December 5th marked my first year of blogging personally (I had previously been a corporate blogger for 7 years at Bazaarvoice). I began blogging primarily as a service to entrepreneurs - a form of giving back to the community that I believe is the greatest force for change. I named my blog Lucky7 as a tribute to my amazing mother, who passed away last year. My first Lucky7 post on December 5, 2012 was a revisit of my manifesto to Bootstrap Austin on March 15, 2005. Looking back, it was clear I deeply cared about the development of our entrepreneurial community in Austin. That caring - and passion - drove a year of many highs in 2013. I've been actively investing in startups since December of last year with my wife, Debra, and I formally chose this as a career a few months ago, forming Hurt Family Investments. We've made 14 startup investments so far, 9 of them Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. I've also joined the Advisory Board of 6 additional companies, all of them SaaS. Out of the 20 startups we are involved in, 16 are headquartered in Austin.
Looking back on my most popular Lucky7 posts of 2013 - as measured by how many comments they received (the blog is, after all, named Lucky7.io - the .io stands forinput and output) - some trends emerge that I believe are useful to share.
The top-rated post of 2013 was "Listening to your soul". This was my biggest news of 2013 but it also reinforces to me how important authenticity is. We all strive to interact with people - and people include brands and other forms of "tribes" - who are authentic... and to be authentic ourselves. I'm seeing book after book written about authenticity in marketing, leadership, craft, and other topics, and I'm proud that Bazaarvoice has taken up this mantle too with our recent authenticity announcements.
The runner-up was my rant on derogatory language in business. Coincidence that this rant also relates to authenticity - treating people with dignity? This post - and the actions that I took at Bazaarvoice and implored other entrepreneurs and leaders to take - is directly related to the Golden Rule: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself".
And the second runner-up was one of my longest posts, at almost 4,000 words, "The state of tech entrepreneurship in Austin". It was not surprising to me that this would be a popular post as Austin's entrepreneurial journey needed this level of documentation - a sort of benchmark to rally around. I defined three stages of entrepreneurship and related my Austin entrepreneurial experience to my formative four years in Silicon Valley, from 2000-2003, during the height of the dot-com boom through the bust, 9/11, and the eventual rebuild. It is a post I plan to revisit every year to document how Austin has evolved, and I very much believe the next 10 years are going to be our best yet. Since writing that post in April, we've had many milestones that I've also documented, including President Obama and CTO Todd Park's visit Capital Factory (making Austin their first stop on the "Jobs & Opportunity Tour"), thewell-known incubator TechStars launching here, and the blockbuster IPO and follow-on offering of hometown hero RetailMeNot.
An honorable mention is my Lucky7 post, "7 lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO". Although it didn't make the top three in terms of comments, it was adapted in 2013 for The Wharton School's Entrepreneurship blog, Fast Companymagazine, and the First Round Review.
I didn't hit the mark on all of my Lucky7 posts, of course, and a very good friend helped me understand why. His level of caring drove him to call me and explain that some people were talking about how I shouldn't write as much about my own accomplishments. It is rare to receive this type of candid feedback and I've learned to really tune in when someone that cares about you takes the time to be so honest. He described me as being viewed as trumpeting my own horn too much and for those that don't know me as well - to know my intentions - it was off-putting. An example is my return to the Wharton School as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence post, which only a few of my closest former classmates from Wharton commented on. My motivation for writing that post was sincere: to document my journey (the journey is the reward, as I wrote in this Lucky7 post). This is important to me for our children's learning in the future, but it is almost important for entrepreneurs to understand where I am coming from when I give them advice. I'm also mindful that aspiring entrepreneurs are reading Lucky7.io, and I want to inspire them to live their dream and become entrepreneurs too. But I learned that talking about your own accomplishments is best delivered in other mediums - where the recipient can read your tone and body language and you can also read theirs to make sure your message is coming through the right way. It is certainly not meant to distance myself from the Lucky7 reader. To be clear, I wasn't born with anything I have and I don't take what we've earned for granted. When Debra and I got married 17 years ago, we had $3,000 to our name. I want to sincerely thank my friend who stepped forward to help me understand how I was being perceived. Again, the primary point of Lucky7 - and Hurt Family Investments, for that matter - is to be of service to entrepreneurs. This is the best form of community service that I believe I'm qualified for and, most importantly to me, passionate about. So to be taken as off-putting is to not serve either my goals or the community's.
In 2014, I'm taking all of this feedback into account as I continue to develop Lucky7 and Hurt Family Investments. I'm having a blast serving entrepreneurs, and 2013 has been a great year overall. Thank you for reading and, most importantly, doing what you do to create the economic ripples that entrepreneurs are best equipped for. Our country is, after all, a nation founded by entrepreneurs (learn about the similarities between Steve Jobs, 1776, and Israel). We change the world - and hopefully always for the better. Have a very prosperous 2014!