To Strive

There is something beautiful about these words. Such angst and sadness in this ambition.

Below is an excerpt of Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” I was honestly unaware of the full version of this until this evening. How uneducated I would  be without wikipedia.

Full version here

“…Come, my friends,
Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”


Preparing for my son’s future

Despite the fact that I am a father of a almost two year old boy, I find myself looking back on college, high school, and even middle school through my own eyes more than I can picture what it will look like through my son’s. For one I can’t imagine how the world at large will have changed by the time he is making decisions like where to go to college. Secondly, since he is only two years old, there are still so many years for him to live before he develops a personality, passions, or even preferences.

As much as I want to prepare for my son’s future and our conversations around that future, I am still in a season where I am fully recognizing the consequences of my own decisions. I am still trying to learn from my own missed opportunities. I am still trying to figure out what decisions have led to where I am currently, so I can continue to shape the man that I becoming.

But one thing is becoming more clear, the days of theory are over, and the principles that I believed in high school and college have had an effect on who I am today. They are having an effect on who I am becoming.

No matter how many books I read, case studies I work through or interviews I listen
to, there is no substitute for walking through a situation personally. In fact the only real exception is having a coach or someone with a better vantage point lend you their per- spective. That third party perspective, around pointed questions has helped guide me in difficult work situations better than walking through them blindly.

It is this type of perspective that I wish to give my son. Because the most arrogant and idealistic version of myself believed things in those formative high school and college years that now don’t seem as important to me. In fact they now seem downright trivial to me. It is that kind of perspective that I wish I had during my formative years. The perspective that I didn’t always believe from my parents despite our great relationship and their incredible wisdom. It was something I thought anonymous advice from pul- pits and podcasts could better deliver. But as it turns out, having someone who knows me and has my best interests at heart is pretty invaluable.

I must find a way to cultivate a conversation in our house where I speak life into my son on a daily basis from age two till age twenty-two, to show him that I have his best inter- ests at heart, and beyond all of that show him through my vulnerability that mistakes will be made but those mistakes won’t define him. Like, hopefully, they haven’t defined his father.

How The Mighty Fall


Jim Collins

Elevator Pitch – From the man that who wrote the book on how to be a great organization, this is how to screw it up. Or rather, how not to.

Favorite Quotes:

1. “When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up to fall.” (PAGE 21)

2. “I’ve concluded that there are more ways to fall than to become great. Assembling a data-driven framework of decline proved harder than constructing a data-driven framework for ascent.” (PAGE 19)

3. “Never give in. Be willing to change tactics, but never give up your core purpose. Be willing to kill failed business ideas,… but never give up on the idea of building a great company.” (PAGE 123)


Finally getting to this one. Read this last Christmas, but just writing down my thoughts…

This is a good book to read after you have read Good to Great. To be honest, it is my least favorite Jim Collins book, but that is like talking about your least favorite Beatles song, or your least favorite scotch. It is still good stuff and well made.

While it is his most academic, and philosophical book, which makes it one of the harder to read, I love the concept of this book and love when he wrote it. This was the natural follow up to Good to Great, a book focused on a relentless pursuit of greatness. The most memorable part of this book is the lack of awareness or lack of honesty that Collins says is all too often in these falling companies. This lack of awareness leads to what Collins calls an “undisciplined pursuit of more.” It is natural when you have overcome so many obstacles and “arrived” to think you are unstoppable. All the more so for small businesses when you have to almost trick yourself into thinking you can take any hill, and yet not become detached from reality.

I think the most interesting part of this concept is that so often, and remember this is backed by years of research into the financial statements of these companies, this pursuit is for so long the proof of your success. It is the very thing that has made you successful, and yet leads to beginning of the downfall. It is however, not the hunger that he says leads to decline, but the over-extension that this hubris allows, or demands rather that causes this fall. It is a challenge to remain driven, yet grounded. Something that I think must come from a community or peers and from a level of trust for your team to be honest with you.

If you have ever felt a plateau in your business, this is your book. Give it a read, fairly quick and short if you have read other Collins work. Check it out.

Great video from Collins about the book.

Little Bets


Author – Peter Sims

Elevator Pitch – “Lean Startup meets Talent Code”… or… The best way to launch something big, is to start really, really small with a very small experiment.

Favorite Quotes- 

1. “The internet has reduced communications barriers and allows new players from different corners of the world to rapidly emerge and compete globally.”

2. “…[innovators] understand that failure, in the form of making mistakes or errors, and being imperfect is essential to their success.”

3.  “A playful, lighthearted, and humorous environment is especially helpful when ideas are incubating and newly hatched, the phase when they are most vulnerable to being snuffed out or even expressed because of being judged or self-censored.”

4. “Mainstream market research used to emphasize asking people what they wanted, but I have yet to encounter an executive who thinks traditional market research works for identifying new ideas.”

5. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.”

My thoughts – I really liked this book. It actually was a Christmas present so to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot, but was pleasantly surprised. I was really curious how is was possibly going to be different/better than Lean Startup, since I was such a fan of that book.

All in all this book was very good. I would say it is a much less academic version of Lean Startup, focusing more on the creative side of the issue of starting up than the empirical data of feedback that LS is obsessed with. It is a challenge for the individual to understand yourself as you start to test your concept and launch your idea.

This book is a kick in the pants to get started, not a guide on how to manage the product development process. This is a 30,000 ft view of why you should start moonlighting your idea to see if it works and that kind of thought process goes a long way with me.


I would suggest this one for the entrepreneur who hasn’t started yet, and Lean Startup for the one who has.

Amazon Link


Eames – Documentary


Watched this recently. To be honest, I thought Eames just made chairs. Only after watching this did I realize the impact he has had corporate marketing, design, product development, and advertising.

Give it a watch if you are in any way involved in a creative process. His process was second to none.

Favorite Part:

They mention that he quoted a client $75,000 for a project, and when it took him $150,000 to make and deliver, he paid the other $75,000 out of his own pocket, because he was a man of his word.


EntreLeadership – Book Review

Dave Ramsey

Elevator Pitch –

What it means to be an entrepreneur on a practical level mixed with a little how to practically lead and manage a small business from day 1.


Favorite Quotes –

1. “You hit what you aim at, and if you aim at nothing you will hit it ever time.” – Zig Ziglar

2. “When you have momentum in any area of your life you look better than you are. When your star is shining everyone thinks you are smarter and prettier than you really are.”

3. “Proper hiring creates a good team, and a good team lowers turnover. Turnover is very expensive…”

4. “Your business is a party. You have invited your team to the party… Communication in a business is the map to the party. If you have a great map, expect to have a great party.”

5. “…46% [of employees] say a lack of transparent communication from their organization’s leadership is the main point of dissatisfaction at work.”


Thoughts –

I guess you could say I am a new comer to the Dave Ramsey tribe. I honestly didn’t think that he would have much advice on running a business outside of don’t go into debt, but I will admit that he knows his stuff. Obviously he has built quite a successful business, and has done so because he knows what he is talking about.

For the right audience, this might be the only business book that you need to read. This is a very practical book that gives a lot of great ideas for the owner or main leader of a small, startup business. The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t stop at talking about principles of how to be a “good leader”, but covers how to think about the finances, marketing strategy, sales process, hiring/firing of staff, leading the organization’s culture, and how to set a personal and business goals.

If you have ever read E-Myth, and are familiar with the “on the business” vs “in the business” view of leading a company, this is definitely the “on the business” guide, which is to say, this book won’t tell you how to bake good bread, but how to think about growing a bakery. It is a great introduction for the young entrepreneur who needs a guide for specific areas of their business that they might not be the expert in yet.

Buy it. Read it. Mark all over it. Then when you encounter a specific problem with your business, you will know where to go to get a quick answer.

Amazon link