Chris Sacca Interview


I’m super late with a post today. I got caught up working on my new podcast. (BTW: producing a podcast is more work than I anticipated.)

I have a lot of half written blog posts, but I don’t have the time to finish them tonight. So here’s one of my favorite entrepreneur interviews.

Kevin Rose does these great interviews he calls Foundation.kr with top notch entrepreneurs. He’s interviewed Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Elon Musk, Kevin Systrom, and more. The interviews focus more on the individual’s journey and what brought him/her to where they are now, rather than tactical tips like other interviews.

The videos are all worth a look, but the one with Chris Sacca is particularly great. Sacca might be best known for his early investment in Twitter, but he’s been a hustler his whole life. The greatest part of his story is when he tells the story about how he got into and out of $2 million in debt. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t his Twitter investment that got him out of that hole either.

I’ll have a full post for you next week, but until then, enjoy this interview.

What’s On Your Home Screen?


Every year Fred Wilson posts a screenshot of his phone’s home screen. It’s interesting to see what apps are important enough each year to earn the most valuable real estate on your phone…the home screen.

This is what I’m currently rocking on my home screen. I usually leave the top half with the default apps the phone comes with. Aside from Settings, I actually use the top two rows of apps quite often. The middle row, starting with Shazam, is where I download content (music fits in well here). I download songs from Shazam after I’ve tagged them, and I am quick to look up an app or song when someone mentions it to me.

The bottom three rows are the apps that I use most often. You can see there is a combination of social apps, utility apps, and media apps. HackerNode is the a mobile app (I don’t believe it’s an official app) for Hacker News, an aggregated news site by Y Cominbator. That’s the first site I look at in the morning, where I find the latest in tech. The ESPN app allows me to keep close tabs on sports scores, without having to actually watch the games. Evernote is where I recored all my notes and Uber is my default ridesharing app.

Take a particularly close look at my “hot zone.” The T shaped formation starting with Twitter and moving up, between Facebook to Snapchat.

I hold my phone in my left hand and navigate my phone with my thumb. So that T formation of four apps indicates the easiest area of my home screen I’m able to access very quickly. When I hold my phone, my thumb hovers over Twitter. So Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are my most accessible (and must opened) apps.

It’s not a completely scientific process, but this home screen works well for me. The order of my other screens is no where near as organized. I have no idea where other apps are past the home screen.

I wonder what will be on my home screen next year?

IMG_5669

Mac and Cheese Post Mortem


To date, I’ve hosted four Mac and Cheese Invites. The last, being the most ambitious of them all. Like any business, the Mac and Cheese Invite had humble beginnings. It started with about eight friends coming over to my apartment, bringing mac and cheese, and all of us voting on it. The next one had about 20 people. Then the third one kind of blew up. Seventy-five people RSVPed for a party at my one bedroom apartment! That was my a-ha! moment that my mac and cheese party could turn into a nice little side business.

The third mac and cheese party turned out to be a huge success. I had about 75 people show up to a 2,000 square foot loft downtown. About 20-30 people brought mac and cheese. It was a great time. Lots of laughs, even a noise complaint from the apartment across the street. But it was a private party, one that I completely financed (and lost money on). But I felt that I the mac and cheese party had market validation and I could take it to the next level and monetize it. Thus, my mac and cheese party turned into the Mac and Cheese Invite.

Mac and Cheese Invite #3 Spread

Mac and Cheese Invite #3 Spread

The fourth Mac and Cheese invite was just last week. It proved to be a much larger undertaking than I had expected. My vision and expectations for the event far exceeded my budget and skill set. I was completely in over my head, but that’s nothing new for me. Despite the apprehensions of a few friends (who are seasoned event planners), I forged ahead with my timeline. I was determined to make it happen, which is exactly what I did. Now that the fourth mac and cheese invite is over, I’d like to dissect the event, from planning to day of execution. This exercise will help me (and you) understand the positives and negatives, and where I can improve.

Carnitas Mac and Cheese

Carnitas Mac and Cheese

The Good

Let’s first focus on the positives. I learned how to produce an event! I created an event when I was 23 for 200 people, but I had a lot of help dotting all my eyes and crossing my tees. The Mac and Cheese Invite #4 was the first time I ever dealt with insurance, liquor licenses, and booking a real venue (i.e. not on AirBnb). I created a legit event that was in accordance with LA County law.

Secondly, I had sponsors! I hit the pavement and cold emailed dozens of businesses. I was looking for alcohol, prize, and general sponsors. I emailed every restaurant on LA Weekly’s list of top mac and cheeses in LA. The Edendale responded and was down to sponsor the competition’s prizes. After striking out on Linkedin for alcohol reps, my friend introduced me to a rep at Cisco Brewers, who ended up donating twelve, twelve-packs of their beer. I reached out to Soothe.com (Uber for massages) and they sent two massage therapists for the guests. Finally, I got my logo and marketing materials designed by Vult.us. Not bad for my first time getting sponsors.

Finally, I got Thrillist to write about the Mac and Cheese Invite! The Mac and Cheese Invite was named one of the 12 best events in LA for October. Not bad. I created an event that Thrillist wrote about and 60 people paid $30 to come to. That’s not a huge number, but that’s significant to me.

Competition Entires

Competition Entires

The Bad

Well, the most glaring problem I had was that I didn’t get enough people to come. I’m happy that 60 people came, but I was hoping for double that. At least. I wanted the Mac and Cheese Invite to become a big LA event. On top of the low attendance, I only had eight people bring mac and cheese, which was about a third of the mac and cheese that was brought to the third event. Why were these numbers so low? Because I charged $30 a person.

I don’t want to say I got greedy, but I started to focus too much on the money and not as much on the attendee experience. Thus, I was obsessed with covering my costs, which is why I charged so much to get in. Plus I was dead set on an open bar. I think this is what derailed the financials of the event.

Like I mentioned earlier, this was my first event I produced. I ran into so many issues that I had never thought of. Two million dollars of insurance coverage? Ugh. A venue? Those aren’t cheap. Even when you negotiate a lower rate, it’s still fucking expensive. Liquor license? You can’t just get one of those! You have to hire a bar/catering company that already has one, and they can get you a one day license. FUCK. Those three things were terribly expensive. But I was dead set on this event, with this format in mind. So I paid the necessary fees. But it drove up the cost to my attendees, which decreased interest. Ultimately, this is what stagnated the Mac and Cheese Invite’s growth.

BoumanBlog-Mac-Cheese-Judges

Who wants a taste?

The Solution

I’m a builder. I like to start things. I dive in, figure it out, and learn. The Mac and Cheese Invite is no different. What once started as a small gathering in my one bedroom apartment, it now an event that people were willing to pay $30 to get attend. But it’s not perfect yet. So how am I going to overcome the problems that I just outlined? Partner up.

I’ve learned (and still am learning) that you can’t do everything yourself. Success is predicated on teamwork and I needed a little help to make this event better. Enter the Edendale. Now this is just preliminary idea (with a verbal agreement), but partnering with the Edendale will eliminate all my major costs. Venue, insurance, and liquor license. Gone. Now I just have to get people to come. I can lower the fee to attend, I can make it free to people who make mac and cheese. I don’t have to pay for alcohol, it’s a cash bar. It all works out.

The Mac and Cheese Invite has definitely turned into something much more than I anticipated. I can’t say I hate it. It’s fun. It’s something that people love. It’s cool to be known as the mac and cheese guy. I’m happy with its growth and progress and I’m excited for its future. Thank you to everyone that has attended and supported the event.

Teach Your Children to Code


BoumanBlog-Young-Coder

via Donnie Ray Jones

This is a public service announcement to all my friends who have young children: Teach your children to code.

As a parent, you’re going to mess up, a lot. That’s ok. But one mistake you can’t afford to make is not making your child learn how to code. I don’t know if a lot of schools teach their students how to program, so if if your school doesn’t, it’s imperative that you teach them.

Here’s seven resources (off the top of my head) you can use to teach them to code. A few of them are free. You might not know how to code, but these programs clearly lay out learning how to code, step-by-step, so that your child will be able to teach herself.

Lynda.com

Codeacademy

Treehouse

Khan Academy 

Udemy

Udacity

Coursera

Why is it Important to Know How to Code?

via Marjan Krebelj

via Marjan Krebelj

I used to go back and forth on this subject. I used to think that it’s not imperative that every child learns to code because there will always be a need for other job skills. Society will always need salesman, marketers, writers, and more. We need an ecosystem of talents and if everyone has the same skill, it will be a less dynamic society. But I no longer think like that. I strongly feel that everyone from here on out should be able to code.

The reason is because the world is transforming. As Marc Andreessen says, “Software is eating the world.” We’re quickly moving into a society where if you can’t code, you will essentially be considered an unskilled worker.

Step back a few hundred years, the difference between the educated/upper class was the ability to read and write. Could you function in society without being able to read and write? Yes. But your options were limited and your upward mobility was greatly decreased. Consider coding the modern day equivalent of basic reading and writing. If you’re not teaching your kid to code, you’re not teaching them to read and write.

I Wish I Could Code

Part of my desire to write this post is that I’m having a hard time professionally because I can’t code. I have to pay people lots of money to make things for me, or I have to convince them to work for free (which I don’t like either). I’m a very independent person and I like being able to take control of things myself and just running with them. Unfortunately, because of my technical limitations, I’m unable to do this. My business has stalled (but not dead) because I can’t code. I can’t get funding unless I have someone technical on my team, but I can’t get my product to the point I need without someone technical. It’s extremely frustrating and I don’t want my child to experience this.

I’m not saying my future child is going to be a Mark Zuckerberg-like tech billionaire. But I want her to have options. Entry level developers are tech companies are bringing in at least $120,000 a year, if not more. Think about how many raises it takes most people to reach that level of pay?

San Francisco is a Glimpse Into the Future

Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 10.09.00 PM

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at present-day San Francisco. San Francisco is the hub of technology innovation. Silicon Valley has made its way from the valley and into San Francisco proper. This migration has lead to more workings living in the city with high paying technology jobs. As a result, rents have increased to near ridiculous amounts (ok, they are ridiculous), that are only affordable by those working in tech. The rest of San Francisco, with the skills the average American possess, are being displaced because their wages are scaling with real estate.

The socio-economic disparity has gotten so bad, protests have formed all over the city. To quote one tech protestor’s response to Kevin Rose’s (Partner at Google Ventures) claim that he’s creating jobs, “You’re not, you’re creating jobs for five guys to sit in a rumpus room, doing yoga, and we’re serving you coffee.”

(BTW: You should watch this video of protestors in front of Kevin Rose’s home.)

Because these tech jobs have come in and made the quality of life so poor for the non-tech, reducing them to contract or service jobs, there is quite the tenuous relationship. There’s clearly bitterness and anger, which (in my opinion) stems from the fact that people can’t perform the jobs that pay well. I believe that this contention will only get worse in the future. Which side do you want your child on?

I’m obviously pro-tech, so you can take my PSA with a grain of salt. If you’re skeptical, please do some more research on your own and come to your own conclusions. But I strongly believe that if you don’t teach your kid how to code, whether or not her school formally does, you will be doing her a great disservice. Knowing how to code is going to be an essential skill for the next generation. Don’t let your child down.

[First Image Courtesy of Donnie Ray Jones]

[Second Image Courtesy of a Marjan Krebelj]

[Third Image Courtesy of a Craigslist Ad]

 

Thank You Mr. Jeter


BoumanBlog-Jeter-Batting

via Chris Ptacek

Derek Jeter. The Captain. The only man I’ve known to play shortstop for the New York Yankees closed out his illustrious career today at Fenway Park. It’s only fitting that he did it with a hit…leaving him with 3,465 career hits.

There isn’t much I can add to what everyone else has been saying. He’s a class act. He’s respectful and played the game it the right way. Perhaps above all, he was a role model off the field. These story lines have been repeated time and time again. Rather than chime in to the existing story, let me offer you what Derek Jeter meant to me.

BoumanBlog-Throwing

via Keith Allison

Currently, I root for the Brewers and my adopted home team, the Dodgers. But my first love was the Yankees. Yes, not many people know this because my love dissipated over the years for the home team. But when I was first learning what baseball was the names that popped up were Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra. All Yankees.  Of course I was going to become a Yankees fans. So while I will never be a Yankee fan, I will always have a bit of an affinity for the pinstripes, out of nostalgia and deference.

When Derek Jeter broke into the big leagues in 1996, I was in sixth grade. My love for the Yankees had past. I paid attention to the Brewers and home run boppers like Ken Griffey Jr and Albert Belle. But I was starting to lock down the shortstop position in little league. I had no idea who Derek Jeter was. My first recollection of him was when an announcer remarked about the two young, rookie shortstops in New York, like they would be city rivals for years to come: Derek Jeter and Rey Ordonez.

My Derek Jeter model, Rawlings Pro 15B glove

My Derek Jeter model, Rawlings Pro 15B glove

Over the next few years my baseball abilities matured. When I hit high school, it was clear that it was going to be my best sport. I needed a new glove at the start of high school. I needed a shortstop’s glove. A small glove that I could get the ball out of quickly. I searched Eastbay magazine for a glove that looked right. I wanted a black glove that showed all my fingers (not one that covers all your fingers except the index finger), and had weaved webbing. I also wanted it to be 11 inches. What I found was the Rawlings Pro 15B. It was perfect. An added bonus was that it was the signature glove of Derek Jeter. While most still used their little league gloves, my dad bought me my first (and only) genuine rawhide leather glove.

It might have been by coincidence that my taste was exactly like the Derek Jeter glove, but I instantly felt more of a connection to him. This was 1999-2000. The Yankees had just won the World Series back-to-back. It was pretty easy to call yourself a Derek Jeter fan then. But for some reason, that glove made me feel more connected to him. I know it’s dumb, but the thinking this glove was good enough for Derek Jeter made me love it even more. I went my entire high school career and one year of college baseball using that glove. To this day, I love that glove, and take it with me, whenever I move.

via Lawrence Fung

via Lawrence Fung

Even though Derek Jeter was never my all-time favorite player, I always admired him. The lessons he taught me extend well beyond baseball. He taught me you could be successful if you keep your head down and work hard. You don’t have to be loud to be a leader. Do things the right way, be respectful, and you’ll be respected.

It pains me that I’ll never get the opportunity to see Jeter play in person (he sat the day I came to Yankee Stadium), but I’m grateful that you’re the one iconic player of my generation. You’re the one who never let us down during the steroid era. You just kept your mouth shut and did what you do…play hard.

Thank you Derek Jeter for 20 years of Major League excellence.

 

[First Image Courtesy of Chris Ptacek]

[Second Image Courtesy of Keith Allison]

[Third Image Courtesy of Lawrence Fung]

Dive In and Figure It Out


via Sean Pritchard

via Sean Pritchard

“Fuck Yeah, or No!” That was a life philosophy that I shared with you a few months ago. It’s served me well over the years and I hope you’ve gotten value from it. Today I’d like to share another life principle that I follow: Dive in and figure it out.

No, I’m not branding a slogan similar to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”  “Dive in and figure it out” refers to my attitude toward starting things when I’m scared and unsure.

Before I started my first company, I was terrified at starting things I didn’t know how to do. I would pretend to do a lot of research, convincing myself I was educating myself to properly prepare myself for the next step. The reality was, I was scared and I was delaying the start. This quote from “How I Met Your Mother” perfectly sums up my feelings toward starting a company five years ago.

via ted-mosby.com

via ted-mosby.com

But then a funny thing happened. I dived in…and I figured it out.

Taking that first step is so hard. I’ve seen people struggle with it. I’ve urged friends to go for it. Why? Because I know it’s worth it. Since I first dove in, starting things has gotten easier (but execution is still hard).

Five years ago, I would have never started a software company. I don’t know how to code or design. I’m not an expert at product development. Yet, here I am, the founder of a software company. I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m doing it. I’m learning along the way. Some lessons are more expensive than others, but I keep moving. I keep learning. I push myself to make it work, and I’m figuring it out.

The dirty secret that no one ever tells you is that no one really knows what they’re doing/talking about. Yes, even these experts you see on TV or speaking at big conferences. Listen to them. They’re just making prognostications based on their opinions. How many times are they actually right? Much lower than you might think. But why are they considered a thought leader? They dive in, even when they’re not ready.

I really believe that every successful person has started their ventures before they were truly ready. It’s just like parenthood, you’re never ready. You can only dive in, do your best, and figure it out. Guess what? There have been a ton of really wonderful people born to parents who “weren’t ready.”

My niece Aya

My niece Aya

Everyone suffers from self-doubt. We all have fears. But those who really succeed are much better at not letting their fears hold them back. They dive in. They figure it out.

Since I’ve learned to just dive in and figure it out, I’ve been much happier. Yes, there is still a lot of anxiety and delusional laughter, but I get through it. It may not always be pretty, but once you get over starting something, you can focus solving actual problems.

What are you scared of? What’s holding you back? Feel free to hit me up on Twitter to chat, or email me first name last name at gmail.

[First Image Courtesy of Sean Pritchard]

[Second Image Courtesy of Ted-Mosby.com]

Ideas Vs. Execution


via Donald Reese

via Donald Reese

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about what was more crucial to a startup, ideas or execution? At the time, I was a relatively young and inexperienced entrepreneur. My naiveté was none more evident than my insistence that ideas were NOT a time a dozen. Oh boy. What a difference three years make.

This is a direct quote from that post:

“Ideas are a dime a dozen.” 

I think this quote is bullshit.  I am a firm believer in a great idea.

Ha! Now to be fair, I did follow up with a little more rational thought:

No great companies were built on a mediocre idea. Great companies were built on great ideas that push the boundaries of the possible. Great ideas are what push technology and our society to greater feats of accomplishment. Everything starts with an idea and people confuse this quote because they associate it with shitty ideas.

You have to have an idea to start a company. Your idea has to be unique in some fashion. No one is going to join your team or invest in you if you have a run of the mill idea. Those who dare to dream and create new ideas are those who will change the world.

This still rings true to my ears today, to a certain extent. But during the time since I first wrote that blog post and today, a lot has happened to me. These events have caused me to shift my opinion.

Prepare.io

Software QA Notes

Software QA Notes

I have struggled the past few years to get my business idea off the ground. Since I’m non-technical, I mortgaged my future to get Prepare.io built. That’s because until I showed enough gumption to back my own idea and get it started, no one else would. It would remain an idea in my little idea notebook. The transition from idea to reality has been extremely tough and taught me many lessons.

I am still confident that I have a really solid product idea that will result in a profitable business. That’s why I haven’t given up on my idea and continue to work and pour money into it. But the execution of my ideas has been difficult. Simply mapping out design and getting it programmed doesn’t result in success. The “If you build it, they will come” mentality is so wrong. If you build it, they might come (which in happened to me), but that doesn’t mean they’ll use it.

Time and time again in this process, I’ve run into different problems. Each time I come up with solutions. But executing these solutions isn’t easy and has taken me a lot of time. Part of that is due to money constraints, but even still, throwing money at a problem only works if you have the right solution.  Aaand that’s why I now understand the difference between an idea and successfully executing the idea.

Mac and Cheese Invite

Mac and Cheese Invite #3 Spread

Mac and Cheese Invite #3 Spread

Another personal anecdote to illustrate the balance between idea and execution is my Mac and Cheese Invite.  The original idea for this event wasn’t even mine. I was at a diner at 2am with a table full of girls. It was these girls that really came up with the concept of the mac and cheese competition. Since I lived alone, I volunteered my apartment for the first party. Low and behold, I stumbled into something really popular.

Since that drunken 2am conversation, I’ve held three mac and cheese parties. Next month I’m going to host my fourth one, which will be ten times as large as the first. It’s grown to the point I’m renting a 3,000 square foot warehouse, securing sponsorships, and charging for tickets. All because a table of drunk girls had an idea and I was the one who followed through and made it happen.

I still stand by my original statement that great businesses are built on great ideas. I also think my closing statements three years ago are primarily true today, you need both (even though my analogy was terrible).

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich needs a perfect combination of each half to make a wonderful PB & J.  A successful startup is no different. Great ideas need execution and bad ideas executed well are still bad ideas. There must be a harmonious union of both idea and execution to create a successful startup. So instead of bantering more on the merits of the idea or the execution, let’s all go out there and execute the shit out of an amazing idea.

But my three years of experience since then tells me that even though you need both, execution is the more crucial element of the two. You can have an amazing idea but without execution, you have nothing. Even if you have a completely banal idea, like a hamburger joint, if you execute it properly, you can still have a profitable company.

However, if you have a great idea and combine that with great execution, then you can create something truly amazing.

[First Image Courtesy of Donald Reese]

ALS & Non-Profit Executive Pay


The #ALSIceBucket Challenge has been the talk of the summer. This viral marketing campaign has brought a whirlwind of attention to what was previously an unknown cause and organization. To date, the non-profit has raised over $100 million, up from $2.8 million, during the same time last year. This increased awareness has brought a wealth of positive attention to the cause, but that doesn’t come without some backlash. With the newly announced nine figure donation sum, there was been more scrutiny about the way the organization is run. Specifically, the pay of the executive staff that runs the ALS organization.

 

ALS Is Not Poorly Run

First of all, let’s clear the air about ALS. Yes, they do have a much greater responsibility with the vast increase in funds, but to date, the executive staff of the non-profit haven’t shown that they aren’t capable of doing so. The Internet is up in arms over the tax return filed by ALS, which indicates that several executive staff make well over six figures.

  • Jane H. Gilbert – President and CEO –$339,475.00
  • Daniel M. Reznikov – Chief Financial Officer – $201,260.00
  • Steve Gibson – Chief Public Policy Officer – $182,862.00
  • Kimberly Maginnis -Chief of Care Services Officer – $160,646.00
  • Lance Slaughter -Chief Chapter Relations and Development Officer – $152,692.00
  • Michelle Keegan – Chief Development Officer – $178,744.00
  • John Applegate – Association Finance Officer – $118.726.00
  • David Moses – Director of Planned Giving – $112,509.00
  • Carrie Munk – Chief Communications and Marketing Officer – $142,875.00
  • Patrick Wildman – Director of Public Policy – $112,358.00
  • Kathi Kromer – Director of State Advocacy – $110,661.00

Last year the organization brought in around $24 million in revenue (most of that’s donations). So it’s not an entirely small organization. Their administration costs were just about $2 million. That’s an appropriate percentage. (To put these executive salaries in perspective, I was once offered a MANAGER level position at a Fortune 500 company that would have paid me more than a third of that list.) Later on I’ll address the validity of the CEO’s salary.

The other the internet was up in arms about was the amount spent on actual ALS research. Last year it was 28%. The ALS Association is very upfront about this. They’re not hiding anything, because they have nothing to hide. You are ignorant if you think all donations go towards research. If a charity tells you that 100% of donations go towards research, they’re lying to you. Or they’re practicing shady accounting. If you look at the pie chart breakdown of ALS’ spending, they’re doing a responsible job. Considering they’ll more than 4x their donations this year, the research percentage will increase next year since expenses for the rest of the organization won’t change much.

via alsa.org

via alsa.org

 

Why Non-Profits’ Pay Executives Well

Let’s revisit Jane Gilbert’s pay. Jane is the CEO of ALSA and made about $340,000 last year. That’s not an exorbitant amount for a CEO.  If Jane was running a small business that had the same amount of revenue, you might even say she’s underpaid. I’m not sure if it’s because Jane is the CEO of a non-profit or because some people think $340,000 is a lot of money, but to say she’s overpaid is false.

I say this with 100% sincerity because management is tough. At any level, galvanizing your team and getting people to perform well is not an easy task. There’s an entire industry, management consulting, which helps companies get more productivity. So when you get people who are good at their job, you have to pay them well, especially at a non-profit.

Unlike executives at major corporations, non-profit executives don’t have a financial windfall in their future. They don’t have stock that’s accumulating worth or paying dividends. Nor do they have plush expense accounts. Their cash compensation is essentially all they’re getting. So in order to compete for top talent, they’re going to have to pay a good salary. It’s that simple.

“Why Should I Donate To Your Organization?”

via Pedro Catalao

via Pedro Catalao

The value of a non-profit executive might actually be higher than most other businesses. That’s because they’re at a disadvantage than most businesses…they don’t have something anyone needs. Non-profits don’t offer a faster, cheaper product than the one you’re currently using. With no actual product to sell, it’s important for the executive staff to be able to sell the mission of the non-profit to large corporate donors and grant organizations. That’s not an easy sell, because at the end of the day, no one gives a shit about your cause.

Maybe that’s a little more harsh that it needs to be, but there is truth to it. Everything has a cause and a charity behind it. Soon, all the sob stories get watered down and the difference between donating to Charity X and Charity Y becomes less significant. A corporation will get the tax benefit regardless of who they write the check to. So why do they donate to certain organizations? Because of personal relationships they have with executives at different charities.

The Non-Profit Myths

I’m going to end this rant about non-profits with one last bit of knowledge. People think because an organization is a non-profit, that they have to be poor (see NFL). Wrong. Non-profits need to be thought of as businesses. Their leaders must act accordingly. Hiring, firing, and business strategy should be the same as their corporate counterparts. If a non-profit is run like a business and not like a little charity begging for pennies, it’s going to be a whole lot more successful.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I want to make one last comment on non-profit spending. Public and professional education is 32% of ALS’ budget. I’ve read that people think this is too high. Every form of mass communication has a cost. Educating people takes money. That’s why there are marketing vendors on ALS’ tax return being paid six figures. In order to get the word out, whether it’s a commercial or something online, there is a cost. The genius of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge is that is circumvented this cost yet increased donations by nearly 3,500%.

If it’s not clear, I think non-profits play a really important role to different causes. I have no aspirations to run a non-profit full-time. But you need great talent to make these organizations work. I’m really happy for everyone involved with ALS. They did an incredible job this summer. I hope that you consider my points next time you (or someone you know) get discouraged by non-profit research budgets and executive pay.

(No links this week, this post was long enough)

[Photo courtesy of Pedro Catalao via 500px]

Wisconsin vs. LSU: Venting


YouTube Preview Image

I don’t plan on writing about sports very often (unless its from an economics standpoint). But I’m still brooding over LSU’s victory Wisconsin the other night and I need to vent.

As a whole, it was a great game. Wisconsin came in as the underdogs and we put up a good fight. So good, it seemed like we would actually upset the Tigers. That’s probably what made this loss sting so much. If the Badgers had lost 28-24 and had been the team that fell behind early, Badger fans would probably be feeling ok. We replaced all but three of our starting defense and were breaking in a new quarterback. Losing by four to one of the nation’s top programs when you were the five- point underdog, it shouldn’t sting this badly. But we were fucking winning!

Having watched the game live and read every article pertaining to the game, there are five main pain points everyone has opinions about with the Badgers’ performance. These five points are the coaching, Melvin Gordon, Tanner McEvoy, the receiving corps, and the defensive injuries.

Defensive Injuries

The defensive unit was a question mark coming into the game. We lost all but three of our starters, including Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-American, Chris Borland. The announcers repeatedly referenced the lack of depth the Badgers had on the defensive line and the injuries to Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring didn’t help. When the Badgers were healthy, they looked good. When the Badgers were short on men and tired, they looked as you might expect. We’ll see how these two come back from injury. If they do, defensive line is less of a concern (especially because Caputo is a maniac on the field). If they’re out, it could be a long year.

Receivers

In short, we had no competent receivers. Many of McEvoy’s troubles are being blamed on the receivers’ lack of separation. Definitely some truth to that. It’s hard to separate when you’re up against superior SEC atheletes. But our star wide receiver the past few seasons was a walk-on with average athleticism. You have to make up for your lack of physical gifts with precise fundamentals and mental preparation. None of our receivers looked like they took any notes from Jared Abbrederis last season. They need to get better fast. Silver lining was Reggie Love, the man with the 45 yard TD run. He looked fast. If he improves his route running, he could be a real threat.

Tanner McEvoy

via YouTube screenshot Saturday Down South

via YouTube screenshot Saturday Down South

This was a complete surprise to me. I hadn’t paid attention to the quarterback situation because I thought Joel Stave had the job secured. He’s been a starter for the past year and a half and he led us to a 9-4 record last season. There are two reasons why he might not be the starter. One, McEvoy beat him out. Two, his shoulder still hasn’t healed from the Capital One Bowl. Judging by the commentators’ comments that he was throwing “knuckle balls,” I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.

Tanner McEvoy was a SAFETY for the Badgers last season. He transferred as a quarterback, but was moved to defense last season. And now he’s our starting quarterback? Rumor has it head coach Gary Anderson wants a more mobile quarterback. McEvoy definitely fits this model, but his passing was atrocious. He was throwing off the back of his foot and sending wounded ducks left and right. His timing was off with receivers on more than one occasion and he didn’t throw many catchable balls. I can only hope Tanner McEvoy is a stop-gap solution and not the future.

Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon is a beast. He’s one of the top three running back in the country. Gordon is being touted as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and future first round pick. Last year he rushed for over 1,600 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per carry. He should be the focal point of the Badger offense. For the first half and his first carry in the second half, he was. He rushed 15 times and 140 yards with a TD (for some reason, his stats differ from publication to publication). It was clear that LSU couldn’t contain him. Gordon is Wisconsin’s one athlete that is on par with LSU’s team. Yet, the Badgers inexplicably stopped feeding him the ball.

After Gordon ripped off a 63 yard run, early in the second half, he only received two more carries. Cory Clement is a fine young running back, but he is no way an equal to Melvin Gordon. So why did he take the majority of the second half snaps?

Multiple theories are being floated around. One is that Gordon voiced his displeasure at halftime to the coaches that Stave wasn’t the QB. Others think he said something on the sidelines after his long run. And some other fans suspects Gordon was injured… both he and Anderson refute. Which makes this even more confusing. We need Melvin Gordon touching the ball 25 times a game to win. Could you imagine if Ron Dayne had only gotten 15 carries in a big game?

Gary Anderson

Finally, we come to the head coach, Gary Anderson. I’m not a big Gary Anderson fan. I thought his hiring was a mistake. I can see why Barry Alvarez hired him. He seems smart and polished. No baggage. A safe Wisconsin hire. But I never saw him as someone who could take the program to the next level. He had status quo written all over him.

To date, Gary Anderson hasn’t done anything to make me feel like he is capable of turning Wisconsin into a perennial top 5 program, which is the next step for the Badgers. Rose Bowls are nice and top 10 finishes are great…but that’s starting to feel like the Badgers’ ceiling. Under Anderson, those finishes seem like a reach.

Last year I was at the Arizona State game. The Badgers should have won that game. But the Badgers mismanaged the end of the game and we lost. That comes down to coaching. As are our questionable personal moves against LSU.

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Watch Gary Anderson’s post-game press conference. He doesn’t seem like a coach who is in control. When asked about Gordon’s lack of playing time in the second half, he plead ignorance. It might be the position coach’s decision to play or not to play a player (I’m not sure, I never played football), but you’re the head coach! If your star player isn’t in the game, you should know why. Ignorance is not an alibi. His judgement is in question with the Tanner McEvoy situation. Either he sees something that no one else does or he knows something about Stave he’s not sharing. Regardless, Anderson comes off as incompetent or disingenuous. Neither are great qualities of a leader.

I have put way more time and effort into this post than I should have. I’m so chapped at how the game ended. But now my expectations for the season are greatly adjusted. Fortunately for this Badger team, we have a cake walk of a Big Ten schedule, so we should only be a three loss team this year. Otherwise, we’d be staring down a 6-6 record.

Fall TV Predictions


The other week I was trying to get over the flu. I turned on Hulu and they had all the trailers for new shows premiering this upcoming fall season. I love fall TV. To me, new fall TV shows are like startups. The development of a TV from its pilot to its current successful form, is much like a software MVP (minimum viable product) and a product that’s found product market fit. You start with a hypothesis, see what sticks, and iterate until you have something people want. So when I see the new fall TV lineup, I try to choose which shows are going to be picked up and which shows are going to be a hit.

I’ve often, in my head, I would say “Show X going to be great,” or “Show Y is not getting picked up.” But all in my head, so no one would believe me when I’d say, “I told you so.” This is going to be a fun experiment for me. I’m going to try my best to leave my personal taste out of my decisions (but that’s hard), but I will tell you that I don’t read TV websites, so I won’t be influenced by other opinions.

Now, I’m not up to date on what a good Nielson rating is so I’m going to create my own rating system. It’s not even a rating system, I lied. I’m going to say if the show is picked up and how many seasons I think it will get. Man, this is so nerdy, but I’m so excited for this. Alright, here we go.

NBC

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A to Z (Cristin Milioti, Ben Feldman)

This show seems adorable and very similar to (500) Days of Summer. That alone makes me want to watch it. I watched the pilot and it’s cute (yes, I said cute). But the show starts off by saying the relationship of the main couple lasts 8 months, so I don’t know how long the show can actually last? I don’t see this as a smash hit, but it hangs on because it’s cute enough. My guess is it hangs on for one season and squeezes out 2-3 seasons.

Bad Judge (Kate Walsh)

This show reminds me of Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz. That’s not a good thing. Sexy judge who you’d expect be a standup citizen, but really has a wild side. Then she has to do a 180 and take care of a kid. Blah. I say one season, maybe two.

Marry Me (Casey Wilson, Ken Marino)

I really liked Happy Endings, created by David Caspe. Marry Me is his second show (or at least the second show I know of) and stars his wife (fiance?) Casey Wilson. This show looks like a 90s rom-com with no chemistry between the two main characters. I hope it doesn’t get more than one season.

The Mysteries of Laura (Debra Messing)

Debra Messing is back. Famous from Will and Grace, Messing now plays a no-nonsense NYPD detective…but also is a struggling single mom. It’s not my cup of tea, but I could see why America gets on board. This one is hard for me to guess, but I’ll throw a dart on the board and say two seasons.

Constantine (Matt Ryan)

Awful. NBC tries to jump on the dark comics bandwagon. So bad, I couldn’t even get through the trailer. No way this gets an entire season.

 

ABC

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 How to Get Away with Murder (Viola Davis)

All you have to know that Shonda Rhimes is behind the show. You know, the woman behind Gray’s Anatomy and Scandal? None of her shows have done poorly. Even Private Practice got 112 episodes. I say this one gets 6-7 seasons.

Black-ish (Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishbourne)

I have a weird affinity toward Anthony Anderson. But none of the projects he works on ever do really well. This one looks similar to everything else he does. It might get a full season because Laurence Fishbourne is an executive producer, but I don’t see it getting a second season.

Forever (Ioan Gruffudd)

Forever has a really cryptic trailer. It’s more of a scene, so out of content, it doesn’t shed a lot of detail. But it seems interesting. It has the feeling of danger and the supernatural. I say three seasons.

*I watched the pilot episode for this show. I like it. But the weird, supernatural component makes me think it won’t catch on. Three seasons seems like a stretch to me now. But, I think you should give this one a shot.

Manhattan Love Story (Analeigh Tipton, Jake McDorman)

This seems like a weird rom-com. Except it’s loaded with voiceovers. Like a lot. It’s funny because you can hear what the characters actually think! Just kidding. One season, if that.

State of Affairs (Katherine Heigl)

This one is hard. It’s Katherine Heigls return to the small screen.  The fact Katherine Heigl is in it, makes me want to dismiss it already. But it’s an ABC drama, which tend to do well. I think the CIA angle is interesting enough to overcome the world’s displeasure of Heigl. I give it 3-4 seasons.

Cristela ( Cristela Alonzo)

This doesn’t look good. It’s a family sitcom that follows a Mexican family, lead by comedian Cristela Alonzo. I have zero interest in this show, but hey, the George Lopez show got 6 seasons, so maybe Cristela has a shot? But I still think this gets axed before season one finishes.

Fox

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Mulaney (John Mulaney, Nasim Pedrad)

This comedy is often compared to Seinfeld, for the simple fact John Mulaney does some standup on the show and the show is named after him. I want to like this show, but it doesn’t look good. It seems really cheesy. I think it gets one season for sure and a second just because people want to give John the benefit of the doubt that he can find his comedic rhythm.

 Red Band Society (Octavia Spencer)

I will not be watching this. It looks super depressing (but I’m sure it has it’s uplifting moments). I see roller coaster ratings for this show and it ultimately fails to find a steady audience. One season.

Gotham (Ben McKenzie, Jada Pickett Smith)

This reminds me of Smallville. The early years of a story we know. Except instead of focusing on a young Bruce Wayne, the story revolves around a young James Gordon (who goes on to be come Commissioner Gordon). It looks like a good show, I give it 5-6 seasons.

Utopia (Reality)

Ugh, this looks awful. But that’s because I never watch reality TV. But America loves it and this show seems like it has a lot of different variables at play. You have those who are power hungry, seems like there will be religious fighting, sex (of course), and some feminism. While I will never watch it, my guess is America will. 7 Seasons.

CW

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The Flash (Grant Gustin)

I know I won’t watch this, but this actually looks really cool. I’m not surprised it’s being created since super heros are in. It’s created by the same people who made Arrow, which just finished its 3rd season. So I’m going to say Flash gets 5 seasons.

Jane the Virgin (Gina Rodriguez)

This looks awful. A virgin who is accidentally inseminated by a frazzled doctor? I predict one season, if it actually gets picked up for the entire season.

Honestly, I’m not sure if these are all the new shows, but it’s what I saw on Hulu. But this has gone on long enough, so we’re just going to keep it to these.  Let me know your thoughts.

Weekly Links

The Personal Blog – Fred Wilson is one of my favorite bloggers. He writes a timely piece about personal blogging, shortly after I said that I was going to revisit this personal blog more regularly.

Uber’s Playbook for Sabotaging Lyft – I blogged about Uber and Lyft the other week, but it seems like the fight between the two is starting to intensify.

The Natural State – College football is starting up. As a Wisconsin alum, it’s interesting to read this profile on former Badger coach, Brett Bielema.