Keeping Your Blinders On
Last night I picked up my phone after a long and fun dinner party and saw that the Golden State Warriors had signed Boogie Cousins (one of the most talented big men in the NBA) to a one year mid level contract of $5.3mm, an incredibly low number for a perennial all-star. Granted Boogie is coming off an achilles injury and won’t be available until mid season, but it just felt like the best getting better at the expense of every other team in the league. It annoys me.
Kind of like seeing a company renting electric scooters by the minute raising $400mm in a month when you can’t get anyone to put a dime into your company.
I’m not suggesting that the electric scooter companies should be dismissed. I don’t have a point of view on them other than as a user and I posted that here this past winter.
I am suggesting that the news cycle can make you depressed and jealous. My Knicks continue to struggle to put a decent team on the floor and the Warriors are assembling an all-star team that plays for them every fucking night.
It doesn’t feel fair. And it isn’t. Life isn’t fair. That’s how it is.
At times like this, I like to remind myself to keep my blinders on, ignore the news cycle, and focus on what I can control.
Most of us are not going to raise $400mm for our companies in a month. But we can all ship products, sell them, hire some good people, and find a few dimes to keep the lights on.
And that’s is what we must do. Lusting over what someone else has does us no good. Even it if is the best basketball team ever assembled.
Feel like the NBA should change some policies to make it more competitive. I don’t think this whole, “tanking” thing is good for the league. Maybe if they seeded the playoffs instead of playing via conferences. LeBron to the Lakers will be interesting. Let’s see how he gets on with Ball’s dad.
I’m not a huge soccer fan, but we have some in the office.I hate flopping. I think if you get called for that you should either sit out for 15 minutes with no replacement or have to don a pink tutu.But they do have something really good in the Premier League. Relegation. If you are bottom three you are relegated to the B league and then top three B league teams move up. You lose all of your revenue share from the Premier League.
have to don a pink tutuWhat would happen is the pink tutu would then take on another meaning and it would no longer be a pink tutu. Related: Smokers would associate the message on the side of a cigarette box with a warning in a positive way since seeing that was followed by the high of smoking. So it didn’t detract it attracted. This though is close to my ‘have white collar criminals clean the stalls at the turnpike rest stops’.
Look at the pictures on Australian cigarette boxes.
If you believe that people are truly addicted then you could call that (sorry) ‘overkill’. Because what it does is create anxiety that honestly rises above the beneficial aspects. I would also argue that people would then get desensitized to the images and it wouldn’t bother me.I just saw those pictures (had heard about it).My guess though that if if I looked at it everyday it would no longer bother me.This is similar to what happens when you buy a house. You see things you want to fix. But as time goes on your desire to fix goes down because the thing you see doesn’t bother you anymore. You have been desensitized.Honestly the answer is with the schools. They are not doing it right I can assume. Because they are schools. Not exactly hotbeds of creatively solving problems.
The relegated teams receive enormous financial compensation from the Premier League in the form of what are termed ‘parachute payments’ for the next three seasons. Without these payments most relegated teams would be bankrupted and cease to exist.
I still like it. My hometown team the Philadelphia 76ers on purpose tanked to get number one picks. Straight up on purpose. They had four consecutive seasons where they lost on average more than 8 out of 10 games. They had one season where they only won 10 of 82 games and didn’t have a win for three months.They drafted players that were hurt on purpose so they couldn’t play the next year and they would continue to suck. Their best player’s nickname and twitter handle is “the process” I give the guy credit for just owning it. The General Manager said we drafted him you have to trust the process.
Wonder if all these NBA stars wanting to play w/ one another is a form of collusion?
Ain’t this the truth Fred.I restrict and control my news input and rigidly compartmentalize my time. Most productive thing I’ve done in years.
Ditto.. The noise out there is loud and distracting
Starting my day with news is a momentum killer. I start with mediation, then writing and pushing a post a few times weekly, then the most strategic work of the day, then–gym and podcasts.
I agree @SixgillBlog:disqus. News is horrible. For me it’s a quick meditation session, gym, review the day, then grind it out, finally an evening review and rest… I am even trying to get off Twitter.
I took all social nets except Instagram off my phone. Big help.I try to end the day at my local wine bar Racines or others when traveling with a glass of something natural, talking to people from completely different points of passion. Then feed my cat of course!
Somebody here correctly pointed out that anger causes more attention and therefore that is what the news strives for. I think they were right on.I love this post, it is so easy to get caught up in the how did that raise that? And I am not talking about scooters. They aren’t the first or the last by a country mile.
Look no further than the public markets. That’s where sanity is supposed to reign. That’s where fundamentals serve as circuit breakers, well, allegedly serve. Look no further than the market cap and P/E ratios for Tesla, Netflix and Amazon. On steroids. Traditional metrics seem to carry a bit less weight these days, and applied subjectively. Lofty valuations are everywhere.
I’m not sure how it plays in the analogy to business, but the speculation of KD to the Knicks in 2019 is enough to give hope.
perhaps the starts in life of the respective owners of the two teams you compare and contrast in this post points to another human failing to go along with those of jealousy and lust, namely inherited wealth and favoured position. the success of the Golden State Warriors is perhaps a function of human qualities you admire, the gritty, the scrappy, the success against the odds mentality, and that the Knicks are none of these (?).are you supporting the wrong team, the wrong values?does the owner of the Knicks have enough ‘skin in the game’?does Stan Kroenke have enough skin in the game at Arsenal?
Great post to keep us grounded on what matters. Remain focused on your mission and vision but always keep the finger on the pulse of what is going on around you.
I like meditation as a means of eliminating the noise and focusing energy on the things that matter most. Sounds trendy, but it’s quite practical and effective.
yup.fred I know does as do I.been experimenting with walking and bike riding meditational paces. interesting.
Walking, without any electronics, is especially helpful for me.
yup.i’m a new yorker, and bikerider in the summer. find that on medium to long rides a few times weekly i consume podcasts, books.headspace has been partnering with nike to work on paced meditation guidance for runners that interests me greatly.whatever works that impacts your wakefulness in a better more productive state is goodness.
my robot carries everything (except me).
The life of Brian
I agree with you directionally here. A Knick fan too btw. But a bit surprised on your position on this. All NBA teams have the same rules as to how they put their team together, no? They have the same limit on the money they can spend that is enforced by the NBA, no? Asking because I may be wrong as I am not 100% sure but I believe that to be the case.As an investor, I thought an “unfair advantage” is a desired thing because it increases your chances of success. – It does not guarantee it, just increases it exponentially. Isn’t that why they are doing it? It does suck for sure when you are the one with the unfair disadvantage. If you look at the people running both team in LA, the people driving these decisions are big-time championship winners on both sides. They know and understand what it takes to win so it seems like they are just doing that.I’ve tried and not once gotten anyone to invest in anything I tried to build in the past so I am the one on the losing end here in multiple levels… but if I could build an NBA team / or a startup. I would do the same thing. I don’t think you’ll invest in me if I was running the Suns.
But I thought that it benefits everyone when there are star teams and star players. That is what makes things interesting. The chance of an upset and/or the chance of a dominant team. Larger than life events gather more interest than average or mediocre. Then someone gets injured and everything changes.Besides sports is all intermittent reinforcement anyway. Nobody would be interested if their team always won and won every year the top tournament. By ‘every year’ I do mean ‘every year’. Not 3 years in a row. But every year for the last 40 years. (Taking an extreme example to make the point).
This link may help you feel a little better: Zach Lowe did a thoughtful analysis of the signing and the impact that Boogie can be expected to have for the Warriors. (Surprisingly not much of one)http://www.espn.com/nba/sto…
“Cousins can’t make the Warriors much better because it is mathematically impossible for a team this good to get much better.”That’s not particularly reassuring. It speaks to Fred’s point. They were already the best team ever assembled, so, sure he won’t have as much impact as he would elsewhere, but he’s still another all-star on a team made up entirely of All-Stars.
yes, except that1- he likely won’t be an all-star caliber player this year (and very possibly never again, given the nonexistent track record of big lumbering guys coming back from that injury), which is why he had zero offers from ANY team as of Monday.2- he’s not a great fit with the warriors system3- the warriors won’t be able to keep him after this year.So really they just took a flyer on the chance that he will recover enough to be able to help them in the playoffs. Which, given the price they paid, is certainly worth the risk, because of his tremendous talent, if in fact he can recover enough of it.So yes you are right that it is not fair. But not as un-fair as it seems on the surface.
he contradicts your second point in the article but i grant you the rest. the warriors’ only weakness is their center position and what cousins can provide with his skill set — shooting, rebounding, passing, and low-post scoring — even if he’s 70% healthy is perfect for their needs. add in the fact that they only need him to play 15 ~ 20 minutes to fill the gap, this warriors team is virtually unbeatable.
Feels like this correlates to the money follows talent discussion. If you pay up for a few stars at the beginning, other stars will want to be a part of it…for sub market comp.Conversely, no stars want to be the first/sucker…and require huge premium to take that leap. Pay up early for a couple stars, then others will follow (possibly on a scooter).
“At times like this, I like to remind myself to keep my blinders on, ignore the news cycle, and focus on what I can control.”Yes. This.Encapsulated in a quote by I Donna Ramemba…”Resign your position as CEO of the world”IOW, focus on what you can control.
How do you guys reconcile this with being ignorant to the world changing around [you]? Slowly then suddenly getting passed by because [you] weren’t paying attention to external forces. What’s the saying … Only the paranoid survive?
It doesn’t mean ignoring what’s going on or evolving your business as the market moves. It means things like staying sane when you read about so much violence in the world – there’s no way I could function if I tried to address all the injustices on earth. I’m not saying be selfish.
I agree the secret to sanity is only worrying about what you can control. Potentially the reason so many entrepreneurs are often depressed
Many reasons for depression but in the example you are giving (that type of ‘depression’ in other words) is when people overestimate what they either deserve or are able to achieve. What they do then is push themselves in a way that they are not able to handle. And then when they fail and/or can’t ‘cut the mustard’ they get all depressed.The answer is you have to know your limitations.All those people today who talk about meditation? Not saying there is no value. But honestly maybe they are just exceeding what their body is able to handle. Now some times this is not avoidable. But at a certain point you have to just say ‘hey maybe this is not what I am cut out for it’s impacting my health in a negative way so maybe I need to back off and try not to be someone that I am not’.Besides there will always be others that are crazy and will kill themselves that you are competing with. How important is it to you? Enough to kill yourself? Or maybe they are younger. Or maybe they have some special skill you don’t that makes it easier for them.I see this with comments (typically on HN) when people complain about the hours they work. “You need to take a break it’s good for you!” I work all the time like every day and have since graduating from college. Never whined one time about it. I like it. I like it better than being at the beach. So you are not only competing with people like me (who don’t need to meditate and can work 24/7 literally)  but also nuts who aren’t me but will still work 24/7. Not all ‘machines’ are meant to fight the fight. For example I would never want to be a marine or a secret service agent or even a football player. Not my thing at all. But it is others ‘thing’. So why compete with them? But I do get my sleep very important.
Love it. Thanks for the comment
not directly related, but the right strategies help;https://www.youtube.com/wat…at 27:30, walk and sprint. the entire presentation is quite revealing.
My ‘hack’ is what I learned by a cat that got hit on the road. I was driving years ago and in front of me was the terrible sight of a cat that had just gotten hit. It was twitching and I guess going to die. I was really impacted by it. It was as if I should stop and do something. I didn’t stop though. I realized there were cats allover the world that I didn’t see and that I couldn’t help. And then I moved on. I think of that cat only when it allows me to get by some event that would otherwise be very emotional and cause me to lose focus or care to much.This is btw part of the issue with this entire immigrant from shithole country issue. Because it’s in front of people they respond emotionally to it and want it fixed at all costs (not out of their pocket directly of course). But the truth is the problem is 10000 times bigger than what we are seeing. And we can’t help everyone. And we can’t even do it w/o an impact on those that are already here. So like the cat we have to put it out of our mind. No sense in making yourself unhappy. And emotional decisions are almost never the right way to think and solve problems anyway.
Well played sir
I find this an incredibly sad comment. No, you may not be able to help or save everyone but you can certainly save one. And saving one is better than none. And imagine if you were that one being saved. How much would it matter to you?
Read “Factfulnedd”It will cheer you up
Thanks for the recommendation
I dont think this changes the warriors materially. If cousins could have gotten more than 5.3mm he probably would have taken it.Unless the sixers can get kawhi at an acceptable price, Boston is where it’s at in terms of ending the warriors dynasty
KL is going to LA. He’ll sit a year if he has to in order to make that happen. Welcome to the era of superstar control and super teams in the NBA
Fred, you should consider investing in the Knicks and help them build the type of team that Joe Lacob has for the Dubs. If any lessons to draw from Cousins signing, it is how a great team attracts even more great talent… much like great companies perpetuate their success through attracting great talent.
Can’t do that . It’s a family owned business
What about the fact (surely you saw this) that Dolan may be selling the Knicks:https://www.theringer.com/n…
an explicitly public proxy should be public.
I like to be well informed, but for “the news cycle”, I’ve mostly just given up: (A) For the important and meaningful news, the main media outlets report only a tiny fraction, and one can get that in just a few minutes a day. (B) For the rest that is important and meaningful, tough to find it, and mostly I don’t take the time.ForIt doesn’t feel fair. And it isn’t. Life isn’t fair. That’s how it is.Ah, that’s a bit too negative: I had a bunch of stressful stuff to do, got it done, and this morning, to relax a little before getting back to work, am watching the old movie Moneyball about baseball, Billy Beane, some player statistics apparently mostly from the binomial formula, and how the Oakland A’s did very well with the statistics. Beane lost to the Yankees and concluded that baseball was “unfair” because he had only about $30 million a year to spend on players while the Yankees had well over $100 million.But Beane found an advantage.That’s part of what we are supposed to do — look for an advantage.For the information technology (IT) business now, it should be an historic, golden opportunity: Now can plug together one heck of a computer for less than $2000. At current ad rates, if can keep such a computer on average half busy 24 x 7 sending Web pages with ads, then can do well, 6, 7 figures a year well, and with more such computers in a small server farm, maybe 8, 9 figures.The key, then, is to have Web pages a lot of people want to see.Okay, for that, from 100,000 feet up, the computers take in some available data, manipulate that data, and send the results as Web pages. The key to the value is in the input data and the manipulations. The manipulations are necessarily mathematically something, understood or not, powerful or not. For manipulations better understood and more powerful, proceed mathematically.This opportunity for applied math is new, exploded just in the last decade or so with much cheaper computing, much faster, cheaper Internet, and much more data. People have yet to notice, understand, or exploit the math. Indeed, there has hardly been time for people to understand, get an appropriate education, get some experience in applied math, see some suitable problems, do some good math derivations, and get impressive results.So, net, the rapid change of the computing and the Internet has in effect created a great shortage of applied math and, thus, a great opportunity.So, right, sometimes life is not fair, but at times can get an advantage. Billy Beane got one. James Simons did. Andrew Viterbi did. There stand to be some more!Early in the movie, at the staff meeting to plan to rebuild the team, Beane, having taken seriously the $100 million advantage of the Yankees, saidIf we think like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there. We need something different.So, for an advantage, Beane tried to find something different, of course, not just different but much better; different was only a necessary condition and not a sufficient condition.Near the end of the movie, there is a summary conversation between Beane and Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, about change in organizations.The guy HENRY was apparently John W. Henry. HENRY: Due respect to the Coliseum, but this is a ballpark.BILLY: Yes, it is.HENRY: We’re gonna have some lunch in a little bit. Why don’t I have some coffee sent up?Denise?Thank you, Denise.BILLY: Thanks.HENRY: You’re welcome. You know, it’s her birthday and I need to get her a present, but she’s usually the one that does that for me. So do you have any ideas?BILLY: Scarf.HENRY: You mean like wool?BILLY: No, I meant what women wear with… You know, decorative.HENRY: Ah. And where would I get something like that?BILLY: No disrespect, I just lost in five for the second year in a row. Get her a bowling ball for all I care.HENRY: Right. Well, Steve told me he’s offering you a new contract.BILLY: Yes.HENRY: So why did you return my call?BILLY: Because it’s the Red Sox. Because I believe science might offer an answer to the Curse of the Bambino. Because I hear you hired Bill James.HENRY: Yup. You know, why someone took so long to hire that guy is beyond me.BILLY: Well, baseball hates him.HENRY: Well, baseball can hate him, you know. One of the great things about money is that it buys a lot of things, one of which is the luxury to disregard what baseball likes, doesn’t like, what baseball thinks, doesn’t think.BILLY: [CHUCKLES] Ah. Sounds nice. Well… I was grateful for the call.HENRY: You were grateful?BILLY: Yeah.HENRY: For 41 million, you built a play-off team. You lost Damon, Giambi, Isringhausen, Pena, and you won more games without them than you did with them. You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent 1.4 million per win and you paid 260,000.I know you’re taking it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall, he always gets bloody. Always.This is threatening not just a way of doing business, but in their minds, it’s threatening the game. Really, what it’s threatening is their livelihood, their jobs. It’s threatening the way that they do things. Every time that happens, whether it’s a government, a way of doing business, whatever it is, the people who are holding the reins, they have their hands on the switch, they go batshit crazy.I mean, anybody who’s not tearing their team down right now and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.BILLY: What’s this?HENRY: I want you to be my general manager. That’s my offer. Gee, “first guy through the wall always gets bloody”!! Even when he has an advantage.So, there can be a lot of resistance to new ideas, but new ideas can be a source of advantage.
As a fan of many teams that “don’t really compete” in their respective leagues…my trick is to root for/hope for smaller things like sweeping a rival, making some highlight plays, drafting a future hall of famer, etc. etc. etc.The only thing fans can control is what team the root for (and sadly many of us can’t even really control that once we’ve been hooked)…so, at least for the fan, it’s less about focusing on what we can control and more about setting (our own) expectations….but TOTALLY agree on the larger point of news/publicity vs. focus on your own plan/path/execution/customers when it comes to business.
While def the rich getting richer I’m going enjoy watching a young Sixers team develop. Sure I wanted LBJ and KL to come our way, but in some odd way I like that the East is really the Wild Wild West (pardon the pun) and the Sixers have a legit shot to be at the top of it for the next half decade. Remember the bulk of that GSW team was built organically over time and won one prior to KD even getting there. Can be done elsewhere. Go Philly.
Is business truly fair? Everyone want’s a monopoly, the GSW are no different. I think what matters, is what you do or how you play between the lines (blinders), go out there, compete, and encourage your team. Every Team has a good/bad cycle, and the Lakers may have something to prove this year…Mindset really matters, when everything around you looks unfair.
Thanks for writing this Fred. It is so true. I have an EdTech start-up in Santa Monica and my co-founder is my husband. We are all in. We have both been doing this full-time since we incorporated and when I saw the $2 billion valuation for bird it almost put me over the edge. And I live in Santa Monica so I see how much they are used, I use them myself and I love them. I guess my real issue is that it does not solve a transportation problem per se – it is for rich white tech bros(and over exaggeration, but it is not for the poor or under-served, too $$). It reminded me of Juicero – $120 million for what? I was at Troy Carter’s Atom Factory on September 21, 2017 when he interviewed Valerie Jarrett and he said something that always stuck with me. Jay-Z brought him a company to look at – started by a few African-American men and Troy liked the idea but passed – and he says, Jay-Z said to him, “Black man have the right to fail too” – and that always rings through my head. White men still get the majority of the VC money and can fail (Juicero) and it is like a founders school – you learn from your mistakes and this is still very uneven. Not that any of us are looking to fail – but some of the good ideas don’t even get daylight because of the lack of funds. I like your post – and Mark Suster’s post put it in perspective too – that he thinks Bird will be the faster company to ever get to $1-billion in revenue. As for us at Cue Career we just starting selling and closed 9 deals in 20 days, so I am feeling pretty good and we are off to Boston to meet with people who care about career exploration and workforce development for students – fish where the fish are. So no longer comparing myself- my path is my path. And Emily Best medium blog was an amazing post the truth about raising from a female founder perspectiveEmily Best, SeedandSpark post: https://medium.com/techstar…Mark Suster post on Bird: https://bothsidesofthetable…Thanks for all that you do and for the commitment to post every day.
Fish where the fish are. Love it. Love your perspective in general.I have similar thoughts from launching a startup-focused recruiting practice in the LA market. It would have been so easy to get discouraged because of the players already dominating this market (and similar in the NYC and SF/SV markets), but there are many other ponds to fish from. Not to mention, bringing a unique value proposition — which is seems that Cue Career is doing. Wishing you the best!
I’d take Mark Suster’s comments as PR for himself. He will say about anything to pump up an LA startup. Bird has been pumped as transportation. It simply not be case. The are Bird Shit of sorts as they are a menace to anyone walking on the sidewalks. They a means of entertainment. Bird shouldn’t be really shouldn’t be difficult to value. There is no mystery here.
Have you found Mark to be disingenuous? (I haven’t.)
There seems to be a a country club mendacity – of speak no evil – amoungst VCs within his circle.
Hey it’s his blog, and it’s Fred’s blog. I’d say generally out of respect you don’t come into someone’s house and point out what you think are flaws. You can just say nothing. Of course you are going to promote your investments. Hello.I do like your bird shit comment though.Now part of me says that this is a classic of why now to the failure of the Segway. Better motors, better battery, easier to use, and most importantly the convenience: you don’t own, you instantly unlock, phones, gps, etc.But then part of me says I might just root for the blood sucking personal injury lawyers when somebody hits somebody. You know those riders are going to use phones, not pay attention, violate traffic laws, etc. No different than bikes. Except: You bird own the device. A personal injury attorney is going to look at that honey pot of money like Winnie the Pooh.
I agree with you on being invited to someone’s home. Having lived in Texas for 10 years, I know about the value of public decorum. This however is an open blog. Blogs have their own decorums. Facebook has some. Twitter has none. Here, the ground rules are clear and I always stay between the white lines. As to Bird, on VC could get away with this mendacity of calling it a public transportation option. I’ll be waiting for Birds in the South LA / Skid row area where public transportation is a way of life. Buy hey, if you want to join the list of pom pom boys on this blog, it’s your right.
Born in Fort Worth and raised in the 1960’s.I was wrong about Airbnb. I was wrong about Uber. I could very much be wrong about Bird.Their plans must be to expand to colleges. No brainer.
Interesting, I lived in FW from 87-99 (on and off). The Airbnb and Uber models did not require capital for equipment /maintenance/replacement, etc. What is the cost of a scooter? Who is manufacturing these devices? What is the life span? Maintenance costs? Given cost of capital, what’s the breakeven revenue / life cycle ? This doesn’t seem like a difficult analysis ?
First I very much resent the pom-pom boy comment and that will be the last one until I do mind over matter which is a block, where I don’t mind because you don’t matter. I love that feature, although if diqus are listening don’t put blocked user, just have me never see it. There are people here (all anonymous like you) that if they have any self awareness must realize they are just shouting in the wind.No brainer expanding to colleges. But yes with Uber and Airbnb they don’t own the asset. What happens when people get tired of them in front of their place and start throwing in the rivers? You don’t get somebody that doesn’t correctly value time and deprecation transfer money to you. And you own it so what happens when you run into me walking while you are going the wrong way, on a sidewalk you are not allowed to be on, running a light?Terms of Service??? Bullshit, am I going after a poor college student??? Or a $300mm honey pot.
pom pom boys – good one. keep ’em coming.
out to in is not in to out.
I took a look at your site cuecareer.comIt is exactly the type of business that can work (and potentially earn you a living) w/o a large infusion of traditional vc money. Don’t assume (as it seems you are by what you have written) that that (vc investment) is the only way to go. It isn’t. What Bird is doing (no fan but it’s the topic) is vastly different and requires way more money to work. Your idea is more of a traditional business idea. The way it used to be (when I graduated from college) was you just grew and self funded that with savings and ground it out over time. For the obvious reasons people are brainwashed today into thinking that they need either an incubator or angel seed money or vc if they want to start and run a business. Trust me you don’t. Many came before you (me included) way way before the internet and had no where near the advantage that you have today with the Internet. Sure you do need some money and have to cover living expenses obviously.So once again to be clear VC money is note the only way to run a business and make money but for some reason it appears that most think that is the case because they read about so many cases of people doing it that way and never hear about anyone doing it any other way.
Fred love it. Reminds me of the one line my Dad told us growing up, must have heard it at least 20,000 times: “The World Isn’t Fair,” or “TWINF” – otherwise known as “stop complaining and put your head down and work”
My grandfather would say the same. “Well, life isn’t fair!”
For the long run, building a team through the draft is the only way. Add some sprinkles here and there via free agency, but don’t predominantly build that way cause of high risk and the cap. It’s why GS and PHIL and BOS will be successful for years to come. Call me crazy, go ahead, but I wouldn’t sign Le Bron for $154M. He’ll be 34 this year and I can only think the physical toll on his body the past few years is pretty significant. If he goes down, then LA is stuck w/ far less talent and cap issues. Not a place to be. The draft makes the most sense longterm, but like everything else, the devil is in the details….and that’s in execution. The Knicks haven’t executed well in the draft (sans KP, and he may actually be done). There are very few sure picks in the draft. It’s gambling on steroids. Success is part good management/coaching, part due diligence, part team chemistry, part sound financial stewardship, and a helluva lot of luck!!
Michael Jordan won his last championship when he was 35. There has been players who’ve won them later in life but by then they weren’t the dominant player any longer on the team. LeBron may prove the exception to the rule but the odds are mightily against even him. LeBron’s best chance to bring the Lakers another championship is this year.I knew the Warriors would react to the Lakers move. For every sports writer who postulates that adding Cousins doesn’t improve them there’s the crowd that believed at the time drafting Draymond Green was a huge mistake, he had absolutely no upside at all. We all know how that turned out ;<).
Next year will be Le Bron’s 16th year in the league. He’s already played more than 100 games than Jordan, plus Michael never took the pounding that Le Bron takes nightly. Le Bron is a freak, but he’s still human, and prone to physical breakdowns like every other player, w/ increasing risk that comes w/ age. GS hit big with Steph, Klay and Draymond. Each exceeded draft expectations by a mile. Lucky trifecta. Don’t see how anyone can question Cousins signing given the relatatively low cost, though he comes w/ baggage as a bit of a head case.
This blog article couldn’t have come at a better time.
Thank you Fred, this is a wonderful reminder, “things you can control” when around you the noise can be deafening. great timing.
Raising that kind of capital that fast, makes for quite a bit of pressure to make it pay off down the road.
In a startup community this is pretty hard. And I am anxious about it not for myself but for my key employees. You know how hard it is to get and retain the best talent nowadays – and as most us – we are not always having the best of times. Other companies might be raising more money, moving to a bigger office, getting a chef etc… How do you get your team to “keep the blinders on” when they see shiny objects all over the place?
.Do the mission-critical stuff BEFORE you surf the Interweb. Use peak energy for the big stuff.We are seeing an exponential increase in “noise” and a fixed amount of critical signal.”You want FAIR?””Dallas in September, y’all.”The Texas State Fair is at Fair Park, site of the Cotton Bowl and the Texas v Oklahoma game, in September.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
but it just felt like the best getting better at the expense of every other team in the league. It annoys me. Kind of like seeing a company renting electric scooters by the minute raising $400mm in a month when you can’t get anyone to put a dime into your company.I think that anyone who feels that life is not fair (in this way) is missing how the game is played and not looking at what they can do to change. Just looking at what others are doing and giving up. It is also similar to perhaps in music or acting where you see another actor or singer with talent that is not as good as you but they have real acting jobs and you are doing the bar mitzvah circuit.  Or maybe in dating ‘why did he get that girl and not me’. Thinking along those lines will never get you a) money b) girls (or guys) c) a great career. d) happiness. Because you then think there is nothing you can do to change things and that it’s out of your control. Or you think for some odd reason life is fair. None of this relates to sports though since the talent and skills there are actually quantifiable. Even a non sports buy like me (never heard of Boogie whatever) knows that.
I am suggesting that the news cycle can make you depressed and jealous.At times like this, I like to remind myself to keep my blinders on, ignore the news cycle, and focus on what I can control.I think a better strategy (one that I use) is not to ignore but to learn to accept and find a way to not be impacted by what others are doing and what they have that you don’t. For example this (investments $400m a month) bothers you but I am almost 100% sure that you are never bothered at all by roles that actors get or singers that have hit records. Because you are not an actor or a singer. So it doesn’t impact you there is nothing emotional going on. So you can read about that type of thing.Along those lines if your son Josh becomes a chef you will then be bothered by what he is not able to do when you see what other chef’s (that you don’t think are as good) are able to do. Because all the sudden you will have skin in that game (your son is a chef) so it will bother you. And if he has a restaurant and gets a bad review from the NY Times you will be devastated. Possibly. And you will think that it isn’t fair. Completely ignoring that the review is arbitrary to begin with.What is funny is that there are a great deal of people out there that think that you (Fred) has it all. But what they are finding (if we take your comments at face value) is that for you the goal post has just moved. And you are appear to be just as vulnerable as anyone else. So even though you have made a boatload of money and have successful investments and a great lifestyle you are bothered by things that you think are passing you by. (This is part of the grind of that troll commenter that shows up here from time to time.)Lusting over what someone else has does us no good.Look no doubt that that lust drives men to do things they wouldn’t do if they didn’t lust for what others have. If men didn’t have this as a built in, society would not be where it is today. It all comes from that lust. I am sure JLM being the history maven will confirm this. Lust drives men. No lust we’d all be in living in shithole countries.
A heartfelt thank you Fred. The best thing I’ve read in a really long time.
To be fair, the Warriors got there with luck (Draymond, Klay drafts), pluck (sticking with bum ankle Steph), good planning (clearing out cap space for KD). Not their fault at all that other teams like the Knicks have screwed up consistently; like the WSJ writer pointed out today, “insanity is that the Knicks are paying Mario Hezonja more than what the Warriors are paying DeMarcus Cousins”
As much as I hate the Warriors making the NBA league so lopsided and unfair, aren’t they playing by the rules? Maybe the rules need to change to establish a level playing field.Like limiting # of All Stars (in last 2 years) to not more than 3 per team, or eliminate the luxury tax.
I might be biased given my relation to the Warriors. But with all due respect, I think the Boogie news is not about “keeping your blinders on” but a lesson on masterful and tacteful strategy. Sports is a reflection of life and can be seen a game. Bob Myers, the GM, did not inherit a great situation but drafted WELL (something the Knicks are beginning to do) and created the cap room necessary to sign Kevin Durant. Klay, Steph, and Draymond are home grown talent. This cap year was a dry spell in the market—which parallels some Venture seasons too—and Bob Myers took advantaged of the opportunity to sign one of the best centers in the NBA when healthy (their weakness). This is a story of the Louis Pasteur quote. Chance favorites the prepared mind.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Give me the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Circle of control.Circle of influence,Other things.Also, the Ws have the best culture in the NBA. You can credit Steph Curry for that, but it is important to credit ownership for recognizing the importance of a player led cultureit & Steve Kerr for amplifying it.Whereas, the Knickerbockers……….
Just when I need a pep talk, Fred delivers once again!But we can all ship products, sell them, hire some good people, and find a few dimes to keep the lights on.So often my daily mantra has been “Live to fight another day” which can cause myopia but also gives a fleeting sense of satisfaction that the goal for that day (survival) was accomplished!There is a balance to keeping just enough of an eye on what is happening in the surrounding environment (including the competition) to detect trends and opportunities and inspire new ways of thinking, but not becoming consumed by comparison.Comparison is the enemy of our own greatness!If we are not doing something to which we bring unique value and have a fighting chance at winning at, then it really doesn’t matter how successful someone else is. But if we DO, then same.
Curious why you don’t add a link to your company at the bottom of your posts, especially to this audience? Is it cause you’re more interested in targeted leads rather than random, unsolicited inquiries?Lastly, how often do you think candidates fail in interviews, not because they are unqualified, but rather cause they’re ill-prepared for the process?
I come from the era — and even my early days on AVC — when recruiters were treated with suspicion. I didn’t want to be perceived as “peddling my wares” but rather (more accurately) as someone interested in learning more and engaging in the conversation. Guess I’ve proven this by now. :)I don’t know if I can break it down to which reason is most prevalent in terms of failure in interviews.I experience interviews both from the vantage point of being an interviewer and as someone who refers candidates to my client for interviewing. In the latter case, rarely will someone fail to get the job due to lack of qualification, but rather someone else being a better fit for the job — or presenting their abilities in a more compelling manner. Communication skills go a long way in an interview — asking the right questions as well as providing responses.My experience of someone not being prepared for an interview has more to do with not having a clear understanding of what sets them apart and being able to articulate this. I have seen the lesser qualified candidate get the job because he/she does a better job of communicating. I also experience situations in which the interviewer is not skilled at getting the needed information and comes away thinking the candidate is not qualified. The interviewee cannot depend on the interviewer to ask the right questions and so must be prepared to present their case without seeming to “take over” the interview.Did you have a particular situation in mind?
No, I’m pretty much out of the game, though I did recently have a round of exploratory interviews with a pretty large company. I reached out to the CEO via email about some thoughts and ideas about their biz. Didn’t know the man, never met the man, kind of threw it out there as a lark. I wasn’t expecting any outcome from it. Next thing you know, I get an email from a company in-house exec recruiter wanting to chat. He put me in play, again exploratory, with (4) very senior people.The junior most guy, who wasn’t that junior (former CMO at a large company), dissected my background with a fine tooth comb. A degree of granularity that I thought was ridiculous. I come to the table w/ ideas on how I can help a company grow their biz, not dwell on past achievements, that are often embellished anyway. The other interviews were far more strategic and constructive. The last interview, with the senior most guy, started w/ him sitting down, looking me in the eye, and just saying “so”. That was it. Nothing else. Basically, it was him asking why are you here and why should I be wasting my time w/ you. Wasn’t rude, but wasn’t particularly welcoming, either. I didn’t mind as it gave me an to opportunity to control the narrative. That said, I would have never conducted myself like that. It’s a bit pompous.My hunch is communication skills gen are on the wane, as it no longer is emphasized as much. Obviously, less so as you go up the food chain.
From hearing this description, it seems to me that you may have dodged a bullet.
Ha, only time will tell. The company is enormously successful, though lacking in core competencies in the area I pursued. I’m gonna send you a quick email w/ a company reveal, though for obv reasons I’m not gonna get too specific about my encounters.
Thanks, I’d appreciate that.Do you have my contact info?
I’m resourceful 🙂
From much that I’ve seen, too much of interviewing is something like some Medieval investigation based on patterns of old wolf bones thrown on the ground.Some of the remarks in the movie Moneyball about the Medieval way baseball was selecting players is relevant.Some of JLM’s materials on organization planning, management, etc. should do well, from the movie, “cutting through” all such nonsense. E.g., IIRC JLM recommends being clear on the objectives of the organization and the description of the job.Maybe if a hiring organization would write out the objectives and job description and, then, interview to fill THOSE statements, then the role of patterns of old wolf bones thrown on the ground would go away if only because no one would mention the bone patterns in the writing.Since I’m a founder of a startup, I no longer try for job interviews. And any would be competitors trying to compete with me using thrown bone pattern techniques are disqualifying themselves. Similarly if they insist on hiring only people like themselves but a step or two less good as in A people hire A people but B people hire C people.But, still, if my startup is successful, I’ll need to hire people. So, I’ll want to fill the job descriptions to support the objectives, that is, the work to be done. But for more, maybe:(1) They have done well doing some challenging things, maybe part of a team, maybe alone, hopefully some of each.(2) They like their career in computing, are curious and want to learn more, and proceed energetically.(3) They have some good evidence of being good reading and writing technical material in English.(4) I don’t see any obvious symptoms of serious psychological, social, or medical problems.When I was leading computing for a B-school, the place was awash in undergraduates that did very well on (1)-(4), and, after I did my leadership work, they did beautifully making the site work, at times on a world-class level. Somehow the school had already done very well selecting people. So, maybe one way to select is to look for people who did well in a good college?So, what else should I be concerned about? What about body piercings, tattoos, radical political statements, dirty clothes/hair, insulting mannerisms, bad job history, bad credit report?I’m not going to select based on patterns of old wolf bones thrown on the dirt, but what else SHOULD I look for?
Love this comment.Comparison is proxy for the ego and brings nothing but suffering. True at all ages and levels and professions.
Thanks CP for the feedback and for adding to the thoughts on comparison.
CONTRIBUTORS:If you post anything regarding one of the three major sports franchises we follow (Yankees, NY Giants and Knicks) it more than not will promote a response.The NBA in particular provides free agents the opportunity to sign with any team that will agree to sign them. We understand the Class Action claim filed by Oscar “Big O” Robinson was instrumental in what is currently being experienced.Many would enjoy Billionaire owners actually controlling the rights of players for the duration of their careers. The New York Knicks are a poorly ran team headed by an Silver Spoon owner who cares less about the team because the money received from the sale of his fathers hard efforts of building a business. James Dolan is the worst owner of any professional sports team in North America.The best gift to the fans of the Knicks would be to sell the team to passionate owner group that know their limitations and allow basketball people to run the team. Steve Mills isn’t anything close to that description. He was actually in the building during Isiah Thomas and Phil Jackson’s dismembering of the the franchise.They fired Walsh who cleaned up Isiah’s mess and built a competitor and returned it back to the dumps. Not even upset. Everything runs in cycles. This is a cycle that will actually have a conclusion. The Band-wagoners that lie and claim they have been Warriors fans for twenty plus years can’t even recall how horrible that franchise was previously. Not even counting Mullins, Hardaway and Richmond. Just stop your Googling already band-wagoners.This will soon pass but maybe not in our lifetime. NBA players enjoy good weather locations. For people with options (Professional Athletes) bad weather locations are the last option.Rant, rant, rant,Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT
Send to me that GSW are doing exactly what you promote Ie executing. That’s why they are attracting talent and getting better. Just like a start-up with momentum.The Knicks suck because they haven’t been executing. Whose fault is that?What’s unfair about this?))
The good old days are all but over Fred. The internet frontier has basically closed. It’s like 1890 when the director of the Census Bureau of the USA announced that the frontier of the USA had closed. In other words, I doubt savvy potential LP will be willing to pay the fees Union Square Ventures charges.I imagine that savvy potential LPs who want to invest 100K or more in startups will likely either invest directly as angel investors or invest with a VC that has significant competitive advantages such as Andreessen Horowitz. As I have opined before: Union Square Ventures is like a little “Mom and Pop” store on Main St USA in the 1970s. Union Square Ventures is being pushed out of business.Electric scooter rentals—in their current iteration—are an obviously foolish business idea.If governments (such as local governments) don’t outlaw them, then huge jury awards to people who are, say, maimed by scooters, will sink them. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this ten year old boy, who now has severe brain damage, was walking home on his way back from school when a scooter came out of nowhere and…”On the other hand, dedicating lanes in streets to electric go karts legally allowed to only travel, say, ten miles per hour would a safer idea, but ordinary automobile drivers (voters) and auto interests (large political donors) would likely scuttle such a plan.I remember when the ridiculous Segway scooter was announced to much pomp and circumstance. Segway marketing was pushing the idea that large numbers of Segways would travel down city sidewalks. Thankfully that idea mostly fizzled.Scooter rentals are like toaster oven or coffee maker sales: the “first mover advantages” are fairly small. Sure there is brand name recognition and manufacturing expertise, but those seem like they aren’t worth much. Barriers to entry are small. I suppose a company could easily order ten thousand electric scooters, send a quality assurance team over to China to ensure proper manufacturing, and then have the scooters delivered within a few months. A subsequent order for, say, one hundred thousand electric scooters might take six months. Electric scooters are not difficult to build.Furthermore, does anyone care what brand their scooter is? Sure, if Apple could persuade the “Apple Faithful” to squander money on an “iScooter” then they could charge their “brand tax.”Let’s see. Uber and Lyft are like UPS and FedEx. They enjoy huge economies of scale/barriers to entry. Trying to compete against them in the USA would be folly. This scooter rental business concept has virtually none of the Uber/Lyft or UPS/FedEx huge economies of scale/barriers to entry. But obviously scooter rentals were pitched as something similar to Uber and Lyft. Gullible investors are going to learn a painful lesson within the next few years when the scooter rental bubble bursts.Marc Suster is not going to end up looking good when this scooter silliness is all said and done. Just like Fred is not going to look good when crypto becomes essentially worthless. Marc Suster’s recent blog post about the defensible advantages of the scooter rental business he invested in was so inane I actually winced as I read it.You could ride off into the sunset or become a rainmaker for, say, Andreessen Horowitz. But your current business model no longer works.
ForLet’s see. Uber and Lyft are like UPS and FedEx. They enjoy huge economies of scale/barriers to entry.I have some understanding of UPS and more about FedEx — I was Director of Operations Research at FedEx. I agree with your statement about UPS and FedEx.But for Lyft and Uber, where I am, 70 miles north of Wall Street, in a rural area, large yards, quiet streets, lots of really lucky pet dogs, maybe you could explain to me just why, when need a taxi, I should call Lyft or Uber?That is, why don’t I just call a local guy who runs his little taxi service with just one or a few cars? I can see no way all the many tens of millions of dollars investment in Lyft or Uber could improve on just my calling some local taxi guy.Barrier to entry? A phone number and listing or simple Web site, a car, likely a local license, and that’s it.If even 10 cents per ride goes back to Lyft or Uber HQ, it’s too much.What am I missing?For urban electric scooter rentals, it looks like a loser to me. But maybe there’s some money to be made over the short term:(A) Lots of people put big bucks into Lyft and Uber. Those two might look OK for a while in some selected large cities, e.g., where an international brand might have some value. Some value? Maybe. Enough to justify the investments to date or even for a successful company? IMHO, nope. E.g., if Lyft/Uber get very far, the local taxi guys will get with the local politicians and run the L/U guys out’a town.But there has been so much money thrown at L/U that maybe for a while there will be money thrown at scooters. Maybe the pitch will be “L/U but for urban electric scooters.”. So, either write a check for scooters or in effect assert that the L/U money was wasted.(2) NYC and big cities in CA are really, REALLY big on the “environment”, you know, the 100% all natural, delicate, sensitive, precious, pure, pristine, carbon-free, plastic-free, paper-free, life giving, protective, loving, Earth-mother environment, that environment! So, make an investment, create a wave, ride it, and at the fleeting moment of perfect ROI, SELL.Some things about scooters:(A) Some people will get run over and injured.(B) Too often, scooters will be a good way to get a lot of dirt on shoes and legs.(C) People will fall off scooters and get hurt.It’s by now an old sales pitch that was illustrated in the first movie Jurassic Park — IIRC “Top of the line, all electric, totally non-polluting”.So, it’s a dream, easy for people in NYC, SF, and LA to dream: A central city with perfect weather, maybe even a dome over the city, no cars, all public transportation electric and below ground, people mostly walking or using electric scooters, lots of community based emotional security, lots of decorative walkways, flower gardens, art displays, sidewalk cafes, artists at easels painting, no poverty, no carbon, no paper, no plastic, sidewalk musicians, ….E.g., for the musichttps://www.youtube.com/wat…although can’t expect all the cases to be quite that good! Gee, at the start there was even a boy on a scooter, but no electric power!!!So, right, we want the center of each of LA, SF, and NYC to be a piazza!!! With licensed pizza sellers!Of course there was the 1962 movie Light in the Piazza with Yvette Mimieux. There Ms. Mimieux is one of the prettiest young women ever in the movies, nearly as pretty as the prettiest human female I ever saw, the girl 12-13 I dated for 18 months when I was 14-15.So, to sell the scooters, get some young women much like the Mimieux character running across the piazza!Now, with all those dreams in place, and before anything like reality sets in, SELL out! So, that way, make money with electric scooters!!!!Uh, apparently each decade there are at most only a few information technology startups that become worth $10+ B. So, similarly, except for luck, only a few people know how to do that. In particular, if at the beginning those few people explained they’d get laughed at — again, only a few people can know!So, as people who don’t know try, we get lots of scooters!But, how to know? There are ways, but only a few people understand the ways! Uh, scooters don’t pass the ways to know!
I suggest you try to think more from the perspective of other people than merely your own perspective. You wrote a lot but your remarkably self-centered and myopic post missed the crux of the matter: just as one UPS/FedEx driver in a city (or even small town) can pick up and drop off one parcel after another from locations near to one another (say that are only a few blocks from one another), Uber and Lyft drivers can do the same thing with people, food, or yes, even parcels. In other words, fundamentally UPS, FedEx, Lyft, and Uber are all operating in the same manner (efficiently transporting stuff), the only difference is who or what is being transported.Amazon started out selling books. They were booksellers. Right? Well, yes, but fundamentally they were also in the same business as Walmart. That might not have been apparent to casual onlookers initially, but today it is obvious to anyone who regularly purchases items from Amazon and Walmart.Calling a regular taxi to pick you up is like calling a courier service to deliver a package for you: in most cases, for most people, most of the time it is inefficient. Sure, in most parts of the the USA currently “anyone” can open a taxi company or courier company. But in the USA currently their costs would be too high to compete against UPS, FedEx, Lyft, and Uber.Living near NYC I imagine you noticed how New York City taxi cab companies have taken a beating and the price of taxi medallions in New York City has plummeted over the last few years. Even if Lyft and Uber were as regulated as taxi cab companies, they would still enjoy a significant competitive advantage because of their crowdsourcing model which helps to ensure two things: first,they will normally have significantly more drivers available in a given locale at a given time, one of whom will normally be closer to passenger needing a ride than an ordinary taxi cab company, and second, drivers can use their ordinary passenger vehicle whenever they like, to drive for Lyft and/or Uber.By contrast, electric scooter rentals don’t essentially have any of these advantages. Anyone who buys enough scooters and dumps them on the sidewalk can easily enter the business as long as governments permit this obvious case of “The Tragegy of the Commons” https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… and huge jury are not awarded to plantiffs who have been, say, maimed while innocently walking down the street. Legislation or jury awards will quickly burst the “Electric Scooter Bubble.”
Your blinder may have a hole. :-)The news however, Do Did Make U write about it.-Kasi
Loved this post
recognise what is of value and eliminate that which is not.
Does anyone remember how the warriors were perennial losers for so many DECADES? Was it fair that I lived in an area with a basketball team that would finish last year after year? With the new stadium, in which tickets cost an absolute fortune, they have to keep winning or else it all comes crumbling down…
Hey Fred, do you find it slightly ironic that a successful VC is not appreciating the concept of taking advantage of momentum, and players wanting to play for winners? I imagine you would be supportive if one of your portfolio companies with momentum made a key hire away from a competitor, that on paper, made them appear stronger.Ultimately having an A-team doesn’t guarantee success. That’s the beauty of sports and also the beauty of America. Besides how often do you see the A-Teams stay together. The Knicks suck because they don’t think strategically and actively recruit the best and build around that momentum. Also the talent that is currently on the knicks is not willing to receive less money to build a championship team. Perhaps if they did, a VC from the Valley would be posting How unfair it is that NY wins all the time and attracts all the talent.