Monthly Archives: July 2005

Book: The Case for Democracy

078617932501_pe34_scmzzzzzzz_The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror by Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky, the famous Soviet dissident and Jewish refusnik, writes eloquently about what it means to live in a fear society and how every man has a right to live in a free society. rather than the distinctions of democracies, capitalist societies, etc., the book dwells more on enabling people to be more free.

Summation: this is a must-read book for anyone trying to understand the world today. Sharansky gives much of his own history from Soviet times and makes parallels to today’s world. this is available on audiobook which is a good medium for this book.

Book: Trading Up

159184013901_scmzzzzzzz_Trading Up: The New American Luxury – by Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske

i read this book with fascination as it is very important for the Silicon Valley 100 (an influence marketing company).

this is a well-written book filled with examples of how consumers “trade up” — essentially opt for luxury items for things they feel passionate about. that might be a $4 coffee from Starbucks, a $40 bra from Victoria Secret, a $4000 set of clubs from Callaway, or a $40,000 car from BMW.

Summation: if you are in marketing or product development, this is a book worth reading (and is a really fast read).

tip: Make your browser homepage blank

quick thing you can do to boost your productivity:

Make your default browser homepage blank.

So you won’t be tempted to do something else when you open a browser to accomplish a task.

people who have their browser default page MyYahoo or MSNBC are in for a productivity suck as they will be likely drawn to an interesting news article every time they open a browser instance.

Jason Foodman on trade show marketing

Jason Foodman, CEO of DigitalSwift Corp, wrote a great article is this month’s edition of Software Business Magazine on how to better market at trade shows. For those of you who know Jason, he’s obviously a very smart and creative guy. and i highly suggest this article if you are planning on attending a trade show in the future:

Thinking ‘Outside the Booth’
Unconventional Software Marketing Means Better Trade Show Returns

book: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

This book was given to me by Scott Bonds and is a quick read. The premise and content of the book is a good reminder on building relationships. And while I agree with most of the content of the book, there are a few small points that I would differ with:

What’s your mission:
Ferrazzistates that you need to know where you are headed and should plan your life accordingly. Set goals, achieve goals. This is the model for most ambitious people. But it is not the model for ALL ambitious people.
A: As Ferrazzistates, the majority of ambitious people set goals and work backwards from that goal. In college, Bill Clinton wanted to be President by age 50. so he worked backwards from that goal. These are generally people I call “ladder climbers.”
B: but some ambitious people don’t set career goals. They just be. They embrace choas. And yet they are still somehow successful. That’s generally the model of the ambitious people in Silicon Valley.

Do Your Homework:
Ferrazzistates: “Whom you meet, how you meet them … should not be left to chance.” this again goes more with the ladder climber mentality. But by embracing choas, you can just take advantage of who you meet. Rather than setting a goal (like “I want to meet Richard Branson”), you can just say “I want to meet interesting people”

In general, it is good to meet people that you can help. You probably can’t help Richard Branson much — the meeting with him would be a one way street pointed at you. Instead, you might rather meet a newly graduated MBA student who you might be able to offer some advice and connections for.

I find interactions much more sucessful when I start them by helping others.

And you don’t need to play golf.

make tasks your start-up page

quick thing you can do to boost your productivity:

If you use Outlook.

Go to: Tools\Options\Other\Advanced Options

In the “Startup in the folder” pick “Tasks”

Then, every time you start-up outlook, the first thing you’ll see is your tasks. A small (but hopefully noticeable) productivity boost will ensue …

Book: The Virtual Handshake

Thevirtualhandshake_cover_112x162David Teten and Scott Allen just published a very interesting book called The Virtual Handshake. They were kind enough to send me an advanced copy and I went through it all in one day.

This is a very good primer for someone learning to use the Internet to build relationships. In fact, people like my mother should read it — it will allow her to network better online with people that might publish her new children’s book.

I encourage you to check out their book and their blog at

The best job in the world

StonebrickToday is a very important day for me. It is the two year anniversary of my company, Stonebrick Group. We got our first customer, LaunchSquad – a PR firm, on July 1 2003.

After selling BridgePath (an enterprise software company) in October 2002, I took some time off … reading, attending foreign policy conferences, going on trips with the military, learning … and then I started to get a little antsy.

So I did what every career advisor tells you to do but no one ever actually does … I decided to try to design my own job. One that I would absolutely love doing every day. And one that I would be able to excel at. It is tough to find both. I’d love to be a professional soccer player … but I don’t think that’s in the cards for me. And I might excel at a bunch of business things that I might not love.

So I designed my own job.

More than anything else, I love to help people. Especially when I can help people by connecting them with others for their mutual benefit (and therefore help two people at once). I love to help people build long-term relationships. Turns out, I’m actually good at it too.

So my only dilemma, before starting Stonebrick, was … would anyone ever pay me for that?

But LaunchSquad took a flyer on me. The four partners there (Jason Mandell, Jesse Odell, Jason Throckmorton, and Brett Weiner) are terrific to work with and worked with them for 16 months — helping them build long-term relationships. LaunchSquad was a five person company at the time. Now they are triple the size, just took over an entire floor of a downtown San Francisco office building, and have large expansion plans.

Then Zoom Systems became my second client in August 2003 and I started working with Clarium Capital that September. Since then, we’ve had 18 customers including Microsoft, Sanyo, Gerson Lehrman Group, Travelocity, CB Richard Ellis, and others.

And so today, I sit back and reflect … I am extremely thankful to be doing what I do. I love going to work every day. For me, helping others build relationships is the best job in the world.