Monday, October 12, 2009

New Sundays

This started off as an e-mail to Luke and Brian, but now it lives here. Since then, Luke also informed me of

From now on, my Sundays will be dedicated to relaxation and the generation of new ideas. 3M does this 15% of the time, so i figured 1 day / 7 = 14.3% of each week. Close enough.

Here are 3 for today:

1. Music recording studio. This could be the new incarnation of Rockstar Jam Sessions. A low-cost studio, with decent tools, sound-controlled recording room. Just thinking of another way to get the creative talent through our doors. I will research to see if there is anything else like this in the area, and for comparable rates. Definitely would be a night-time thing, unless we get really good at soundproofing.

2. T-shirts. There are 8000+ "Kentucky" designs on CafePress. "Kentucky" is a huge brand, but it is commonly either derogatory or boring. RedneckUnbridled Spirit? How about we embrace the 'Awesome Ink' misnomer. Proposal: graphic design of creative new line of t-shirts that aren't boring yet showcase what KY is really about: beauty, craftsmanship, horses, basketball, bourbon, the outdoors, family, friendliness, the convergence of north and south, beautiful women, and the fusion of creativity and technology.

Inspiration: founder (via Andew Hyde)

3. My AJ Jacobs book: 26 jobs in 1 year. I have been working on a list for a few years of all the jobs I would like to have experience with: mechanic, farmer, plumber, teacher, doctor, etc. I want to be MacGuyver or The Pretender for real. From an entrepreneurial perspective, this will give me incredibly valuable exposure to a very wide variety of industries in a very short time. I think 2 weeks will be enough time to discover some of the major problems, and enough content to write a book about how to fix those problems. Also, that will allow for me to put in my 2-week notice on day 1.

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Entrepreneur's case for Bicycles

Entrepreneurship is an uphill battle, pitting the strength of human will against the headwinds of a fickle market. Everything that entrepreneur gets, he or she earns. Cycling is not much different, especially in the context of the rolling hills of Central Kentucky. There are ups and downs, that conveniently alternate without warning. Frequently you have to climb out of gulch, yet you can't quite see the end. This is where determined cyclists and determined entrepreneurs can empathize. When you're not at the top, but you want to be, you focus the entirety of your consciousness to make it happen.

Sometimes, entrepreneurship isn't popular. Your friends and family, possibly your spouse, can be averted to the idea of discarding the security of a corporate job to pursue your passion. When commuting on my bicycle, I am frequently told by the drivers of neighboring cars that I should, "Get off the road!" or, "Buy a car you idiot!" Has this forced me to stop riding yet? No. Like a successful entrepreneur, I have taken the time to observe the big picture. I have a 1 mile commute. While this is a 20-minute walk, it is barely a 5-minute bike ride. During rush hour (ie the time when I actually commute), driving a car this distance through downtown Lexington takes about 15 minutes. I don't think my choice to commute by bicycle is that novel of an idea, but it seems to have far more benefits than drawbacks:

  • Nearest bike rack is immediately outside the doors to my office building. The parking lot is around the back, across the street.
  • During a 15-minute car ride through city traffic, 2 things are successfully accomplished
    • Waste a lot of gas heating up an engine
    • Build up a lot of frustration, wanting to go somewhere but being inhibited by the herd.
This is where I find the greatest similarity between entrepreneurs and commuter cyclists. So many people are frustrated with their jobs and their commutes. Yet, instead of looking for and being willing to try another viable option, they continue to give into the unintentional societal norms that suggest that a good benefits package is more important than following your dreams or that paying for the luxury of gasoline has better results than daily exercise.

Entrepreneurs and commuter cyclists must always be alert. They stand out from the herd, so they must learn to protect themselves. But likely that is the reason they have chosen their path in the first place. They care so much about their passion that they manifest the will to execute upon it. How the world is a better place as a result of these pursuit.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Three E's

I am passionate about the 3 E's (I know, Jack Welch has 4, but that's an unlucky number in Japan, so I'll stick with 3).


Each of these have a deeper than surface meaning.

Engineering is all about problem solving. In the popular sense, engineering is about understanding the laws by which the physical world operates and using that knowledge to create structures, devices, chemicals, and software. In a more human sense, it is about learning from our life experiences. It is about rewarding intelligence over laziness. It is about being open-minded, observational, and retaining a life-long thirst for knowledge. It is about knowing that you don't know everything. It is about believing that facts are more convincing than opinions. It is about knowing your expertise, and trusting others on their expertise.

Entrepreneurship is literally undertaking an endeavor. It is popularly used to describe those who start their own business ventures. It also describes my favorite definition of leader: "Not necessarily he who strives to be first, but he who is first to strive." Being an entrepreneur is about ignoring antiquated social norms and being your own person. It is about taking a step back, looking at the big picture, and seeing what others are missing. It is about rallying the pimps (ie your coolest friends) and getting them to collaboratively do something awesome. It is about not settling for the old and proven, but venturing out into the uncertain unknown. Entrepreneurship is about sacrificing good now for great later. It is about following the vision of Gordon B Hinckley, who at age 92 stated, "I am no longer a young man filled with energy and vitality. I’m given to meditation and prayer. I would enjoy sitting in a rocker, swallowing prescriptions, listening to soft music, and contemplating the things of the universe. But such activity offers no challenge and makes no contribution. I wish to be up and doing. I wish to face each day with resolution and purpose. I wish to use every waking hour to give encouragement, to bless those whose burdens are heavy, to build faith and strength of testimony. It is the presence of wonderful people which stimulates the adrenaline. It is the look of love in their eyes which gives me energy."

Environment, in the green movement of the new millennium, is about stepping back from a myopic view of the consequences of human activity on this planet. What one of us does today effects everyone tomorrow. Therefore, environment is about solidarity. It is about never being alone on this journey. Environment is about service and sacrifice. It is about not separating the end and the means. It is about Stephen R. Covey's "Third Alternatives". It is about consensus, equality, liberty, unity, and teamwork.

These are deep-rooted beliefs. I will never think it is dumb to be smart. I will always hope you dance, instead of sitting on the sidelines. I will respect the earth and all people who live here.

What is unanswered is this: how will I make progress on all 3 of these when I wake up tomorrow morning?