Posts from Gotham Gal

Fun Friday: Favorite Productivity Hack

We all have tools that keep us focused, on schedule, getting stuff done. This thread is going to where we share our favorite with each other.

Mine is Lasso.

Disclosure: The Gotham Gal is an investor in Lasso's parent Edison Jr. So I have a financial interest in its success. That said, I think it's awesome.

Lasso is one of those "less is more" hacks that just works. You sync your calendar to Lasso and anytime you have a phone number in a calendar event, Lasso calls you on one of more of your phones, you pick up, and you are connected. It is particularly helpful with conference calls when you don't want to type in all the codes and such. Lasso does it for you.

Lasso is in beta and is a paid service. So it has a few kinks every now and then. But it's still great.

Lasso comes from the same people (in a different life) who brought us phonetag, another amazing productivity hack that I love.

What is your favorite productivity hack?



I had breakfast yesterday with a friend who had recently relocated to NYC from SF. He told me he was taken with the hyperactivity of NY'ers. I asked him where he thought it comes from. He had a great answer and I am going to share it with all of you.

He said that NY is "meta unstable" meaning that it is inherently unstable and therefore in a constant state of imploding on itself. And NY'ers implicitly understand that. So they only way we can keep the city functioning is to be constantly seeking to upgrade it in real time. So that's why the city is in a constant state of construction. That's why NY'ers are always looking for a better way to do something and a faster way to get somewhere.

This may sound like psycho physics babble. In fact it is. But it also captures something inherent in the NYC psychology that I have felt since the day I arrived here in 1983. This city is in a constant state of seeking to get to a better place. And that is why it is such a great place to be an entreprenuer despite all of the challenges of operating a business in NYC. And it is why I felt at home here the day I arrived and why I suspect I always will.

I'd also like to wish a happy birthday to my partner in our Big Apple adventure. The Gotham Gal. Who brings a measure of stability to our metainstability.


Wireless Charging

The Gotham Gal wrote a post on monday in her Woman Entrepreneur Mondays series on Elizabeth Ormesher who is building a startup called Everpurse. She is starting with a Kickstarter project and attempting to raise $100,000. Here's the video explaining her idea:

I bring this up because apparently Apple thinks that wireless charging is not easier. I would beg to differ. I think wireless charging is the future. And I think we will make more progress with wireless charging faster than we will increasing battery life, at least in the near term.

I just backed the Everpurse project (no reward for me) because I love the idea and I love the concept of wireless charging.


A Quarter Century

Twenty-five years ago today, the Gotham Gal and I were married. It was a hot humid day in Washington DC. The wedding ceremony, indoors thankfully, occurred during a loud thunderstorm. At the end, I missed the attempt to break the glass by making a glancing blow. My best man John made a kick save, passed the glass back to me, and I shattered it on the second try. By the time the reception was on, a rainbow came out and we had a lovely evening. It was quite a party.

Twenty-five years later, we find ourselves in Copenhagen on a family vacation. It has been a great twenty-five years and we are looking forward to the next twenty-five.

Thanks to everyone in the AVC community for the most excellent anniversary video. In watching it, we are reminded how global this community is, and how lucky we are to have all of you as friends and well wishers. Thank you.

#Random Posts

Finding Your Voice

Everyone has something to say, something to contribute, everyone can make a difference. And I believe the Internet is making it easier for all of us to find that voice, use it, and make that difference.

I am supporting evidence item number one in this case. I was 42 years old when I started blogging. I'd always had a lot to say. Just ask my mom about that. But I never really found the place and the way to get it all out. AVC became that thing and now I've got a platform to make a difference. I hope I'm using it well.

I have watched so many people find their voice on the Internet over the years and it warms my heart when they nail it. It happens all the time in the blog comments here at AVC. I'm not going to name names but you all know the stories and who they are.

It's also happened to the Gotham Gal. When she started blogging she was in the process of moving from being a full time mom back to the working world. And she wasn't sure how to make that transition. It was a struggle. Through her blog she has become a champion of the idea that you can be a mom and an impactful person in the world at the same time. She has also become a champion of women and women entrepreneurs. She has found her voice and her job. This blurb from her blog yesterday was proof postitive for me:

Be strong, be fierce and be tough.  Like raising money from someone who starts to hit on them or say how cute they are.  Come back with a sharp comeback or tell them to go fuck themselves and leave the room.  You wouldn't want their money anyway.

That's how she has always been in person. She gave me a piece of her mind the first time I met her. And she's been doing that to me it ever since. I love her for it. And I am absolutely certain that the women (and men) she works with love her for her "fierce" attitude too.

The Gotham Gal blog had a big part in making all of that come together for her. The back to back posts this week telling women to be fierce and how to make macaroons for passover represents a fairly unique media property but that's how she rolls and it's her voice.

Finding your voice doesn't just mean blogging by the way. I'm watching a good friend get involved at a high level in a big time political campaign and I can see how energizing it is for him. I'm watching my partner Brad finding a way to engage in advocacy that he has cared deeply about for years. I'm watching dozens of entrepreneurs start companies with a goal of changing the way the world works for the better.

But blogging can help achieve all of these voice finding exercises. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk. Blogging/commenting/social media is the talk part. And I encourage everyone out there to leverage the Internet as you find your voice, make an impact, and find your way in this world.


Fun Friday: Startup Creation Stories

I absolutely love Paul Graham's story of how Y Combinator started. It has all the makings of a great startup story. Paul and Jessica came up with the idea on the way home from dinner walking through Cambridge. The sand in the oyster was the fact that Jessica hated her job.

It made me think we should share startup creation stories today on fun friday. I will start with mine.

It was 1996, I was restless in my job as a Partner at Euclid (do all startup stories start with a job thing?). My friend Mark Pincus said "you should start a venture capital firm." I said, "I'd like to do that but who would be my partner?" Mark said "Jerry Colonna of course."

So I reached out to Jerry. We arranged a dinner for us and our wives. I left the Gotham Gal inside with Jerry and Barbara while I was on the phone helping with the negotiation of the sale of Mark and Sunil's first company Freeloader. It was rude, but what was I going to do? That was a big deal for me. Fortunately the Gotham Gal closed the deal with Jerry for me.

On the way home across the Throgs Neck Bridge, I asked the Gotham Gal what I should do. She said "go for it." And so we did.

That's the creation story of Flatiron Partners.

Do you have a fun startup creation story? If so, please share it with us in the comments.

#Random Posts


I am a huge fan of budgets. I find them essential to syncing up on monetary issues. But not just in business. The Gotham Gal and I use them in our personal life to avoid conflicts about money.

For a long time, probably the first fifteen years of our life together, we lived paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes it was two paychecks, other times it was one. For a brief period as I was starting Flatiron, it was none. I got shingles that year.

As our income went up and down, our spending had to do the same. I created "fredsheets" that we looked over, debated, discussed, and then adjusted and signed off on. Then we created budgets so that each of us would live to these spending plans. It worked. We always made it to the next paycheck. Many times by the skin of our teeth.

In the second fifteen years of our life together, we've had the pleasure of living in a different financial situation. But we still use budgets. We created budgets for our kids which they live up to. We created budgets for our real estate projects, our angel investing, art collecting, and so on and so forth.

Another trick we frequently use to deal with personal financial issues is multiple accounts. We have bank, brokerage, and money market accounts for various projects, all of which have budgets. We fund these accounts based on the budget and then pay the expenses as they come in out of the various accounts. This means that we can look at the available balance and compare it to the budget to make sure everything is in good shape.

Managing money and financial issues is hard. It leads to a lot of tension in relationships. I suspect it leads to divorce in many cases. Better education (mine sure helped me), better tools, and better communication around these issues would help a lot.

#Random Posts

The Other Co-Founder - Your Family

It's Valentines Day. Time to step back from working 24/7 and make sure your loved ones are still in love with you. That's a joke, but there's some truth in there too.

I spent some time with a founder/CEO yesterday who is doing a remarkable job building a really important company that is growing as fast as any company I've worked with. We talked about the sacrifices an entrepreneur makes and its toll. He said that his wife and kids are hugely supportive but not particularly engaged in his work. I think that's pretty typical of what I see out there.

But just because your spouse (wife or husband) and your kids are not that engaged in your startup doesn't mean that they aren't also making a huge investment in it. They see less of you than they would like and when they are with you, its likely that you are at least somewhat distracted by your current obsession. I don't start companies but I'm guilty of this behavior too. I can only imagine what it is like when you are "all in" on one thing and one thing only.

There are benefits a family gets from a parent who is an entrepreneur other than the wealth that he or she may be accumulating. They also get a role model. A parent who is doing what they love, who is creating value, employing people, making a difference in the world. All of that is very good.

But it is only good if you make the time to have a meaningful relationship with your spouse and your kids. This work life balance is super hard to achieve. I have struggled with it since my kids were young. I think I've done an OK job and have The Gotham Gal to thank for always letting me know when the balance is off.

On this day when love is front and central, I encourage all of you to do what I intend to do which is to pay special attention to those I love and make sure all is well on the home front. The Gotham Gal and I are especially blessed because our son arrived on Valentines day sixteen years ago. So our romantic dinner tonight will be a threesome.


Fun Friday: What I'm Reading Now

Two weeks ago, we used Fun Friday to talk about movies to see. It was fun. And I got a list of movies to watch that will last me months and months.

In the same vein, we are going to talk about books today. Not the best books of all time (maybe we'll do that some friday), but what we are reading right now.

I'll start with my list:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami – This is the english translation of the Japanese original. It's a surreal story of a man's search for his cat and then his wife. I've been working on this book since the thanksgiving holiday. I hope to finish it soon. I've never read any Murakami and I've been told this is his best work. I'm enjoying it very much.

Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart – My friend Nick Bilton told me to put this on my Kindle. It's up next after Wind-Up Bird. It's a "dystopian vision of the near future." I love reading about the future. This is going to be my kind of book.

Feeding Eden – Susan Weissman – My partner Andy's wife Susan has written a book that is available for pre-order and will come out in a couple months. The Gotham Gal has the gally. She read it over the last couple days and blogged about it yesterday. Now it's on my reading list.

Boomerang – Michael Lewis – My father in law and my brother in law both recommended this book to me recently. I like Michael's books and this is a topic – the failures of the weaker european economies – that I'm quite interested in.

I hope to get through all of these books over the next two weeks which I'll be spending on our family's annual year end vacation. If I get through all of them, I'll just reach into this comment thread for the next purchase on my Kindle.

OK, your turn now folks. Please drop links into your comments if you can find the time to do that.


Fun Friday: little Bits

I came home on thursday evening to find some leave behinds from a board meeting the Gotham Gal had been at earlier that day. She's an angel investor in little Bits. I ripped the box open, sat down at the dining room table, and started having fun building simple electronic circuits. The Gotham Gal grabbed my android and filmed it.

If you want to get one of these little Bits sets, you can find out how to do that here.

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