Writings by a younger, less handsome man who shares my name

Next week, I’m moving from Philadelphia to the world’s second greatest city, and also a place where I hear the apples are pretty good.

Yes, New York City. It’s not because of a new startup or a job or anything like that. I’m moving for a more personal reason: because my muse is there. Literally, she lives in New York. And in the more literary sense, my muse is there too. My imagination lights up in New York. I’m drawn to create there.

I’m not surprised to feel this way. I’ve been in Philly for five years now. It’s been an amazing run, and I’ve felt as inspired as I could have felt anywhere. I’ve never called a place home before. Now this place will always be home.

Five years later, I’m comfortable here, and it’s time to be uncomfortable again. Read more…

Sometimes it takes a cowboy to put them social entrepreneurs in their place.

Thanks to the social entrepreneurs at Good Company Ventures for an awesome summer. My title was entrepreneur-in-residence but I’m convinced that I learned way more from them than they did from me.

If this list sounds familiar, you belong in next year’s class.

The Top 10 Reasons “You Might Be a Social Entrepreneur if…”

#10: Your bottom lines have bottom lines
#9: VCs think you’re a hippie and non-profits think you’re a capitalist
#8: Your products are more sustainable than your cash flow
#7: Your pitch made a grown man cry
#6: You invited Al Gore to join your advisory board
#5: You’d sleep at Whole Foods if it was closer to the office
#4: You have more interns than customers
#3: You are going to impact a billion people…even if it takes you a year
#2: You have more ex-developers than ex-girlfriends
#1: Your friends wonder when you’re going to get a real job. Your parents flat out ask you

I’m super excited to announce that less than 48 hours ago, my business partner Chap and I launched the first version of our new startup, MyDunkTank.

MyDunkTank is a humorous twist on non-profit fundraising. It allows you to do a fundraising dare in support of whatever cause you choose.

A fundraising dare is a simple game that takes place entirely online. You list a few dares that you’re willing to do and your friends and family vote for their favorite dare (they can also add their own creative dares). You agree to do whatever dare raises the most money.

Here’s a picture from my fundraising page and a link to Blake’s dare and Chap’s dare:

Read more…

The market isn’t listening to you and you don’t know why.

Your product will change lives. Your company will make investors rich. Your idea has to spread.

But no one cares.

You can tell because every sale is a struggle, investors won’t return your calls and your customers aren’t telling their friends about it.

So you have two options.

The first option is to think like Sisyphus and keep pushing the boulder uphill. The second is to think like gravity and use the hill to make the boulder roll faster.

Read more…

Forgive the crickets and tumbleweeds on this blog during the last few weeks. I’ve been pulled every which way in the rest of my life and have sorely missed you all while I’ve been away. This community keeps me smiling and thinking, and I’m looking forward to sharing a life update soon to reignite things on the blog.

In the meantime, here’s an update on the Missioneurs Movement, one of the many things I’ve been working on. Building movements is hard, and one of the hardest parts of this movement has been agreeing on answers to tough existential questions about what we believe and what we hope to accomplish together.

I’m just one voice in this conversation. Here’s my most recent take on missioneurship from a presentation I gave at the Philadelphia kickoff event for Good Company Ventures.

You’ll notice that I try to be funny with my slides. This is new for me, as I’m sure you can tell. They say that comedians have to try out a new joke at least a dozen times in front of audiences before they nail it. We can only guess where that leaves me!

Presentation Video

Read more…

I’m writing from Warsaw, Poland just one hour before leading a “masterclass” on missioneurship at the European Creative Cities Conference.

I’m surrounded by young social entrepreneurs from places like Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Thailand and, yes, the good old United States — although I’m one of only two Americans here.

The social entrepreneurs here get missioneurship, they really do. It’s intuitive to them to put mission at the center of their universe and to treat entrepreneurship as a means to that end. They get the importance of driving revenue from their core services, even though they don’t know how to do it. They understand that by building mission enterprises, they can revolutionize their communities, even when governments and established institutions aren’t willing to help (or actively oppose them).

What don’t they understand? Above all, me! Sometimes they ask me to repeat myself because they can’t understand my English or I talk too fast. I adjusted my presentation slides to make up for this, with lots of text slides so that they can follow along when they have trouble understanding me.

Read more…

We snapped some lovely photos of the mob of missioneurs who attended the first ever Mission Mob event this Tuesday. I hope these smiling faces make you half as happy as they make me!

> Visit missioneurs.com to see a full event recap with videos

I spent most of last night awake and working frantically on this big announcement by Philly Startup Leaders. We felt we had to act immediately if Philly’s effort to bring gigabit broadband here was going to succeed. We also thought that whether or not Google chooses Philadelphia, this is an opportunity to shine a worldwide light on our grassroots tech and creative communities.

Here’s a summary of the announcement with a link to the full version:

Philly Startup Leaders needs your help to do something big for Philly. Really big.
We’re pledging $5,000 toward a prize for the best gigabit idea submitted on Gigabit Philly. This is all the money we have available as an organization — it’s our savings for the last two and half years. We need you and the city to match it.

The Google gigabit competition is a golden opportunity to prove that we have the best grassroots tech and creative community in the world. Our grassroots communities have already started the campaign with Gigabit Philly, a website that collects your big ideas for how to harness gigabit connectivity to change the world.

Yet we will fail in this campaign unless we do something dramatic. We have to show Google what’s special about Philly. And we haven’t done that so far.

So Philly Startup Leaders is taking a gamble on Gigabit Philly, and we need your help. Our $5,000 pledge is just the beginning. We need our donation to spark a wave of pledges large and small that will draw worldwide attention to Philly. This prize will help us generate hundreds if not thousands of big ideas on Gigabit Philly from all over the world.

Make a pledge now and send the full announcement to everyone you know. We need help from every one of you!

Here’s the link to share: http://phillystartupleaders.org/news/philly-startup-leaders-goes-all-in-for-gigabit-philly/

We literally went from idea to launch in about 12 hours. At 9pm last night, a group of us were sitting at the Philly Startup Leaders fishbowl event with an idea, and by 9am this morning our announcement was live.

Read more…

Olympians do super human things, but they aren’t super human.

Sure, they can push themselves harder and longer than the rest of us. Lance Armstrong’s heart is about twice as strong as mine. At rest, his beats 32 times per minute while mine is in the high 50s.

This means that during a sprint in the Tour de France, when his heart is exploding at 200 beats per minute, he’s pushing blood and oxygen through his legs with twice the force of my heart when I’m maxed out on a soccer field.

He could make a fool out of me in any test of physical endurance. And he’s 38 years old.

But here’s what he can’t do. He can’t train his body not to scream in pain when it gets tired. He can’t train his mind not to consider quitting when his body is broken and hurting like hell weeks into a race.

His body obeys the same rules mine does. It breaks and hurts and gets so tired that it tells him to stop. So does his mind. It tries to rationalize the easy way out. It tells him that it’s okay to slow down. Everything will be fine.

Read more…

Right now, I’m fighting a solo battle with the Angel Venture Fair (AVF) over their lame decision to use Eventbrite instead of TicketLeap. Until now, this disagreement has lived on the on the AVF’s Facebook page.

I’m really irritated.

The Angel Venture Fair is put on by the Private Investors Forum, which in turn has members who invested in TicketLeap (Robin Hood and the MAG Fund participated in a recent round). The AVF is dissing a local company for reasons that don’t make any sense to me. This is after a recent discussion among Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) members over what many entrepreneurs (and Jason Calacanis) think is ridiculous pricing — $1,000 to present at the fair and $250 just to apply.

It’s also amusing that the AVF says that they aren’t really looking for PSL stage companies. In a phone call with Valerie Gaydos, who runs the AVF, she said that they are looking for companies with around $500k in revenue.

This is amusing for two reasons:
1. PSL has a bunch of companies with $500k+ revenue
2. How lame is our angel community to be that far upstream?

I’ve literally had angels in Boston and DC laugh at me when I told them what kind of deals our “angels” look at. And this is on top of what the real Philly angels are saying, who don’t need the AVF to source deals and think this whole affair is downright silly.

I’m tired of sitting this one out. I hope some of you are too.