Monthly Archives: August 2006

Book: Co-Leaders

047131635001_sclzzzzzzz__1Co-Leaders: The Power of Great Partnerships by David A. Heenan and Warren Bennis

Another great Warren Bennis book (though still not as great as Organizing Genius — one of my favorites). This book is available on Audible and I highly recommend it. and while some of the examples are very out-of-date (the book came out in early 1999) it has some classic examples worth reading. My favorite is about Helen Keller and her teacher. this is a masterful example of one of the smartest people who have ever lived (Keller) and her teacher (Anne Sullivan Macy).

this book reveals how valuable number twos are essential to an organization’s success.

summation: listen to this book

Open Source Good

This is a blog about good. Good people with a lot of potential to do good things.

My theory is that there are forces of “total evil” and forces of “total good.” these forces organize and make create change — sometimes it is bad (evil people), sometimes wonderful (good people).

Bad people have been, in the past, much better organized than good people. I also believe that most people are good (or at least lean good) and a few people are really bad.

Ok … has this blog been overly simplistic yet??? Here comes more …

Total evil in the world is already massively exploited. Though there is always latent evil to be tapped (think Rwanda 1994 or Germany 1938 or al Qaeda today), much of it is tapped. Evil people tend to do evil things.

This has not historically been true with good people. Since most people are good at their core (my postulation), they tend to live nice lives but often are not so motivated to do massively good deeds. But Good is an incredibly untapped resource. Yes, very untapped.

There are so many good CPUs which are underutilized … and the potential to utilize them (like the SETI project) is huge.

And more and more things are making it easier for people to be good and do good. And to even do good in a grand way. It is easy to contribute to massive society projects today (think wikipedia) or give little rewards when those around you do little good (think Rapleaf) or collaborate with people around the world to tutor needy students in mathematics.

So: because of this trend, I think it is quite likely that good will win more battles over evil in the future. And so, chances are that the future will be bright.

book: Burn Before Reading

BurnBurn Before Reading by Stansfield Turner

A great history of DCIs (Directors of Central Intelligence — until last year, the person responsible to the President for intelligence and also running the CIA). Written by a former DCI under Carter, this is a very good account of the history of US intelligence from Roosevelt II to Bush II … and from an insider perspective. The essential thesis of the book is that the CIA, on a whole, has failed most Presidents … and that the role of the DCI should be strengthened (even beyond the current legislation).

And another bonus … it is available on Audible and i enjoyably listened to this.

book: Paradox of Choice

ParadoxThe Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

Last May, Esther Dyson pulled me aside and said that if I was to read one book this year it should be Paradox of Choice. She was right … I loved the book.

And while some of the concepts are mentioned in Blink and in other books, Paradox of Choice is extraordinarily interesting and profound. The book is less about how people make choices than on happiness (especially the second half of the book). And I think it gives a lot of insights into human satisfaction, grief, and more.

While I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the book, I will highly recommend it. Like Esthr says, Paradox of Choice is a book one should read soon.

tale of two VCs

so, even though we’re not raising money right now, we’re getting a lot of calls and emails from VCs at Rapleaf. we got 6 unsolicited emails this week. we got 8 last week. these are mainly from VCs i don’t know.

the typical email is “I love Rapleaf … great service … you have a brilliant idea … let’s meet”. but … but … i check and they are not even Rapleaf members. maybe they signed up under a different email address … maybe …

before a VC approaches a consumer Internet company, they should first become a member and use the product. invite a few friends. and give input to the company on how they can improve. that way, the company management team sees some value from the VC.

i had lunch today with a great VC. a guy i never met before … we went to a cheap chinese place for lunch (my favorite) and he gave me THREE great ideas. THREE! he obviously spent a lot of time thinking about Rapleaf. i felt bad when he paid for lunch because i really owed him. guess what?? when he calls me again i’m going to rush to answer him. and i am going to refer other entrepreneurs to him. and i really look forward to seeing him again.

then, after lunch, i got another email from a VC. Here is the email:

Hello . My name is [first last] — I am part of the [removed] investment team at [very large VC firm], a global venture capital fund with over [a lot of money] under management.

I have read a little bit about Rapleaf and, while I only have very basic information at this point, am interested in connecting with you for a few minutes to learn more and to assess whether there might be an opportunity for [very large VC firm] to be helpful to your firm as a potential investor. To the extent that you may be interested in a venture partner, could you please tell me a little bit about the company’s vision, and financing history / status. If you would prefer speaking directly, please let me know when you could be available for a brief phone call over the next few days and we can arrange.

while this email is very nice and professional, it shows that this VC did little homework on the site. i did not see that he is a Rapleaf member (and he made no mention of it). if i was in his shoes, i would have sent a different email:

Rapleafers — I love what you guys are doing. if you are successful, you will actually make it “more profitable to be ethical” (i love your tagline!). I signed up and rated a few people. and they rated me back (my Rapleaf score is X at the moment). of course, i don’t fully understand what you are doing but have some ideas on marketing and I know the CEOs of CommerceSite1 and BarterSite2 I can introduce you to (if you don’t already know them). i’ll be in SF on Aug 11 — want to grab coffee?

[and added his Rapleaf score to the bottom signature of his email]

(this is someone I would cancel meetings for). can you feel the energy and enthusiasm? the willingness to help? this fictional VC would win every deal.

oh, it is a tale of two VCs…