I love quotes. Back in the early days of Twitter, we used to tweet a quote of the day. And I tumbl a lot of quotes I find on the web. So when Max Yoder suggested to me a week or so ago that we do a fun friday on quotes, I was sold before even fininshing his short email.
The idea is you comment on this fun friday post with a favorite quote of yours.
I will start with this gem from my all time favorite person to quote, Winston Churchill:
It is a good thing for an educated man to read books of quotations.
That's a lot of flags. I particularly like the large one hanging sideways.
I am not overtly patriotic like JLM, but I certainly feel tremendous gratitude to the founding fathers who put together this incredible country we call America. It is a land of freedom and opportunity and incresingly tolerance. I am very proud to be a child of and a citizen of the USA.
We talk a lot about the problems facing America here at AVC. Kid Mercury tells us that we are headed for a financial meltdown of proportions we haven't seen and can't fathom. I appreciate that perspective and I appreciate all the folks who point out the problems we can't seem to get our arms around right now.
But the America I know and love is well summed up by Winston Churchill who said:
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.
I am optimistic, chronically so. It comes with my vocation and it comes with my personality. I think we can and will tackle our challenges here in this country. It sure feels like we've tried most everything else by now and so my hope is we are close to finally doing the right thing.
And so, on our birthday, I pledge my allegiance to this wonderful country, and I pledge to do what I can to help America continue to be an incredible land of opportunity, freedom, and tolerance, where dreams can come true, as mine have.
Twenty-five years ago today, the Gotham Gal and I were married. It was a hot humid day in Washington DC. The wedding ceremony, indoors thankfully, occurred during a loud thunderstorm. At the end, I missed the attempt to break the glass by making a glancing blow. My best man John made a kick save, passed the glass back to me, and I shattered it on the second try. By the time the reception was on, a rainbow came out and we had a lovely evening. It was quite a party.
Twenty-five years later, we find ourselves in Copenhagen on a family vacation. It has been a great twenty-five years and we are looking forward to the next twenty-five.
Thanks to everyone in the AVC community for the most excellent anniversary video. In watching it, we are reminded how global this community is, and how lucky we are to have all of you as friends and well wishers. Thank you.
I got together with Kirk Love for breakfast this past week. We got to talking about fatherhood and those moments when you find yourself doing something exactly the way your father did it. You can try as hard as you can to make your own way, to do things differently, but inside of all of us are our own fathers. And they come out.
In my case, that is largely a good thing. My dad is loyal, diligent, loving, and responsible. He is a creature of habit. I am all of those things too.
I never thought that I looked much like much my dad. But as I age, I see the familiarity more and more. It's like we become our fathers over time.
Today is fathers day. A day to celebrate this fact. A day to tell your father you love him. And a day to look at your own children and tell them you love them too. A day to celebrate the passing our essence onto the next generation.
I don't think its a coincidence that Easter Sunday comes in early spring. It's a time of renewal, both spiritually and weather wise.
Last evening our family got together for a Passover Seder. We went with a post modern version, called Sayder, that our friends helped craft. Our girls came back from college and brought a host of their friends with them. We ate an awesome meal cooked by The Gotham Gal and had a good talk around the table. The tagline for the Sayder is "less reading, more talk". I like it a lot.
I enojoy living in a place where the weather changes a lot. Although we had a mild winter, I have been wearing a winter coat for the past four months. And that coat is now put away and my Vespa is on the road again. The days are longer and the trees are in bloom and it's getting warmer outside. That's a great feeling and I enjoy it immensely every year when it happens.
I am going out for a walk around the west village to enjoy the sights and sounds of a quiet Sunday morning. I will stop by Abingdon Square and take a photo of the tulips in bloom which I will use as an anchor photo for this blog post, I'll get an espresso at my favorite cafe, and then I'll stop by the store and get the makings of Matzah Brei, and then I'll come home to a full house and a big breakfast with family and friends.
That's my version of Easter Mass. To those who are going to church today including my mom and dad, I say Happy Easter. And to those who have been celebrating Passover this weekend, I wish them "Chag Sameach". And to everyone else, I wish you a gorgeous spring Sunday full of renewal.
I absolutely love Paul Graham's story of how Y Combinator started. It has all the makings of a great startup story. Paul and Jessica came up with the idea on the way home from dinner walking through Cambridge. The sand in the oyster was the fact that Jessica hated her job.
It made me think we should share startup creation stories today on fun friday. I will start with mine.
It was 1996, I was restless in my job as a Partner at Euclid (do all startup stories start with a job thing?). My friend Mark Pincus said "you should start a venture capital firm." I said, "I'd like to do that but who would be my partner?" Mark said "Jerry Colonna of course."
So I reached out to Jerry. We arranged a dinner for us and our wives. I left the Gotham Gal inside with Jerry and Barbara while I was on the phone helping with the negotiation of the sale of Mark and Sunil's first company Freeloader. It was rude, but what was I going to do? That was a big deal for me. Fortunately the Gotham Gal closed the deal with Jerry for me.
On the way home across the Throgs Neck Bridge, I asked the Gotham Gal what I should do. She said "go for it." And so we did.
That's the creation story of Flatiron Partners.
Do you have a fun startup creation story? If so, please share it with us in the comments.
I am a huge fan of budgets. I find them essential to syncing up on monetary issues. But not just in business. The Gotham Gal and I use them in our personal life to avoid conflicts about money.
For a long time, probably the first fifteen years of our life together, we lived paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes it was two paychecks, other times it was one. For a brief period as I was starting Flatiron, it was none. I got shingles that year.
As our income went up and down, our spending had to do the same. I created "fredsheets" that we looked over, debated, discussed, and then adjusted and signed off on. Then we created budgets so that each of us would live to these spending plans. It worked. We always made it to the next paycheck. Many times by the skin of our teeth.
In the second fifteen years of our life together, we've had the pleasure of living in a different financial situation. But we still use budgets. We created budgets for our kids which they live up to. We created budgets for our real estate projects, our angel investing, art collecting, and so on and so forth.
Another trick we frequently use to deal with personal financial issues is multiple accounts. We have bank, brokerage, and money market accounts for various projects, all of which have budgets. We fund these accounts based on the budget and then pay the expenses as they come in out of the various accounts. This means that we can look at the available balance and compare it to the budget to make sure everything is in good shape.
Managing money and financial issues is hard. It leads to a lot of tension in relationships. I suspect it leads to divorce in many cases. Better education (mine sure helped me), better tools, and better communication around these issues would help a lot.
I've been reading The Corrections this long weekend. This book came out over ten years ago, but I'd never read it so I pulled it out of our bookshelf and cracked it open after we got off the mountain on Saturday. I hope to finish it on the plane ride home today.
The father figure in the book is Alfred. He's a railroad engineer who also dabbles in metalurgy experiments in his basement. He's a familiar character to me. My dad is an engineer and I have an engineer's brain as well. Apparently so does my friend Brad Feld.
The Gotham Gal tires of this mindset at times. She will say in exasperation "you can't solve every problem Fred." But that's how my mind works. Find problem, solve it, move one to the next one.
My engineer tendencies are reinforced by the work I do. Most entrepreneurs we back are also engineers. They find a problem and they set out to solve it. That journey is often a startup and we are along for the ride. Solving problems creates value in our business. Value creation is success. So the feedback loop is reinforcing and problem solving is the name of my game.
But the Gotham Gal is right. I can't solve every problem as much as I want to. The person or organization that has the problem has to want to solve it too. And when the will is not there, as clear as the solution is, its best to leave it alone.
I've been trying to decide what to do on the subject of online piracy. I think there are good solutions to the problem that involve technical approaches that leverage the work the technology industry has done with domain name registration and spam/virus/malware filtering. I laid them out in a discussion I participated in last week at the Paley Center. But the entertainment industry must want to solve the core problems, not just the symptoms. And it is not clear to me that the entertainment industry wants to solve the problem. So maybe I should move on.
The same is true of the companies we work with. They often have problems that can be solved, and have been solved in many other companies. But if they do not have the will to solve them, then all of our effort to address the issue is wasted. Our desire to solve the problem will simply come across as interference, meddling, or worse.
So as I move from youthful enthusiasm to elderly wisdom, one of my development goals is to supress the desire to solve every problem and focus on the ones where I can make a difference. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it and making progress.
I am in Park City with the Gotham Gal and our son and two of his friends. We woke up to fresh snow and its supposed to come down all day. So I'm taking the day off and going powder skiing off the Dreamscape lift where this video below was filmed. We'll be back tomorrow with Jerry Colonna's wrapup post on our Management Team series on MBA Mondays.
The video is about 3:30 long. Do yourself a favor and fast forward 30 seconds to the good stuff.
I have never ever been so behind on email as I am right now. I believe I am seeing about one third of all email that is sent to me. If you have sent me an email that I haven't replied to, don't be offended. You are not alone. You are in the majority.
I write these posts occasionally to let people know. The result is hundreds of comments about how I can make email work better for me. Please don't leave those comments. I don't want to make email work better for me. I don't want to hire an assistant to do email for me. I don't want to try some new magical app that will make email better for me.
I give email an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening, and I dive into it throughout the day. The result is probably three hours a day in total. That's all I'm going to give email. And it is not enough to manage the inbound flow.
So I'll do what I can and I'm not going to do more. And if that means I will miss your email, then so be it. Please send it again. That will increase the chances I will see it.