Monday, December 8, 2014


Lots of time has elapsed between entries, so thanks for coming back.

Things are good.  I'd say things are 'busy' but as I've written about before, the word 'busy' doesn't seem to have much meaning today. 

I would say that I exist in a steady state of 'perma-work.'  That's not necessarily a good or a bad thing.  I'm pursuing an entrepreneurial dream -- and yes, there's some Skunk Work-ish type stuff up the sleeve -- but in the meantime I'm basically 'working to support my entrepreneurial habit.' 

When the sideshow stuff crowds out the main effort, it can seem frustrating...but the seasonality to it all is that Labor-to-Turkey is always going to be the nuttiest time of year.  So things are easing up a bit now. 

In many ways, I've learned as much or more about business in the past few months actually running one than I learned in four semesters of b-school.  I've learned that costs tend to be steadier than revenues.  I've learned that any business model that relies on the specific effort/time of a particular person or group of people (basically, anything non-scalable) is quite, quite limited. 

I've learned that the FICO score of a principal in a business is very important, at least until the business establishes its own credit.  Then, in turn, I've learned that I need to retire a great deal of personal debt before I can make the kind of deal that would vault the business to the point where I didn't need to be doing quite so much on the outside.  To do so, I've got to put even more of the outside work...which crowds out even more time that would otherwise go towards the main effort. 

Sometimes that all makes me think of the kids' story "I Don't Know Why I Swallowed a Fly," in which the protagonist swallows a series of increasingly-large animals to solve her initial problem (swallowing a fly, which in turn needed to be swallowed). 

At some point, you might rationally ask, "How does any of this even make any sense?  Why not shave, put on a nice suit, and go knock on the door at State St. to see if they'd take you?" 

As well-intentioned as that question is, there's an information asymmetry between me and the person asking it.  There are some neat trends that have been set in motion, and some (very delayed) payoffs that will result.  There are some corporations and institutions involved that you've heard of.  But for today, it's dirt-under-the-fingernails and an obscene setting on my alarm clock. 

To paraphrase Robert Duvall speaking to Sean Penn in Colors, it's all about the bull walking down the side of the valley to [fraternize with] all of the cows.

There's a seemingly-minor note in Walter Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs, in which he describes a condition Mike Markkula made before writing the first big check that Apple ever received (at the time, the only Apple peeps were Jobs and Wozniak).

To paraphrase, "Woz has to quit H-P" was the demand. 

Woz said, "But no, I can just keep doing H-P full time, but do this Apple thing on the side in Steve's garage."

To which Markkula said -- again paraphrasing -- "The hell you will." 

Eventually, they had to get Wozniak's Dad involved, but the ultimate result was Woz leaving H-P and then Markkula cutting the check. 

Markkula was no dummy.