Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Recruit - Sugar Paper

Sorry for the lack of posting but I've had the flu. I'm starting to feel better though. Here's a blog post on How to Recruit that I wrote on my more serious blog at :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

6 Links on Saturday Has Moved to

Hey folks, I took a big step and moved my 6 Links on Saturday, and all future links columns, to a new address ( I also moved to a new blogging platform called Svbtle. I wanted to separate my more serious writing from the personal stuff and give you a better reading experience. I'll still be posting here but if you want to read the smart stuff (at least I hope it's smart), then go over to and check it out.

Btw - Svbtle has a really beautiful layout and there are lots of great writers there so once you're done with my stuff, click the homepage and explore. 

If you're a high tech person and use RSS feeds to read blogs, my new feed is Pop that baby into your RSS Reader and you are all set.

Finally, thanks for checking me out every weekend! When I first started the links columns I probably had 40 consistent readers and now I range between 150 - 300 people. I love writing the blog and the fact that you like it means the world to me. I'll see you over at!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong: Jonah Keri

I just finished a terrific book called Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game, which looks at the game from a statistical perspective. Jonah Keri, one of my favorite Grantland writers put it together with help from other advanced stats writers like Nate Silver. It's been out since 2006 and I really wish I would have read it then. If you're the kind of person that likes statistics and advanced metrics in sports, this book is for you.

P.S. I included an Amazon link so that if anyone buys the book I will donate the proceeds to Ben's Friends.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Community Spotlight: Ben's Friends, a Network of Support Communties - Cultivating Community

Community Spotlight: Ben's Friends, a Network of Support Communities - Cultivating Community:
"When Scott and Ben came up with the idea of a network of communities, they were on a very tight budget and they needed to be efficient. Instead of creating a lot of unnecessary infrastructure, they used off the shelf and white label products (Ning, Basecamp, and oDesk, primarily) to launch communities quickly, efficiently and effectively at a pretty low cost. We’ve been able to make a huge impact with a small budget and without expensive infrastructure.We’ve also been able to utilize crowd funding through IndieGoGo. Last year we raised $30,000 through them and they’ve created a lot of press for us, which was extremely helpful. Crowd funding has been another efficient and inexpensive way to raise money for our organization."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Super Connectors, Houston's Dropbox Application, and Bottom of the Pyramid Businesses

Welcome back to Sunday's column. If you missed Saturday's 6 Links, take a quick look. There were some really great articles in there. :)

The Surprising Science on How Super Connectors Scale Their Networking - I'm a good connector but I learned a bunch of tips reading this. I'll add my best tip: When people are looking for a job, help them find one. Getting a new job is tough and the process is full of self doubt and frustrations. I know cause I've been there. You can build a bond that lasts when you help someone through this process.

Drew Houston's Dropbox Application to Y Combinator - DropBox is one of the hottest startups of the last 5 years and it all started with this application to Y Combinator, a tech incubator that has spawned a ton of great startups. It's amazing how clear Houston's vision was for what DropBox would become.

Investment Worthy, Bottom of the Pyramid Businesses -  Great post by Ted Rheingold, founder of Dogster, on some fantastic startups that are serving the poorest 2 - 3 billion people in the world. Inspiring ideas that seem like great opportunities to make a return too.

Apple and Android Product Roadmaps - Android is growing insanely fast and Apple's decision this week to not release a "cheap" phone for emerging markets is going to exacerbate this trend. It's worth pointing out that in this chart, all Android devices are lumped together while Apple's three product lines are split apart. So if you combine the Apple charts, they're still close to Android, but Android's rate of growth is what should scare Apple. (note: I own shares in Apple and Google)

The Results of the 24 Hour Business Challenge - Noah Kagan challenged himself to start a business and generate $1k in revenue in 24 hours. Great demonstration that it's easier to start a business than you thought.

Is Music Getting More Energetic Over Time - Fascinating data on the music we listen to from a music analytics startup EchoNest.

Before Buying Shows, Netflix Checks Piracy Stats - When Apple launched iTunes, piracy was a huge issue for artists and music labels. From Napster to Kazaa, piracy was becoming a cultural norm. But most people don't want to steal, they just wanted to easily to listen to the music they loved. Netflix is recreating that simple value prop for TV Shows and Movies. (note: I own shares in Netflix)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Trader Joe's & Obamacare, How Chris McCandless Died, Peripheral Banks Go in Reverse and Ode to Husky Guys

Hope everyone had a great week. Welcome back to 6 Links on Saturday.

What Trader Joe's Teaches Us About Obamacare - Trader Joe's is cutting healthcare coverage for part time workers and encouraging them to go to the healthcare exchanges to get comparable coverage. TJ's is also giving them $500 to subsidize deductibles and fees. It's a better deal for everyone, except maybe the Federal Government which is going to be holding all the risk.

How Chris McCandless Died - Jon Krakauer presents some compelling new evidence on how the star of Into the Wild died. Turns out it wasn't his fault. See why. Thanks for sending this in Beth Stevens.

The True Size of Africa - Mindblower. 

How to Advertise on a Porn Site - Some not safe for work images, but also one of the best marketing blog posts I've ever read...for the results. :)

Peripheral Banks Go in Reverse - Bond markets across the world are backing up into higher rates and it's going to start causing problems. This is a great explanation of the predicament our monetary policy caused emerging markets. Did you think it was a coincidence that they started booming when we started printing money?

Ode to Husky Guys - Funny and true. Although my diet has made me a lot less husky. :) - Thanks Andrea Gouw for the submission.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How to Expand Your Startup Out of Your Home Country - Tech Europe - WSJ

Really terrific article on how Yelp builds communities: How to Expand Your Startup Out of Your Home Country - Tech Europe - WSJ:

It seems really simple, but there are tons of little things you have to do to make it work. And you need a lot of patience. At Ben's Friends, we have a lot of faith in the "slow-build" communities.  Some of our largest and most powerful communities were real slow growers at first. But building that slow base creates tremendous staying power.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Trying Out an App, Early Adopters, Android is for Startups, and How to Present as a Team

Welcome back to Sunday's Links. If you missed Saturday's Links, take a quick looksie.

One request, I'd be grateful for a Facebook or Twitter post about the column. I've been putting a lot of work into these columns and my readership has been growing nicely. I'm up to about 300 people reading each one of these. It would be nice to hit 500. :)

Trying Out a New Social App - Fantastic article by software developer Leah Culver. It's a narrative about a user's experience finding, downloading and using a new App. This stuff seems so simple but it's really hard to get right. It's also the difference between making it and failing in the App economy.

Early Adopters, So Right at First, So Wrong Later - Spot on by the VC who did Twitter and Tumblr. Early adopters are your life blood, but sometimes they don't know what's good for an App in the long run.

Android is for Startups - Forwarded to me by my friend Chris Wilson, a software developer. This is something I'm learning the hard way. When we built the Orbit App, I figured we could ignore Android for the time being. It turns out that pretty much 50% of the people I talk to have Android phones and can't even try Orbit even though they want too. Big bummer. Don't make the same mistake.

How to Present and Answer Questions in a Team Presentation - Important advice. I listen to pitches professionally and you'd be surprised how often Management Teams contradict each other in a meeting. It's a big no no. Creative tension is great, but not when you are asking for money.

The Part They Don't Tell You About Team Building - Letting go of your baby is one of the hardest things Founders have to do. You don't want your kid sleeping on your couch when he is 40, and you don't want your startup stagnating because you can't delegate.

Understanding Natural Monopoly - A instant classic from Seth Godin. And with information moving so quickly these days, natural monopolies happen faster than ever. It's why Google and Twitter are untouchable and why a promising startup like Uber can raise $300M at a $3.5B market cap.

I'll leave you with an article on 10 Things You Can Do to Make Yourself Happier. I've done a few of these and they really work. Cheers to feeling better.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Burritos, YC Funding Non Profits, Mobile Payments, Iran & Twitter and Wearable Tech

Hope everyone in San Francisco is enjoying the beautiful weather. For everyone else across the country, September is when our Summer starts. I'm writing this in shorts and flip flops, which is pretty special in SF. :)

Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito - Hilarious...but poor burrito craftsmanship is a serious offense. Let this be a warning to all. :)

Y-Combinator Will Now Fund Non Profits - Big step by Y Combinator. As someone who runs a soon-to-be non profit, Ben's Friends, this is really encouraging. The Tech World is a sleeping giant in the non profit world. When you apply the company building techniques that the Valley has developed in the non profit sector, good things are going to happen. Btw - I wrote an essay on this 6 months ago in the Harvard Business Review.

My Son Wears Dresses, Get Over It - An enlightening essay from a father of a child who wears what he wants to wear. This is progress. Hopefully it helps more men rethink their relationship with their gay sons.

Mobile Commerce Isn't Waiting for the Wallet to Arrive - Insightful post from fellow Kellogg Alum Mike Dudas. Mike works at Braintree, a mobile payment processing company, so he has a right to an opinion here. The key insight is that transactions are happening inside of apps, not through a central payment system on the phone. Maybe Apple will announce something that changes things next week, but for right now, Apps rule the mobile payment world.

Iran Opens a Twitter Channel to the West - Despite all the NSA spying and associated b.s., technology is still opening doors across the world. P.S. How annoying is Pelosi's daughter in this article?

Wearing Wearables: Thoughts on Current Wearable Tech - Charles is a VC friend of mine and an early adopter to watch. Wearable tech covers things like Fitbits, Nike FuelBands, etc. It's a big market and has a lot of people excited (including me).He makes a great point here, wearable tech would be much more appealing if it wasn't so so visible. But that's a Catch-22 for device makers, because how else will word of mouth spread if it isn't so noticeable? That's part of the genius behind Google Glass. It's so intrusive to the person you talk to, they can't help but notice it. Annoying - yes; forgettable - no.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Coldest Case Ever Solved, Decline of Serial Killers and Sharing Economy, Puzzling Through a Love Song and the Prisoner's Dilemma

Hopefully you're reading this somewhere in the mountains, at a beach or in a beautiful, half empty city like me. If you are, take a few minutes to check out yesterday's 6 Links on Saturday. :)

1. The Coldest Case Ever Solved - A really interesting "Who Done It?" for a crime that happened 50+ years ago.

2. Puzzling Through (A Love Song) - Andrew Bird is one of my favorite musicians and I love his song writing deconstructions in the New York Times. He even embeds the music threads so you can hear what he is talking about.

3. The Decline of Serial Killers and the Sharing Economy - Such a great observation on how using services like Uber and AirBnb are teaching us to trust each other again.

4. The Apple TV App Store Can't Be Far Away - I've been waiting for this for years. It's going to be such a blockbuster. In followups to this article I've seen writers say it will have low adoption and will be no big deal. The same thing that many of them said when the iPad came out...and we know how that turned out (note: I'm long Apple stock).

5. Letting Employees Make the Most Out of Their Fitness - Such an important trend, and it's in the employers best interests. Employers are shouldering huge healthcare costs with healthcare inflation so out of control. If they can help nudge all of us in the right direction, it's really going to pay off for both groups.

6. Everyone Owns A Piece of the Pie - This is a post from one of the Moderators of Living With Fibromyalgia Support Group on Ben's Friends. It made me so proud because her we have a member explaining to the rest of the community that they must take ownership if this community is going to work. This is how lasting communities are built, by everyone shouldering the burden.

7. I'll leave you with a great video that illustrates the concept of Prisoner's Dilemma. You're probably familiar with this set up from a Law and Order situation. Each detained suspect is given the option of a lighter sentence if they rat out the other detainee. But if they both keep quiet, they go free. If no one cooperates and they are convicted, they get huge sentences. The video is liter fare and very entertaining.