Tag Archives: love

How scale actually works, becoming more human, and the power of (re)negotiation

Some of the most important things I’ve learned in life were absorbed outside of a classroom or traditional setting.

Most entrepreneur types I’ve met have said the same thing – while other people were following rules, they were making their own.

Of course, I’m more into building models than making absolute statements (“books are dead!” “social media is making us zombies!” “Instagram is making all food taste [better] [worse]”) so you won’t catch me raining fire and brimstone down on anyone.

But I do believe that curiosity, inspiration, and looking for less obvious connections can give us great value.

Here are three things that no one taught me directly, but that I’ve picked up in my travels and that have been immensely useful.

It’s all about scale, but not necessarily scaling up.

In the startup world one of the questions constantly in play is: “will it scale?”

Simplified, this just means that you always want to know if something you are doing now will work when you are much bigger.

It’s a great question, and it’s part of a bigger picture concept that is often overlooked:

To build a company (or life) of consequence you need to understand ecosystem connections, big and small.

This doesn’t mean that you’re stuck on a one-way street when it comes to scale…some things are meant to be small. And even if they aren’t, the building blocks are always worth knowing about.

In science, the relationship between neutrons, protons and electrons is just as important as the relationship between stars and galaxies. Brilliant minds like Einstein, Michio Kaku, and Richard Feynman all understood the importance of this, and in a more modern example you can see it at work in companies like Google, too.

Continue reading How scale actually works, becoming more human, and the power of (re)negotiation

The best thing I did this year

Two years ago my life was falling apart.

Bankruptcy, divorce, losing my mom to a 4 ½ year battle with ovarian cancer.

I was, almost literally, unmoored. I remember thinking, this is what it feels like to be a ship lost at sea without a way back.

“I want to go home” constantly looped in my head, but I didn’t know what it meant or how to get there. I drank too much, worked too many hours, and tried to stay afloat. My heart was broken. Some days it still is.

This is often what I think about when I see people doing destructive things to themselves or others. Sometimes it’s a small heartbreak and sometimes it’s big.

We don’t do ourselves any favors when we try to deny that heartbreak. I resist the idea that we can gloss over our problems or concerns, or that anyone is doing life better than anyone else. There isn’t a formula, algorithm or app in the world that can tell you how to be human.

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An open letter from a white man to a black man in the year 2013

*This is my response to an editorial piece by Questlove, which you can click here to read


If you put the two of us in a room together, we’d make an odd pair.

You, a black man with access to wealth, influence, and places I’ll never go.

I,  a white man with access to goodwill and social capital that no one will ever accord you, regardless of how hard you try.

On the train home from work today, I looked a young black man in the face and we both nodded our heads ever so slightly in the standard greeting of city dwellers. Then I wondered what it would be like to live in his skin, to walk in his shoes.

He was an ordinary looking man, perhaps 25-35 years old, wearing jeans, a shirt, and a sweater. I know nothing about his life, other than that there is a singular characteristic about him that at its core is neither negative nor positive.

Continue reading An open letter from a white man to a black man in the year 2013

We are the weirdos we wondered about

As a child I remember looking up at all of the strange, grown up people and wondering how they came to be.

Since my parents were doing something different (one hippie + one serious but different Italian living in Hawaii) there were always curious people around. They were doing things like running food co-operatives (my mom started the first one on our island), practicing spiritual/religious traditions that were well outside of the mainstream,  homeschooling their kids, traveling constantly, and generally embracing the road not usually taken. I used to think, “how amazing and weird these people are.”

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Gomen nasai, broken heart

Stacking rocks for a roadside memorial on Highway 76 up to Chimayo this morning, I wondered which truck would lose control and wildly meld its’ tires to the road in an attempt to stop. Would I jump, startled, and the unfolding of my knees and legs save my life? Or would I look up without fear and watch the metallic wall fill my vision?

When I was 6 years old I was washed out to sea on the backs of galloping waves. There was no narrative, only sound and form and evidence that the World Works in Mysterious Ways and there is no controlling it.

Gomen nasai, innocence.

When I was 17 years old I traversed the ridge of the Sandias for miles and miles. The blue china bowl stretched around me forever and the freedom it gave made me feel closer to the earth. Where I used to step without fear now I tread with hesitation.

Gomen nasai, once confident soul.

When I was 23 years old I fell in love with someone who wasn’t capable yet of such a thing, and instead of joy my whole life filled with suffering. I learned to hide my dreams far inside the caverns of my chest, where no one could see them. Because of this I cannot dive deep enough to retrieve them now.

Gomen nasai, dreams.

When I was 27 I lost the one person I loved most on this earth. Because I miss the love of my mother, I have closed my heart. I have become incapable of accepting true love, and there are no tears that can atone for it.

Gomen nasai, broken heart.

Now I step carefully, choosing each foothold knowing there is no truly steady rock beneath. Such is life.