Friday, September 16, 2011

Breakdancing at its Best (Video)

I officially retired from breakdancing last summer in France after waking up way too sore the day after doing The Windmill on a very hard stone floor during an impromptu dance party with friends.

But watching this video of this year's Breakdancing Championships makes me want to get back in shape, lace up my Adidas and bust out the parachute pants for one more battle...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crowdsourcing street art - Paste up collage in da 'burg

Wonder what the cultural anthropologists of the future would say about this wall? So many artists contributing to the story by layering onto this spot just up the street from my place.


Monday, August 01, 2011

The Power of Feedback Loops

A great article in Wired outlines well the power of Feedback Loops, something I've been focusing a lot on in recent years, especially as it relates to incremental behavior change and the Quantified Self:

A feedback loop involves four distinct stages. First comes the data: A behavior must be measured, captured, and stored. This is the evidence stage. Second, the information must be relayed to the individual, not in the raw-data form in which it was captured but in a context that makes it emotionally resonant. This is the relevance stage. But even compelling information is useless if we don’t know what to make of it, so we need a third stage: consequence. The information must illuminate one or more paths ahead. And finally, the fourth stage: action. There must be a clear moment when the individual can recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act. Then that action is measured, and the feedback loop can run once more, every action stimulating new behaviors that inch us closer to our goals.

Read the full article in Wired here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

9 ways to attract world-class board members

(I published this guest post earlier today in VentureBeat. Click here to see the original article.)

One of the most important things you will do as the founder of a start-up is assemble your board. And if you take the proper time and care to assembled a knockout collection of members to fill those chairs, there’s a lot to gain. The question is: How can you attract world-class board members to your start-up, especially if you’re in the very early stages?

Before my partner Steven Krein and I started the process of searching for investors and board members to join our digital health and wellness company, we set out to build a world-class board of directors with whom we could flourish. This was an important transformation from previous businesses we created that focused entirely on product development and sales.

This time around, we committed to building a world-class board from Day 1 – and challenged ourselves to establish a group of advisers to serve not merely as deep pockets to catalyze our business, but rather as partners working towards our mission. For entrepreneurs currently building your board, consider these key lessons learned that can help you attract world-class board members.

Start early – Identifying the ideal board members may start well before you even begin building your company. We began meeting and nurturing relationships with potential investors early so that we would have a chance to get to know our prospective partners well. Always be on the lookout for great partners, advisers, and mentors.

Define your mission – Record the answer to this question into an audio recorder: Why am I building this company?

You need to be able to clearly and succinctly communicate the purpose of what you are doing and why it matters to you. If your mission is inspiring and can be communicated easily, then you are more likely to attract others to join you.

Ask yourself big questions – Take out a pencil and sheet of paper and ask yourself three big questions:

* Is there someone whom you most admire within your industry or the business world in general?
* What’s your mission, business philosophy, and can you clearly state the key characteristics of a partner most valuable to you and your team?
* Why do you want to add great board members?

Put together your dream list – Write down 10-20 people you would love to join your board and circle the most important one. This list should serve the roadmap for assembling your board. By identifying the people you’d like to work with, you know who you need to meet. For us, we were determined to add someone who was not only passionate about our mission, but who also had previously scaled a company to over a billion dollars in revenue. Ultimately, we landed Jerry Levin, former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner.

Leverage existing connections – After you’ve identified a dream list of board members, it’s time to tap your connections and establish the auspices that will put you in the same room with those people. Look at your list and tap into your network to figure out how you can get within one or two degrees of separation. It may be easier than you think.

Build a relationship first – Most people are not simply won over by an introductory lunch or product demonstration. Assuming you are well-aligned on mission and vision, what matters most are trust and credibility. A great way to foster those is to create a personal connection, getting to know someone before talking business. Rather than asking for something right off the bat, create a meaningful dialogue about your business and let the connection build over time.

Ask questions that matter to you – The interviewing process is not a one way street. You can interview your potential board members too. In initial meetings, seize the opportunity to ask him or her questions, such as:

* Why do you want to advise start-ups?
* What interests you in this company?
* How do your personal interests and other investments align well with this company?
Avoid “No” – It’s easy to get discouraged when your presentation is met with skepticism or an investor that tells you “it’s not the right time”. Don’t give up the first time you hear the word “no”, and use your passion to convince the investor that it is the right time.

Don’t give up – Persistence matters. People are busy. Trust takes time to foster, so make sure to keep in touch with your dream board members after the first and second meetings.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Stockdale Paradox - A Great Lesson for Success

Former MySQL CEO Marten Mikos outlines the Stockdale Paradox and how it applies to entrepreneurs in this amazing video interview.

For those who want to survive/thrive: You must believe that one day everything will be perfect but at the same time face the brutal facts.

Another comment I'm very in sync with from this interview: I think that offices are so last century...The human being is very good at working at home or where they enjoy their life...It's not for everybody but when it works it's the best model."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Are You A Faucet or a Drain?

Reflections on Faucets and Drains and My Big Wish

One of my guiding beliefs in life is that in this world there are faucets and there are drains.

There are those who fill the world with solutions and dedicate their lives to making contributions that move the ball forward; And there are those who suck the oxygen from the room and try to kick the ball out of bounds.

For good or bad, we all come into contact with various faucets and drains everyday. That’s life right!

But on a great day, we get to spend most of our time surrounded by faucets...the ones who provide the fresh water, the added energy, or the extra bit of pressure that helps to fill your glass more than half full.

Every once in awhile we all come across a real drain. Growing up these were the bully’s in the school yard. For some it’s a Carnival Barker like Donald Trump. In the age of Twitter, it’s someone you don’t even know who libels and misrepresents all that you are doing for the purpose of “link-baiting”. Sadly, it’s a fact of life that drains exist everywhere.

As a serial entrepreneur in the digital health space I’m used to dealing with lots of types of drains and luckily it doesn’t much effect my flow. But when you invest nearly every waking hour in life (and the ones filled with dreaming too) trying to solve a really big challenge that you know has the potential to help millions of people, wouldn’t it be great to not have to spend even an hour of your time dealing with drains...


My wish as I head to sleep is that when I wake, if you are one such drain you will reflect on how you might channel your negative aggression into doing something more useful. Obama said it best this week: we don’t have time for the circus. We need to unite and focus all of our energy on solving the problems of our time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Perhaps the Greatest Dance Scene on Film? Shadow Dancing with Fred Astaire

Just listed to great interview with Werner Herzog (one of my favorite film directors) on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. During the interview about his new documentary "The Cave of Forgotten Dreams", he mentioned this film scene with Fred Astaire dancing with his shadow as being the greatest moment in film history. His comment inspired me to watch the scene in it's entirety on YouTube. The shadow dancing takes place in the second half of the clip so do yourself a favor and watch the entire 7 minutes. Genius at work:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

People with PASSION can change the World (Steve Jobs Video)

Steve Jobs believes that people with PASSION can change the world for the better. I couldn't agree more. In this masterful presentation introducing Apple's Think Different campaign, he posits: Those people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones who actually do.

He hits the nail on the head with this powerful statement: Values and core values. Those things shouldn't ever change.

And then he shows us Apple's core values by showing the first THINK DIFFERENT commercial.

If you haven't seen the original TV spot he plays it at the end of his speech so don't flip the channel too quickly or you will be missing out.

Mixergy Interview with Unity Stoakes - Defining Your Mission and Working with Like Minded Souls

In this one hour interview with Mixergy's founder Andrew Warner, I share my personal experience building start-ups over the past 15 years. Andrew being the curious and passionate interviewer that he is dug in deep with lots of good questions which focused mainly on how to attract great talent and inspiring people to join your movement. Despite me looking like "haircut boy" and being blinded out by afternoon sunshine, I think the interview worked at pulling out some helpful tips useful to any start-up looking to grow a successful venture and go big.

Some of the key lessons we discussed in depth in the video:

1) Mapping out and defining your personal mission on paper
2) Making a list of those you want on your team as advisors, investors, mentors
3) Finding out how you can get access to those individuals via your own connections
4) The importance of building relationships overtime and establishing trust over time
5) The importance of asking for advice
6) You have the choice so why not stand for something big and focus on meaningful work
7) How going green virtually is more than building efficient companies, but is a about building a happy and healthy culture and environment for your team to thrive
8) Setting big goals and making them happen
9) The importance of having a billion dollar board member (someone who has built a company from scratch and scaled it to over a billion in revenue)
10) Not being afraid to ask...

Hopefully there's some practical wisdom in the session you may be able to use to help you. And as always, feel free to connect and ask questions anytime...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Have You Created An Urtak Yet?

My friends Mark and Aaron are the co-founders of a very cool start-up called Urtak. It makes it easy for anyone to create a yes/no poll they can put on their blog, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.

Here's one I just created on Health. It only took me 2 minutes to create and publish. Pretty cool!

Their service is already starting to take off, but I think this is going to be an amazing tool for publishers now that we are entering a major political cycle the next two years:

Your Health

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Harnessing The Power Of The Internet To Close The Health Gap?

I had the great pleasure of working on this opinion piece with Jerry Levin which was published yesterday in published Business Insider and the OrganizedWisdom Blog. Jerry is the former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and is the Presiding Director of Moonview Sanctuary and a Board Member and investor in He is a tremendous partner and mentor for me personally and is also one of the most passionate and inspiring people I know who are also on a mission to transform health and wellness. It is truly an honor to work with and learn from Jerry everyday.

Can We Harness The Power Of The Internet To Close The Healthcare Gap?

by Jerry Levin

For all of us -- young, old, and those in the middle -- life is simply an interlude between doctors’ visits.

This perspective, while obvious, perennially stays beneath our consciousness since we are consumed by the daily pursuit of personal identity as if our mind-body-and-spirit were to function without incident and without end.

More powerfully of late is the recognition that the explosive neglect of mental health issues has led to the horror of deadly violence—so massively played out recently in Arizona.

In my own family, we have witnessed the tragic consequences of unattended drug addiction. On a national level, as we have engaged in a heated debate about legislating health care, my greatest fear is that we have lost focus on the ability of an individual to take control of his or her own health and wellness. Now is the time for us to transform the conversation from one about ‘healthcare’ to the far more personal issue of an individual’s own ‘health’.

Clearly we have reached an inflection point in our quest to improve healthcare. Empowering people to control their own health and wellness destinies may be the most important way to create greater efficiencies in the healthcare system and help drive down the spread of excessive costs.

In fact, one of the most important parts of a renewed personal investment in healthcare are the real benefits associated with preventive measures like sound nutrition, frequent exercise, stress reduction and regular medical visits. We can also see that the Internet is revolutionizing people’s ability to take charge of their physical and mental health.

Sparkling advances in social media and mobile technologies have shifted the paradigm for consuming health information online and have created a “new bedside manner” for health practitioners. Doctors and other medical experts now actively participate on Facebook and Twitter, on personal blogs and through many other online interactions—empowering patients with more knowledge and understanding at their fingertips than ever before.

While the number of health experts online is still relatively small, it is growing every day as more doctors view their online presence as an extension of their professional reputation. A recent Manhattan Research survey of U.S. physicians showed an increase in Internet usage for professional purposes up from 2.5 hours per week in 2002 to 8 hours per week in 2010. This is reminiscent of the early days of television when we heard arguments that the new screen would deaden human emotion and personal connection. We hear echoes of this same concern for the generation growing up with the Internet.

Yet today’s children are still raised with a mother’s touch and a father’s care, and they play with each other with the same joy that we experienced; however, they also enjoy the enormous value of having the Internet in the classroom as digital technology is providing a gateway to greater learning and self-realization. Rather than diminishing human connection, technological innovation and the Internet have the power to bring the world together and improve countless lives. Indeed the pace of change wrought by the Internet is breathtaking.

According to Google’s Eric Schmidt, we now create as much information every two days as we did between the dawn of civilization up until the year 2003. Moreover, Pew Research has reported that searching for health information ranks among the top three Web activities across generations. The most significant way to utilize this wealth of available information is to encourage innovation in online health technology with the mission of elevating the standard of care and closing the gap that exists between a doctor visit and an Internet search—where people are left alone with only an empty search box and their own unmet anxieties. We are on the cusp of vastly improving the overall level of health and wellness knowledge in this country by using the Internet to cultivate a new generation of highly informed patients.

It is clear that the more understanding patients have, both before and after a doctor visit, the more efficient our healthcare delivery system will be. With a commitment to better understanding of ourselves and our own bodies, we can take control of our personal health, live a more fulfilling existence and advance in the pursuit of real happiness.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Make every detail perfect and edit every detail: Interview with Jack Dorsey

Square and Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey shares this insightful lecture, describing his early background and inspirations, the current focuses he keeps as a CEO, and his desire to create memorable experiences and solve problems. Still amazes me that I can pop online, get access to such an amazing talk, and learn so much all for free. And I didn't even have to pay that hefty Stanford tuition:).

At minute 17: The thing that really inspires people is a working product.

At minute 23: We instrument all usage. Log, measure, test. We treat data as a product.

At minute 24: We focus on the power of story and creating user narratives. We want to tell one epic cohesive story that we tell the world.

At minute 27: There's a thousand things we could be doing, but only one that is important. We need to drive the one or two that are going to drive the service/product. I am effectively the Chief Editor of the company. 3 things I edit: Bring in best Team and edit the negative members; internal/external communication, coordination of goals internally. External communication is the product. And the story we tell with it. How people are using it.

At minute 35: I think about marketing through the product itself. If the product is built in a beautiful way, it inspires people to take action.

At minute 40: The more you can minimize the thinking around the mechanics in the moment, then more people are going to use it and feel good about it. We want to get you to the value of what you intend to do.

At minute 43: Important to write it out, to draw it, to code it. It's important to get it out of your head. To see it on a surface. The sooner you can pass it around and get feedback the better.

At minute 44: What is the story. How are people coming to this. When I show my friends, how will they react. I realized I was writing plays.

At minute 48: It's not what we can build. It's what we can take away.

At minute 50: Q: Do you want to get rid of credit cards? A: We want to make payments feel amazing. (Love how he gets back to the "epic story").

At minute 58: Talks about building platform and importance of API to build ecosystem around Square. "I think of Square as a start-up with many start-ups around it."

Make every detail perfect and edit every detail

Expect the unexpected, and whenever possible be the unexpected.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Apple's Infamous 1984 Commercial Introducing the Macintosh

Not sure why a company (I've already forgotten which one) thought it made sense to blow several million dollars on their Super Bowl ad taking a jab at Apple and iPad. First, most people under the age of 40 would likely have never heard of the original ad so the reference didn't work. Second, the new ad was completely inferior. Here's Apple's infamous "1984" Apple Macintosh commercial for those of you who have never seen it. Brilliant story-telling as usual from Apple:

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Instead of "What do you do?", why not "How are you doing?"

This gem of wisdom was brought up at dinner the other night by one of my mentors and it's something that I've been thinking a lot about and also doing my best to put into practice:

When you meet someone new, one of the most common questions people ask is "What do you do?" It's an easy question and helpful in kicking off a conversation with someone you don't know much about. But why not try a different approach by instead asking, "How has life been for you lately?" or "What's new in your life."

I've been trying to do this more and more, and avoiding the question of one's occupation altogether for as long as possible. I find that as soon as I know what someone does, what company they work for, what their job title is, etc. I naturally start pre-judging everything else that they have to say. There is a filter that invariably obscures everything else that person has to say. By asking different questions I find it easier to learn more about what someone is really like. Plus it makes for more interesting conversation...

5 Things To Never Say in a Negotiation

From my experience there are no hard, fast rules to the art of negotiation. And generally speaking the more natural, transparent, and reasonable you are during a negotiation, the more effective you will be.

I don't agree 100% with all these, but I think this article includes several useful tips for entrepreneurs or anyone during a negotiation no matter how big or small.

1) Don't use the word "between."
2) Avoid saying "I think we're close."
3) "Why don't you throw out a number?"
4) You never want to say "I'm the final decision maker."
5) No need to ever say "F#$@ you."

Read the full article here which is packed with useful examples.

Want to be more effective? Try Quantified Self

For the past few years, I've been mildly obsessed and actively studying, thinking about, ranting about to anyone who will listen, and in fact engaging with the Quantified Self, the art of leveraging personal data to better one's health and well being. The first question most people ask is, what is the Quantified Self anyway? which is why I wanted to share this TED video below featuring Gary Wolf explaining QS. Wolf sums it up best at the end of the video by saying: If we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.

There's no doubt in my mind that we are in the midst of one of the most important revolutions of our time: our ability to "know thyself" in ways once discussed only in science fiction. The innovation, products and services being born out of the Quantified Self movement will shape our future, disrupt healthcare as we know it, help transform our wellness, and ultimately give us the power to live happier and healthier lives.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

Excited about Reader's Digest Partnering with OrganizedWisdom to Help Close 'Online Health Gap'

Read the full press release here or on the OrganizedWisdom Blog.

Example, of one of the "information prescriptions" as a small embedded object that will appear online and also be distributed in over 300,000 doctors offices. This is just one of the many aspects of this program:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Amazing Power of Data Visualization, Augmented Reality and Social Discovery

Nearly everyday I learn something spectacular because someone I know or follow shared a great link, article, or video with me via Twitter or Facebook.

Below I've posted a brilliant video from Dr. Hans Rosling that was posted on my Facebook wall a few days ago by my friend and neighbor Brian. As you will see if you invest the 4 minutes to watch the video, Dr. Hans Rosling takes a simple factoid about life expectancy, and by comparing it to historical events, transforms statistics into a powerful and engaging story about the associations between health and income levels.

I'm sharing this video, and writing this post, because I continue to be amazed and inspired by the Internet, the social graph, and those individuals who share their knowledge and make it freely available to the world.

Here's why I'm amazed:

First, the way I discovered this video was from a friend of mine who I am now connected to via Facebook. He shared it with me because he figured (quite correctly) that I would be very interested in it and likely want to see it being that I'm so into using new technologies to transform health. The simple act of sharing of this video on my wall displays not only the power of the social graph, but also beneficial viral and connected communications are to education. Because it's now so easy for anyone to take an idea, create a video, publish, and so widely distribute within seconds, I believe more people will be highly educated and knowledgeable from here on out. This may seem obvious, but I find it incredible that I now get most of my information and knowledge from my friends, family, colleagues, organizations via a social streams on the Internet thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and so many other free services. As I wrote about in May on this blog, anyone can now get access to an Ivy League education - and for FREE!

Secondly, the video itself is awe-inspiring to me for so many reasons. For the past year, I've been participating in several meet-ups including the local NYC data visualization and augmented reality meet-ups. What a great example to share with both groups! Dr. Rosling and his team created a masterpiece in my opinion by showing how simple data and statistics can be enhanced when an augmented reality layer is placed over the video. Further, the creators of the video show how great data visualization can transform plain numbers into a compelling story. The stats shared in this video now have meaning beyond simple numbers. Imagine learning the same lesson any other way and my guess is it wouldn't pack the same punch.

Finally, Im most amazed that people everywhere freely share their knowledge and wisdom to educate, help or inspire others. The combination of the dynamic teacher, the visual story telling made possible from great data visualization and augmented reality, the fact that the video was turned into a social object to be shared freely with others, the ability for people to easily publish or print, the ease with which information and stories can now be distributed to even more people...all I can say is what an amazing time for us all to live.

Monday, January 17, 2011

If you haven't watched this speech in the past 12 months, why not today...

I listen to this speech at least once per year. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Every word, beat, and inflection is perfect. If you haven't watched it in awhile, why not take 20 minutes today and reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's message. It lifts spirits and astounds every time:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hey friends. Some pics and vids from our Thailand adventure

I haven't had time yet to post a Facebook photo album or do any significant blogging about our amazing Thailand adventure. But thanks to @katyahancock here's an excellent series of blog posts, photos and videos showing some of the major highlights.

Part 1: Bangkok

Part 2: Koh Jum Island

Part 3: Island Day Trips

Part 4: Lauliang - The LOST Island

Part 5: Railay Beach

Video Bonus - Koh Jum Taxi Experience

Video Bonus 2 - Taxi Tuk Tuk Ride in Bangkok

Very cool gas station in Koh Jum Thailand

Thursday, January 06, 2011

How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED Video)

What's your purpose or cause for belief? Understanding and communicating The WHY is the single driving motivation for action.

I'm still working on communicating my WHY in the most effective way possible, but I've started framing my personal beliefs here and here.

What's your WHY?