Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sunset Stroll : Mystical Photography by Frederic Larson

Sunset Stroll : Mystical Photography by Frederic Larson

New Ben's Friends Patient Support Communities

Some updates on Ben's Friends online patient support communities. We just started a new network for Erythromelalgia Support. Erythromelalgia attacks the lower extremities and is very painful. This network makes me especially proud because a current Kellogg student named Sara Lo heard about Ben's Friends at Kellogg and reached out to me. She wanted to help her friend Tawna who has suffered from Erythromelalgia and personally asked us to start a network. Sara and Tawna have begun to actively moderate and we have 10 people who joined in the first week, a new record for us.

We also re-booted our Multiple Myeloma Support Group because we know that condition is so acute and we weren't giving that network enough attention. We now have two terrific moderators, Danielle who is totally amazing and JC, one of the Ben's Friends superstars who has helped build up other networks. This network is going to take off in no time.

Many of you know that if you email us, we'll start a network for you, but we've hit some financial constraints and have had to create a waiting list. Our waiting list swelled to over 100 networks and it really bothered us. Ben came up with a terrific solution, create an umbrella Rare Disease Support Group where patients could still find support. When a specific disease group hits critical mass, we start a network for it. Please refer folks who need support to the umbrella group and they'll be on their way.

Finally, if you get a few moments, please subscribe and reblog the Ben's Friends Blog. We post wonderful patient testimonials everyday. Every time you reblog or link to us, it makes us more legit in Google's eyes and makes it easier for patients to find us.

Thanks so much for your support. We had 22,000 unique visitors in May, an increase of 15% in one month. We couldn't do it without you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seth's Blog

Awesome post by Seth Godin below. Taste matters and so does seeing things before other people. It was obvious to me that Ben's Friends was working magic about a month into the project. That gave me the confidence to invest tons of energy and some cash into it.

The important thing though, is to trust yourself when you see it. I can't emphasize this enough. Maybe you'll be wrong, but I doubt it. If something inside of you is telling you it will work, it probably will. The hard part is starting.

Seth's Blog:

"This is endemic in the book business, which resolutely refuses to understand the actual P&L of most of the books it publishes. As a result, there are plenty of editors who continue to overpay for the wrong books, because their wow isn't the market's wow.

In his book Money Ball, Michael Lewis wrote about how virtually every single scout and manager in baseball was wrong about what makes a great baseball player. They had the wrong radar, the wrong wow. When statistics taught a few teams what the real wow was, the balance of power shifted.

By definition, just about every great idea resonates early with those that have better radar than those that don't. The skill, then, is to expose yourself often enough, learn enough and fail enough that you get to say wow before the competition does." : Larry David on Golf

Larry David is the best. Btw if you like his show, you should check out Louie on FX. A lot of the same awkwardness followed by laughs. : Larry David on Golf:
"My first stage: Anger. There was a time when I was always angry on the course. Driving fast in the cart. Throwing clubs. Constantly berating myself. “You stink, four-eyes! You stink at everything. You can’t even open a bottle of wine! You can’t swipe a credit card at the drugstore! You can’t swipe. And you’ve never even been to the Guggenheim. The Guggenheim! And call your parents, you selfish bastard!”"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Brunch - June 26, 2011

Hope you are having a nice weekend. On Friday I went to an incredible concert and on Saturday I went to an even more incredible wedding. Great weekend all around. Sorry for getting the links up late. 

Also, I'm changing the name of the Sunday Soup column to Sunday Brunch. One of my favorite things in the world is Brunch, so I can't believe I didn't think of that before. Enjoy the articles.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Define the Ratio of People to Cake by Giles Turnbull - The Morning News

Fantastic article. My favorite is below but the Facebook and Juggling questions were my two other favorites.

Define the Ratio of People to Cake by Giles Turnbull - The Morning News:

"Procter & Gamble: Sell me an invisible pen.

Imagine that pen you loved. Remember? It was a great pen. Then that jerk in the office asked “Can I borrow that for a second?” and it was gone, never to be returned. You still see that jerk every day, but have you seen your pen? That need never happen again with the invisible pen. It’s a pen only you can use, because you’re the only one who knows it’s there."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eddie Murphy, circa 1982

Loved this story...

Eddie Murphy, circa 1982:

"From the Oct 11, 1982 issue of New York magazine, a profile of Eddie Murphy. Murphy was then two years into his four-year stay on SNL and only a couple months away from his feature film debut in 48 Hrs.

Murphy heads downstairs to do his first stand-up routine in months. The audience is mostly black. He goes onstage after a CBS vice-president, who has spoken at great length about the perilous state of the record industry. Murphy aggresively thanks CBS for signing him to do an album just when 'things are all f---ed up.' Cheap humor, but the crowd loves it. Murphy zips through his routines ('Guy who shot the pope wants to go straight to hell') and then puts sunglasses and staggers around the stage, doing a cruelly accurate -- and funny -- impression of Stevie Wonder, complete with a rendition of the blind singer's wandering smile.

Murphy finally sits back down at his table and is astonished when Stevie Wonder is led over to meet him. They have never met before. Murphy rises. Wonder shakes his hand and then throws a right fist at Murphy and says, 'Mutha, you do me one more time and I'll whip you!' But he's laughing and so is Murphy."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brian K Balfour · The One "Process" Every Startup Should Have

Great advice.
Brian K Balfour · The One "Process" Every Startup Should Have:

"Many managers think a thorough evaluation is the key to a great hiring process. In a startup the most important element is to SELL. The best candidates will always have many opportunities to choose from. If you don’t convince a candidate that your company is the best opportunity, you won’t have a shot at them in the first place."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bill Simmons on The Killing - Grantland

I've become a huge fan of AMC because of Mad Men and I've recently started watching Breaking Bad, which turns out to be an incredible show. With that in mind, I started watching The Killing, under the logic that if AMC was promoting it so much, it must be good. AMC's brand halo carried a lot of weight with me.

However, The Killing was really slow and never got anywhere so I lost interest. I planned on tuning into the finale to see "who killed Rosie Larsen?" though, but before I could watch it, spoilers hit Twitter about how terrible the ending was. It turns out the show didn't answer the one question that everyone cared about - who was the murder.

It's been interesting to watch the reaction on the Internet the last couple of days. It seems that with this decision, AMC squandered all the goodwill they built up. It's going to be really hard to get me to watch another new AMC show right away. The reviews will have to be tremendous. Bill Simmons had a good take on it below. It's interesting that in this day and age, with Facebook and Twitter, a brand is more vulnerable than ever.

Bill Simmons on The Killing - Grantland:

"Fourth and most important, I can't remember a single show damaging a network's brand this severely, to the point that AMC either needs to apologize, offer the entire Breaking Bad series on DVD for 85 percent off, or even publicly distance itself from the show the same way a sports team distances itself from a star player who does something horrible. That's how bad this was. AMC had won our trust over the past few years; because of that trust, we endured The Killing because we trusted AMC enough that we assumed they wouldn't screw us. It's unfathomable that none of the people running such a seemingly intelligent network said, 'We better leak to Tim Goodman or Alan Sepinwall that they're not wrapping things up in one season, we don't want people to be pissed off.' Nope. The ratings mattered more than the viewers.

And yeah, that's happened before in television … but not like this. The Killing turned out to be aptly named: AMC just killed any 'most creative network' momentum it had. People will not forget what happened. I know I won't. And in case you were wondering, hell will freeze over before I watch Season 2."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Who Is James Johnson? -

"Back then, Fannie Mae could raise money at low interest rates because the federal government implicitly guaranteed its debt. In 1995, according to the Congressional Budget Office, this implied guarantee netted the agency $7 billion. Instead of using that money to help buyers, Johnson and other executives kept $2.1 billion for themselves and their shareholders. They used it to further the cause — expanding their clout, their salaries and their bonuses. They did the things that every special-interest group does to advance its interests.

Fannie Mae co-opted relevant activist groups, handing out money to Acorn, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other groups that it might need on its side."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Soup - June 19, 2011

The weekly Sunday Soup with links that you might find interesting.

  • The Post Frequency Rule (via AVC)
  • First Listen: Bon Iver (via NPR)
  • Who Wants US Houses? A Map (Kedrosky via Trulia)
  • Coordination (via Seth Godin)
  • Bike Lanes (via Vimeo - Casey Neistat)
  • Subconscious Information Processing (via AVC) - I learned this at college and it's the single most effective learning technique I've ever come across. I structure my work and make decisions with this in mind. Note, the Amazon Kindle has made this a lot easier for pleasure reading and learning because now I read a few books at a time. I pick them up off and on and find I've made a lot of interpretation and understanding progress when I pick it back up.
  • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Jungleland (via YouTube) - RIP Big Man
  • Al Yankovic: When I Grow Up (itunes via Matt Koidin)
  • The Story Behind Rich Lam's Infamous Vancouver Riot Photo (popphoto)
  • Product Roast (via 37Signals)
  • Dollars & Sense: What You Need to Know About Investing (MoxyMag)
  • Regulation Wormholes: The Absurdity of the NBA's Half Court Rule (via Grantland)
Happy Father's Day to my dad, Gary, and my step-dad, Jack!

Interview: The Story Behind Rich Lam's Infamous Vancouver Riot Kiss Photo | Popular Photography

"She got run over. She was hurt and he was comforting her. And at that moment, a kiss was part of it."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

67 percent of people who bruise easily are fiction-lovers, compared with 49 percent of people in general.

I love this site.

Based on a survey of 189 people who bruise easily and 653 people in general.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

@jonnyimerman, 6/15/11 3:15 PM

Jonny started, a group that provides peer to peer support for cancer survivors. He's a great guy and very supportive of Ben's Friends. Thanks Jonny!

jonnyimerman (@jonnyimerman)
6/15/11 3:15 PM
check out my friends: Ben's Friends- they build patient support networks for rare diseases ( Scott and Ben, good dudes!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Angry Birds Ad

This is genius, via James Siminoff.

btw - one of the best things working for creative online and gaming companies is that big carriers and phone makers end up promoting them on TV, where they reach a huge audience and cross-over. If you can separate yourself from the crowd and build something really compelling, the big boys will carry your message to the public...for free.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Alex Bain Favorites tipped me off to this great little polling website called Correlated. The site runs polls that produce some really interesting observations. Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • 67 percent of people who prefer to be the "O" in tic-tac-toe support capital punishment, compared with 40 percent of people in general.
  • 49 percent of social conservatives prefer Leno to Letterman, compared with 31 percent of people in general.
  • 44 percent of people who regularly check their horoscope also floss regularly; in general, only 28 percent of people floss regularly.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Soup - June 12, 2011

My new feature of a weekly round up of articles I liked and thought you would be interested in.
  • Who, What & Where is Bon Iver (NY Times)
  • iCloud is Device Centric (via Startable)
  • Steve Jobs to the Cupertino City Council on Apple's New Campus (via TechCrunch) - Watch how he begins with a romanticized story about his time at HP and how it relates to apricot orchards that once were on the plot of land where Apple will build its next campus. The man is a natural storyteller. Great marketers are great storytellers.
  • One Sun. People. Pictures. Places (via Kickstarter)
  • Pearl Jam Songs (via TheAwl)
  • Google & A Clepsydra (Naveen's Blog)
  • Why We Trust People We Do Not Know (Kellogg Blog)
  • The Taskmaster Premium (Seth's Blog)
  • How Not to Get Screwed by Your Financial Advisor (Kathryn's Conversations)
  • Stevie Nick's Singing Back Stage (via YouTube)
  • Fatherly Advice (Gus Stuff)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

YOUNG LUST, Top Five Old Rock Star Crushes | MixTAPE

YOUNG LUST, Top Five Old Rock Star Crushes | MixTAPE

My friend Nicole is blogging and she's loving it. We're old friends and it's going to be a great way to keep in touch with here. I loved this post about Rock Star Crushes. Here is what she said about Eddie Vedder.

"Can it really have been twenty years since Ten came out? Really? Oh the angst and the grunge and the flannel! There was a certain danger and violence to him then. And the voice. I just wanted to date him so we could break up and he could write a terribly sad song about it. 1991 Eddie, I salute you.
Not that I would kick 2011 Eddie out of bed:
I would still make out with him in a hot second but now it is different. It isn’t about me being woman enough to be his man, now he has this kind of safe, woolly, Jesus quality that makes you want to join whatever cult he is leading."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Turntable.FM - DJ-ing with your friends

Turntable.FM is a cool new music service that allows you to DJ with your friends. It has a great visual that makes you feel like you are hanging out with your friends. It's perfect for working late at night and feeling a sense of community.

Hope you join the Kenny Kellogg room!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dave Kashen's Blog: the awesome culture blog

My friend Dave Kashen has started blogging. Dave is a successful entrepreneur, a great guy and someone who cares deeply about people and creating a terrific working environment. When we first started Ben's Friends patient support networks, I sought Dave's advice. He was incredibly helpful and supportive.

Here's a cool little snippet from his first blog post. It's one of the most important things you can have when you start something. Before every Ben's Friends virtual meeting, Eric Kroll, a partner in Ben's Friends, leads a discussion of our shared values.
the awesome culture blog:

"A defined set of values will serve as the basis for ‘institutionalizing the culture’; putting in just the right amount of structure at the appropriate time to ensure the culture you intend scales as the company grows."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daring Fireball: Demoted

This is really interesting below. I love the different perspectives of the computing world.

Btw - I've been dying for a cloud version of iTunes and my pain got more acute two weeks ago when my computer crashed and I lost everything. I use Carbonite for back-up but haven't successfully restored because of a bunch of issues. I'm still optimistic I'll get it all back. Too bad Apple's iCloud wasn't released three weeks sooner though.

Daring Fireball: Demoted:

"Steve Jobs, describing iCloud replacing iTunes as your digital hub, said, “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device.”

This is a fundamentally different vision for the coming decade than Google’s. In both cases, your data is in the cloud, and you can access it from anywhere with a network connection. But Google’s vision is about software you run in a web browser. Apple’s is about native apps you run on devices. Apple is as committed to native apps — on the desktop, tablet, and handheld — as it has ever been."

Monday, June 6, 2011

The postal service is running out of options - Business - US business - Bloomberg Businessweek -

The postal service is running out of options - Business - US business - Bloomberg Businessweek -

Interesting article on the problems facing the postal service. Mail volume is declining drastically and fixed costs businesses, like the mail, are really, really tough when utilization falls. They tend to fall off a cliff because the marginal unit is the most profitable one.

Raising prices and/or layoffs are unpopular so the USPS is a little stuck. I'm sure there are people out there who think the system is outdated, but I think it's pretty neat that USPS exists and I think it still serves an important democratic function.

As I read this, one thought popped into my head. What if you could do a Leveraged Buyout of the USPS? What would it go for? They did $67 Billion in Revenue last year. In this alternative world where an LBO of USPS is viable, people would be falling all over themselves to do that deal. There's still a lot of value there. Hopefully the USPS can right the ship.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Soup - 6/5/2011

Another addition of the Sunday Soup, where I just highlight interesting articles with very little, or no commentary. I got some encouraging feedback last week, thanks.
  • Groupon is a Ponzi Scheme (Knewton Blog)
  • Bon Iver: I Can't Make You Love Me (Bijan Sabet)
  • Can Bill Simmons Win the Big One? (NY Times)
  • Take Advantage of the Power of Your Older Blog Posts (DIY Marketers - Healy Jones)
  • When Does Paid Acquisition Work for Startups (Andrew Chen's Blog) - Note: these are the exact kind of things that I look at when investing in Internet Startups. Customer Acquisition cost and retention stats that tell you Lifetime Value of the Customer take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.
  • An Open Letter to the Gentleman Drying... (mature audiences only - McSweeney's)
  • The Arctic Light (Papilicious)
  • The Way I Work: David Karp (Founder of Tumblr) - (Inc Magazine)
  • How We Describe Ourselves According to Online Dating Profiles (Flowing Data)
  • The One Big Story and the Next One (Andrew McAfee)
  • Storytelling: An Interview with Nicholas Feltron (Rhizome via Alex Bain Favorites

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Groupon Files For IPO To Raise $750 Million

Excerpt from Mason's (Founder & CEO of Groupon) PR on Groupon's filing to go public. Great job of getting people juiced for the future while also warning them that it will be bumpy.

Groupon Files For IPO To Raise $750 Million:

If you’re thinking about investing, hopefully it’s because, like me, you believe that Groupon is better positioned than any company in history to reshape local commerce. The speed of our growth reflects the enormous opportunity before us to create a more efficient local marketplace. As with any business in a 30-month-old industry, the path to success will have twists and turns, moments of brilliance and other moments of sheer stupidity. Knowing that this will at times be a bumpy ride, we thank you for considering joining us.

Reblog: The Case for Asking Your Employer for References

Terrific advice below from Paul Kedrosky. I can't tell you how important it is to ask the person hiring you for references on their work style. It seems like this is a lesson that everyone has to learn once. After you've been miserable at a job, you'll never fail to ask for references again.

Btw - no one is going to tell you the prospective boss is mean or a bad person. They will make some allusions to that stuff. You need to be on your game and probe with a lot of questions. You're going to need to read between the lines.

The Case for Asking Your Employer for References: "
A friend of mine is looking at a life-changing job offer. It would require relocation, sectoral change, a personal clock frequency increase, and, of course new people. There are plenty of reason to take the offer, including lots of independence, challenges, and, it doesn’t hurt, buckets of money.

So, he’s taking the job right? Well, he’s not sure. Not, however, because he’s some nervous sort, afraid of taking risks, etc. It’s because of the people — because it’s a small group, and a few meetings, calls, and emails have only given him a limited sense of what it would be like dealing with them day after day.

He asked me what I thought he should do. I said, “Ask them for references”. Yes, ask his prospective new boss co-workers for references. It’s sort of surprising that you don’t hear about the idea more often, but I’m actually a fan of reverse references. You really sometimes need an independent sense of what employers are like, and one way to get there is via their references.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reblog: How AirBnB Became a Billion Dollar Company - Dave Gooden

This is fascinating, I didn't know you could do this.

How AirBnB Became a Billion Dollar Company - Dave Gooden"Yesterday AirBnB announced that they raised $100M at a $1B valuation. This is a huge, huge accomplishment – but a lot of entrepreneurs are probably asking how they did it. Was it their awesome design? Excellent idea? Was it their uncanny business acumen? Just dumb luck? 
My Answer: Craigslist Spam!  
I believe AirBnB used multiple gmail accounts to spam craigslist and grow their site to a one billion dollar valuation."

Exploring the Continuum of Social and Financial Returns

A few weeks back I met Kathy Brozek of the Federal Reserver at a Kellogg Alumni gathering. Kathy was wonderful and when I started telling her about Ben's Friends Patient Support Networks she told me about a paper she wrote on innovations in Social Enterprise funding. Kathy found Ben's Friends and our donation centric model interesting and suggested I read her paper. Well I read it and loved it. It's for a nerdy audience, but it's well written and easy to understand. I hope check it out.

Exploring the Continuum of Social and Financial Returns: Kathy Brozek