The Little Things Matter

Yesterday, I shared a simple but amazingly effective rule to bring a smile into every encounter.  And I am very happy so many people acknowledged how much they agree.

I am constantly reminded about how we can all do little things in our daily life to make a difference.

Today is recycling day in Austin.  This means that everyone has their brown trash bin, blue recycle bin and green compost bin.

It might seem like a lot of work to separate YOUR trash.  But its YOUR responsibility.

In Austin, the biggest bin is the Blue recycle bin.  This is by design.  The more we recycle the better for everyone and our planet.

Many people complain about the compost bin.  It might smell or get gross and sticky.  The city of Austin actually provides instructions on how to fill it properly (hint: the key is cardboard and yard scraps on the bottom) and also how to clean it with baking soda etc.

In our house, we’ve fully embraced the minimizing our trash footprint in the brown bin.

Yes, it takes more time cleaning up after dinner, but in the long run, if everybody spent the time to sort their trash, the world would be a better, cleaner, greener place.

So next time you go to put something in the trash, take an extra minute and see if you can sort YOUR trash, recycling, and compost.

The Little Things Matter

A Simple Smile

Sometimes in today’s world its hard to be positive and happy.

If you live in the United States, the news is a constant feed of bipartisan politics, natural disasters, gun violence, the opioid crisis and a massive divided between the haves and have nots.

Around the world, we see economies struggling, increasing tensions in the Middle East, continuing climate destabilization, and people fighting for independence in Hong Kong and across the globe.

But for us to change our environment, we all need to make small changes in how we live and conduct ourselves.   These changes might focus on being more mindful, meditating, eating healthier, exercising more or all of the above.

Yesterday, Angie and I were trying to teach Elvis and Scout how to be more present and engaged, especially around adults and all the new people they are meeting now that we are living in Austin.

I was reminded of a very simple rule from the Dalai Lama:

If you want to be greeted with a smile, then smile when you meet someone.

It’s really amazing how this little behavior, can have such a big effect.  Imagine if everyone you encountered today, smiled and said “Hi, how are you?”

On this Monday morning, smile.

It can make a world of difference.

A Simple Smile

The Ethics of WeWork

This week Fred Wilson wrote a very timely post on Hair on a Deal.

In his post, he discusses the current challenges facing WeWork and their IPO.

Today, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article ‘This Is Not the Way Everybody Behaves.’ How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork.  I almost feel like the writer had access to my draft blog post.

When I think of WeWork, I think of Adam Neumann, a founder who has been amazing at articulating a vision, but unfortunately, he also has a broken moral and ethical compass.  And here’s why:

(1)  the WeWork has raised a total of $12.8 billion –  a staggering amount of capital considering Facebook only raised $2.8 billion prior to their IPO.

(2) with the exception of some secondary offerings, he has returned ZERO to his investors while personally cashing out over $700 million.

(3) he has used the company to fund his own personal interest and hobbies unrelated to his core business such as Laird Superfood, Wavegardens surfing wave-pool, a private elementary school and the purchase of a $60 million Gulfstream G650 for travel.

(4) there are countless disclosures of conflicts of interest, with Neumann selling the trademark “we” back to the company, signing leases with buildings he has partial ownership, and other entanglements with family members.

(5) WeWork uses a multi-class share structure, giving the CEO unchecked control.

And then on top of it all, Neumann raised money from Softbank at a $47 billion valuation and is now struggling to IPO in the $15-$18 billion range.

All this for a company that doesn’t own or make anything – especially not a profit.

The problem here is that somehow this behavior has been tolerated.  And I think it really shines a light on what I never want to see entrepreneurs do.

In fact, a friend from a very large real estate family told me that he thinks WeWork is essentially Neumann’s legal Ponzi scheme. He essentially negotiates long term liabilities with property owners at extremely discounted rates.  Then he puts a little paint, glass, and furniture and rents them to startups and companies who don’t want the responsibility or commitment of a real lease.  Then WeWork does this over and over and in most cases multiple locations in the same city with incentives for members to move to new locations.  The landlords have a long term receivable but really no protection if WeWork walks out and goes to another location.  And Neumann has convinced investors that this is a transformative model – although, beyond some brand recognition for the WeWork name, there is nothing unique or defensible.  There is revenue but no profit.  Oh, and did I mention the guy at the top has walked away with $700 million and flys around on a private jet that investors paid for.

This isn’t right.  Entrepreneurs should not aspire to this.

I hope someone holds Adam Neumann accountable.

The Ethics of WeWork

Synapse expands TSA effort to two more airports in US

Synapse is excited to announce are participation in the Transportation Security Administration Innovative Task Force’s IDEA program.  As part of this program, TSA is deploying Synapse’s Syntech ONE technology at passenger screening checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor and Las Vegas McCarren International airports.  Syntech ONE will be used to screen real passenger carry-on items and providing automated detection of key prohibited items and weapons.  Here is a link to the press release on the program.

Synapse expands TSA effort to two more airports in US

Election Day

One of our most important rights in this country is the right to vote.

It’s the cornerstone of our democracy and thus so important that every citizen make an effort to cast their ballot.

Whether you like or dislike the current state of affairs, you have today as an opportunity to share your voice.

Make sure you vote.



Election Day

Trying Times

These are trying times.

People are more polarized than they have ever been.

Some amazing humans are focused on bringing awareness to the fact that many people around the world and in the US are not treated equally.

Other more aggressive extremists beat the drum of defeated and outdated ideologies represented by the Nazi and Confederate flags.

This continues with the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and a backlash of white male privilege.  This is now on public display in the most ridiculous supreme court confirmation process to date.

On the positive, people are awakening.  There are so many awesome groups focused on spreading a message of love, community, forgiveness, and public service.  Meditation, veganism, and socially responsible behavior are on the rise and likely at an all-time high.

But as has happened since the beginning of time, we must evolve.  Just because something was acceptable in the past, doesn’t mean it has a place in the future.

We should be excited that technology and innovation are now approaching a place where we can provide food, water, and shelter to all people.

But we need to wake up and figure out that our community is all other living creatures.

The lines of hatred, racism, and religious conflict that have divided us must come to a peaceful end.

Trying Times

Fly on the wall

Sometimes it’s nice to be a fly on the wall.

To observe, rather than talk.

To watch a team grow and develop their own style and processes.

This morning I randomly decided to walk into the conference room while one of our hyper-growth teams held a meeting on hiring. I thought it was great that nobody said a word, allowing me to sit quietly off to the side.

Then I was even more excited to hear about the myriad of exceptionally qualified candidates to help us expand into several new regions.

But what really impressed me was the team dynamic and how the various constituents evaluated the candidates.  They listened to each other, weighed the inputs and swiftly determined how to proceed.

In the end, I shared a few points for them to consider and we all went about our day.

This makes me proud.


Fly on the wall