Henry Crown Fellowship

The collaborating executive

I received a text a little over a week ago from a CEO I coach (I've served on his Advisory Board for years now and have loved seeing his company prosper - and him grow so much personally through a lot of adversity).  It read, "How much collaboration with the rest of leadership would you expect from your [insert executive title here] when it comes to [insert critical for the entire company task]?".  Obviously I'm being careful not to disclose the details to protect confidentiality.

Here we find ourselves on Martin Luther King Jr. Day - a celebration of one of history's ultimate collaborators and change-agents.  Everyone in American schools studies MLK, of course, but I got to go a little deeper on his leadership in my studies at The Aspen Institute as a Henry Crown Fellow.  One of our readings was "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and I couldn't recommend more highly that you read it (you can do so here).  It is one of the most amazing leadership readings I've ever been introduced to.  It is a systematic, gentlemanly takedown of one of the most challenging times in American history - by the ultimate collaborative leader.  Pay close attention in the letter to how MLK challenges his opposition to collaborate with him by looking within themselves and within their own religion.  The religious undertones are reminiscent to what is probably the best speech I've ever read, also introduced to me by The Aspen Institute, by Frederick Douglass.  It is titled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?".  It is also a systematic takedown with a strong uppercut punch (you can read it here).  I highly recommend you study both of these incredibly historic speeches on this MLK day - the most appropriate day to do so.  At a minimum, all lovers of leadership should bookmark and read these pieces in 2018.

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: