Jan, 2016

Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Just finished watching Cosmos on Netflix.  Amazing work!  Had to post this final monologue by Carl Sagan.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

–Carl Sagan


Get Backed by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis

The Big Idea: you need a well-designed pitch deck and a well-planned road show to raise serious money for your startup.

Pitch Deck

  1. Overview
  2. Opportunity
  3. Problem
  4. Solution
  5. Traction
  6. Customer or Market
  7. Competition
  8. Business Model
  9. Team
  10. Use of Funds

Road Show

  • Investors love a great story
  • Potential stories: origin story, customer story, industry story, venture growth story
  • Use Nancy Duarte’s Sparkline to tell your story

Fundraising: From Meetings to Closing

  • Book: Venture Deals by Brad Feld
  • 80% of all funding comes from friends/family
  • Equity crowdfunding is a new option: CircleUp, Crowdfunder
  • Accelerators are a runway to funding; quality varies
  • Ask these when thinking about an angel: do I like you? do I trust you? do I want to do business with you?
  • Notable angels bring many connections and secondary investors
  • AngelList is the LinkedIn for startups
  • Post on AngelList after you’ve raised a third of your total
  • Syndicates on AngelList pool lots of small investors together
  • Relationships are more important than cash when fundraising
  • Ways to stand out: handwritten thank you note, thoughtful gift, offering your personal network
  • Asks: invest, join advisory board, introduce to others
  • Find the super connectors and leverage weak ties
  • Make your needs known
  • Talk to everyone
  • Work in public spaces
  • See book for emails scripts: ask for feedback, ask for intro,
  • Always follow up after an intro meeting with short email and clear next steps
  • Investors ask themselves within the first meeting: do I like you? do I trust you? do I want to do business with you?
  • So, be likable, be trustworthy, be someone they’d want to do business with
  • Do your homework on anyone you meet with
  • See book for scripts about meetings
  • During meetings: find commonalities, ask great questions, listen, invite them to brainstorm or suggest improvements
  • During the ask: make the investor feel like an important contributor, assume the sale, be comfortable with silence following the ask
  • See book for scripts on how to make the ask
  • Types of asks: lead your round >> invest >> join advisory board >> stay updated
  • Send monthly updates for prospects via Mailchimp or bcc
  • Keep these updates separate from investor/advisor updates
  • See book for template of monthly updates
  • Elements of the close: verbal yes, termsheet, due diligence, signatures and money transfer
  • See book for list of due diligence docs
  • See book for template on signature and money transfer

Step 14: The Shaolin Monk & Touching An Electric Fence

The Big Idea: Prepare for what is difficult when it is easy.

  • If you take the approach that everything is your fault, you can begin to anticipate and plan for many scenarios (disease, recession, breakup, accidents).
  • If you get mugged and beat up at 30, it’s your fault because you could have been training since you were 10.  — Shaolin monk
  • Constantly scan the horizon for dangers and then prepare for them.
  • Unexpected events are rarely completely unexpected.  You can prepare for most “unexpected” events.
  • Prepare for the worst and you’ll sleep more soundly (not be anxious).
  • Prepare for what’s difficult when it’s easy.  — Lao Tzu
  • Forget the law of attraction.  Prepare for the future and then work hard to make it happen.
  • Always ask yourself: what are you missing?  What are you not thinking of?
  • Things you can do now to prepare: save money, get rid of belly fat.
  • Even Warren Buffett has $20B in cash, just in case.
  • Accept responsibility for mistakes, learn, and then move on.  Don’t fixate.
  • Go to an old folks home and talk to people about their lives,
  • Learn, read and prepare for what might happen.
  • Be a learning machine.  I learned that bullets only travel 3 feet underwater and it saved my life.  — Louis Zamparini
  • Don’t fixate.  Fix it.
  • Sources: Unbreakable, Helen Keller, The Snowball

Tai Lopez is an entrepreneur, investor, and blogger who runs an awesome online book club. 67 Steps is a lecture series teaching how to be successful in health, wealth, love, and happiness.  I’m a big fan.


Step 13: The Amish Vacation, Tap Dancing To Work, & Avoiding What You Love

The Big Idea: If you have to go on vacation from what you do, don’t ever come back.

  • The Amish work almost every day but don’t feel the need for a vacation.
  • The Amish have 1/5 the depression of non-Amish.
  • The Amish integrate work and life.
  • Never permit a dichotomy to ruin your life.  A dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time.  — Picasso
  • If you have to go on vacation from what do, don’t ever come back. —Joel Salatin
  • Wiser to do what you like, not what you love.
  • Don’t marry someone you love/lust, marry someone you genuinely like.  That love/lust will fade. — Joel Salatin
  • You can only build upon strength, not weakness.
  • Richard Branson takes naps throughout the day, to separate spurts of intense work.
  • Extreme success has a luck component, but it usually involves luck in meeting a key person, not a lucky event.
  • Warren Buffett still tap dances to work in his 80’s.
  • You can have a job but avoid at all costs becoming a salary slave.
  • Fact: making more money will make you happier.  But (after financial independence) only by a little bit and sometimes not worth the cost.  Therefore don’t chase the money.
  • Enough money can give you independence.  Too much money will separate you from other people.
  • The opportunistic mentality (chasing the opportunity) is almost as dangerous as the vacation mentality (living for the weekend/vacation).
  • If Jordan pursued what he loved, he would have pursued baseball.
  • In love, pursue oxytocin, not dopamine. — Helen Fisher
  • Sources: Guns Germs Steel, Michael Jordan The Life, Top Dog.

Tai Lopez is an entrepreneur, investor, and blogger who runs an awesome online book club. 67 Steps is a lecture series teaching how to be successful in health, wealth, love, and happiness.  I’m a big fan.

Step 12: Mike’s Stack Of Resumes, My 96 Year-old Grandma, & Your Eulerian Destiny

The Big Idea: Stay focused on the one thing you do best.

  • Be able to share your life mission in one sentence. (Understandable by a 96 old grandma.)
  • Jordan the baseball player was mediocre.  Jordan the basketball player was legendary.
  • Stay focused on the one thing you do best.  Everything else is just a hobby.
  • Jack Welch told GE to exit any business in which they can’t be #1 or #2.
  • Build upon your strengths, not your weaknesses.
  • Where do the following four questions intersect? (Eulerian Destiny)
  • 1. What did you grow up around?  This shapes your world map.
  • 2. What do strangers tell you you’re good at? Discount feedback from friends and loved ones.
  • 3. What have you been doing for the last 10 years? This will likely point to your core strengths.
  • 4. What can you talk about effortlessly for hours?
  • If you have to go on vacation from what do, don’t ever come back. —Joel Salatin
  • In every area of life (health, wealth, love, happiness) find out what works for you.  Everyone is different.
  • Don’t live other people’s dreams. — Steve Jobs
  • The difference between an experiment and a mistake is the time spent in each.
  • Sources: Managing Oneself, Paradox of Choice, Michael Jordan The Life, Civilization and Its Discontents

Tai Lopez is an entrepreneur, investor, and blogger who runs an awesome online book club. 67 Steps is a lecture series teaching how to be successful in health, wealth, love, and happiness.  I’m a big fan.

Step 11: The Whispers Of 10,000 Generations, Dunbar’s 150, & Evolutionary Mismatch

The Big Idea: Don’t Fight Your Evolutionary Hardwiring; Understand It.

  • The biological impulses you have come from 10,000 generations of evolution.  However, the world has completely changed  over the last 10 generations.
  • Our biology leads us to overeat since we now live in an abundance of food.
  • Our biology wants to to sleep from dusk to dawn.
  • Most chronic health problems come from a mismatch between our biology and our environment.
  • We are evolutionarily hardwired to consume resources, so you’ll have to overcome your evolution to save money.
  • Dunbar’s number claims the average tribe size was 150 and that this is the optimal social group size.
  • Lack of background noise might contribute to insomnia.  Try going to bed with some background and going to sleep right after dark.
  • New friends are good. Old friends are better.
  • Statistically, the best marriages are couples that have known each other the longest before marrying.
  • Wealthy people are often the happiest when flying in old friends to visit.
  • Happy people tend to cluster together.
  • Reach out to old friends/coworkers/teachers.
  • Eat out less.  Cook more.
  • If you don’t like to read, consider audio books and seminars.
  • Automate your savings plans since we’re not hardwired to save money.
  • Don’t try to fight biology.  Understand and work around biology.
  • Pay close attention to the media you consume because it will rewire your brain — for better or worse.
  • Control your environment it will control you.
  • Contributing to something bigger than you creates happiness.
  • Amish people are heavily reliant on their community, which likely contributes to their happiness.
  • Sources: The Selfish Gene, The Story of the Human Body, Salt Sugar Fat, The Paradox of Choice, Happiness Hypothesis, Top Dog, The Power of Others

Tai Lopez is an entrepreneur, investor, and blogger who runs an awesome online book club. 67 Steps is a lecture series teaching how to be successful in health, wealth, love, and happiness.  I’m a big fan.