Monthly Archives: July 2006

book: Bell Labs

BelllabsBell Labs: Life in the Crown Jewel
by Narain Gehani

listened to this audio book. i came in with very high expectations since so much innovation came out of Bell Labs. i was really excited to devour this book. instead it was mainly about corporate politics and the infighting that took place at Bell Labs. i finally had to stop listening … i couldn’t get through it.

Summation: avoid this book

why do bands do an encore?

why does every band do an encore????? I mean … aren’t we hip to that game by now? Everybody cheering loudly hoping the band will come back on stage and sing their two most famous songs that they “forgot” to do in the real performance.

Like are we really worried that when the lights in the stadium are still off that the band is not going to come back? It seems like every band does the encore trick … you’d think, after all these years, that an ingenious band would come up with a new stunt.

I’m hoping a smart band manager will some up with a new stunt that we can get excited about. Or if we are going to do an encore tradition, maybe make the audience do something harder than just cheering to get the bonus performance. Like the bands’ taxes. Or collectively eat a 10-meter marshmallow. Or a certain number of people have to take their cloths off. Or a collection is made for charity and only when a certain amount is collected will the band come up again.

(special thanks to Shane Reilly who has been complaining about encores for years)

book publishing is so antiquated

I was recently reading the proofs sent by the publisher to an author friend of mine. And the edits are actually done via pencil!! That’s right, no tracked changes. And this is from one of the largest publishers in the world.

at least they use pencil and not a feather dipped in ink…

book: Starfish and the Spider

159184143701_aa240_sclzzzzzzz_v63183955_The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom

This is a game changing book.

i repeat: This is a game changing book

this is about how some headless organizations can out-perform command-and-control organizations. not unlike the Dean campaign. and given i read this book immediately after the Trippi book, it had extra meaning for me.

summation: i’m a big believer is starfish over spiders. and after reading this book, you will too.

Book: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

PaperbackcoverThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Joe Trippi

i don’t think most people realize how revolutionary the Howard Dean campaign was. it was truly amazing. according to Trippi (the campaign manager), instead of the campaign managing the volunteers, the volunteers managed the campaign. and they did this, of course, using Internet tools.

summation: this is a book to be read by anyone who is interested in politics. this is in contrast to general arguments about command and control. i highly recommend this book.

celebrating the contrasts

i’m writing this as i’m waiting for a meeting in new york city …
there is nothing more satisfying then, while walking 10 blocks up Fifth Avenue in 100 degrees and 100% humidity, you get that super-cooled air-conditioned breeze every time you walk by that jewelry or clothing store.

and while i’m often one to promote energy conservation, the pure joy this blast of cold air brought to me eliminated any thoughts of Middle East oil and global warming from my mind …

Is natural selection on intelligence dead?

Though I don’t agree with the argument, one could argue that richer people are more likely to be intelligent. And richer people today are undoubtedly having fewer kids. So one could draw the conclusion that natural selection on intelligence is dying.

On Monday night, I had dinner with friends Andy Choy and Fabrice Grinda and we got into a long discussion on natural selection, population trends, etc. Another interesting point: the more religious you are, the more likely you will have a bigger family. So one could say that the country is becoming more religious but more likely is that those who are more religious are contributing to a larger part of the new population.

will our generation ever have a US President??

i wrote this 3.5 years ago back in january 2003 but it came up in a discussion I had recently:


The current President of the United States, George W. Bush, is a boomer. So was his predecessor Bill Clinton. Boomers were born from 1943-1960 and experienced the sixties and Vietnam in their youth and the eighties prosperity/optimism in their rising adulthood. Given that most boomers are just now dominating the political landscape, I expect their generation to be a force for a long time to come.

The generation before the boomers, the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942) never had a president. They still have a few chances – but I expect they never will win the nation’s highest office. People like Dick Cheney, Mike Dukakis, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, and Colin Powell are all members of the Silent Generation – serious leaders but none of them ever becoming President.

For 32 years (1961-1993), the Presidency was dominated by the generation that preceded the Silents – commonly referred to as the G.I. Generation (or as Tom Brokaw likes to say, “the greatest generation”). Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush 41 all reached young adulthood during World War II. That generation effectively led America through the cold war to its completion.

Because of population trends, I’d argue that the boomer generation has a good chance of doing the same thing and will lead us through the 20-30 year war on terrorism we are now facing.

But were does that leave my generation, Generation X (born 1961-1980)? My generation is saddled right at the bottom of the baby bust. The next generation (the Millennials born from 1981-2002) has experienced one of the largest baby booms in our nation’s history. And though we are represented by people like Congressmen Harold Ford and Devin Nunes, and Senators John Sununu and Norm Coleman, we might never have a President of our own.


Rapleaf raises small angel round

you can tell i’ve been consumed by Rapleaf as i have not had a chance to keep up summation lately.

about 6 weeks ago we raised a small angel round (about one million dollars) led by Peter Thiel (who has been super helpful). Other active angels include: Michael Birch, Jeff Clavier, James Currier, Ron Conway, Eric Di Benedetto, Founders Fund, Oliver Jung, Peter Kellner, Alex Lloyd, and Aydin Senkut.

we just hired two people (who start in a few weeks). and we are looking to hire three more amazing software developers. and we’re offer a $5000 referral reward to anyone that refers us a software engineer that we hire.

Book: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson is a wonderful listen. what an amazing story about an amazing man. and Isaacson (who wrote another great book: The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made) is a great storyteller.

to me this book says a lot about having strong principles but also understanding that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

summation: read/listen this book