Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

How Startup Founders Feelings Evolve


I found this to be true for myself, but even more... I got the 8th year feels in year 7, so I sold the company and I've been on vacation for a very long time (30 years).

Monday, October 3, 2022

Letting Go


On this day, 30 years ago, I let go of the product and the company I worked to build over the previous 7 years. The stress was killing me, and I decided that I would either sell the company or walk away from it. Fortunately, a buyer appeared and the rest, as they say, is history. So, for the last 30 years I have been relatively stress free, a condition I recommend wholeheartedly.

While the first several years after the sale of the company was a period of spending money on toys (Ferraris, airplanes, etc) and travel and parties and homes, that lifestyle was simply not me, although I gave it a good try.

Now my life is minimalist and sustainable, and I feel much more comfortable with who I have become. More importantly, I am truly at my best when I am helping others become their best. That typically involves helping first time entrepreneurs, founder/CEOs, succeed with their business adventures.

TeleMagic was the product I invented in 1985. It was the first of a new class of software the would eventually be called "Contact Management" and currently called "Customer Relationship Management" (CRM). There are a ton of products and companies in this industry, which today accounts for hundreds of billions in value. My company Remote Control International, was the first to enter the industry, we were also the first to exit the industry. This happened in 1992, several years before the Internet, which really exploded the CRM software industry.

I look back in wonder at how it was possible to build such a product and company, starting with zero cash, zero investors, no co founders, no loans, and not even a credit card. It was bootstrapped the whole way… I was dead broke the day I started out, and dead broke the day before the sale, having put every dime of profit back into the company. If the sale had not gone through, I would have just walked away from it all just to survive.

I'm glad things turned out the way they did. It has been a most extraordinary adventure!

I was lucky, and I had help from some good people who I remember with an enormous sense of gratitude.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

TeleMagic - The Secret Files - Condensed version 9:31

From the archives. The year was 1993, just a few months after Sage bought my TeleMagic software company. I personally paid for this video, and offered it free to Sage but they never used it. 

The name TeleMagic:

The Magic part of the name TeleMagic comes from that famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
The Tele part is a reference to Telephone because of the revolutionary interface between computers and telephones.
Another Tele reference was Telepathy: that the software is so easy to use that it knows what you want without being told.

Notice that the software is not demonstrated or even briefly shown in the video. This was intentional, of course. This was to create curiosity in the viewer to know more. Most tech products focus on the tech, but we focused on what buyers want: Results.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

That Which Can NOT Be Delegated

I've seen many people struggle with getting going with their ideas because they want other people to do the hard work associated with starting a business.

For example, some founders have relatively clear ideas about what the ideal world should look like, but have no idea how to get it to be that way.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks many founders face is the need to communicate their ideas in writing. This is often so painful a process that it never gets done. Frustration builds to the point where the founder tries to get someone else to communicate what the founder is thinking.

This rarely goes well...

If the startup will need outside investors, you can be sure that the investors will want to hear directly from the founder, the source of the big ideas behind the new adventure. No investor really wants to hear from the Sales or Marketing Manager, or the IT guy. These people are hirelings, they will come and go over the lifetime of the business. The founder is the Visionary, and will, hopefully, lead the company for the possibly 10 years or more that it will take to, maybe, achieve success. 

Another reason why startup idea people want to delegate the undelegatable is because they recognize that they don't have the skill set to communicate effectively. They have never created a slide deck, or a spreadsheet, or a business plan, and they just back away from learning these skills, hoping they will meet someone who will do this work for them. 

It could happen, but rarely, if ever, does. If the idea guy doesn't have the fire to learn new skills, then they probably don't have the fire to lead the adventure over the long run.

Hope is not a strategy, however Recruiting is. Founders who lack the skill sets to communicate their Big Idea must find a co-founder who excels at these skills, and this co-founder should be the CEO. Investors only want to talk to the CEO. So the original founder must therefore fade into the background and let the CEO co-founder take over. 

In order for this Recruiting strategy to work, the Big Idea guy must work ceaselessly to find their ideal co-founder, a true communicator with skills to get the Vision across in such a way that Investors line up to throw money at the fledgling business. 

This means that the co-founders must endure the early period of building the Message (the Vision), and even a Prototype product or service, with no pay and long hours, until that first Seed Money kicks in from the first Investors (usually Friends, Family, and Fools).

Sometimes, failure to launch just comes down to laziness. The Big Idea guy never gets past their own personal comfort zone to risk it all and Just Do It (whatever it takes), and Persist until they succeed. It's a lot easier and more comfortable to stay with their 9-5 day job with good pay than it is to quit and go full bore on starting a new business with at most a 1 in 10 chance of success.

Co-founders aren't always needed to get funding, but it sure does help.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Why NOT be CEO, by Naval Ravikant

As a serial startup founder, I always defaulted to being the CEO, and I enjoyed it at the beginning of each different business, but it became less enjoyable as the business matured. It seems that the business takes on a life of its own and the CEO starts being run by the business instead of the other way around. 

That's the way it was for my first couple of startups, and then I got a little smarter and tried to hire a CEO after a few years of doing it on my own. He  would have been great, but he was there only a few months and decided he needed to buy the company, but couldn't afford it. That happened twice!

While it may be good to be CEO, it can be so much better to not be CEO. Naval Ravikant (@naval) explains why, and how to find a great CEO. 

For some long form video of Naval on a wide range of topics, check out the Joe Rogan podcast episode.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Ten Japanese Principles

Ten Japanese principles for better living:

  1. Omoiyari: embed compassion in your life, work, and product design.
  2. Ikigai: live with purpose and passion.
  3. Wabi-sabi: be grateful, see beauty in imperfection, and strive for excellence, not perfection.
  4. Mottainai: embrace essentialism, and live sustainably.
  5. Shin-Gi-Tai: keep a healthy body and a sound mind. They are the path to mastery.
  6. Shu-Ha-Ri: learn the basics. Imitate, then innovate.
  7. Kaizen: embrace change and strive for small and continuous improvements.
  8. Mono no aware: detach from material things, outcomes, and old beliefs.
  9. Omotenashi: give without expecting a reward. The world gives to the givers.
  10. Ho-Ren-So: over-communicate. Report problems even if you don’t have an answer.

Final words

Adding concepts like these to our toolbox can help us navigate this interconnected world and thrive in it as we experience more of life and evolve.

source for more reading on this topic:

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Reminder: How Fortunes Are Built

Fortunes are built during the down market

and collected in the up market.

Jason Calacanis

Monday, February 14, 2022

Resolutions, Goals, Plans, Systems, Habits, Self-Image

Happy New Year!
Or not.
It's up to you.

Resolutions are those promises we make to ourselves every year around this time because it seems like a good thing to do, and there are a lot of people talking about New Year's resolutions.

Resolutions are really half-promises, at best, because while we feel that we should make some resolutions, we also know the awful truth about resolutions: almost everyone fails at their resolutions. That automatically give us an out. We promise we are going to do something, or give up something, or change somehow, but we also know that we probably won't follow through because nobody does.

This attitude is guaranteed to produce zero results, but there is a way to change the way we look at resolutions so that it will become automatic that we will actually do what we want to do.

It would be helpful that we stop using the word resolutions. I carries a lot of negative baggage, what with all the failure history. How about if we use the word Goals? What's the difference? Resolutions seem to be something we say to ourselves. A wish. A hope. A Goal is something you write down, and preferably share with others (significant other, coach, good friends). If it is not written down it is just a wish. If Goals are written down, they are more likely to happen. So, first thing we do is pick up a pen and start writing. Go ahead, pick up a pen and start writing. I'll wait here...

Welcome back. And congratulations! Most people, probably north of 95% of people have no written Goals! So, automatically, you are now in the top 5% and well on your way to success. All you need to do now is start writing your future. But first, a disclaimer: just because you might have Goals at the end of this exercise, there is no reason to assume that you will actually achieve your Goals. In fact, 95% of people who have Goals will not achieve what they have written. The deck is overwhelmingly stacked against you if you proceed with the way most people set goals. 

What you will learn today is how to set Goals that become automatically self-fulfilling. 

And it all starts with the answer to a very simple question: Who am I?  Who do I want to be? What do I want my Life to look like? What am I willing to do to achieve this?

Who am I?
This step should include a written description of yourself in all positive terms, no negatives. Many people see themselves in terms of what they are Not, what they Don't Have.  

There should be a lot of Gratitude for what you do have, right now, in your life. So it all starts with a feeling, an appreciation, of Gratitude. 

Make a list of some of the things you have going for you: I have a nice smile. I am a good friend. I'm smart. I work hard. I have a good sense of humor. People like me.

It doesn't need to be a long list, just a few important positive things about yourself. You can change this list anytime you want, so this is just a quick start and gets us to the next step:

Who do I want to be?
A lot of people get stuck here. It's a fearful thing, to write down on paper who you want to be. What if you're wrong? What if what I want to be turns out to be bad in some other way? What if, what if, what if... This looping through what ifs is what stops us in our tracks. Now you know why almost all people have zero goals written down.

There is a subtle distinction in this question Who do I want to be? Many people might mistake it for What do I want? The answer to What puts us in the mode of thinking in the material world: I want a boat, a couple of really neat cars, a big house on the oceanfront, a beautiful wife and kids, and a good dog. Or whatever. We think in terms of what we don't have now, and what a good future will look like. So what happens is that we put what we want at a distance to right now. 

I propose a different solution: Think of who you want to be in terms of living an ideal life day by day. Leave the toys out of the picture, for now, please. I guarantee that the toys will come automatically if you simply become the person who is on the path to achieving his Goals.

See yourself living the life you have imagined, but without considering the toys. How do you feel, personally. Not because you have toys, but because you are living well. 

Here are a few examples of seeing your future self: 
Physically I am healthy, I feel great and look great,
because I enjoy exercise and I eat right and sleep well.
I have great friends and family relationships 
because I am a great friend.

What am I willing to DO to achieve this?
You might be tempted to answer this question in the form of 8 hours per day, or 40 hours per week. They are obvious answers to the question. That would put a limit on achieving your goals. I suggest a different approach. 

When we see ourselves as working hard now to achieve some imagined future thing, some thing that may take a long time to achieve, it is easy to give up, or to get distracted with some other shiny object, or to just get lazy for a while.

Begin with the end in mind. What is needed is a self image of being a person right now, who is On the path to the achievement of their Goals.  If I happen to be temporarily Off the path, then I simply, without any negative feelings, get back On the path. That self-image of a person who is On the path leads to the achievement of their Goals.

If I am On the path, then I see my future self as the person who created the path, and continued on the path, to create that future self. It is from that perspective of your future self that you look back and tell the story about the person you used to be. You can tell the story of your awakening, your vision of your future self, and how you set your Goals to get there. And you can then share the story, and your method, with others who need to learn this (Pay it Forward), as I am doing now.

The answer to What am I willing to do to achieve my goals is a lot simpler than you would ever expect. It's not really a lot of work at all. In fact, the secret is simply changing your mind, your attitude, your self-image. 

Adopt a self image that you are a person who goes though each day doing the things which will create the future you want. Just do it. It's important to deal with only one day at a time. 

Do what, exactly? Well, that is going to become clear once you start writing down your Goals. The awakening occurs when we fully understand that everything in life happens because of the Actions we take. This is the "scientific principle", the basis of everything we know to be true. It simply states that every condition exists because of some Action that created the condition. Every Cause has an Effect. Nothing exists without some Action that caused it. Therefore, in order for us to create some future condition or Goal, we must have caused it by our Actions. I say Actions in the plural because the Goals we want will almost certainly be the result of consistent Actions taken over Time.

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a Habit.


It is really so simple: just do the things that will produce the result. Inaction produces no result.

The fist thing on the way to success is to be clear about where we are going (Write it Down), and then, every day, to refresh ourselves on where we are going by reviewing our Goals and our Plans for achieving our Goals. 

Oops, did I slip something in there, that thing about Plans? Yes, there needs to be a Plan for achieving Goals, or they are just wishes, guaranteed to remain wishes until we take Action. 

Of course, our Actions must be according to our Plans. Random actions will produce random results, Inconsistent Actions will produce inconsistent results. Planned actions have the highest probability of producing Planned results. So let's make a Plan. 

The best Plans are the things we can do every day, or most days. Every day begins a new opportunity to get on the Path, to take the right Actions, to learn from our yesterdays, and to adjust our Plans accordingly. 

The solution, then, is to get into the Habit of taking the Planned Actions that will deliver the Results (Goals).

Getting back to the Goals... The best way to write a Goal is described in the Wikipedia entry regarding S.M.A.R.T. Goals. That's all you really need to know how to write your Goals.

Now group them into Long Range (5+ years), Medium Range (2-5 years), and Short Range Goals (1 year or less). Short range goals should be grouped by quarter, monthly within the current quarter, weekly within the current month, and daily within the current week. That may sound like work, but it becomes automatic when you review your Goals daily. Start simply.

Set a Plan for what Actions you need to take in order to achieve your Goals.

Review your Plan every day, and update it, in writing, if necessary, to reflect real world conditions. 

If you do these things, you will become a Goal achieving machine. Start now, and remember that you need to focus on Daily Habits that will transform you into the person you want to be. One of those habits is to review your Goals and Plans every day, and to continually improve them.

And if you need help, just ask. I have a system that makes it easy: EZchecklist™.


Additional reading from my favorite Goal achieving human, James Clear:

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Asking the Right Questions

It is said that if you ask a question in just the right way, the answer will be obvious. Maybe that's why I love questions so much. 

I've done some research on great questions, and here are a few of my favorites:

From the book "The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever" by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Kickstart Question:
     What's on your mind?

The AWE Question?
     And what else?  (Tell me more...)

The Focus Question:
     What's the real challenge here for you?

The Foundation Question:
     What do you want?

The Lazy Question:
     How can I help?  What do you want from me?

The Strategic Question:
     If you're saying 'Yes' to this, what are you saying 'No' to?

The Learning Question:
     What was most useful for you?

The Devil's Advocate
     Why will it Not Work?  (some reasons, conditions)

     Who can get this done?  (not How can I do this?)

     ‘What does the business need from you right now?’”

     What am I missing? What more should I know? What question should I be asking?


Inc. Magazine -  10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations

1. What's your story?

This open-ended question is bound to trigger something interesting after the other person gets over the initial shock that you asked it. By opening up a conversation in this manner, you've given them access to speak from their hearts and share their life's journeys, dreams, and goals

Here are the other nine to take for a spin at your next business one-on-one:

2. What absolutely excites you right now?

3. What was the highlight of your day (or week)?

4. What gets you up in the morning?

5. What is your whole reason for existing--your "why"?

6. What's the most important thing I should know about you?

7. Why did you choose your career or line of business?

8. What is one of your most defining moments in life?

9. What's the best thing that's happened to you this year?

10. When's the last time you failed spectacularly at something?