Musings on the world of business

Thoughts on entrepreneurship, globalization and the interaction of culture and corporations. Why the name
Recent Tweets @staysmall

Maybe chaos and complexity will be the defining themes of the 21century. 

War with ISIL/ISIS

  • We are aligned with Iran in defending Baghdad and the heart of Iraq
  • We are not aligned with Iran in saving Assad’s regime.
  • We are aligned with Turkey in preventing ISIL from entering Europe
  • We (or atleast i think we) disagree with Turkey in bombing the Kurd fighters who are trying to protect Kobani.
  • There is physical war and there is a hidden war — Oil prices are going down. Read that again, Oil prices are going down because the house of Saud which is one of the most powerful Sunni powers in existence (monetarily) is intentionally increasing supply. The saudi’s are also considered one of the “closest” US allies in the middle east. So are they helping ISIL or they helping us or are they just playing the odds like a gambler with enough money to hedge all sides?

To the lay public this seems like simple philosophical extremes - Good vs Evil. Democracy vs Dictatorship. Compassion vs Cruelty. Tolerance vs Genocide. 

But it is not. All our chickens are coming home to roost. I am referring to the collective western nations when i say ‘our’ (north america, western europe and australia). We have spent the past half century to century forming extremely complicated alliances rife with contradictions and compromises. Do any of us have an obvious high ground in negotiations? I don’t see it.

Countries with the biggest untapped consumer base (china, india, indonesia, brazil) and countries with the most uninvested capital (middle east, ??) seem to be the only ones with any sort of negotiation capital. 

In hindsight, the alliances may have been unavoidable since capitalism was the most prominent global export of the past 50-75 years. Are we now seeing the hidden opportunity cost of global capitalism being the most important factor in forming alliances? …

I don’t have an answer but the rest of the 21st century is shaping to be quite a doozy at this point. 

A slight non sequitur

China: wanting to be a  world superpower means getting your hands really dirty. You don’t get to play the “i don’t care and don’t have a point of view card” over and over again. Russia threatens Ukraine, idk. ISIL threatens Levant and europe, idk.

If you are the biggest investor, benefactor and partner for the continent of Africa in the 21st century, be one. You have given less help to the countries fighting Ebola then Mark Zuckerberg has as an individual. If you want to be treated like a grown up, maybe you should act like one.  

b. Figure out from where you think these will people come. Include in your description conversion rates at every stage of your funnel plus virality coefficients.
c. Now, cut to a bare minimum all unexplained “organic” traffic (this includes press, unexplained word-of-mouth, any nondescript biz dev strategy, and content), cut your projected conversion rates by 50% at every stage of your funnel, and do the math again.
d. If you have included virality in your traffic sources, really do the math about what the virality coefficient will have to be to achieve what you are predicting. If it’s over .3%, you are likely deceiving yourself. Do your math again.


Excited and honored to be hosting the new @sfpc_school class this Fall!

I wasn’t going to buy this watch, but then I noticed Amazon had it with $58,000 off! What a deal. With the money I saved I purchased a brand new BMW and still had money left over for a Disney vacation. How many watches save you money to buy a car and a vacation?
Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.
There are several worrying things about this new, profitless-on-purpose way of doing business. First is that the while some of the money used to fund money-losing start-ups comes from rich Silicon Valley investors, some large amount of it comes from public pensions, college endowments, and other, more modest sources. Lyft backer Andreessen Horowitz, for example, has gotten investments from the Imperial County, California, Employee Retirement System and the University of Michigan; the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System invests money with SpoonRocket backer General Catalyst. If you asked them, I’m sure that firefighters in Memphis and public schoolteachers in El Centro would have no idea that their retirement funds are being used to lower the price of my delivery lunches and rides across town. But that’s exactly what’s happening. And when these venture-backed price wars happen in dozens of high-end service sectors all at once, you have a strange cultural phenomenon in which Main Street dollars are being used to finance the lifestyles of cosmopolitan yuppies.

The technological achievements show cased in the “fire phone” are impressive. But I cannot shake the feeling that Amazon’s main purpose here was to add a calling feature and internet connectivity to the price gun. You know; the device people use as they walk around a store adding items to their registry. This is not a phone. This is a always connected credit card with a calling feature. I feel brazenly manipulated.

I am impressed by Amazon’s ability to flex its AWS muscle to solve freaking HARD problems. 


Orbital Boot Camp applications closed last Friday, and I’m really pleased to report that despite the short, two week application window, the caliber of applicants is quite strong.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 62 people applied: filmmakers, writers, educators, designers, artists, technologists.

Provocative and simple enough to carry around in your head for the rest of you life.

In one of the last interviews Peter Drucker gave on NPR he tore into the whole leadership concept. He said the last thing the business world needs is more leaders. What it needs is more competent managers. I think he had a point. Leadership is putting yourself in front. Management is being of service.