19 July 2016

A note to my conservative friends

I'm sorry.

I know we don't agree on much when it comes to politics, and I'm sure you've felt like I don't respect your opinions more than a few times. 

But you deserve better than this.
You deserve a candidate who you respect, who you believe in and who you are not constantly embarrassed by.

I'm sorry.

The thing is... 
We deserve better than this as well.
All of us - conservatives, liberals, socialists, libertarians, greens, communists, etc. 
We all deserve better.
America deserves better.

We deserve a functional political system - and in a two party system, if one of the parties is completely dysfunctional then so is the whole system.

I'm sorry. This election really sucks for you right now.

But we need you to fix your shit.
All of us need you to fix your shit. OK?

14 June 2016

Christian Thought Experiment

A thought experiment for christian Americans. Read the following, and then afterwards notice how you feel.

The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles. That’s who was a victim here, disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar.
But the bad news is that this is now going to be used to push an agenda against so-called “hate speech.” So Koran-believing Muslim Imams who preach what the Koran actually says about homosexuality — that it’s vile, that it’s disgusting, that they’re reprobates — we’re going to be blamed. “It’s all extremism! It’s the Muslims!” I’m sure that that’s coming. I’m sure that people are going to start attacking Koran-believing Muslims now, because of what this guy did.
Now let me just be real clear: I’ve never advocated for violence. I don’t believe in taking the law into our own hands. I would never go in and shoot up a gay bar. I don’t believe it’s right for us to just be a vigilante…
But I will say this: The Koran says that homosexuals should be put to death. Obviously, it’s not right for somebody to just shoot up the place, because that’s not going through the proper channels. But these people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them, and saw them executed. Because, in the Koran, Allah's perfect law, he put the death penalty on murder, and he also put the death penalty on homosexuality. That’s what the Koran says, plain and simple.
So, you know, the good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not going to be harming children anymore. The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re going continue to molest children and recruit people into their filthy homosexual lifestyle…
It's horrible, right?
You're angry, right?

I'm sure some of you have guessed what the experiment really is.
The above is a rough transcript of a sermon by Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church with Christian terms replaced by Muslim ones.

Let he who is without sin....

16 May 2016

Stereotypical Tech Guy

There's a great taco place in SF which I love (and at which I'm a regular). Today one of the folks who work there asked me what I did for work. Our conversation follows.

Taco Guy: "So what do you do for work?"
Me: "Oh, I work in tech. I do corporate development."
Guy: "No way! I'd never have guessed you worked in tech."
Me: "Seriously? Umm... Why?"
Guy: "Well, first of all you treat me like a person. And second you're way too old."


1) while I appreciate the compliment, if "works in tech" now equals "treats retail and food service employees as if they're untouchable" in the minds of people in SF who work outside of tech, then tech has a major problem to resolve.

2) if people outside of tech can easily see the ageism bias within tech - it's time to stop debating its existence and start trying to fix it.

25 April 2016

RIP Barbara B Tacy

My mother gave me the gift of the mountains and she gave me the gift of rock-climbing. My mother gave me the gift of curiosity and exploration.

But most of all my mother gave me the gift of will.

Thirty years ago the doctors told us that she wasn't going to live.
My mother said fuck that and she willed herself to survive.

My mother gave me the gift of thirty years of extra life to share.

I'll miss you mom.
My life will never be the same.


25 November 2015

Being Not Overwhelmed

If you work in Strategy, or are an Entrepreneur, or are dealing with complicated and compounding challenges (with high risks associated) I have a little mental model for you.

It's been helpful for me. It might prove to be helpful for you.
  1. Never assume something is either possible or impossible without real evaluation and analysis.
  2. The more you want something to be possible the more skeptical your analysis must be.
  3. Don't waste energy working on or regretting the impossible.
As always, this is not a menu. You don't get to pick and choose. It's all or nothing or it doesn't work.

I find that people who are not actually strategists fail on both #1 and #2 more than 90% of the time.
And I find that strategists who have bad leadership fail at #3 nearly 100% of the time.

One final little trick... I find that turning the evaluation into written output reduces the challenges of #3 dramatically.

17 November 2015

What I do

From the responses to my "So... What's next?" post, it's clear that my audience (as tiny as it may be) breaks out into a few different cohorts of a sort. For some of you, the blog post was clear and what I was asking for was understood. And there were, I admit, some of you who clearly decided I'd gone off the reservation entirely. But there were some who made it obvious to me that they didn't understand both the blog post and (perhaps as a result) what I was asking for. For some of you, it's clear that I need to answer the question "What I do" at the very least. And you'd prefer if I also answer "What do I want to do" (and ideally "for what kind of company") as well.

So I'll answer the "What I do" question quickly.

  1. What I do is the result of what I've done and learned. My LinkedIn profile is up to date.
  2. I've written a bunch on this blog over the years about what I do. Here are some examples: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten
  3. "I do Corporate Development, Business Development and Strategy" 
Of the three, I'd argue #3 is the least useful but the closest to what people are asking for. So I've tried to make it more useful... I like to work in the circle in the image below.

I hope this clears things up!

29 October 2015

So.... What's Next?

I've been getting a lot of messages from folks that run along the lines of "did you really leave Mozilla?" and "so what are you doing now?"

Rather than writing the same thing over and over, I thought it would make more sense to write up a blog post with all the likely questions and answers.

Did you really leave Mozilla?

Yes. Mozilla was an amazing experience for me, and I got to work with some of the most incredible people around. But it was time for something else for me.

What are you doing now?

To be honest, so far I've really been focused on rest and relaxation. Only this week have I started to consider what I want to do next. So far I've just started talking to recruiters, hiring managers, my network, etc.

So... What's next?

A bunch of folks have contacted me about consulting opportunities and, while I obviously have done a lot of consulting, I'm really not interested in that angle at this time. I'm looking for an opportunity to do something with an event horizon that's a bit further out than your average consulting gig - and which offers me a chance to really dig into some challenges and opportunities.
As a result, I'm starting to look for a new full time job.

What kind of job are you looking for?

To paraphrase a former boss, I'm looking for a job as a "unicorn brain-on-a-stick."

I have a rather rare combination of skills, experiences, abilities and knowledge. As such, I'm looking for an employer that wants to hire me - rather than an employer that has a role that I might be able to fill.  I'm looking for a job where I can use my unique skill-set and perspective and strengths to help solve problems and pursue opportunities for my employer.

In other words... I'm looking for someone who will say, "holy crap - let's create a job for this guy. He can really help us."

Ummm... Seriously? Why would anyone hire you to do that?

Because I actually kind of am that Unicorn.

I started working on the web in 1994. I tech edited the very first O'Reilly HTML book. I wrote the Developer blog for the Netscape website. I've done four startups (and had four wins). I was a columnist for the NY Times website. I was the Chief Strategy Officer of a publicly traded company. I have worked on seminal web sites and products since 1995. I ran a $325M corporate venture fund. I've run Development, I've run Marketing, I've run Business Development, I've run Client Services. I've been a CEO and a founder as well as a management consultant and a data analyst. I'm considered an expert in Corporate Development, Business Development and Business Strategy. Oh... and in part because I was part of the (four person) deal team on one of the largest deals in tech in 2014 (and the largest deal that Yahoo has done since Marissa Meyer joined).

Well, that's impressive but still. Seriously?


I know it's a strange way to approach a job. But I've been in this business long enough to have realized how few people there are like me in the industry.

And, frankly, my endorsements and references and testimonials support this.

Do you have other criteria and other asks?

Of course I do!
  • I'm not interested in dysfunctional organizations. My days as a turnaround guy are done.
  • I want a steady stream of meaty problems to solve (and an organization that wants me to succeed in solving them).
  • It is important to me that I have flexibility on location and hours. In other words... I need to be able to work remote and on my schedule (within reason of course).
  • I need to work with people who are decent and humane and professional - and who I can learn from.
  • I don't want to be a manager or deal with corporate politics.
Wow... that's a lot to ask for!

Yup... the good news is that I'm willing to make some sacrifices for my asks.

I have a pretty good idea of what kind of title level I could be working at - and I have a very good idea of what kind of compensation would be considered competitive for me. I'm willing to give on both of these to get what I want and need. And given the current hiring market in Tech in general and SF in particular - getting an experienced senior tech exec with my track record for less than you'd be paying for most Sr Directors seems like a fair trade-off (and an acceptable risk to take).

And in the meantime?

I'm going to keep my promises and take the opportunity that this moment of freedom from the tech industry gives me to get healthy.