Everybody gets one for free

I’ve worked with several people multiple times throughout my career. One of those people is Nicole Jordan. There’s a full timeline of how many times we’ve worked together in my post from last summer, “Best Career Advice Ever, Don’t Burn Bridges.”

Nicole just wrote a post about how she’s a little fed up with people always asking for free advice, “No, You Can’t Pick My Brain.”  We both work in PR and marketing. A large part of our business is our ideas. These ideas have value.  There’s always a certain amount of indignation when we think people don’t respect that.  No, we’re not doctors or lawyers, but we all get the same type of questions at a party. Instead of, “my cousin has this strange growth on her forehead, what do you think it is?” we get, “my brother in law is starting to sell his neon beaded headbands online, how should he get more attention for his product?”

I’ve been the recipient of a lot of good advice over the years I’ve been doing this, and I like to share this advice and my experience with others.  That being said, I understand where Nicole is coming from. My answer is,”the first one is free.”  If someone wants to talk about ideas or get my input, I’ll do it once. After that, they’ve got to give something in return for more.  It might be their time. It might be money. It might be an introduction to someone, but they have to bring something to the party.

So, next time someone says they want to “pick your brain,” let them know that this brain remembers who’s picked it and is going to ask for a little payback some day.


Technical Error or Does ABC News Believe Toyota Is Responsible for Cheney?

Yes, I know this is probably the result of an error by a web designer, but when I went to ABCNews.com this afternoon, this is what I saw:

Is it just me or is an expert insisting that Vice President Cheney’s sudden increase in (heart) acceleration is an electronic problem?

The page was changed later in the evening and now looks as below:

So, what’s your assessment? Error in that the wrong subhead was inadvertently put on the Cheney article from the Toyota article as below or an editor with a bad sense of humor that thought no one would notice?

How green is it really?

I need to work out the numbers on this to make sure it works, but please indulge me for a second.

How “green” are these new cars if they have software that is going to fail?

How “green” are these new cars if they have batteries that will need to be replaced?

When I was growing up my father had a 1963 Willys Overland Station Wagon(link is to a similar model). He bought it in the mid 1970’s and its original engine had been replaced with a Chevy 283 V8.   In high school, my father and I rebuilt the engine, put in a new clutch and transmission for a few hundred dollars.  Five years ago, he sold the Willy’s on eBay.

I’ve been thinking about this car for a lot of reasons lately.  When I was 13, I couldn’t stand it. It was embarrassing to me to drive around in it as everyone in Marin where I was living had shiny new cars. I much preferred to drive around in my dad’s shiny new BMW.  I grew to like the Willy’s and helped my dad rebuild the engine etc.  This taught me a lot about how engines work and also set that engine up to run for a long time.

With all the news recently about car recalls, and concerns about if the problems with those cars, including the Prius, might be software-related, I’ve been thinking…how long will these cars be around? 30 years after they are made, will anyone be able to rebuild these engines?  What if the software fails again? How do you fix that in your garage?  You can’t. How long will the batteries last? If the batteries give out, can you head down to Kragen and buy another?

If you can’t fix it, and it has a finite life span, how green is it really?

Amgen Tour of California Coming to El Dorado Hills!

The Amgen Tour of California is one of the most exciting sporting events to be introduced in the last few years.  Picture a Tour De France style race through California over the course of a week. The riders cover 750 miles through 16 “host cities.” In the first few years, the race was held in February, which led to some pretty cold, wet rides. This year, the start has been pushed back to Mid-May which is going to hopefully make for some incredible weather for the riders and the spectators.

The route for Stage 1 is 104 miles that begin in Nevada City and climb through the Gold Country before a descent and finish near the State Capitol. The coolest part is that the route goes right through El Dorado Hills on Salmon Falls Road.

The complete route is shown below in the video. The El Dorado Hills portion begins at about 1:50 in the video right after they’ve rode across the Foresthill Bridge.

Where are you going to be on Sunday, May 16? I know where we’ll be.

Business Lessons from The Grateful Dead

One of my favorite posts I’ve written in the past year is about The Grateful Dead and the Power of Sharing. I seem to have grabbed on to something with this one as I just ran across an article from The Atlantic entitled, “Management Secrets of The Grateful Dead.” A big chunk of the article is about the Grateful Dead Archive being built at UCSC, but there are some good business nuggets in there including:

  • “One was to focus intensely on its most loyal fans. It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of the best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house.
  • They incorporated early on, and established a board of directors (with a rotating CEO position) consisting of the band, road crew, and other members of the Dead organization.
  • They founded a profitable merchandising division and, peace and love notwithstanding, did not hesitate to sue those who violated their copyrights. But they weren’t greedy, and they adapted well.
  • They famously permitted fans to tape their shows, ceding a major revenue source in potential record sales. According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets.”

How did that all work out for them? The article says that along their trip, “they became one of the most profitable bands of all time,” and what a long strange trip it was.

Let’s All Help UC Davis In Building Visionary Companies In The Sacramento Area

UC Davis is an amazing research university right next to Sacramento. There are scientists doing groundbreaking work in medicine, green technology and food science just across the causeway every day.

UC Davis should be an entrepreneurial hub for the region. It’s not there yet, but an article in the Sacramento Bee shows they are taking the idea a little more seriously.  The fun thing about this article is that it’s full of people and companies I’ve worked with over the past few years including former clients Freepath and Pediatric Bioscience, CEO Chris Soderquist and investor Oleg Kaganovitch (when he was CEO at SARTA).

What does this article mean? Hopefully it means we’ll be seeing more promising research become promising companies in the area. That is how you create a viable start-up scene in the area. Take you strengths and build on them, and if you can, support your local startup. Who knows they might change the world.