Observed

What’s your favorite outdoor space?

We lived in California for many years, and it’s still probably the Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Tamalpais and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are just incredible.

The whole area that runs from the bridge all the way up to Point Reyes is just magical. That was our outdoor go-to for many, many years.

I would add in Southern Utah, too. Moab, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion … all those areas. A spectacular part of the world that’s getting more and more visitors every year. It’s great that so many people are enjoying it, but each of these little gems is getting more traffic. The surrounding areas are getting a little more expensive. People find it, and then everything changes, you know?

We have a client up in Truckee, California, and he talks about what’s going up at Tahoe right now, where everybody is moving out from the Bay Area. It’s totally changing the fabric of the region. People working there, keeping the wheels turning, now can’t afford to live there.

Mount Tamalpais – Andrea Dunn

What’s something a first-time founder should absolutely not do as they’re building their company?

Gosh, there are about 900 things you shouldn’t do. The biggest thing is not looking to get help. Trying to do it on your own, and not immediately going to raise money based on an idea.

Prove it out first. Go a little way down the road before asking for money, versus going out and constantly focusing on fundraising. Focus on building your product, building your service, getting it out there, validating it, and not just raising money on a promise.

I think there’s a mythology around entrepreneurs and startup culture. It’s like everything we read about seems like an overnight success. An idea went from a cocktail napkin to series A to unicorn in two, three, four years, when really, it’s a grind. There’s a promise of easy riches and status and all of it that is just false. It’s a lottery mentality.

It takes ten, twelve years to really get things going, and it is not glamorous. I think also there is a tendency to move too fast and overextend, versus just stating, “We know what the right moves are, what’s the right thing to build a good, lasting business.” Staying focused can easily lose out to getting seduced by promises of quick riches and acceleration.

What’s a brand that really has it together?

When we look at what’s hot at the moment, I think Crocs is doing an amazing job, following their near-death experience, connecting with customers on a variety of different levels. The company is giving people the products and level of service they want.

I’m thinking of other clients we have that are doing a good job. TaylorMade seems to be firing on all cylinders. The brand realizes the need, especially in the golf world, to get out of the old ways of doing things. There’s a purposeful, conscientious effort to connect and deliver value to the customer in new ways.

We need a podcast recommendation. What should we listen to?

I always listen to Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher on Pivot. They’re able to talk about tech and business in a provocative way. They both call it as it is. Really worth it.

What’s the best lesson you ever learned from your worst boss?

Ha! Ok let me think here … the best lesson I learned from my worst boss was to be transparent and be apolitical. Don’t spend time spinning up problems, put your time into resolution.

I’ve tried to operate with a completely transparent approach to most everything. Want to take a look at the books? Go look in the books. Want to see how decisions are made? Please ask. Everybody needs access to information. Everybody needs the most complete profile they can get in order to work better together and make the best decisions.

Give us a TV recommendation.

I’ve completely jumped on the Ted Lasso bandwagon, but also, Netflix’s Drive To Survive is really great. It is so compelling, and I had never watched an F1 race in my life. I think it was season two somebody recommended, and after I started I went back to binge all of it. Now, on Apple News, I’ve got a dedicated F1 feed.

I just saw a couple of interviews with Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, talking about how they had both discounted the idea at the beginning, thinking this was a complete waste of time to get involved. But when they saw the numbers and the new people Drive To Survive brought into the sport, it changed everything. It’s a nice lesson about pushing out of comfort zones to make something better.

Do you have a personal, non-business goal of something that you’d like to achieve?

Oh, absolutely: crossing the ocean. Sailing across the Atlantic or Pacific, something like California to Hawaii or a New England to England route.

I haven’t sailed for a number of years, but I grew up sailing and sailed for years. It’s an activity I still remember fondly and want to return to. We have not been boat owners in a long time, we sort of switched out for road biking in Northern California. But the scale and challenge of a big maritime adventure like that has always stayed on my bucket list.


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