Computer Guy

Computer Guy
Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Monday, January 31, 2011

Lucky? Well, Yes and No...

In a time long ago, about 2000 years ago actually, a Roman philosopher named Seneca thought deeply on the subject of Luck, and he came up with this clear and concise summary:

"Luck is what happens when 
Preparation meets Opportunity"

Allow me a moment of your time to share a brief story that illustrates this quite well.  It happened to me just last Monday...

I was attending an early morning breakfast meeting of the San Diego Venture Group.  A panel of Venture Capitalists was chosen to discuss the outlook for funding startups and early stage companies.  It's a topic that fascinates me, so I made an exception to my long-standing schedule which reserves all mornings until noon, for ME.  This means, above all else, quiet time, no phones, no meetings, nothing planned, no contact with the outside world.  I usually read, write, meditate, exercise, etc.  But every once in a while, very rarely, something comes along that will be just so outstanding an Opportunity that I break out of my committed routine.  This was just such an occasion.  

I'm milling about in a room of about 400 people, give or take a few multi-millionaires, and as usual, I know nobody, but I take a seat at a table up front because it's easier to see and hear what's going on.  The table seats about 8, and several seats are already taken.  I could have chosen any of several tables, but for some reason I focused on a silver haired gentleman, already seated.  He caught my attention because he was obviously not like the other people in the room.  He wasn't wearing a suit, not even sport jacket; not the "business casual" that is recommended for these elite functions.  Sure, I'd like to sit next to Bill Gates, but since I didn't see him there, and breakfast was being served, I figured: What the heck, this guy is either in the wrong room, or he's a rebel, a non-conformist just like me.  In either case, it might be interesting...

I sit, I introduce myself, which is the politically correct thing to do, and right off I learn that he is Bradley J. Fikes, of the North County Times, and he is here covering the event.  Well, of course I mention that the North County Times is one of my favorite newspapers, because I do live in North County, and then almost as a reflex I reach into my pocket for the Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs: Ten Principles for Managing a Young, Growing Business.  It's a little something I put together a few months ago, a nice little booklet of only 28 pages.  Just a trinket, really, but it looks reasonably good for the prototype that it is.  It's designed to be an order of magnitude better than a business card; something people will remember, and get involved with.  Not easily filed away, not easily discarded...

Before I left home I put two copies in my shirt pocket, just in case I met someone who might be a worthy recipient.  That was the Preparation.  And this was the moment when Preparation met Opportunity.  Luck!

The result of this was that Bradley J. Fikes wrote his story in the North County Times, a short piece about the state of Venture Capital, and went on to mention the fellow he happened to sit next to at breakfast (yours truly) and the Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs, and even quoted two of the Principles contained therein (#1 Think Straight and #8 Let There Be Cash) and even gave his readers my website address!  You can read the story here.

What is interesting to me is that Mr. Fikes did not contact me about the article, and I would never have known about it at all if it were not for something I did several years ago.  I set up a Google Alert with a search term of my name.  It's a free service that Alerts me anytime the term Michael McCafferty pops up on the World Wide Web.  Of course, there are other people with my name, including the one who also appeared in the alert, a fellow in England who was arrested for house burglary, but that's another story.  I doubt if he uses Google Alerts on his name.

Of course, I would never have known about the story if it were not for the Preparation I did several years before the Opportunity.  More Luck!

How Prepared are you when Opportunity presents itself?

As a reward for reading this far, I'll send you a free copy of my now-newsworthy Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs, just for sending me your mailing address in an email to

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Secret of Those Who Amaze The World

The secret of those who amaze the world
is that they regard nothing as impossible.

Henry David Thoreau

Friday, January 21, 2011

80% Of Success is Showing Up

I had not been planning on entering it, and I felt rotten when I woke up the morning of the Big Quarterly 8-ball Tournament.  I didn't get much sleep at all.  I was listless, and unfocused, and when I tried to hit a few on my table, every shot missed by a mile.  My vision was fuzzy.  I figured there was no way I was going to win the tournament, so why even show up for it?

But, the deciding factor was that I kinda missed hanging with the guys who frequent the room; I hadn't competed in this tournament since I won it 9 months ago.  That was the second time I won it, so I have been staying away in order to not wear out my welcome.

So, with my fuzzy vision, and well over 2 years of not practicing at all, this was a good opportunity to show up and let them beat up on me, and we can all have some good fun, and then the Next time I'll try for the 3-peat.  This was my humble plan.

Strangely, I won it anyway.  I wasn't happy with my game at all.  I missed some shots that were inexcusable, giving my opponents many opportunities.  I lost one match to "Lefty" Bob, who won it last quarter.  But somehow I just hung in there until the end.

So what can you learn from all this?  I guess it kinda proves what Woody Allen was saying: "80% of success is showing up".  Thanks, Woody!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Top Ten VC Blogs

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal blog "Venture Capital Dispatch", the top ten Venture Capital blogs are listed below (numbers in parentheses are the unique visitors per month, and bold if it is an increase):

  1. Paul Graham, YCombinator, Essays (97,227)
  2. Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures, A VC (81,483)
  3. Mark Suster, GRP Partners, Both Sides of the Table (53,655)
  4. Brad Feld, Foundry Group, Feld Thoughts (38,821)
  5. Chris Dixon, Founder Collective, (20,988)
  6. Charlie O’Donnell, First Round Capital, This is Going to be Big (13,970)
  7. Larry Cheng, Volition Capital, Thinking About Thinking (13,215)
  8. Dave McClure, Founders Fund, Master of 500 Hats (11,127)
  9. Ben Horowitz, Andreesen Horowitz, Ben’s Blog (10,686)
  10. Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Ventures Partners, LSVP (9,344)

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    The #1 Mistake CEOs Make

    By far, the number one mistake CEOs make is "waiting too long to (whatever)".  This is the answer given by 80% of those interviewed.*  This amplifies my previous post about "not taking action".  Now that you have learned this most important fact, DO SOMETHING!  That's your job, right?  Chief EXECUTIVE Officer.  Executive means to "execute".  That's another word for Do.

    The way I see it, we learn nothing by doing nothing.  It is only by taking Action that we learn something.  We learn that the results of our actions are either good or bad.  If the results are bad, then we need to take Action again, quickly, until we get the good results we want.  But "waiting too long" is a prescription for mediocrity, and possibly even extinction.

    *The source for this statistic is the instructor in my class on Entrepreneurship at UCSD.  He's a Venture Capitalist.  He should know.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Getting Mentored

    Something to remember when looking for help from a mentor, from GigaOm:

    5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make 

    When Getting Mentored

    And while I'm thinking of it, 
    I would add at least one more mistake: 
    Not taking Action!

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Entrepreneurship is like Pornography...

    "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." In 1964 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote words to that effect when he tried to define pornography/obscenity.

    If you had asked me yesterday how to define Entrepreneurship, I would probably have given you a similar answer, but today I have it down cold.

    Entrepreneurship is "the pursuit of opportunity" according to "New Business Ventures and The Entrepreneur" (sixth edition). That's the textbook for the class I'm taking at UCSD starting next week.

    Can you believe it? I'm going back to school, at the age of 68, to learn what it is that I have been doing for the last 50+ years.  For me, it was just some natural bodily function; I was just doing what came naturally, and now I learn that there's actually a methodology, a System for being an Entrepreneur.  I just can not pass up this opportunity, so I'm going back to school.  Probably be the oldest guy in the class!

    I am going to try mightily to NOT say to fellow students: "I was starting businesses before you were born... heck, I was starting businesses before your *parents* were born!"

    Wish me luck...

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    A Simple System for Success

    Looking for success in the new year?  
    This is the simplest system yet devised by man (me).

    It is free, and guaranteed to work, 
    but you must follow this fiendishly simple plan!