Video Of The Week: Gotham Gal at Columbia

Last month the Gotham Gal gave a keynote at the Columbia University’s #StartupColumbia Festival. Here it is.

It’s also our 28th wedding anniversary today. We are celebrating it in Istanbul. Off to the Grand Bazaar to work on our negotiating skills.

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lee Blaylock

    Happy anniversary! Just remember the vendors in the bazaar are like venture capitalists who negotiate term sheets regularly while you the shopper on this outing are like the entrepreneurs who negotiate term sheets less frequently ! 🙂

    1. fredwilson


    2. LE

      who negotiate term sheets regularly while you the shopperPeople always seem to happily ignore that fact which is true.The good news is is that most people buying in a bazaar have little down side to guessing wrong. The worse case scenario would typically be that they end up paying full price after taking a gamble or trying to bluff. [1]For the merchant the worse case scenario is that he ends up with inventory that he needs to sell on another day unless it is perishable of course. It is an interesting dance for sure. That is what negotiating really is. It’s a dance between two parties who are either consciously or unconsciously evaluating risk with different degrees of risk tolerance or desire to gamble (or hey even have fun) while taking into account many other factors (perishable as only one factor).Also in a bazaar with tourists reputation of either party doesn’t matter. They are free to deal as they want to without regard to any future transactions. Constrained only by how self conscious they might be. (Same reason you might care if the bellhop heard you pass gas..) This is quite different than other negotiating situations where reputation and your modus operandi might make a difference in future transactions.[1] And most I would think (tourists I mean) are doing it for fun anyway. Does it really matter if someone “overpays” for a something they didn’t even need until they saw it? What is “overpay” anyway?

  2. meredithcollinz

    I was there. The Gotham Gal left the crowd buzžing and inspired. Happy anniversary to you both!

  3. Sierra Choi

    Unconventional and irreverent, what an awesome speech. I just realised I have a bit of gotham gal in me! Thank you for posting this video.

  4. Cankut

    Welcome to Istanbul. I’m a VC and, inspired by you, blog daily: . I’d love to meet without interrupting your anniversary

  5. creative group

    You guys are abroad enjoying life and celebrating your unbreakable bond. More years of bliss and joy to you.On a heavier note and keeping my feet onthe ground and head out of the clouds.My well wishes are extended to the victims at Charleston Emmanuel AME Church in South Carolina.

  6. John Pepper

    Maggie and I got engaged in Istanbul… well, actually on the flight before it landed. Fond memories there. Congrats to you both!

  7. George Witter

    All sales people should go to school in the Grand Bazaar. But even those masters are going to be in trouble when they meet the Gotham Gal. Happy Anniversary!

  8. awaldstein

    Enjoy and congrats to the both of you.A beautiful and haunting city. Also troublesome country for human rights and just weird alcohol laws that have stymied a deep and interesting wine culture.And when the two of you are sitting in some alley restaurant, herds of wild Turkish cats at your feet, think about how Turkey strangely enough was one of the first European success stories for hockey stick Facebook growth back in the early days.A case study in strange intersections of social platforms and cultural uniqueness.Enjoy!

  9. William Mougayar

    From OpenBazaar to the Grand Bazaar! It had to be done ;)Negotiating? You mean bargaining and haggling. Couple of tips:1/ Never look too interested. 2/ Act shocked if they name a price.3/ Don’t suggest to pay in Bitcoins.

    1. awaldstein


      1. LE

        1/ Never look too interested.As a kid my Dad who was a wholesaler once exhibited at a festival to unload some merchandise (was an Israeli festival at the convention center).This young girl wanted to buy a menorah and my dad told her the price. She said she couldn’t afford it and then made an offer which he rejected. (Or something like that). So she stands for about 20 minutes in front of the booth pacing back and forth and finally my Dad finally walks over and lets her buy it at the price that she had offered.From that I developed one of my negotiating principles and games which is “I want what you have but I am only willing to pay a certain price”. So instead of saying “I don’t care what color the car is” you do the opposite. You say “That car is perfect and I love everything about it and especially the color”. (A bit more involved than that but that’s the basic idea).The “I want what you have” becomes the “tease the dog”. Over time it often works on the seller who becomes loosened up to the idea of selling at that price that you are offering. In a sense it’s a form of brainwashing which also takes into account that people are less likely to walk away from something that they have invested time in. [1][1] Quick way to generally get a better deal with a car salesman (if that matters to you) is to make sure you waste as much of his time as possible. That assumes of course that you have no cost of your time to take into account. Someone is typically less likely to walk away (on both sides) when they have significant time invested in the transaction. This runs contrary to “time kills all deals” which also has to be taken into account in another context.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          It helps a lot if the girl is cute, sweet,meek, etc.On this point, Mother Nature was there anddoing really well long before any ideasabout negotiations.In the case of your story, basically hewanted her to have the item, especiallysince clearly she really wanted it.What did he get? He would feel good fromhelping a girl — men are wired this way.And he would get something he might likemuch more than the money — she wouldsmile.Men are wired so that they like to see afemale smile so much they suspect theycould give up food and water and just liveon her smiles. The value of those smilesis most of why businesses hire women asclerks, stewardesses, etc.Of course she smiled: Already inthe crib, girls are paying attention topeople and boys, to things. While theboys are trying to hack the latch andinstall WiFi and Linux in the firetruck onthe floor, are totally fascinated with anauto differential center section, thegirls are getting to be little experts ateye contact and communicating with facialexpressions and tones of voice.Girls learn early on that, to get whatthey want, just smile. Or, just keepasking and smiling. If all else fails,use the nuclear option, a tear.This way a lot of girls at 4 have theirdads totally wrapped around their littlefinger so that he can nearly never tellher “No”, even to a $500 prom dress or a$20,000 wedding, even if he has to borrowthe money.Girls like pretty, feminine dressesbecause they learn early on that in such adress and acting cute, sweet, meek, theycan get nearly anything they want,including more pretty dresses. They dothis mind trick also on aunts,uncles, and grand parents, and, thus,Zulily makes money.If a boy tried what that girl did, thenthe vendor might have said, “Hey, kid.Quit hanging around here. Go outside andplay stick ball.” or some such!It wasn’t negotiation. Instead, itwas a little girl mind trick, onethat has kept relatively helpless and,bluntly, useless, little girls cared forand with food for millennia.Or, what girls learn starting in the criband do well at by age 4, maybe 2, theycontinue with, and the results are a hugepart of current civilization. E.g., as inthe foreword to Maggie Scarf, IntimatePartners: Patterns in Love andMarriage. by Dr. C. Nadelson, Past President of theAmerican Psychiatric Association,”Traditional marriage is about offspring,security, and caretaking.”Darned right it is: As a wife and mother,she and her children are to be caredfor, much as she got cared for at age4 by acting cute, sweet, and meek andlooking pretty. Then she smiles, and heis happy.New idea with me? Heck no: There is thefamous “Happy wife. Happy marriage.”.For their marriage, you can tell, in lessthan one second, from 20 yards away — isshe really smiling?If don’t like this situation, then by allmeans send complaints to Mother Nature,care of Darwin. By the way, as we know,”It’s not nice to try to fool MotherNature.”.If the above is too subtle, in nothingelse but the old Gentlemen PreferBlonds, “A woman being pretty is likea man being rich.”.But for more, also need to draw from E.Fromm: It’s darned important that she bebusy and productive. My view is that thisis especially important once the youngestchild is in first grade. If she is notbusy and productive, then too often shewill try to become really good friendswith some news anchor on TV, Jack Daniels,Jim Beam, and the guy who came to fix thewashing machine.For still more, it’s darned important, asa safety net, that he have one heck of apre-nup. What is the chemistry? Theoxytocin wears off? Men, in part trust inchemicals, some of Mother Nature’s strongchemicals such as oxytocin.

          1. LE

            What did he get? He would feel good from helping a girl — men are wired this way. And he would get something he might like much more than the money — she would smile.Exactly.And sorry that I don’t have time to read your entire comment (will return to it later) so maybe you said this but the reverse is also true.Men will do anything to avoid the evil eye of a woman and for her to be disappointed and unhappy. I believe men learn this at an earlier age when dealing with their mother.This is strictly 100% a guess and I have no basis for it other than my gut, but my feeling is that Fred responds this way to Joanne and has in fact said “she puts me in my place”.

          2. Twain Twain

            SO SO true, it’s too funny.Men will do anything to avoid the evil eye of a woman and for her to be disappointed and unhappy.For women, it’s vital to be happy and secure in ourselves (separate from whatever relationship we’re in — whether that’s personal or business).That internal happiness then sparks as smiles. And no matter what ridiculous things are said or done to us, we rise above it because of that positivity.

          3. LE

            Girls like pretty, feminine dresses because they learn early on that in such a dress and acting cute, sweet, meek, they can get nearly anything they want, including more pretty dresses.Acting cute works with both sexes by the way even with men (straight) and other men (straight) as well as with women.There are people that I have identified and will call “smilers”.Those are people who, when they do wrong, tend to deal with it with a smile rather than anger. Everyone knows people like this and they tend to be able to get away with things that non-smilers can’t. [1]One such example is Bill Clinton. Bill would be able to get away with more than Mitt simply because he is a smiler. The fact that a man smiles and acts cute often will disarm the other party whereas anger will only escalate a negative reaction (from the other man or a woman). Trump tends to deal with things with anger or put downs as a contrary example.Note the difference between Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank and some of the other sharks (notably Mark Cuban). There is a clear difference. Kevin generally smiles when delivering bad news. To me he is likeable way more because of that and “less” of a “dick”. Not always but often I would say. Mark just seems mean when he shits on someone or their idea. Plus he has those typical facial reactions of annoyance or “oh boy”. Nothing pleasant about that.[1] I noticed that my wife has this effect on me. It is impossible for me to get angry at her and that’s not because I am the type to not get angry or annoyed. It’s that whenever she does something that would upset me she always is able to disarm me by being cute and with a smile. The effect is truly amazing.

          4. JLM

            .The technical term for “smilers” in business is “grin fuckers.”A friend of mine, who used to teach at the old SMU School of Banking, used to actually teach a class on how and when to smile. I never knew if he was pulling my chain or not.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. LE

            To me “grin fuckers” are a different animal.I just ran into a grin fucker at a closing yesterday actually. Was the son of the seller and I think he felt that I had taken advantage of his father by the price that I got for the property. (Whether that is correct or not doesn’t matter).In the closing he was perfectly nice in every way (as was his father who was a retired therapist). I thought “nice guy”. He didn’t smile that much but he was pleasant.The closing went w/o a hitch and there were some things that needed to be done that they forgot to bring to closing. The son assured me that the material was at his father’s house (maybe 20 minutes away had to do with zoning) and said he would promptly get it to the township as needed. He was supposed to get it there the prior week then that day and so on. Never did.I came back 10 minutes later (I had forgotten something) and the son was leaving and I could see the aggressiveness that had overtaken his previous pleasant demenor since he wasn’t in the closing room with other parties. Was clearly directed toward me. All the sudden something was different. So Iater told the realtor that he needed to personally get the materials and take them to the township. The son then ended up “jerking him around” and never got him the materials (which was way easier than having to drive somewhere).This guy (the son) was a grin fucker. In other words someone who puts on one face while thinking another thing entirely.Smilers on the other hand (and this is just my definition of course) is someone who doesn’t have mean intent that they are covering up. They just screw up and then try to smile or giggle it off. Kind of like a dog on their belly.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            Good! You’re no dummy! Instead, you’vebeen learning about facial expressions,tone of voice, eye contact, etc., right,the standard lessons for little girls inthe crib! They are really good atthat stuff.So, congrats — looks like you are now allthe way up to, say, a girl of, what wouldit be, say, for an average girl, maybe 3,on a good day for you, 4.Look, I bet you are quite good with theworkings of the center section of an autodifferential, including one with limitedslip, know just where the flywheel pilotbearing is and what it does, understandhydraulic valve lifters and why mostly theydon’t need adjustment, have at leastseveral of the Torx drivers in yourtoolbox, are quite competent with a chainsaw, right away could power a house with astandard work site electric generator byback feeding the electric dryerconnection, etc. And nearly no girlsunder 5 know about any of those things.So, on those things you are way,way ahead of girls, heck, alsonearly all women; and they will nevercatch up.Honey, I’m on the phone with the partsstore — would you please be a sweetheart,look at the ring and pinion, and give methe axle ratio? Not a chance! Nearlyevery American teenage boy; nearly nohuman females, maybe not even the CEO ofGM!Count the internal splines on the clutchdisk? No way!Know which hose to the radiator is theinput and which is the output? Boys, yes.Girls, no!This collection class says that it doesinserts in O( log(n) ) — what’s the ratioof boys to girls who know what this means?Or the ratio for knowing what would thebasic algorithm likely be, B-trees, binarytrees, AVL trees, red-black trees?Now for your lesson: That’s how far girlsof 5 are ahead of you in eye contact,facial expressions, tone of voice, andother such manipulations. And women arestill farther ahead. And you will nevercatch up!You’d have a lot more luck trying to dunkthe ball over LBJ! After you tried,they’d find you and the ball somewhere inthe nickel seats!Again, in the crib, girls were payingattention to people and boys, to things.On people, boys never catch up with thegirls; on things, girls never catch upwith boys.I learned my lesson: I was told, andbelieved, that girls are just like boysexcept for some differences in anatomy.Nope. Not even close. Not even a gradeof gentleman D-.In time I learned — as @JLM would say, “Ipaid full tuition”. Much closer to thetruth is the men are from Mars and womenare from Venus.You are right about Clinton, Cuban, etc.For Clinton, maybe he is comparable withan average girl of, say, 5? Naw. That’sbeing too darned generous!Mother Nature was there a very long timeago and did a really good job!And, for understanding your wife, f’getabout it! You don’t have a chance! Heck,I bet she doesn’t even have to use tears,and no doubt she was already really goodwith those when she was 4! No tears?She’s going really easy on you, takingpity, doesn’t want to take advantage ofthe helpless! Looks like she really likesyou!With a few tears, etc., she could takeyour net worth down to pocket change inless than a week with you happy about eachdollar you lost!There’s a good chance you don’t evenappreciate much of what she is doing toyou! Or, as all human females over age 3know well, “Men are so easy tomanipulate!”.Disney understood very well: Poor, ruberabbit Thumper — he was a good guy –never had a chance. As I recall, thelittle girl rabbit was able to totallyoverwhelm him with just some eyelashmovement. Nuclear overkill was inhttp://media3.popsugar-asse…Send complaints to Darwin. What the heckdo you think you are on this planet foranyway if not to be nice to little girlsand take care of a mommy with littlechildren?

          7. LE

            Now for your lesson: That’s how far girls of 5 are ahead of you in eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, and other such manipulations. And women are still farther ahead. And you will never catch up!Hey! Simply not true! I am super special in this area and can read micro expressions at full machine speed (really) as well as vocal fluctuations and so on. And assemble (back when you needed to) a model gas helicopter from scratch or take apart a lawn mower engine.You know everybody has a bit of man and a bit of woman in them to varying degrees. I happen to have a “gay side” which gives me this extra sensitivity that is normally reserved for a woman. Just like certain women have a “manly” side. I am sure you can name quite a few that aren’t lesbians but tend to have more masculine tendencies.

          8. sigmaalgebra

            If you can read all that subtle stuff, great!But, be careful! For girls, men are so easyto manipulate! It may be that some girltold you that you were really good and, then,whispered and giggled with her sister andgirlfriends how she fooled you — again!You don’t really expect the girls to explainall their means of manipulation, do you?Or, from a really good salesman, the buyeris always convinced he got a really good deal, right?If the girls can’t fool you, terrific. ButI confess, for a long time they totallyfooled me!If a girl is smart, then she doesn’t have toknow about things and, instead, canalways find a boy to handle such things forher. Remember in GWTW at the BBQ howall the boys lined up, each more eager thanall the rest, to be permitted to get cake orwhatever it was for Scarlett!

          9. brittblaser

            All true, but our social species is purpose-built to respond to each other regardless of sex. As the brilliant Lewis Thomas wrote in The Lives of a Cell, “We have genes for usefulness.” <https:”” wiki=”” the_lives_of_a_cell:_notes_of_a_biology_watcher=””>

        2. Twain Twain

          Doing exactly what that girl did, I successfully haggled a hand-crafted mother of pearl chess set in Egypt for the princely sum of $10. It was supposed to be $100.I had looped back twice and paced backwards and forwards examining his wares AND his neighbors.In the end, he preferred to make the sale for $10 so he could say to his neighbors, “The girl chose to give her money TO ME.”

        3. PhilipSugar

          In enterprise, time kills deals. People get fired budgets get changed, but this is not where people are actually really making their own decision.When it comes to cars I love the Homer Simpson tactic of offering a low price and if the person balks, say change my mind I’m leaving.BTW: the “True Car” price is BS. I did not want to say this on Mark Suster’s blog, but what the dealers do is inflate your used car trade in and then inflate their sticker. In this way they get manufacturer credit for selling for list.I found this out buying my Dad a new car. I had no desire to sell his used car. I told the dealer it was going to be the fastest sale ever, or the fastest rejection ever. Got my final price but paid $1,500 more for the new car and got $1,500 more for the used car.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            The part about inflating the price of a trade in is probably true only for newer cars. Tried that with my girlfriend’s ’99 Jeep Cherokee a couple of years ago, and the dealer offered something like $400 for it (blue book value started at $1100) so we didn’t trade it in.Went to 800-Car-Cash in Manhattan and they actually offered $200 for the Jeep, before doubling their offer to $400 when I got there. Posted it on Craig’s List and sold it later that night to a local dealer who bought it for $1100 and also took a scrap car off my hands for $400. Had multiple, higher offers for the Jeep, but took his to get rid of the scrap car.

  10. davidblerner

    First- congratulations to you both Fred!We were really hoping Joanne could keynote. Our great colleague Sarah Holloway invited her and Joanne was amazing and inspiring. She really let it rip. It was our second university-wide entrepreneurship festival (not the business school). The students and alumni there were fired-up.Have a great trip with the Gotam Gal

  11. JimHirshfield

    Congratulations! Enjoy.

  12. Tracey Jackson

    Happy Anniversary!

  13. Brad Lindenberg

    Congrats Fred! Now go buy a leather jacket!

  14. Jill Stern

    Grateful that location and little league brought avc and gotham gal into my life. I have learned so much and get so inspired by reading your blogs. I hope you both know that I admire your generosity of sharing your vast wealth of information with your many readers. Congrats on 28 to my favorite blogging couple!

  15. pointsnfigures

    Happy Aniv. We were in Istanbul last Christmas. Did an awesome walking tour with Rashid (… Hagia Sophia and Chora Church were really amazing places. There is a cafe near the Hagia Sophia/Blue Mosque were all the hippies stopped in the 60’s. Pres. Clinton was among them.

  16. Ana Milicevic

    Happy anniversary! I quite enjoyed the fantastic restaurant at the Sabanci museum on my last visit esp. if you have time to check out the museum too. Beautiful views of the Bosphorus and the Sultan Mehmet bridge and the food was outstanding.http://www.sakipsabancimuze

  17. Alessandro Piol

    Happy anniversary! Just a small correction: it was Columbia University’s #StartupColumbia festival, not just the Business School. I was there and Joanne did a great job, as always.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Alessandro. I will fix that

  18. David Fleck

    Happy anniversary!Editor’s note: The rules to negotiating in the grand bazaar are NOT the same rules to negotiating in a marriage. ;-)My rules:Always start at 1/3 whatever they first offer. (And let them make first offer).Walk away at least once.Know what you want from the get-go and bundle more into it. That way they think they’re getting a bigger deal and will come down more. Then pare back to what you really want.

    1. LE

      My twist would be to try and buy something first that you don’t want to get the lay of the land. I have used that often in gathering intel on non bazaar things that I am looking to purchase.

  19. BillMcNeely

    Congrats on the 28th wedding anniversary Fred! Also had the pleasure of meeting Joanne at Patriot Boot Camp back in April. She gave a great talk.

  20. Tom Labus

    Congrats to both of you. It’s not easy.Is there still a dancing bear in the Bazaar?

  21. Richard

    Data is data. No suprise all the great data scientists there are in turkey.

  22. LE

    Joanne made a great point to Ellen Pao about negotiating for one’s salary “if you don’t do it for yourself then you don’t learn to do it later in your own company” (paraphrase not verbatim). The thing is, the reason that Reddit did this is almost certainly because it’s good for Reddit for another reason not the publicly stated reason and it just sounds not only more palatable but downright magnanimous and garners all sorts of brownie tokens.By paying everyone the same they take the “no negotiating position” which often saves money in the long run. Because when you are selling once you offer a concession, any concession at all, people often focus on “will they go lower” (or with salary “higher”) rather than “do I want what they have”. It also effectively neuters anyone who is a good negotiator regardless of whether a man or a woman and makes them focus on other factors not just money so they can rationalize their decision based on other factors.Since negotiating is a dance it makes no sense for the hiring party to not engage in negotiating since some people are worth more than others to you and you are not taking into account their varying degrees of interest in the job and exploiting that.

  23. LE

    As far as NYC companies I always wonder what will happen down the road when the hip people working for the hip companies age, have children and other problems (that come with getting older), but continue to stay at those companies.Are those companies able to increase pay to a point where someone can support a family in NYC? [1]Do those companies even want them to stay or would they rather have those people quit so that they can have a constant new stream of young people willing to subside on hand to mouth wages (sometimes subsidized by their parents) or living packed in with other young people in somewhat substandard living conditions (which may even be dangerous)? Similar to McDonalds the idea isn’t to have people stay but to have them quit so labor costs don’t rise to much since productivity doesn’t rise.My point is you can start a company in NYC but unless you hit paydirt is it possible to sustain that company in NYC [2] given the costs of operating there as your startup labor force ages.Right now the stage is a rising tide floats all boats. The alley is awash in money that is allowing many of these companies to stay alive given the age of the people that are working for them and what their requirements are.[1] I am remembering a post that you did where you related when Joanne said (after a big payout) “ok now we can afford to move back to NYC” from wherever you had to move to raise your family at the time.[2] To be sure some types of companies clearly benefit by being in NYC (Bloomberg being an example or an investment bank). But other companies can be located anywhere and don’t gain by being in NYC.

  24. sigmaalgebra

    Good news: GG is something else.Amazing. Bad news: GG over estimateswhat “women” on average are likely to doin entrepreneurship and beyond teaching,nursing, customer service, and motherhood,at least for a few generations.Yes, now women have some challenges –what to do to be busy and productive (forthe importance of these two, see E. Fromm,’The Art of Loving’). If fail at this,then end up with something like the RhodaHenry character in ‘Winds of War’ or BettyFriedan (apparently out to sabotage USfamilies) — I’ve seen far too many likeone or the other of these two.For what women would do, there used to beno doubt: Chop wood. Pump water. Sewclothes. Make soap. Tend a garden.Handle diaper rash. Can vegetables. Washclothes. No end of work. Now, useelectric power, washing machines, buysoap, clothes, vegetables, etc. So, whatto do? Sure:(1) Make money to pay for the purchases.Sure, hopefully via successfulentrepreneurship.(2) Do well for the kids, e.g., track andcontribute to their ‘development’including emotional, empathetic, verbal,mechanical, psychological, moral, ethical,religious, athletic, social, academic,artistic, rational, quantitative,scientific, technical, entrepreneurial,creative, etc. So, help the kids getahead.The story about Macy’s reminded me of somestories about my mother: To get a job,she put cardboard in her shoes to cover upthe holes in the soles. She walked oneend of the street to the other, severalmiles, got only “No”, went back the nextday and tried again.Lazarus said she needed experience. So shedropped out of high school and solddresses in a basement. When the storeclosed at 9 PM, she walked home — throughthe red light district. She was 14.She went back to Lazarus saying that shehad experience and got hired.Soon they wanted to send her to buyer’sschool in NYC. Since she was still only15, her grandmother said “No”.An uncle had some money and paid for anoil painting of her, at 15. As I grew up,the picture was always hanging in thedining room. She looked a lot likeElizabeth Taylor. My brother’s family hasthe picture now.She finished high school at night and gotgood — really good — at typing,spelling, short hand, and bookkeeping.She was bright — her vocabulary andspelling were amazing.As my brother and I grew, she did well asa secretary, for an Episcopalian churchout in the area with big houses and lawnsand white fences (she got really good atwedding planning and made friends with all’the right people’), for a universitypresident, and later at a world famousEpiscopalian church (right, in DC).At a department store, she did somemodeling of dresses, through the lunchroom with “women who lunch”.At times she did try some ofentrepreneurship but really didn’t havenearly enough ‘overview’ to be good at itand became frustrated.Mom and Dad were ambitious for both mybrother and I and emphasized education.So my brother and I both got Ph.D.degrees.I concentrated on math, suspecting that itmight be useful, and for US nationalsecurity it long has been. Now with theInternet (to send/receive the data) andcomputing (to manipulate the data), mathstands to be much more useful, also inmuch of business — US business has yet tounderstand this, and for now the flip sideof that situation is an opportunity.Students: The stuff they do with math in’computer science’ (CS) is nearly alwaysrotten, corrupted versions of good, oldmath but in new bottles with silly labels,e.g., ‘machine learning’ (the machinesjust do what they are told, by humans),’artificial intelligence’ (with theemphasis on the first word and hype in thesecond). Instead, read the good stuff, inthe original, in well done math.Even some of the chaired profs of CS arestill struggling with how to write maththey should have learned in a collegecourse in, say, abstract algebra.E.g., if want to know about maximumlikelihood estimation, then go tomathematical statistics, not computerscience! Same for unconstrainedoptimization, constrained linearoptimization, constrained nonlinearoptimization, combinatorial optimization,both deterministic and stochastic dynamicprogramming, statistical estimation,hypothesis testing, statistical modelbuilding, how to handle uncertainty,stochastic processes, etc.Gee, Internet data? Just downloaded andedited some HTML, used a little code, andpulled down about 11,000 JPGs from some ofthe better photographers on Instagram.Amazingly easy to do.I’ve flipped through over half of the11,000 and see that only about 400 areworth seeing — amazingly low fraction.Yup, “Houston, we have a problem!”For the 400, a few nice ideas just slappedme in the face. Right, I don’t know justwhere such ideas come from!Generalities I didn’t learn from myparents:(1) Do something new. Don’t run with thepack. That way don’t have to outrun thepack. So think of a new problem or a newway of doing something, no one else isworking on, then maybe that will give youa chance. So, do something new.But, then, realize that you will have tobe like ‘The Little Red Hen’ in MotherGoose where no one will understand thevalue of what you are doing before theysee results they can understand, e.g.,hot, fragrant loaves fresh from the ovenwith eager customers lining up ready tobuy.(2) To see farther than others, stand onthe shoulders of giants. How ’bout A.Kolmogorov, J. von Neumann?Read from the best sources you can, e.g.,P. Halmos, W. Rudin, E. Coddington, H.Royden, L. Breiman, J. Neveu, E. Cinlar,G. Nemhauser, D. Luenberger, D. Knuth.Also read E. Fromm!(3) Collaborate with the best people youpossibly can. When you see a person, getto know them, and see that they are good,then try to find a way to work with thembecause that give you some reach and somescope. It’s also fun to work withterrific people.(4) Be guided by beauty. Get an aestheticcomponent from doing it right.(5) Don’t give up.(6) Hope for some good luck.Thank you J. Simons.I was surprised at (4), but thinking aboutit I believe that he has a point!Cardboard in shoes? Gee, for my runningshoes, the sole of the left shoe separatedfrom the toe back to nearly the end of theheel. So, try this and that and end upwith a can of Weldwood Contact Cement.So, outdoors, with a plastic spoon, spreadthe cement on both surfaces, wait 10minutes, put the loose sole piece backwhere it belongs, secure with a dozen orso large rubber bands, and wait two days.Worked great!Now with this fix, the shoes are fine!Back to the rest of the 11,000 InstagramJPGs and the idea that slapped me in theface!

  25. William Mougayar

    Energetic talk by GG and Congratulations on #28. Very fitting that you chose a video of Joanne on this occasion.I think everybody needs to have good bosses and bad ones. You learn from both.And when you see a wall in front of you, it’s OK to change paths via another course. It’s not called quitting. It’s called circumventing.

  26. Twain Twain

    Congrats on your 28th anniversary and look forward to your shares of interesting people, restaurants and haggles in Istanbul!In the bazaar, the golden rule is simple: the harder you haggle, the more sellers respect you.Enjoy!

  27. Twain Twain

    “No, I’m going to be the next Rupert Murdoch” — Jason Calacanis after he was offered $40 million for his company.”The next day, I quit” — Joanne Wilson.That speaks to the importance of knowing WHEN AMBITION IS IN THE WAY OF PRAGMATISM.There are lots of people who dream of $ billion exits.However, some businesses don’t lend themselves to those outcomes so the founder needs to exit faster if there’s a reasonable offer on the table.The $ billion exits happen only if there’s unique core technology (e.g. a well-tuned recommendation and advertising engine) combined with a 100+ million audience and favorable market conditions — which doesn’t happen often in pure content+conference plays.

  28. Dave Pinsen

    Gotham Gal should host an annual charity event for something related to women and entrepreneurship (maybe BPeace?) and call it the Gotham Gala.