Today is my 43rd birthday. As I think about the last year, my good friend and CEO coach, Kirk Dando, comes to mind. On page 141 of his excellent book Predictive Leadership, Kirk writes:
Life is like a record album, composed of songs to form the whole. From age 24 to 40, I had been playing the song "entrepreneur". I set a goal when I was 25 to one day found a tech company and take it public - by the time I was 40. Fifteen years later, I achieved that goal (my ultimate BHAG - "Big Hairy Audacious Goal"). Society didn't know about this very personal BHAG (only a few friends, my parents, and my wife did), and they expected me to keep playing the same song over and over again. This was natural, expected even. But as I wrote about in my "time is money or is money time" post, I was determined to step back and think deeply about my next move post being the CEO of Bazaarvoice. I didn't want to just set the same goal all over again (i.e., "now I'll found a sixth company and take it public again"). I knew I wanted to help entrepreneurs - I had always enjoyed doing so while I was at Bazaarvoice or Coremetrics but I had done so very sparingly due to the time constraints that I had (managing high-growth ventures takes a lot of time). I had love in my heart for Austin and thought I should do my part, along with many others like Josh Baer of Capital Factory, to help our scene evolve. So I jumped into that part of the arena - but in a more "grandfatherly" role as opposed to being the actual "man in the arena" (a nod to Theodore Roosevelt's powerful speech in 1910). As far as becoming an entrepreneur again and going back to that song, I had to think very deeply about it.
Today is my 43rd birthday (you can read about what I learned over the past year inmy Lucky7 post about age 42). Looking back on my last year, I've grown to really love angel investing. My wife, Debra, and I run a family office that we call Hurt Family Investments. She takes the lead on philanthropic projects, and I take the lead on startup investing. For the past two years, we've invested the same financial amount in non-profits as we have in startups. We always agree on what to invest in - she has to meet the entrepreneurs before we make a decision - and that leverages the best of both of us. Debra is a contrarian thinker and was also born to entrepreneur parents. We both learned a lot about entrepreneurship growing up, and we actually started Coremetrics, my fourth business, together. She has terrific entrepreneurial instincts and there are a number of companies that I haven't started because I listened to her (thankfully), when I was playing the song "entrepreneur" on my record of life. Now, we are involved in 34 startups (mostly in Austin) and multiple VC funds that give us exposure to at least as many additional startups (you can see our portfolio here).
Yesterday's post on why I named my blog Lucky7 in honor of my mom and my resulting Twitter batter on our company's name with Sam Decker reminded me of a few stories about how I came up with the name Bazaarvoice.
I remember the day I came up with the name Bazaarvoice like it was yesterday. Rachel was just six months old and we were in Cabo San Lucas in April 2005 using our last few weeks of vacation at Coremetrics before I left to take the plunge to start Bazaarvoice with Brant Barton. I was reading Chapter 4 of The Cluetrain Manifestoand it hit me - big time. That chapter moved me more than almost anything I had ever read. The "voice of the marketplace" - it was perfect. Like the name Coremetrics, it described exactly what the company did. It was a bit of an irreverant name, likely to be confused with Bizarrevoice but that was actually a good thing in this case. There was meaning in that - the voice of customers would indeed sound "bizarre" to all of the corporate types that had been locked away in their towers instead of walking their store aisles like Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, used to do to "keep it real" and then taught his children in his book Made In America.