talking about are limits. These, I think, are different than boundaries. You set limits for yourself but boundaries for others. When I’ve been in extreme situations I still have limits. For example, on my first hike up two 14ers in a day my limits were mostly around altitude issues.

If my lungs rattled, down I went.

If I started getting sick to my stomach, it meant stop.

Getting a little frustrated or scared meant I still continued forward. That’s how I got to the top of the mountains safely. I saw some people coming down the mountain who were just wrecked. They either didn’t have limits or, had pushed way past them. I kept thinking we might see a Medevac on the mountain. Not good. Note: The fabulous jumpers in the photo are my friends Betsy Doughty and Emma Nicoletti participating in the Warrior Dash, an extreme running/obstacle course event. Their limit was sticking together through the entire course. They did and both came through the course with their well-being intact.

Although these examples are from the sporting world, it applies to the professional as well. An example is having a limit around how much money and time you’re willing to pump into your business as a new entrepreneur. As I mused on this topic there was a pretty furious volley going on about boundaries on Twitter. Here are some of the juicy tidbits:

@iamkendal: …one area of life tends to reflect others. Even in the extreme sports context, there’s more going on.

@heizusan: I keep my boundaries very broad, but iron-clad steel. You get lots of wiggle room, but 0 tolerance for “leaving the premises”.

@campsteve: People who say they don’t have boundaries don’t know themselves.

I agree with @campsteve’s comment. And? It’s also true about limits. You have to know yourself. Know what’s ok. And…what’s not. To know that you actually have needs that need to be respected in your business, your relationships and with yourself.

If you don’t have boundaries and limits you’ll get hurt in life–metaphorically and literally. The lack of the them can breed frustration and conflict with others if they’re not well set AND articulated.  Pretending you don’t have boundaries or repeatedly ignoring them will raise your cortisol levels. Otherwise known as the stress hormone, elevated levels of cortisol are associated with a weakened immune system, impaired brain function among other yucky stuff you don’t want.

Save yourself from inner and outer conflict and just set some boundaries and limits. Your business will thank you. Your friends, family and colleagues will thank you. Your soul will thank you.

The Equation

1186633 double six Good Boundary. Good Boundary.Being an engineer, my dad’s pretty much a math genius so even though I’m not I like to express things in terms of equations. So for the math nerds out there here it is:

Boundaries = well-articulated external rules for others

Limits = clear internal rules for yourself

Boundaries + Limits = a well-articulated business and life that supports you. And that = happiness in my book. Without boundaries and limits, life is just a roll of the die.

What kind of boundaries do you have?

What limits do you set for yourself?

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It's Not a Race to the Top. It's Just To The Top.

IMAG07751 1024x612 It's Not a Race to the Top. It's Just To The Top.

I recently completed my first 14er. Actually two in one day. (That’s me and my friend Kim at the Summit of Gray’s.) For those of you who don’t happen to know this term…that’s climbing a 14,000 peak. It’s a pretty major accomplishment for this non-athletic asthmatic. By the way–this was one of my goals for 2010. Don’t worry I’m not going to make this one of those posts where I make some big analogy about how this is like business.  (Finding your own correlations will be more fun.) I’ll simply tell you a bit about what I learned that might be useful for you if you’re going to attempt a 14er yourself.

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The Philosophical

Mama nature takes it seriously and so should you.
Be the little train that could. Believe.
Bring a friend who knows how much to push you. And, when to back down.
Make a mantra. Mine was counting to ten and then breathing. This will help you focus when it gets really hard.
Go at your own pace.
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The Practical

Cover ye head. Sunscreen it up. Two words: Eat. Drink. Altitude helpers: Carbs & Yarrow. Beware long toenails. Layers and layers. And…

Listen to the experts.

Listen to the experts.

Listen to the experts.

IMAG07871 1024x612 It's Not a Race to the Top. It's Just To The Top.

Two Biggest Take-aways
One. Go at your own pace. Don’t worry about how the “Jones’” were doing or how fast they were going. Many of the people who initially passed us ended up not making it to the top because they didn’t figure out a consistent pace.

Two. Dream big. Beyond the physical accomplishment I realized that I need to dream BIG in all parts of my life. That I underestimate what I’m capable of doing. Not any more.

Thanks to everyone who helped me reach my goal:

Amy Christensen who took me on a kick-ass training hike and helped me create a training plan.

Jason Mendelson who helped me pick the right first summit and gave me valuable tips (some of which are included above).

Kim Curtis who took the climb with me and was a great person with whom to share my first summit.

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How to (Really) Change Your Life

party supplies  decorations 1 How to (Really) Change Your Life

Looking at the title of this post you might think it’s New Years. No, you’re not mistaken. We didn’t suddenly fast-forward to the end of the year when most people naturally think about setting goals for the coming one. I’m a fall person. After the more laid-back feel of summer I look forward to August and the months between now and the end of the year. It’s when I have the most energy. It’s when I coalesce what I want the coming year to be about.

I gave up resolutions a number of years ago. They just don’t work for me. Well, for most people either–without the right amount of support and mental change that’s required to make ‘em stick. Instead…

I start with a theme of the year

Last year it was Freedom. Having a theme helps me focus my attention and helps me to set goals. Once I have the theme I start to develop goals. I usually break them down by the quarter since a year is an awfully long time and usually the goals I have in mind are pretty meaty. Having a theme and some specific goals is key.

What I accomplished in 2009:

- Moved to Boulder (with no job and no friends)

- Got back into climbing

- Allowed myself to go to zero (the most amazing freedom I’ve ever felt)

- Finally found work/life balance (HUGE freedom for a recovering Type A)

- Fell in love for the first time in 5 years (it didn’t last but it was glorious)

- Went snowboarding for the first time (and didn’t suck at it)

IMG 28401 How to (Really) Change Your Life

This Year’s Theme

This year’s word is Alignment.  Going inside out rather than outside in to create a life that really allows me to find (and stay) in my flow. One of my goals for this year was to travel more–something I love but haven’t always made a priority. So far in 2010 I’ve traveled to:

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- Aspen

- Austin

- Breckenridge & Frisco

- Los Angeles

- Ouray

- Santa Fe & Taos

- Telluride

Whaddaya think? Are you with me?

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Three Quick Steps to Really Change Your Life
1. Develop a theme. (Focus)
2. Write down your goals. (Specificity)
3. Share them publicly. (Accountability)

What’s your theme?

What do you plan to accomplish this month?

This Quarter?

This Year?

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On My Mind Monday (2nd ed.)

Ok, ok. I know for most of you it’s not Monday. Even though it’s Tuesday I’m posting this because I was away in Santa Fe this weekend and just got back yesterday so today is my Monday.  On to the stuff I found interesting this week…

Chris Brogan: Not Time Management
Why: This is actually a vlog post. I included it because he makes a simple but really important point about the biggest key to managing our time.

Reuters: If Women are Good at Running Businesses Why Does it Take Them Longer to Start One?
Why: As a female entrepreneur I’m always fascinated with this topic. And? It points out how the “system” can adjust to suit potential entrepreneurs just a tad outside the traditional profile.

New York Times: But Will it Make You Happy?
Why: Happiness is always a fun topic. It also talks indirectly about a topic I’m very interested in: simplicity vs. minimalism.

Home Grown: Earthship Biotecture
Why: This weekend I had the opportunity to visit the original Earthship community just outside of Taos. When I was going to get my PhD I studied environmental risks and community response to it so sustainability is a topic that’s always close to my heart. The photos below are of completed and still in the works Earthships.

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On My Mind Monday

I’m a voracious reader. I ask lots, I mean lots, of questions. (I’m actually paid to do it for a living).  So, one of the things I’m known for is being able to assimilate and use information quickly. I’m often asked which networking groups are the best in town. Or, who’s speaking at an event in town. And most often…resources on organizational strategy, business and transition.

I’ve decided to spread the love via this blog.  Every week I’ll share links to the things that have been on my mind over the past week.  Some times they might have a theme. Often, like the way my brain works, they’ll be more stream of consciousness.

On to our first edition…

More Venture, Less Capital: On the Road with TechStars
Why:
This article highlights some of my favorite TechStars companies from the 2010 class. Companies and people you definitely want to watch.

Tech Cocktail: TechStars Boulder Launches 11 More Startups
Why:
This is a good comprehensive recap of the recent crop of TechStars.

New York Times: Tapping the Wisdom of the Crowd
Why: Crowdsourcing is the way of future if not the way of now. It’s a trend a new way of doing business that you should know about.  As an added bonus? The article mentions a couple of Boulder local businesses.

New York Times (Sunday Magazine): The Age of Laura Linney
Why: I’m fascinated with talent and people who find ways to use theirs to create a satisfying career. Laura Linney is definitely one of those. Actors are like entrepreneurs because they’re free agents who have to manage their careers well. And? I met her once. She was so genuine and unassuming (for such a big talent) that I didn’t realize who she was until much later. Cool.

And, a photo I took from my bedroom window Sunday night as I was preparing this post.

 

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Choosing a City for Your Startup

It’sIMAG0624 Choosing a City for Your Startup investor day today for TechStars companies. The latest crop of companies from this mentorship-driven seed stage investment program was impressive. That’s Josh Fraser introducing Adstruc who have a pretty brilliant idea that’s sure to have an impact in the outdoor ad industry. Some of the founders for those companies are from Boulder (like Spot Influence) while others came here specifically for the TechStars program (such as Adstruc who are from New York–a billboard & advertising mecca. Which of course, is a natural fit for their company). 

Under30CEO.com just came out with the results for their survey on the best cities for young entrepreneurs. The list included the usual suspects that appear on many “best of” lists.  Chicago, Seattle, New York and the like. While some of the choices are dead on I disagree with some of their choices. And, more importantly. Their methodology.  This got me to thinking about how to choose a city for your startup.

Choose Your Criteria Wisely

The criteria they include on this survey include: resources available, schools, social atmosphere, weather and networking opportunities. While these are good things to think about there are some other things they’re missing. For example: What is the climate like for entrepreneurial ventures? What is the city known for industry-wise?  They’re also missing the boat on what’s going to make an new entrepreneur successful.

Let’s take my former hometown as an example. Chicago may be a very large city with lots of fun things to do. I know. I lived there for 12 years. Is Michigan Avenue with its expensive stores really going to be a draw for a debt-ladden/low or no income entrepreneur? Are they going to be lounging on the shores of Lake Michigan? Somehow I doubt it. This is probably good information for say an under 30 professional but less so for someone who’s running and gunning to get a new business off the ground.

IMAG0576 300x179 Choosing a City for Your StartupYes, But What Kind of Startup?

The kind of business you want to start is key in making the “What city should I start my company in?” decision. Let’s go back to the previous example. Chicago is well suited for professionals who like large companies–in fact many have their headquarters there including Kraft, Boeing, Sears and the like. The biggies there are financial services, management consulting and pharma. Now if your startup directly serves those industries by all means–go there. Starting a professional services firm? Yes. A technology startup? Not so much. There just isn’t a large community there for it.  Deanna and Brett, former Chicagoans moved to Boulder to go through the TechStars program with Rent Monitor. And they’re staying.IMAG0581 300x179 Choosing a City for Your Startup

For the tech startup world I’m gonna go with the Bay area (natch), Austin or my current hometown of Boulder.  Why? They’re magnets for some of the best technical minds in the our country.  You’re more likely to find people with money to spend on these ventures there.  And? They all have great indicators for quality of life: easy access to the outdoors, good weather and a high concentration of smart, educated folks. From the 2010 TechStar class, Boulder’s own RoundPegg is a good example of a company that’s a good fit with a city with a high concentration of tech talent AND all the amenities that attracts good talent.

So…

One size really doesn’t fit all when it comes to making a huge decision like deciding where to found a startup venture. A big city isn’t necessarily better than a small one. Bars, beaches and boutiques probably shouldn’t be a big part of the decision making criteria for an entrepreneur. In order to be truly useful you need to identify the right criteria to get the most pertinent information.

Other things entrepreneurs need to consider in selecting a city:

  • Amount of entrepreneurs in the area. (indicates support you may receive from other entrepreneurs and the community)
  • Access to venture capital, angel investors and other funding options.
  • The presence of incubators and mentorship-driven seed programs like TechStars.
  • Where your co-founder is located and wants to be located. (because co-located teams can be difficult in the early stages)

And one that is hard to quantify but incredibly important: Does it feel like a city that I can thrive in?


What do you think makes a city a good choice for an entrepreneur?

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