June 04, 2008

This Weeks CAP & TRADE Debate

The measure, as proposed, would reduce American production of climate-altering gases by nearly 70 percent from current levels by 2050. It would provide billions of dollars in subsidies for energy conservation and environmentally clean technologies, creating millions of jobs, proponents say.

The sale of the permits would raise more than $5 trillion for the government in the coming decades, money that the bill proposes to distribute to affected industries, consumers and local governments in one of the biggest programs of redistribution of American wealth in history. The bill’s proponents say the money would help pay for a technological leap that would create millions of new jobs while cleaning the atmosphere.

Emissions_by_state_2

The measure, as proposed, would reduce American production of climate-altering gases by nearly 70 percent from current levels by 2050. It would provide billions of dollars in subsidies for energy conservation and environmentally clean technologies, creating millions of jobs, proponents say.

The sale of the permits would raise more than $5 trillion for the government in the coming decades, money that the bill proposes to distribute to affected industries, consumers and local governments in one of the biggest programs of redistribution of American wealth in history. The bill’s proponents say the money would help pay for a technological leap that would create millions of new jobs while cleaning the atmosphere.

June 4, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 27, 2008

Google Gets Renewable Energy

Every year the founders of Google write a Founders Letter and publish it. It's meant to be an "off the cuff" look at the business and industry, what's working, what's not. You can read the entire letter here.

Rec3_3 What is interesting in the letter is how this now very large, and very profitable company is committed to the environment and addressing global warming. They use a very clever term of RE<C meaning; Renewable Energy less expensive that Carbon based energy. For those of us in the industry a REC is a Renewable Energy Credit. In the letter within the section "The World" Larry and Sergey (founders of Google) write;

"Speaking of the world, we don't want it to end-especially by environmental catastrophe. Consequently, we are working hard on our own considerable energy use in data centers by making them far more efficient. We're working directly on our own carbon/methane off sets to cover our usage. But we are all on the same Spaceship Earth, and we need to energetically address harmful emissions. To this end, we launched RE<C, an initiative to make renewable energy cheaper than coal-fired plants. We have started our own internal development effort, and have made investments in promising technologies. We are working on new clean technologies that could make more energy than we have now, and do it at a lower cost. Our goal is to generate a gigawatt (roughly enough to power San Francisco) of clean, cheap energy in years, not decades. If we are successful, we will not only help the world, but also make substantial profits."

Generating enough clean renewable energy to power a city the size of San Francisco. Certainly a big goal, but if there is a company that can do it, Google can.

March 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 20, 2008

NYC takes the Lead on GHG reduction

We typically view New York City as a lumbering giant metropolis that has to continually address problems that occur within it's infrastructure. Mayor Bloomberg has been instrumental in transforming the perceptions as of late with his forward thinking PLANYC2030 and his recent comments regarding a tax on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emitters. He is insistent on having New York take the lead against Global Warming. With tremendous political backlash, Mayor Bloomberg is taking a stand and calling for a national carbon tax on those companies/industries that are contributing to global warming and crediting those who don't. If we’re going to remain the world’s economic superpower, we have to create predictable incentives that will drive technological innovations and allow us to lead the world in developing clean, reliable and affordable energy and a national carbon tax can lead us in that direction. In 1993, President Clinton persuaded the House to adopt a B.T.U. tax (a tax on the heat content of fuels), but the effort died in the Republican controlled Senate. Many American politicians have considered endorsing a carbon tax political suicide but Bloomberg has the cache to take the lead on it. Maybe with O'bama as our nations leader old school politics may be a thing of the past and change may indeed come about. Cities and states (Denver, Colorado also being a leader with its Green Print initiative) are starting to take action, but the fact is, no matter how far we push the boundaries of the possible, there will be no substitute for federal leadership. Leadership is not waiting for others to act, or bowing to special interests, or making policy by polling or political calculus. And it’s not hoping that technology will rescue us down the road or forcing our children to foot the bill. Leadership is about facing facts, making hard decisions and having the independence and courage to do the right thing, even when it’s not easy or popular.

Green energy is going to be the oil gusher of the 21st century, and if we’re going to remain the world’s economic superpower, we’ve got to be the pioneers. How do we do it? I think we need a strategy that embraces four basic principles;

First, we need to increase investment in energy. Right now we're spending just one-third of what we were in the 1970s. If we really want to be able to manufacture competitively priced biofuel and solar power, if we really want to sequester the carbon dioxide released from coal, we have to be willing to make the commitments that will drive private capital to these projects. Second, we have to stop setting tariffs and subsidies based on pork barrel politics. For instance, Congress is currently subsidizing corn-based ethanol at 50 cents a gallon — and you can argue that’s good agricultural policy, but you can’t argue that it’s good for consumers or the environment. Because it isn’t. Consumers pay more for food, and producing corn-based ethanol results in much more carbon dioxide than producing sugar-based ethanol. But are we subsidizing sugar-based ethanol? No! We’re putting a 50-cent tariff on it. Ending that tariff makes all the sense in the world, but for the politics. Everyone knows that politically driven policies are costing taxpayers billions while providing only marginal carbon reductions — but we need leaders who will do something about it! Third, we have to get serious about energy efficiency — and the best place to start is with our cars and trucks. In 1975, Congress passed a law requiring fuel efficiency standards to double over 10 years, from 12 miles a gallon to 24, with incremental targets that auto manufacturers were required to meet. But since 1985, congress has been paralyzed by special interests. If the same incremental gains had been adopted for the last two decades, think of where we would be now! We’d all be saving money at the pump, we’d be producing less air pollution and greenhouse gas, would be in a stronger competitive position and the “Big Three” may not have lost so many more jobs. The current Senate energy bill would raise standards from 27.5 to 35 miles per hour by 2020. That’s nowhere near the leap we made from 1975 to 1985, and many foreign cars are already getting 35 miles to the gallon. Even so, automakers are trying to water down the Senate bill. Raising fuel efficiency standards is the best thing we could do for automakers — and it would’ve been done years ago, but for the politics.Fourth and finally, we have to stop ignoring the laws of economics. As long as greenhouse gas pollution is free, it will be abundant. If we want to reduce it, there has to be a cost for producing it. The voluntary targets suggested by President Bush are akin to voluntary speed limits — doomed to fail. If we’re serious about putting the brakes on global warming, the question is not whether we should put a value on greenhouse gas pollution, but how we should do it.

February 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

January 11, 2008

Is 350ppm of Carbon Dioxide the "Tipping Point"

Last month was big regarding the fight against Global Warming. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. finally made some commitments at the summit in Bali, and Congress felt the pressure and went against big business and raised the gas mileage standard for cars.

But perhaps the biggest single event was when NASA scientist James Hansen proclaimed that the new tipping point for our planet is 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All other rhetoric pales in comparison to this finding. Why this is so important is that 20 years ago Hansen testified to congress that the planet was warming and that people were the cause. In the 60's (post the industrial revolution) the concentration of CO2 was roughly 275ppm. So most all focus was on what would happen to the planet if that number doubled to 550ppm. So 550ppm became what all studies were based on and the scientific community drew the line there. DO NOT EXCEED 550ppm.

A funny thing happened on the way to 550ppm. We're at roughly 383ppm and the planet has started to change. We're seeing the polar ice caps meting at an alarming rate. That rapid meltdown caused most scientists to lower the tipping point to 450ppm a few years back (better safe than sorry). Hansen now quotes "the evidence indicates that we've aimed too high - that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350ppm". A stunner to the scientific community - 350ppm. We're already at 383ppm so what now? Well, just like most issues it has to get a little worse before it gets better - and it is.

The issue now is all about reduction of CO2 not about doom and gloom. It's about weaning ourselves from coal, gas and oil (fossil fuels). I can't see how government glad handing and international summits where other issues are really driving the agenda will get it done. How about banning coal fired power plants that do not capture carbon emissions? How about a carbon tax on fossil fuels that are being extracted from the earth?  How about taxing industries that produce too much carbon at our expense? Or, not fond of taxing, how about rewarding those that go green? That buy renewable energy, that find ways to conserve, that produce renewable energy. This is a zero sum game and right now the earth is on the short end of the stick - but it's not too late.

January 11, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2007

China is hitting on all cylinders

I don't think it's any secret that China is growing fast - we all read the news. One of the hidden secrets is just how fast they are growing and, can they keep up the torrid pace for exporting products. With the westernization of their culture just starting, the lower and middle classes are getting a taste of the good life. Spending and making more and more money in a vicious cycle and 10% GDP growth per quarter could go on for quite some time. Where I'm perplexed is just how they will meet their own needs for products and services as the manufacturing base peaks production. Plants can only be built and expanded so fast and the labor component will eventually demand more money and become scarse (ala U.S. manufacturing in the 70's). Will they curtail exports and drive up prices here in the U.S. and around the world? They could if they needed or wanted to. 

Gdp_chartIn teh next 12 months China will easily outpace Germany in total GDP and Japan will be within shooting distance (no pun intended). It's also easy to fathom that within the next 5 years China's GDP will easily surpass that of the U.S. with our controlled growth through interest rate manipulation. Something has to give with soaring domestic demand and the manufacturing growth capabilities of China. My bet is that China restricts exports within the next 5 years to meet their own needs. We recently bought a company based in Boston (Supply Strategies) that makes a market here in the U.S. for trade/price imbalances for commodity type products. They have positioned themselves with manufacturing plants throughout China for the types of products that mid market manufacturing and distribution companies buy every day here in the U.S.. Right now products from China are still inexpensive and plentiful. I can see the day when that will no longer be the case. 

July 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2007

CFO for Construction Business needed

A couple of weeks ago we (Axiom Equity Partners) bought a Road Striping and Safety Services business here in the Denver area. I didn't know much about road striping but Colorado Strijpe Wright (yes that's how you spell it) and American Barricade are two of the largest and best Road Striping/Safety Services companies in the Rocky Mountain region. Like most small businesses that have grown fast over a short period of time they have quite a few challenges with financial controls, policy and procedure. We're now looking to place a CFO to be part of the management team. Given we're talking about a business with revenues in the $10m to $20m range there's a lot of day to day tactical work (cash flow management, AR/AP, payroll, etc) along with administration responsibilities and banking relationships. Ideally we're looking for someone that might currently be in a Controller role that wants to grow into a CFO role. Construction industry knowledge is definitely a plus. If you know of anyone that might be a fit drop me a line at sandyh@axiomequity.com. Location is I-25/I-70 area.

July 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 15, 2007

Me....as a Dad

Fathers Day is this Sunday. The only reason I know this is because it's the U.S. Open golf championship weekend. Not something I keep on my calendar or want any special recognition for. Don't misunderstand, I absolutely love being a dad, but being a "good dad" seems to be getting tougher and tougher. Thinking back to when I was growing up, it seemed to be pretty clear cut. In an age where men knew their roles and were happy with them; go out, get a job, make money, put a roof over the kids head, have a martini after work, read the paper after work and do yard work around the house on the weekends. Occasionally there was the obligatory throw of the baseball for a half hour or so. Now, in the age of enlightenment and expanded consciousness with the help of Dr. Spock, there are parent teachers conferences, one on one quality time, talks about life, mandatory family time, etc, etc. More quality time with our children in the early years helps better form them as a young adult, yada, yada, yada. No pressure there huh. I'm not sure that I'd rather be a Dad in the 60's or Dad in the '00s but either way I'm glad that I had a great dad, and that I'm being a great dad to my three kids. I look at my kids and quietly smile at how amazing they are and know that they will have incredible lives as they get older. Thank god for my wife.

June 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 21, 2007

Keeping Score

We have this on-going debate in our family about being competitive vs. having fun and, at what age is it OK to actually "want to win." It seems that a lot of organizations, schools, county sports, etc. are intent on having kids participate in sports for the joy of participating. A lot of parents have bought into the concept as well. I'm not quite there. Last time I looked, the world is a pretty competitive and un-forgiving place and personalities are molded at a very young age. I grew up in an ultra competitive environment and learned to win....and lose, and from what I remember I had a blast playing all kinds of sports. I also remember being cut (not making the team) for J.V. basketball as a freshman. That was the last time I was going to get cut in any sport. I learned more from being cut than anything. I had a drive to win, whether it was an individual sport (tennis) or a team sport like baseball, football, wiffleball, bocce ball, home run derby, you name it. I'm not sure at what age it all started, but I suspect it was pretty early on for me. Recently in an obligatory adult conversation among parents the subject came up given our team was losing 10-2 (yes I keep score) and it quickly turned to the "anyone should be able to play and just have fun....and it doesn't matter if they win or lose" mantra. Ummm, lady, you're kid is like 10, when is it OK to want to win? Knowing I was in the minority, I pandered to the view and couldn't help but think about the kids on the team that were actually pretty good athletes with a drive to win, and how they felt about the other kids who couldn't care less. Sorry, I think kids can have a desire to win and have a lot of fun doing so. Although it seems to have become more of the politically correct view, I don't think that being competitive and having fun are mutually exclusive. I suspect that whomever started this bandwagon probably sucked at sports as a kid.

May 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

April 03, 2007

Fear of Failure - The Aftermath

There have been a lot of great posts in the blogesphere lately around failure and the fear of it. Brad Feld wrote a piece a while ago, and there have been several others offering their perspectives. Although we use the term "fear of failure" a lot in our every day language, I'm not so sure it's actually the failure itself that most people are afraid of, but rather the fear of the aftermath of the failure. While we go through failure after failure in our everyday lives, both professionally and personally, I'd suspect that most of us are more worried about what the failure will actually cause and how we're going to handle that. It's inevitable that you're going to screw up, I don't know anyone that hasn't and if we all admitted to it, I'm sure that there are a ton of failures in our lives that we just don't own up to. Sure I'd like to succeed, but I get much more juice out of the fact that I'm willing to set a goal, set some high standards by which to live by that either has me pass or fail. Then, for me what really defines someones character is their ability to own up to and handle the success or the failure that they just had. That's where integrity is born - how you handle issues. If you're willing to try it on, the formula works pretty well; set some goals, have some rules for your life and then go for it. If you succeed or there's a perception of success, great, must have done something right - acknowledge yourself and those around you for that success. If you happen to fall short, or FAIL, that's OK too. It sucks, but you set some standards for yourself and did everything you could to live to those standards and you failed to do so. Now - acknowledge the failure, what you learned from it, clean it up with those around you, those that were involved, and move on. I think that's the part, the "aftermath", where most people fall short. And that's probably the part that has people not to reach beyond themselves, to not set higher standards and goals. I also happen to think that people earn respect from handling the aftermath, from owning up to the fact that they may have failed. I will take someone any day that owns up to the fact that they screwed up - those are the ones that you know what you're dealing with and can address whatever the problem is, big or small. Geeze, what a novel concept - being up front. Just my perspective.

April 3, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 22, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

Last week my bothers and sisters and I spent three days in Vegas with my mother celebrating her 75th birthday. She loves Vegas and so do I. Names are being withheld to protect the guilty. We had an absolute blast! I'm so glad Vegas has found a way to transform from the horrible idea of making itself into a kid friendly destination resort back in the early 90's. In all of it's decadence, Vegas has found a way to attract the best restaurants, entertainment and nightclubs in the world. Obviously all coming with a price. I can't imagine anywhere in the world, with maybe the exception of Dubai, that packs as much money, entertainment, glamor, food and every vice you can think of within 1 square mile. We stayed at the Bellagio in  a couple of suites in the new Spa Tower which was perfect - four brothers in one suite was a site to be seen. Although there wasn't a lot of waking hours spent there. Come to think of it there weren't a lot of sleeping hours either. Dinners at Prime and Circo at Bellagio were opulent, and another at Mix which is at the top of THE Hotel (Mandalay Bay) that had incredible views of the strip. Spent some time at a couple of clubs, Pure at Ceasers was off the charts, did a show, spent a day golfing and another by the pool just kicking back. Three perfect days in paradise. Speaking of dice - not so good. It was a blast being with everyone, alone, without kids, et al, and especially being with my mother who's is a fabulous 75 now.

March 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 05, 2007

The Fray was Fabulous

Fray1 Made our way to Vail this weekend and caught The Fray concert with some good friends of ours. I love this band, I love the whole story. Just a bunch of guys from Boulder/Denver, CO that started jammin together a few years back, got a MySpace page (most people don't know it but the original premise of MySpace was to host web sites of bands to promote themselves) and the rest is history. How to Save a Life (from Greys Anatomy) propelled them to the spotlight and it's been a rocket ride ever since. They only have 12 songs, played them all plus a couple of new ones that they wanted to "try out"....all good. The crowd went crazy during She Is, Over my Head (my favorite) and of course How to Save a Life, but the whole show was just really great. We saw them at the Dobson Ice arena, general admission, standing side by side with 10,000 people 20' from the stage spilling beer the whole time - it was perfect. Slade is a remarkably talented musician but the whole band just had a really great vibe about them. They obviously get compared a lot to Coldplay given the focus of the piano, but for only being together for a few years, going double platinum on their first album, two Grammy nominations - these guys are good.

February 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 30, 2007

Kyoto Protocal or Bust

Our Government made a conscious decision not to adopt the Kyoto Protocol framework through the United Nations for climate control in 1997. While most other leading nations from around the globe quickly moved to adopt policies outlined in the mandate, the U.S. took the position of "voluntary reductions" in CO2 and NO2 emissions. This resulted in an actual increase in the level of emissions throughout the U.S. as our economy and population continues to grow. There's been a lot of rhetoric around the subject of global warming, nay-sayers, doom-sayers, it seems that most everyone has an opinion. WorldWatch Institute has a good, albeit dated synopsis regarding Kyoto and Climate Change. Mounting evidence tells me, we need to at least pay attention to data and leading scientists. Recently I watched the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" which was produced by Al Gores team. If 10% of what is portrayed in this movie is accurate - I think we're in trouble. As a follow up I read Lester Browns book Plan B 2.0 which focuses on how to save our planet. Again, astonished by some of the facts that a truly credible author lays out around energy, climate, population and food.

Today there's a House Oversite Committee inquiry into the White House apparently "stonewalling" a scathing report on climate change. One small positive step was that the President did issue an executive order yesterday mandating all Federal Agencies to reduce carbon emissions. OK ....so that deals with 1/2 of 1% of all energy. What about the other 99.5%? Renewable energy President Bush....renewable energy! I can all but guarantee that Renewable Energy will be the cornerstone of our next Presidents platform.

January 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 25, 2007

Yellow Pages Debacle

I came home today to find a plastic bag on my front walk with three huge phone books inside from Qwest. A "residential" directory, a "yellow pages" directory, and a new Qwest Dex "plus" portable yellow pages directory (slightly small than the other books). Probably close to 10 lbs in all. I can't remember the last time I used a phone book. Note to those that buy space in the yellow pages - you are wasting your money on me. So I got on the phone to Qwest and asked them to put me on a DO NOT DELIVER EVER AGAIN list to which I got a response of, and I'm not kidding here, "we do not have a list like that sir and we have to deliver them out to all of our customers. But I don't want them. I'm sorry sir they have to be delivered to you." What a terrible waste of trees.

January 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack (1)

January 15, 2007

10 Degrees F, Feels Like 50 F

Most weather stations/sites have a little add to the daily temperatures, namely ..."feels like." The feels like temperature takes into account things like humidity, wind, etc, etc. I never really understood it. To make matters worse, temperature is always measured in the shade, that way the direct sunlight doesn't alter the temperature reading. I don't understand why they do that either. In a Colorado winter like we're having where the temperature is 10 degrees F the last thing I want to do is to be in the shade. On Saturday I was yet again snow blowing the driveway after 4" or so accumulation Friday eve. Saturday was a beautiful day, sunny, bright blue sky and I found myself sweating while maneuvering my snow blower under the sun in 10 degree weather, that is until I went around to the back yard to clear a sidewalk in the shade. I could have literally worn a t-shirt and shorts while in the sun on Saturday - or something close to that. Try to do that in 10 degree weather in Buffalo!

January 15, 2007 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

December 27, 2006

Technology for Christmas

I've been a loyal Treo/Palm guy for years, working my way up to a Treo 650 about 6 months ago. Well...no more. I gifted myself a new Blackberry Pearl which blows away any Treo device (including the new 680). The user interface is what sealed the deal for me - very intuitive, fewer click throughs, great form factor. I love it! It has a really cool browser feature that updates a site every couple of minutes which is great for getting sports updates (confession here - I was getting updates on the Broncos/Bengals game during church. Hey it was a critical game.) They also use push technology that updates your emails as they come in vs. Treos pull technology that goes out and gets them on a schedule - even if there's nothing there. Hands down this new Blackberry Pearl is the best PDA out there.

Christine got me a new 80 gig Video iPod. I admit that when she first hinted that she was getting it for me I was a bit disappointed - only because I love the small size of my Nano. But I've been playing with it for a few days and it's the coolest thing. I've now downloaded a couple of episodes from the Office, a bunch of shorts from the Discovery and History channels, I've subscribed to NBC Nightly news, Anthony Bourdains travels through Sicily and an hour long program from the Biography Channel on Great Leaders. I'm also debating to get the entire last couple of seasons of Lost. Perfect for laying in the hammock in Cabo! 

December 27, 2006 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 19, 2006

Management as a "responsibility"

A a fan of the Denver Nuggets, and in particular Carmelo Anthony, I was really disappointed in what happened the other day when the Nuggets/Nicks game erupted into a bench clearing brawl. Now it seems that everyone has an opinion on what happened, who's responsible, etc. But I think that Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks) is right on point with his blog about "management being responsible" and setting the tone for an organization. Coaching and management go well beyond honing a particular skill (in this case basketball). I'm sure that if management is 100% responsible for any and all actions of their employees (players) they would interact differently with them vs. being 100% responsible for winning and losing.

December 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman - Free Market Iconist

Milton Friedman died today. I've always loved his approach to economics and social responsibility, I'll miss his writings. Friedman is an icon for free market economist. Long an anti Keynesian, Friedman was all about freedom of choice, freedom of markets, letting the pendulum rest where it needs to until the people choose otherwise - without government intervention. I loved his style, his beliefs - one of the greatest pillars of our society. He framed a lot of great minds through Business Schools that eventually went on to run some of the most powerful corporations in the world. He preached to have individual accountability within a compassionate society. Most thought of Friedman as the consummate capitalist where the strongest survive and the weak perish, but he was also known for his negative tax concept where the government would pay people making below a certain floating level of income. Supply and demand to the limits. What a brilliant mind, one of our best.

November 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 14, 2006

NBC Nightly News does Web 2.0

I TIVO NBC Nightly News - I like Brian Williams. Tonight they promoted the fact that podcast versions of the broadcast will be available at 10:00pm ET every night. How cool is that! Now I can subscribe to that podcast as an RSS feed, watch it on my video IPOD (if I had one - hint Christine. Christmas is coming up) or watch it on my PC. And soon my cell phone. Ah, no longer tied to my TV.

Also - I was reading the paper (as archaic as that may sound to some) and there was a great article on Level 3 and CEO Jim Crowe talking about where Level 3 was heading. He indicated that "the future is all about delivery (bandwidth) and content." With companies like NBC getting hip to 2.0 he's right on point. Level 3 at $5.75/share and companies like Akamai that store and optimize content on the web at $49/share have got to be very well positioned. I just set a reminder to check back in on this 12 months from now.

November 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 28, 2006

Why I Love Colorado - Part 1

A few months ago I started to mountain bike as a park of my workout regimen. My mountain bike has been staring at me for the past few years every time I went into the garage to see it hanging from the ceiling. So I dusted off my mountain bike and started to ride. Less than a hundred yards from my home is an incredible open space area called "the bluffs" that includes a 2.6 mile trail that ascends and declines a few hundred feet as you go around it. It's such a great workout, especially at 6,000'. When I started doing this, as a newbie, I noticed the other bikers, all decked out in their latest gear. You know, the biking shorts, team Italia shirts, a camel back for water, head gear, etc. I was in it for the workout so I started with a t-shirt and a pair of old shorts and my sneakers. I quickly learned I needed at least the biking shorts, then the sunglasses (gotta have the right Oakley's). Dscn0769_1I've stopped there....for now. Anyway, after the first couple of rides I wondered just how much of a workout I was getting as I was gasping for air, so I got a Timex Heart Rate monitor with a wrist watch, etc. - actually Christine got it for me. I was blown away by the stats, for about an hour ride I was burning 950 to 1000 calories, my high heart rate was up around 165, I was averaging in the low 150s for the entire ride. Pretty good workout. Over the past few months those stats have declined a bit as I've gotten use to the ride and more in shape so I started to go a different route to mix it up a bit. I was up to 5 or 6 times a week - I was addicted. As I was cooling down one day after a ride I was talking to another biker about his watch, he's got one that includes a satellite feature so you can tell how much elevation change you're going through. I did some research, it's pretty cool, you can download the data right to your PC and you can determine what parts of the ride you're burning the most calories, speeds, etc. It's amazing what's available for someone that really wants to train and master something. He also looked at my sneakers and pedal baskets and smirked as he took off in a cloud of dust. I gotta get the biking shoes with toe clips now! Anyway, one of the huge benefits I get from this is just being outside, in the Colorado air. I never get tired of the views of the mountains and the crisp clean air we have. Perfect for clearing the mind. What a great place to live.

October 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2006

Like Minds Think Alike

It seems that we're becoming more an more polarized on idealogical issues than ever. I don't get the "Us vs. Them" mentality. To me it's counter productive. I think we become more ingrained in our opinion when we have like minded individuals continually being with, collaborating with others of the same ilk. I guess that happens when you want to solidify your beliefs, to be more righteous in your conviction. There's been some great studies done of groups of people talking about and addressing issues when they tend to have the same mindset vs people with different mindsets in the same group. When you have people with the same mindset they tend to polarize and be more extreme in the views - it's commonly called "group think". When you have differing perspectives within the same group addressing issues the solutions tend to be different, generally because you learn from one another. Perhaps the greatest test of this was when President Kennedy declared "space the new frontier" and committed to put a "man on the moon". What most people don't realize is that engineers had to produce breakthroughs in engineering to order to achieve this feat. Engineers were divided, polarized as to thinking a spaceship could ever be built to land on and return from the moon, safely. So they (NASA) did something extraordinary. They didn't divide the camps of thinking, they actually did the opposite and placed engineers in offices, side by side, one that thought it could be achieved right next to one that thought it couldn't. And they learned from one another. Rather than creating polarized groups that led to extreme views, they actually came up with a solution - and the rest is history. We're polarized over 9/11, we see it with liberals and conservatives, religion, the war and now I'm seeing it every 10 min or so on TV with ads of political candidates blasting one another over issues. Maybe there's a place and time to have a group of people that think alike to be together and discuss issues, maybe that creates an extreme view that pushes the envelop. But maybe, just maybe we should try to seek out or create a contrarian view on an issue, to talk with others and gain their perspective - maybe thats the ticket to the solution. Just an idea.

October 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

July 11, 2006

Partners for Life

Just came back from a vacation at Disney World in Orlando. Hot, Hazy, Humid and I've never walked so much in my life. For the first three days it was Christine, me, Alec & Alexa and then all of my brothers and sisters (and their kids), Ashley, and my mother joined us for a big family reunion. Thirty one of us in all, (I have 5 brothers and sisters - good Catholics that we are :-)). We had a blast, stayed at the Grand Floridian, did all the parks, great dinners, a lot of wine, etc, etc. We also did something that we haven't done before, we took time out from the larger group and had a fabulous, elegant dinner one night, just the 6 kids and my mother. I have to admit, it was a pretty great experience, a really neat dynamic, sharing stories/experiences that we might not have done otherwise. Then, coming home on the plane I read an article in the NY Times about siblings and the effect that they have on "why you are the way you are". The article in the Times referenced a story that was on the cover of Time magazine here. I've always been fascinated about why people are the way they are. I had always thought that parents were the main contributors - but I gave up blaming my mother and father a long time ago. As I read the article in Time it resonated for me, and it might for you too. Connecting and staying connected with my brothers and sisters is important for me - especially given the fact that they are all in the North East and spend quite a bit of time together. It was great being with my extended family, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters in-laws, my mother; but it was especially nice being with my siblings.

July 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 30, 2006

World Cup goes Dry??

Last night while watching NBC Nightly News (TiVo'd of course) there was a snip-it about the possibility of Germany running out of beer during the World Cup. That they severely underestimated the about of potential consumption during the planning process. There was also a reference to the fact that the English soccer fans are consuming more beer than anyone - an average of 15 beers per day! Woah.

But according to world beer stats, the Czech Republic wins hands down. They drink almost 2 times as much beer per person than does the US. And....Electronic Arts just ran a soccer simulation for the World Cup and the Czechs won!!

But wait, there's even more beer/World Cup news. The tournament's clear favorite on the football pitch, Brazil, is a rank amateur in the beer world, registering about 47 liters per person per year, a pitiful 33rd place. Italy, whose national team is also another tournament favorite, doesn't even rank within the top 35 beer-drinking countries, according to 2004 figures.

Sports at its best.

June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 26, 2006

This is Paradise, Radio Paradise

A few weeks ago I was reading Fred Wilson's blog and picked up a great link to Radio Paradise. I'm hooked, it's all I listen to now. This is what radio should be - great music, no commercials, free. For those of you that don't know, Fred's with Union Square Ventures and definitely plugged in!

I gotta get a windows media center hooked into my entertainment system, there's just too much great stuff on the web not to listen too over a great sound system or watch via a HD plasma. Why would anyone buy or rent a CD, a DVD, a Pay Per View anymore? Everything you want and more, on demand.

April 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 23, 2006

My "Top Ten" Great Salesperson Traits

A couple of weeks ago, Terry Gold had a fabulous post on Hiring Salespeople. Terry is a great guy, an avid ongoing learner, committed to people and their success, and the CEO of Gold Systems. I've been a huge fan of Terry's ever since I met him 3 or 4 years ago. Brad Feld calls him the best "non-salesy salesperson" he knows. Terry outlines what he thinks are traits that have worked for him over the years in hiring salespeople, and what hasn't worked. I've edited his list and thrown in a couple of my starters/non-starters given I've hired and fired quite a few salespeople over the years. You could argue that companies in different industries and in different stages of maturity change this list somewhat, but it's still probably a pretty good litmus test for hiring nontheless;

1) Hire someone that, as Terry says, can "SELL STUFF". Do they have a track record that demonstrates they can sell. This might seem like  a no brainer, but do the diligence. I've seen salespeople that still hang their hats on the fact that they were successful selling technology during the late 90's where fish were jumping into the boat. What have they done over the past 3-4 years, in a difficult technology environment?

2) Hire someone that will "jump right in". Someone that isn't afraid to make mistakes, that is willing to ask the wrong questions. This is especially true in a new technology area. If you're in a "me too" business, the guy who needs to learn first, then sell, might work out. But 9 out of 10 times it's a bad sign.

3) Hire someone that is "genuine". As Terry points out, we sell to smart people, they can smell a fake. I love it when someone says "I have no idea - but I'll find out". People that buy technology, that buy anything, are looking to partner with you to find a solution to their problems. Not for you to sell them. That went out with the Tin Man.

4) Hire someone that can "build relationships". If you find yourself being enamored during the interview, chances are your customers will too. If they can charm you without you feeling like they're slimy then it's probably a good bet that he/she can build relationships with customers too.

5) Hire someone with "presence". You know what I mean. The guy/woman that walks in a room and you pay attention to them right away even though they didn't open their mouth - and when they do it's the icing on the cake. It's hard to put your finger on it but you know it when you see it. This gives customers a sense of security. That they're dealing with the company who can take care of them.

6) Hire someone who "knows what people are thinking". This is a bit more difficult to be able to guage, but a great sales person always speaks to "how a customer is listening". It's not about what you are trying to say/or sell but rather how they are listening to what you are saying. This one is really important and often missed.

7) Hire someone who will "try, try again". I love salespeople who don't give up, even in the face of a big "NO". What's to lose, they already said no, keep on pushing. If I get a call from a potential customer who is angry that one of my salespeople "wouldn't let go, or stop" I'd think that its a good thing.

8) Hire someone who will "ask the tough questions". I've been in too many situations where salespeople don't ask the tough, direct questions. Anyone can ask the milk toast questions. If you want to gain the advantage, get a piece of knowledge that the competition doesn't have. Plus it puts you on a different level of relationship with the customer. They resepct that.

9) Hire someone that can "follow a process". I don't care if you are selling widgets or aircraft carriers, sales is more of a science than an art. There are sales processes that make you more efficient, that move an opportunity through a pipeline quicker, that make sure you don't get caught flat footed or blindsided when a deal is "suppose to close".

10) Hire someone that will "talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere". This speaks for itself but I'll throw in an added dimension. The number of qualified opportunities that you/your organization has is a direct correlation to the number of conversations you are having. Everything happens or gets started in a conversation....everything. More deals are started on a plane or in a bar than we'd like to admit.

Well, there you go, my top ten traits. I actually have a few more but then again it wouldn't be a top ten. These are the ten most important traits to me after the basics get covered - smart, articulate, etc. I've used all of the more commonplace tests that you can put someone through to determine if they will turn out to be a great salesperson or not. I hired a hundred or so sales people at Qwest Cyber Solutions doing that, some were effective, some weren't. In the end, this list has served me pretty well.                                                                           

April 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

April 08, 2006

Why not CarCast?

One of the downsides of being an early adopter of technology is that the hardware/software gets revised pretty quick and you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to either hold on to the device you have or spend more money and get the newer version. For about a year now I've had my eye on an IPod Nano. Both Christine and I have/had IPod Minis. Hers recently bit the dust, battery or something, and she took it in to the Apple store to get it fixed. They said $60, she said NO, and they gave her a deal on a Nano which she generously gave to me. I find myself using it (the IPod) now more than ever - because of its size.

Anyway, I now subscribe to various podcasts through iTunes. If you're not using that area of iTunes you need to. It's amazing what's out there for free, as a podcast. Right now I subscribe to about 10 different podcasts; Jim Crammers "Mad Money", MSNBCs Business Update, Venture Capital Report, Learning Mandarin Chinese, you get the picture. The cool thing is that every morning I can "sync" my Nano which gets me the new podcasts for the day. So yesterday I found myself driving my car listening to a 30 min segment podcast on early stage start up investing with my ear plugs from my Nano. I've just gotten to the point where I can't stand the radio, and even though I can get XM in my car, I don't because it's not what I want to hear - it's what they want to play. So.....why not have your car be able to download podcasts so you can play them back through your car stereo system as you drive to/from work?

This can't be difficult. RSS is gaining in popularity, giving people the opportunity to subscribe to subject matter, and then get notified when there is new material. Podcasts are an extension of Blogs. What better place to listen to your podcasts but in your car. So lets make that easy. XM or Sirius have to be looking into this, if they're not then Delco should be. Or, maybe Dish or Direct TV? There is tons of satellite capacity and the interface would be a simple web UI via your computer where you could simply select/change your podcasts and your car stereo system does the rest by synchronizing. The technology is there - this is a business plan waiting to happen.

April 8, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)