Conscious Capitalism

What I've learned about eating animals - and what the future holds (Part Three)

"I'll eat anything." - the most socially acceptable phrase of 2018 when it comes to ordering at a restaurant with friends.

It is hard to believe it has been four years since I wrote my two-part series on this subject, and even harder to believe how fast the trend I predicted would take place has accelerated since then.  Before you get too far in this post, if you would like to backtrack on why I decided not to eat animals and where I think the future was going to take us (an entrepreneurial prediction), you can read 2014's Part One and Part Two of this series first.  Those were my most popular blog posts of 2014 and the comments thread, especially in Part One, is very interesting.  Every possible argument you can think of for eating animals is in those comments.

An unusual, but beautiful, method of forming your company's values

I've got the Conscious Capitalism Summit on my mind as I write this.  Specifically, the main Summit (in Dallas this year), which my daughter, Rachel, and I are leaving for tonight.  Rachel is one of the keynotes and I couldn't be more proud of her.  She will be speaking about the process of writing her first book, Guardians of the Forest, which has been her dream since she was eight-years old and just happened this past January, after a year of work and years of saving up to pay for it (she paid 100% of her savings to the illustrator, Ryan Durney).  My good friend, John Mackey, will be introducing her on stage.  He has been a mentor to me for years and most recently her, for her book.  There are many good lessons for living a fulfilled life in her book and she is certainly an emerging conscious capitalist.  You can see all of the speakers here, and in the spirit of the post I wrote at the beginning of this year on continuous learning, I highly recommend you attend this Summit in the future (or the CEO Summit if you qualify).

But I've got the Conscious Capitalism Summit on my mind for another reason, and it is because of what it has taught me as an entrepreneur.  Last year, at the CEO Summit version of their events, I heard a CEO say on stage, "If you want to learn something amazing, just ask each of your employees to share with you the core values that they bring to work each and every day."  This immediately resonated with me as I had been thinking about how beautiful our culture was becoming at data.world but yet we hadn't written our core values down yet.  This isn't that unusual, BTW.  We didn't write down our core values at my previous startups, Coremetrics and Bazaarvoice, until we were around this age.  You want to get some operating history and some significant team build-out going before you do this exercise or it is just aspirational with no real resonance for how you've actually been living your day-to-day business life as a collective.

The importance of an Always Be Learning life

Happy New Year's, everyone!  I wish you much prosperity and love in 2018.

As you may have seen me tweet earlier this week, my New Year's Resolution is to write more.  I truly love writing - to write is to serve, to write is to learn, to write is to meditate.  I'm going to take a different tact this year, though - I'm going to write more frequently and hopefully much shorter.  I like writing longer posts but I'm spending over 70 hours per week on data.world and then some time on our startup investments - and of course I very much care about spending time with my wife and children.  So, in short there just isn't much room for more.  As a matter of fact, in 2017 I resigned from two non-profit Boards (Conscious Capitalism and Entrepreneurs Foundation) that I really love just to create more time for data.world.  Both were painful decisions for me but a startup really needs that type of focus, and I'm truly having a blast working alongside an incredible team at data.world on a very important mission.

I've already got a running list of seven more topics (and growing quickly) that I plan to write about as soon as I can but for now - for my first post in a long time - I want to talk about the importance of having an Always Be Learning mindset and practice. 

Back in the arena: the beginning of data.world

It has been a long time since I wrote anything on my Lucky7 blog and there is good reason for that.  Back in June, I started to brainstorm my next big idea with long-time friends Jon Loyens and Matt Laessig (both of whom were amazing at Bazaarvoice and had moved on to HomeAway).  Bryon Jacob (a 10-year veteran at HomeAway) soon got involved as an idea he had been thinking about was better than anything we came up with and one thing led to another until we founded data.world.

It may feel curious to my regular readers that I would jump back into the arena as the CEO of a company built from scratch.  After all, our investments in startups and venture capital funds have been performing well, including a recent exit with Deep Eddy Vodka being acquired (and us subsequently investing in Clayton Christopher’s VC fund, CAVU).  There are many factors that led to this calling for me:

What you can learn from Blockbuster's failure

Two days ago, Blockbuster announced that it will close all of its remaining approximately 300 U.S.-based stores (news link). This has been a long time in the making, and there is a lot you can learn from this. Prior to Netflix, Blockbuster thrived due to its use of "bad profits" (a term from Fred Reichheld's book, The Ultimate Question, which introduced the concept of the Net Promoter Score, NPS). Bad profits are a highly disruptive source of negative word of mouth. Blockbuster's bad profits were, of course, late fees. Everyone I know that was a Blockbuster customer - including myself and my wife - hated late fees. You knew Blockbuster "got you" and you felt that you "only had yourself to blame" because you were the one that was late on returning it. Sometimes you would plead with the in-store associate to have mercy on you. It became the primary source of Blockbuster's profits. Anytime bad profits are your primary source of profits, you are due for a hard-knock. That hard-knock came from Netflix. Their original ad campaign, "The end of late fees", was pretty much all they needed to say. Their business model was designed very differently - leveraging the Internet and network economic effects (a nod to another favorite book: Net Gainby John Hagel III). When Netflix said, "The end of late fees", word of mouth took care of the rest. This is why NPS has become so important to companies as a form of measurement for their most important external stakeholders - their customers. It is used by thousands of companies, including many Fortune 500 companies. Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit, said, “Thank goodness for Net Promoter. It provided a framework for thinking about—and managing in this social media world… our teams call it the love metric”. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, said, "We use NPS every day to make sure we are wowing customers and employees."

The state of tech entrepreneurship in Austin

The state of tech entrepreneurship in Austin

SXSW has long come and gone in this beautiful city - that was, like, weeks ago! Like years past, it reached more epic heights this year and companies and investors were spending more on gaining attention than ever before. And with SXSW, the typical, "how is Austin doing at tech entrepreneurship?" question was asked again and again. But out of all of the articles written, the one that I personally heard the most about was this one by PandoDaily: "Will the Austin startup ecosystem ever live up to its promise?"". It stirred me up to read it, no doubt. And it lead me to write this post to share my own thoughts - as an insider - on the state of tech entrepreneurship in Austin.

The five critical ingredients to build a big company

I'm going to greatly expand on this topic, so I'll keep this post as short as possible. I could write a book on this post alone. For now, I want to quickly get down my thoughts on the five most critical ingredients to build a big company - one that changes the world and creates a lot of jobs and economic impact. Here are the ingredients: