Just finished “Conscious Capitalism” by Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey

One of the amazing perks of living in Downtown Las Vegas is that there’s this constant flow of amazing people coming to town to check things out.    Often, the Downtown Project will ask some of the guests to speak to the community.   A few weeks ago it was Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey. 

John had just written the book “Conscious Capitalism.”  In a fireside chat, he shared the story behind Whole Foods and how having a purpose-driven business (beyond just making money) has led to the success of the business.   On the way out, they gave away copies of the book.

I just finished “Conscious Capitalism.”  It’s a great and really easy read.   It’s true that society has told us that business’ single goal is to make money.  John makes the case that that’s just not true.  Businesses are here to change the world in some way for the better and make money.  They’re here to solve a problem.   That mission/purpose is something that affects/changes/touches everything.  It’ll change how you hire, how you relate to you employees, how you relate to your employees, how you lead, and how you manage.

I love how transparent John was about the ups and downs of creating/founding Whole Foods.  Reading this book makes me want to work for John.  He’s a very inspiring leader or seems so from the book.

I’d highly recommend the book to anyone!

Advertisements

Mayor Vincent Gray Loves DC Tech

Even though we don’t reside there anymore, I’m still super psyched and rooting for the DC tech & startup community. Over 7 years, it has been great to see DC Mayor Vince Gray really become a spokesman and advocate for the movement.

This year, he even went to SXSW to evangelize the region. Here’s an interview that he did with TechCocktail

Who’s in my community?

Being a part of a community is so much fun because of the amazing things happen when you get a bunch of passionate people rallied around solving a particular problem or issue. When you’re starting out, one impediment to seeing the magic happen is discovering all the people that are in your community or who could be in your community.

When I lived in Washington, DC, even in the early days of the DC Tech/startup community, it was never that there weren’t a lot of tech or startup people in the area. It’s just that none of them knew that the others existed. Even to this day, I’m still hearing about new startups in the DC area that I’d never of before that had been there the entire time.

In DC, knowing who was in your community was especially hard because it just takes so stinking long to get to the different parts of the geographic area. Capitol Hill feels incredibly far from Dupont Circle. When you throw Tyson’s Corner into the mix, it feels like going to a different country all together. A good friend of mine lived in Bethesda that I never saw enough of because it was just hard to get up to Bethesda.

This is part of why we created the DC Tech Facebook Group. We needed a way for people to see who was who and what was going on, whether it was an event or company news. It was obvious that people just didn’t know what was going on or who was doing what. Facebook Groups allow for this a very crowd sourced manner, which has plusses & minuses.

In terms of the DC Tech community, one thing that’s helpful is now there are a handful of really great reporters (Bill Flook from the Washington Business Journal, Paul Sherman from the Potomac Tech Wire, and Steven Overly from the Washington Post) who are helping unearth and tell the stories of the interesting things that are happening in the community. There stories help the community figure out who’s who and who’s doing stuff that’s cool. But… you shouldn’t use that as your only source, otherwise you’ll miss out on a lot.

So, if you’re running a community group, what can you do to help get the stories out about who’s all in your community? How can you get folks talking about all the great things that they’re doing? How can you get people talking about all the great things that others are doing?

Once you figure this out, you’ll be seeing magic happening in your community at an accelerated rate.

The iPad Mini is My Desert Island Device Too

ipadminiIn December of last year, New York Times technology columnist Nick Bilton wrote that Apple iPad mini was his desert island device.   Meaning that if he had to pick one consumer electronics device to take to a desert island, he’d take his iPad mini.

Well, for a Christmas present, my wife and mother-in-law got me an iPad mini and I have to say that I 100% agree with Nick.   It has all what’s great about an iPad tablet but it’s extra portable because of its size.    It has the power of an iPad with the size of a Kindle.

I take the iPad mini with me everywhere.  I use it to read the news when I get up in the morning and before I go to bed.  I leave my laptop at my desk and take the iPad mini with me to meetings.

One use case I was running into was standing on the subway where I have to hold on to a pole with one hand and couldn’t hold on the iPad with the other because it was too heavy.   The iPad mini is the perfect weight.

I’m really surprised that I don’t see more iPad mini’s out in the market.  Maybe the bigger iPad has gotten so much traction that folks don’t see it to be worth it?

If you’ve been holding out on getting a tablet, I’d recommend the iPad mini.

Sleeping with the White Noise iPhone App

Last night, I woke up at 4am and just couldn’t fall asleep. I grabbed my iPhone, flipped on the White Noise iPhone app, and as the white noise started. Within minutes, I was back to sleep. I slept like a rock.

If you’re not familiar with white noise, it’s bringing together a bunch of different noises together at different frequencies in a way that masks other noises.   How Stuff Works explains it better.

There have been times where the cat has decided to meow incessantly outside our bedroom door. If we let the cat into our bedroom, she plays with the blinds. So… we shut her out of the room and I just flip on the white noise from the White Noise iPhone app. I can’t hear the cat, and again I sleep like a rock.

So, having a problem sleeping? Is there noise that’s keeping you up? Grab the White Noise iPhone app. At $1.99, it’s well worth the price.

Read Randall Stross’s book “The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator”

the-launch-padThis week I finished reading the book “The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups” by New York Times Digital Domain columnist Randall Stross. He goes inside and tells the story behind the most well known startup accelerator Y Combinator, run by Silicon Valley luminary Paul Graham. It was especially fascinating to read about YC’s program after having seen 500 Startup’s program first hand last summer.

It’s interesting to learn more about Paul. Have never met him person. It sounds like him and his team get really hands on with birthing all of these companies and he’s very patriarchal in the whole process. And rightfully so, he’s helped birth some real winners… home runs like AirBnb, DropBox, and Heroku.

From the book, you hear how first hand people from around the world flock to Silicon Valley to be considered or apart of the YC program. Some of the young stars don’t even know what their startup is going to be. They just want be apart of the program hoping that at some point genius will strike and they’ll get they’re chance at changing the world.

Was also fascinating to hear the history behind some of YC’s bigger alumni names. They started YC three startups ago, are now on something completely different, and seeing success. It shows the incredible tolerance for risk that there is out in the valley, for both investors and founders.

If your fascinated by YC and want to get the inside scoop or if you wanna better understand the nature of the Silicon Valley startup machine, I’d highly recommend that ya read this book. Randall Stross is a great writer too.

Netflix’s House of Cards

2075113For a while now Netflix streaming has been a staple of our movie & television content consumption. I’ve always been impressed with how Netflix has tried to get ahead of the digital revolution and not depend on its DVD distribution business.  So, I was extra impressed when I saw that Netflix was going to be producing their own content to be streamed exclusively via Netflix’s streaming service.

The series House of Cards debuted on Netflix on Friday. Instead of dripping out an episode a week, like normal television channels, Netflix is putting it out all at once so you can binge on all 13 episodes, as is normal with watching TV shows on Netflix.

House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey as ruthless Congressman Frank Underwood. You get to see as his character wheels and deals to get his agenda accomplished in Congress and throughout Washington, D.C.  If you aren’t completely cynical about the state of corruption and back room deal making in DC, you’ll be completely cynical after watching House of Cards. Everyone’s doing a favor for someone else. Everyone’s trying to manipulate someone else.

One of the interesting roles in the story is by actress Kate Mara who plays Zoe Barnes.  She’s a lowly reporter that meets Congressman Underwood.  He uses her as his mouth piece.  She uses him to advance her career.   What’s interesting is there depicting Zoe as the 20 something reporter who blogs and uses Twitter.  They try to hard to depict a reporter of the new era.

Net net, it’s an incredibly entertaining show.  It’s like West Wing meets Homeland.  It’s great to see Netflix really hit it out of the park with this next evolution of their model.   I’m excited to see what else they com up with for original programming.  If they put out enough of these shows, I think they’ll give the currently unsubscribed a reason to subscribe.

Here’s the trailer…