The Reich Hebrew Academy

This week, my family and I were honored by my childhood school for the work we’ve done over the years to give back to the school and to the community.

I gave a speech and made another commitment.

Both are below…

**** The speech ****

Next week is Passover. 

It’s a time in the Jewish tradition when we talk about how we escaped bondage, oppression, and persecution and were freed from slavery in Egypt. 

Growing up every year, when my grandparents were around, we would go to their house for this holiday. I would sit next to my grandfather at the head of the table, watching him tell the story about how, we, as Jews, were freed from slavery. 

As some of you may know, my grandparents were Holocaust survivors. And like the Jews from Egypt, my grandparents managed to survive their own Pharoah and discover freedom on a small farm in Toms River, New Jersey. 

To sit next to my grandfather, and listen to him talk about Jews being persecuted and freed, thousands of years ago, was quite surreal to me.

Even in my eulogy about him, I remember remarking about how these moments felt like a window into the past, through his eyes and his narration of the Sedar, with his Yiddish accent.

At a young age, I could appreciate this relationship between Passover and the Holocaust. The Hebrew Academy certainly had a role to play in helping me understand these chapters of our past.

But I remember one year in particular.

I was sitting at the head of the table and my grandfather had a few more cups of wine than usual.

Out of nowhere, for the very first time in my life, he began to tell me stories about his experiences during the Holocaust. 


These weren’t stories about the six million Jews. 

These were stories about Sam. About his friends. About his siblings. About his parents. About his family. 

About my family. 

One story he told me was about the time when he was a prisoner of war, he went without eating his bread rations for a week, so he could sell those rations to enemy soldiers and bribe his way out of the camp to work as a carpenter, which he was not. 

You could imagine the irony of listening to him tell me about the importance of bread and how it saved his life while starting at a matzah plate in the middle of the Sedar table.

These stories, and others like it that night were the first time that I really internalized the fact that he lost everything, yet, we were here.  

We were free. 

With everything. 

We had opportunities he never had. 

We have opportunities 6 million people, and their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren never had. 

This is something I think about every single day of my life. 

בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלוּ הוּא יֶָָצֶָא מִמִּצְרַָים

“In every generation, every individual must feel as if he personally had come out of Egypt”

This visceral understanding gives me perspective and encourages me to make the most of this gift that each one of us has. 

The gift of life.

Back at the Passover table, and after he shared his war stories, he then proceeded to give his young grandson some life lessons. 


They were simple.

Work hard and go to school. Get a good education.

I think he understood that our kids are our future and that his kids and grandkids were his future. 

I think he also understood how education played a central role in it all, especially when he himself was not able to pursue it due to the war. 

This is something, as a parent myself, I now really understand but more importantly, it’s something I feel and connect with every time I look at my own kids, Michaela and Brayden. 

It’s something my parents understood too when they sent me to school at The Hebrew Academy.

My grandparents and parents knew that if that little boy at the Sedar table worked hard in life and got a good education, he might be ok. And maybe, just maybe, he could help pay it forward and do the same for his family and for others.

And here we are. 


I’ve worked hard, had a great upbringing thanks to my parents and The Hebrew Academy, had a little success and a lot of luck, and now recognize that it’s my turn to help ensure our Jewish family carries on for future generations. 

That is why, tonight, I am excited to honor the memory of my grandparents, Sam and Betty, by rededicating my childhood school, formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School and currently The Hebrew Academy. 

Moving forward, it will forever be known as “The Reich Hebrew Academy”

I can truly think of no better way to express my love and appreciation for my grandparents and their legacy.

Today more than ever, this is especially important with the backdrop of what’s happening in Ukraine. Once again, people are fleeing Europe to save their lives as my grandparents did from their small towns in Poland years ago, which are now part of Ukraine.

This commitment ensures that my generation and future generations will be afforded the same opportunities that were afforded to me. Opportunities that were not afforded to my grandparents and millions of others. 

So here’s my ask to all of you…

Please consider joining me and my family, Joe and Maxine Macnow, and recent others like David and Vanessa Wise, Randy and Laurie Pearlman, in stepping up in a big way and helping ensure this school gets built. 

Joe, Maxine, and Yoti told me they had a dream about this project. As an entrepreneur, I too love to live in the clouds and try to invent the future.


And their dream is an amazing one where the past present and future exist concurrently. It’s an exciting vision and we would not be here without them.

Joe, Maxine, Yoti, thank you. 

So please, help us make it a reality and help us ensure the path to the future is secured for our kids and future generations.


And now, I’d like to introduce you to the funnier, better-looking Reich, my brother Jeremy. 

Thank you.

# #

Mostyska, Ukraine – The Field Hospital In The Middle Of A War Zone

My grandmother survived the German invasion of her small town of Mostyska (then Poland, now Ukraine).

Many of her friends and family were murdered there.

My family built a monument there to remember them…

Once again, Mostyska is at war…

But instead of being ground zero for death, Mostyska is now ground zero for life.

It hosts an Israeli field hospital to treat those escaping the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As a first responder myself, I’ve been donating to organizations sending in first responders and medical relief. One of them is “Uber for first responders”, United Hatzalah.

I’ve been donating in memory of my grandparents, who fled, just as the Ukrainians are doing now.

I had no idea where the first responders were establishing their field hospitals.

But now I know…

My donations are sending medics to save lives on the very soil where my grandmother was raised, and where her family and friends wer killed.

Time and space are connected. Even a small act can leave an impact on generations.

If you are looking for a way to help, please look here: https://israelrescue.org/ukraineemergency

# #

P&G Buys TULA – How It Started

Like all startup beginnings, the earliest days of TULA were filled with a lot of emotions. For me personally, some words that come to mind are things like “depressed” “anxious” and “lost”. After all, I spent about a year and a half wandering the desert trying to figure out what I wanted to work on for my next business. 

During this time, I started to do a little angel investing, trading notes, and deal flow with people. In particular, I found myself most engaged with Great Oaks Capital. Just a year or so earlier, they were one of the VC firms that had issued us a term sheet for my last company Spinback and the founder, like me, went to UW-Madison. 

After a while, they suggested that I work out of their office and look at companies together. We talked about how I could leverage their balance sheet and they could leverage my network and operating background to incubate or invest in great startups. 

That sounded like a great idea to me. 

So all of a sudden, I started ‘going to work’ as a VC of sorts. I wasn’t formally employed but at least I was more formally collaborating with other like-minded people that wanted to win and do so at the intersection of startups and technology. For a while, I debated if I should be a full-time VC, but I knew I wasn’t quite ready for that path, if at all. 

We ended up getting involved in a few companies together, Olapic being one of them. It reminded me how much I missed operating. 

I needed to get back to it.

So off the heels of working with the Olapic team, I started to think about the world I had just come from: e-commerce.

For context, my last software company Spinback helped online brands and retailers measure how much money they were making from Facebook and social media. This was around 2010 when Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) was just coming to life. We saw firsthand what that world looked like because some of the original D2C companies like Bonobos were our customers, and this was certainly accelerated when we merged with Buddy Media (we later sold to Salesforce). But other well-known brands and retailers were our customers too. Companies like L’Occitane, Under Armour, QVC, and more worked with us to figure out their social media monetization strategy. 

And then at Olapic, the team took a similar approach but instead of leveraging Facebook, they leaned into Instagram as the primary medium to promote, sell and measure e-commerce sales. 

It was clear that despite both companies exiting for good outcomes, it was still super early days for e-commerce, D2C, influencer marketing, and more. 

Why not revisit this idea?

So that’s what I did.

I reconnected with all of my old customers and we discussed new ideas to help them continue to innovate and navigate their digital transformation not just as brick and mortar retailers, but as digitally native brands. 

One of those customers was QVC. (thanks Chris Fralic for the intro!)

We met a few times to talk about how we can pick up where we left off, but rethink strategy around things like personalization, influencer marketing, and video. I started to get a line of sight into the product I was going to build for them as a beta customer. And then in one of my meetings, the conversation shifted.

Something along these lines emerged from QVC…

“We know the world is changing. Things are moving away from traditional media like print, radio, and TV to digital media. At QVC, we have finite shelf space with TV. Our shelf space is limited to 364 days per year, 24/7 with the exception of Christmas as our only day off. We think we can unlock new shelf space by launching brands digitally. And, we also know beauty is the hottest and fastest-growing category for us. What do you think of launching brands digitally on QVC?”

As I was listening to this, I had a flashback to a day at Buddy Media. There had been a huge spike in traffic and sales in QVC’s analytics, but it was for a brand and product that wasn’t on air. This was highly unusual since they only saw spikes in sales when brands were on TV.

So I dug in and looked at our analytics. As a reminder, we helped brands facilitate and measure how much money they were making from social media and influencers. And low and behold, there was some blogger that posted on the QVC blog about how much she loved some product. Buried at the bottom of the page amidst hundreds of comments, this one blogger ended up driving more sales than most brands saw from their TV appearances. I thought then, that if I could ever build my own omnichannel brand, and partner with a retailer like QVC, with some of these new strategies and tactics I learned over the past few years, I would do it. This stuff was just getting started. We were still so early with D2C and influencer marketing and I had a front-row seat over the past few years for what worked, what didn’t and where the puck was going across all of these brands and ecosystems.

Back to the QVC meeting…

“Dan, so what do you think? Is this something you might be interested in helping with?”

I said, “It’s a great idea. After all, I know your business well and digital pretty well, but I know nothing about beauty. However, I know someone that does. Let me run this by him to get his take. Maybe we all get lunch to talk about it.”

I went back to the office on 60th and Madison.

Now, during that time working out of the Great Oaks office, I had the chance to meet other people in the office.

There was another person that was doing his own private equity investing. He’s been able to do this because of a previous success he had as one of the founding partners of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics which later sold to Estee Lauder. By that time, Ken Landis and I had gotten to know each other pretty well. I was literally working out of his office and at his desk while he was out of the city. I also got to hear his story first hand and hear how he was CEO of the cosmetic division of a publicly-traded fashion house and then later, a co-founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. 

I debriefed him on the meetings I had and a lot of what we discussed resembled the earliest days of Bobbi Brown. Similarly, a lot of what we discussed also resembled the best-in-class customers of mine that were the most successful with digital marketing. 

We believed that for a digitally-native brand to work in the environment we were in, and actually break through all the noise and get to $100mm+ in sales, a few things needed to be true:

  1. We needed to be digitally native. As I mentioned, I lived and breathed this world for years working with some of the best brands and retailers in the world helping them invent their social media strategies at a time when “Facebook likes” were all the rage. Moreover, my first company in high school was a D2C e-commerce site selling urban clothing wholesale. I knew how to do this part. I could also build our first website and save us some money. Check
  2. We needed to understand beauty. I heard countless stories from Ken about the beauty and fashion industry. There were so many nuances that people just overlooked. Basic and obvious things that, if not accounted for early, could kill a business. Ken had this part covered through and through. Check.
  3. We needed to plan for retail. I saw the early days of brands trying to be D2C only and quickly understood that it doesn’t really work. At least not all of the time. For this type of product and category, we always knew we needed to work with third-party retailers. Not just QVC, but brick and mortar too. We would need to develop our product assortment, margin profile, and cost structure to let us work with retailers like Ulta and Sephora. We knew what was important to them and what it took to work with them. We believed that, just like the streaming services all vying for their own unique content, retailers would also be evolving their business to curate special, semi-exclusive brands. So we figured we could start with QVC as our first motivated retail partner, but parallel process plans with brick and mortar, while also standing up our own D2C channel. Check. 
  4. We needed to be smart about our capitalization strategy. This was not a tech company. This was going to be a brand, turbocharged by technology. There is a difference. And that difference matters a lot especially when we thought about financing and valuations. We always anticipated a forever home for TULA to be a company like P&G and we understood how they thought about multiples in the space. We did not ever want to get ahead of our skis. So we self-financed the business to start with some friends and family coming on board too as investors.

As we worked through the must-have list, it was clear we had enough of the pieces in place to give this a real shot and keep digging in.

I shelved my tech startup.

I was now building a skincare company. 

Only problem…

There were a few more things on our list of ‘must-haves’ that we did not have yet.

  1. We needed the idea! We had no idea what the concept would be and even if we did, it wouldn’t be authentic. We needed help there. We weren’t going to spend our time building a new company if we didn’t think it had a real shot of positively impacting people’s lives. 
  2. We needed a credible, experienced partner that could help us develop the concept and business in a way that was set up for long-term success, with real science behind it. In short, we thought we needed someone with a medical and scientific background who could bring insights and perspectives we felt we were missing. In addition, we wanted someone that could relate to our targeted customer base. Ideally, someone that was a young mom, with one or two kids, running around multi-tasking and operating as a modern-day superwoman. And lastly, for icing on the cake, we wanted someone that had some commercial savviness or better yet, had some media background. We knew at some point, if we did our jobs well, that we would quickly evolve from our digital-only channel to an omnichannel brand that appeared on TV too. 

Where the hell were we going to find this unicorn?

I asked my wife, Amy, for her thoughts.

While she is a modern-day superwoman, unfortunately, she was not a mom at the time nor did she have a medical background. So we’d have to go elsewhere.

A few weeks later she sends me a link.

It’s a video of the Bethany Frankel show. 

I watch it and sure enough, I see this well-spoken, highly knowledgeable gastroenterologist talking about gut health.

I think to myself, she is the missing piece. We need to meet with her.

I quickly shared the link with Ken and after maybe a 30-second conversation we both agreed we should try to meet her and see if she might be interested and willing to help us determine if there is an opportunity here.

I sent her an email.

She responds almost immediately and we set up a time to speak on the phone. A few days later, standing outside the New York Times building, I gave her a ring. We hit it off almost immediately. When we spoke, she mentioned that she had already been working on her own beverage line that was focused on digestive health using probiotics and superfoods. She already had a prepared mind, and work in progress, for her own consumer packaged goods company. I thought this was perfect!

Next step… we had to meet in person.

A few days later she came by the office to meet with me and Ken. We talked about how we might be able to apply some of her thinking and work but for a skincare line instead of beverages. She shared stories about how some of her healthiest and most radiant or glowing patients, all took probiotics. There indeed was something here but we needed to investigate further. And sure enough, as we’re deep in thought contemplating this wacky idea, she takes out a few pieces of paper from her bag. She pulled out a recent article that was written by the American Academy of Dermatology that claimed “Dermatologists encouraged by early research showing link between probiotic use and clearer skin in acne and rosacea patients.” From there, we did a bit more homework and diligence in the area and we were sold.

We were going to create a health and beauty company using probiotics and superfoods in skincare products.

We started to meet more regularly.

In one of those meetings, we needed to figure out what the hell we were going to call this thing.

Roshini showed up with a list of names. 

  • Blue Lotus
  • Lotus
  • Roshini
  • Nalini
  • and…

Sure enough, on the list was TULA, the Sanskrit word for balance. Healthy and beautiful on the inside and out! It seemed fitting since we’d be the first to repurpose probiotics for the largest organ in and on our body. Our skin.

In another meeting, we picked out some packaging concepts and the color. There was a certain blue that Roshini liked. Ken didn’t have a strong preference because he is color blind. This has been an ongoing joke in every creative meeting we’ve ever had. 

So there we were, with the name, the concept, the first SKUs, a launch strategy, and a diverse but highly complementary founding team.

And just like that, TULA was born.

There’s a whole lot more to the story and perhaps one day I’ll tell it. Like one time I had to work at the factory for two days straight inspecting, hand by hand, 10,000 cleansers otherwise we would have been out of business before we launched. Or the time we thought we completely bombed on our first on-air QVC appearance, only to have sold out. Or the time we beat a patent and copyright troll at their own game. Or the time I fired myself as CEO because I realized there are other people out there better suited than me to run a women’s beauty company day to day, plus, I really missed building software. See Troops.ai. 

The list goes on.

People often ask me, “what’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?” 

My answer is almost always the same..

Surround yourself with people better than you, that you look up to and want to learn from. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. 

I think Tula is a perfect example of me heeding my own advice. From the beginning, I tried to find people better than me, to help make this crazy idea a reality. And you know what? It worked.

None of this would have been possible without the team that made it all a reality that did the hard work, day in and day out. To each and every one of you, whether you are at TULA now or were a part of our journey in the past…thank you. You are the reason we are here. 

To Ken and Roshini, we’ve come a long way!

And now, TULA will be able to continue to thrive and grow with P&G as a partner and continue the mission we started just seven years ago. 

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I had $2 million dollars in crypto locked on a wallet

Yes, I had $2 million dollars locked away on a crypto-hard wallet that I couldn’t access because of a forgotten password.

But let’s start from the beginning…

In 2013 I started to learn everything I could about the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. It was clear that a new “internet of money” was being born.

I started reading, writing, buying, and experimenting with the world of Bitcoin and everything around it. I almost started a company with the premise of letting people more easily buy and sell Bitcoin. I’ll add that one to the woulda, coulda, shouda list.

As we now all know, a few years later the ecosystem started to pick up. More people were getting involved, including some of my friends. 

One of those friends had been making a living as a professional poker player. Instead of only trading cards and chips on digital poker tables, he now also started to trade various cryptocurrencies on a number of exchanges. 

I was however busy with my day job building startups and didn’t have time anymore to focus on the crypto world. But, I still wanted to get in early on some of the emerging, off-the-beaten-path technologies that most people hadn’t heard about yet.

So in 2018, my friend Jesse and I were chatting and decided we should make a larger, more concentrated bet on an alternative coin. I would transfer him the money and he would buy and hold the coins for us. 

And that’s exactly what we did.

On January 18, 2018, I sent my friend 2 BTC, which at the time was about $12,500/BTC. And with my 2 BTC, and his 2 BTC, together, we bought about $50,000 of a different coin called Theta at about $0.21 per token. This seemed a bit crazy at the time since the logical, sensible part of our brains told us we were basically lighting money on fire. 

This is what lighting money on fire looks like.

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” – Warren Buffet

That was my plan. 

To buy and hold, and not look at it for a very long time.

A few weeks go by…

We get a notice from the exchange where we had purchased and been storing our Theta coins. The exchange was about to shut down because the Chinese government was putting them out of business. Apparently, the Chinese government was working to ensure they had much more control over Bitcoin and the ecosystem. If we didn’t pull our coins and tokens out of the exchange by a certain date, we’d lose it all. I guess that’s China for you.

So we had to move the coins. We asked…

“Should we keep them?”

“Sell them?”

We decided to keep them. HODL!

Jesse bought a Trezor One hardware wallet and moved the coins onto the device for safekeeping. A hardware wallet is sort of like a digital lockbox for cryptocurrency, where the private information is stored within a physical electronic device. It looks a bit like a USB stick. We managed to move our coins mere minutes before the exchange disappeared.

Life went on. 


I forgot about the coins and really the rest of my crypto holdings for that matter and just got back to work on my business. 

And then…

Prices crashed. It was a nuclear winter in crypto land. 

My $25k was now probably worth a few pennies on the dollar and at that point in my life, I just didn’t want to deal with the emotional roller coaster of big swings in the crypto markets. I had enough on my mind with work and didn’t want to be distracted and stressed with these insane markets. I wanted to sell off all of my positions and just ignore the crypto world for a bit.

So I asked Jesse to transfer me my coins so I can sell them and be done with it.

“I can’t do that.”

I asked, “What do you mean you can’t do that? Just send them or sell them.”

And then he said something that would set us off on a wild adventure:

“I forgot the password!”

You see, this is remarkable for two reasons. First, Jesse remembers everything. He remembers all of our friend’s license plate numbers from high school. After all, he plays poker for a living playing 8 tables at a time, knowing the odds, and remembers how probably dozens of different players play the game. In fact, one of the first places we heard about Theta was from another poker player!

Secondly, if you guessed the password incorrectly too many times, the device self-destructs. I mean, it doesn’t actually blow up, but the entire contents erase and our coins would be lost forever! The good news however is if you forget the password, you can always restore the device using a recovery seed which is basically a 24-word passphrase. Jesse wrote this down on a piece of paper while originally setting up the Trezor, but it got thrown away by accident along the way.


We were screwed! 

At this point, I was almost relieved. After all, the investment basically went to zero and in many ways, it made living with that shitty investment decision a little bit easier to stomach.

I forgot about the coins and went on with my life again. 


Until…

The nuclear winter in crypto land was over. Prices started to go up again. 

Our $50k was back to about half.


Prices went up again….back to $50k. 

Now we figured we should really try to get this wallet open.

“Dan, you’re an electrical engineer. You can figure it out!” I should have paid more attention in class because there was no way I would figure this out. And even if I did, I had absolutely no time to even try.


At this point, I had convinced myself I would never see the money again so I ignored it.

Prices went up again!

$75k.. $100k…$200k!

At this point, we decided to get a bit more active to figure this out.  Jesse started googling the earth to find people that could help.


We found engineers that allegedly hacked this wallet before, but they weren’t interested in helping.

$400k!

We found a few engineers who seemed like they could pull it off but they either flaked, weren’t interested or ran into obstacles quickly. Some of those engineers were even engineering professors from my school.

$800k!

Finally, we found some guys in Switzerland who claimed they had done this before. They seemed like they could actually pull it off. The problem now was that I needed to meet them in Paris at their secret lab and Europe was shut down due to COVID. For a few weeks, we went back and forth trying to figure out how we could rendezvous in Europe to pass off the wallet but the combination of the shutdown and not being able to physically go to the lab to watch them hack the wallet made the prospects of this working a bit grim. 

A new update…

We see a press release about Theta:

Institutional investors Sierra Ventures, Heuristic Capital, Venture Reality Fund, and GFR Fund stake over $100M in Theta to a collective Enterprise Validator Node

$1.5mm!

We were back at square one.

Group chats with our friends were becoming ridiculous. I told Jesse if we couldn’t find a technical way to free the coins, we’d find a chemical way to free the coins. As in, we’d go away for a weekend and I’d feed him hallucinogens until he remembered the password. 

We found another engineer in Portland. He was a part of a famous hacker group back in the day and testified on the Senate floor saying, “Yes, we can take down the internet in 30 minutes.” We had been exchanging emails to see if he could be our guy to figure this out and free the coins.

He bought some hardware and special devices, made a few calls to some friends in the hacking world, and off he went, trying to hack an exact make and model of our Trezor to prove he could do this.

This is the solution Joe came up with to hack the Trezor wallet.

Over the next few weeks, he went to work and would update us on his progress.

$2.0mm!

I said as soon as he could prove success, I’d book a ticket out the next day to come to meet him in person with the wallet. We also talked about the fact that if he could actually pull this off, he could offer these services to many more people like us that are locked out of their wallets. In addition, we agreed that we’d have to film this hack because one way or the other we would have to tell this story. 

It would either be a triumphant story or a miserable and expensive story, but either way, we were going to document the whole thing.

And sure enough, I eventually get an email with something to the effect of…


“I did it!”

The next day, I drove to Jesse’s apartment, picked up the wallet, and booked my flight to Portland to meet the hacker, Joe Grand

The rest they say is history…

After two days in Portland, spending a few hours in his lab performing the attack on the wallet, he freed the coins!

At the time the wallet was officially hacked and unlocked, the total value of the wallet was about $2.5 million dollars. 

At the lowest point, it was about $20k. At the highest, it was just over $3 million.

Joe is now making his services available to anyone that is locked out of their wallets with a new company called offspec.io

Did we sell the coins? Yes, we sold some.

The rest? We put on another Trezor and locked it away.

And that’s my story about how I had $2mm locked on a crypto wallet.

And you can see the whole thing go down in this video.

And, The Verge wrote about it here too.

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How I Start My Day

Every morning I use a basic journaling routine to start my day.

When I fire up my computer, the first thing I do is open my note-taking tool and copy/paste in my daily template.

That template looks like this:

***

Today’s Date – November 30th, 2021

Gratitudes

  1. The first thing I’m grateful for today. This could be something small like..
  2. I’m grateful for this hot cup of coffee to start my day, or something bigger like..
  3. I’m grateful to be able to celebrate the holidays in-person with my friends and family after a lousy year with Covid-19. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. This routine just helps to build the gratitude muscle and grounds myself with positivity and healthy perspective to start the day.

To Do List

  • What’s the next action I need to do? I update that here
  • and here
  • and here
  • and sometimes, it adds to the to-do list from days before and reminds me that I need to get focused and burn down my to-do list. Sometimes I also realize I had to-dos that weren’t in fact important or just resolved themselves on their own.

Idea Of The Day

  • Is there any stroke of genius or ridiculous idea I want to write down and revisit later? If so, I’ll jot it down here.
  • Or maybe it’s some quote I heard or read, that just seems like a great idea to ponder and think about.

Notes

  • Throughout the day, I’ll just log my notes in this section. If I have a call, I’ll add a bullet point like…
  • Call with Batman to discuss the new Gotham City Building
    • And then I’ll add notes about that call here

***

I use Roam Research and templates to make it easy to link and group ideas together over time, but really any note-taking tool should work here. You can see a snapshot of that below. Another new one to look at is called Reflect App.

I’ve found this to be a pretty simple and effective way to start my day.

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The Power of Perspective

This is one of my favorite times of the year.

When people start asking questions like, “what are you doing for New Years?” it brings into focus the fact that the year is almost over.

And then, inevitably, I think…..How did the year go? How do I feel about the year ahead?

Whenever I zoom out and ask those more macro questions…I keep zooming out…I think about my life and my work compared to other parts of life, to other people, and other situations…

I think about the homeless person living on the corner of 30th and park, a few feet away from our NYC office…

I think about my grandfather that had to drive 2 hours each way from southern New Jersey to New York City, seven days a week to sell eggs from his farm…just a few short years after fleeing the Holocaust and war in Europe…

I think about the headlines in the news…people losing their kids to gun violence…

I think about people being silenced and “disappeared” for sharing their thoughts publicly…

I think about the people that thought they’d have a wonderful morning out skiing with friends but don’t ever make it home…

At times it can be hard to see all that we are thankful for and to appreciate all of the good things happening in our lives. This can be especially hard when scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and comparing your life to the few glorious minutes someone spent perfecting their ‘gram’ and public display for the world.

Or it can feel depressing when reading posts on LinkedIn about how people are crushing it with record-breaking numbers, promotions, and everything in between.

We’re all guilty of this and it could lead us to some dark and interesting thought exercises.

I’ve been there. I get it.

But the reality is this…

Whatever you may be going through or feeling, just try to have the perspective that no matter the situation you’re in, things can likely be a lot worse.

The power of this perspective has been one of the most important and impactful mental models for me throughout my life.

Maybe it can be helpful to you too.

Happy thanksgiving.

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Tomorrow Will Be Better – Vote

On November 11th, 1947, on the heels of World War II, after the fabrics of government and society were torn to shreds in Europe, Winston S Churchill went on to say this:

‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

Today is election day. As we know, things are far from perfect.

This can be said about most anything.

Our work and Business, our relationships, our finances, our health.

We all want to do better. We all strive for more.

Today, we have the fortunate opportunity to do more for the country that we live in. We are able to make our voices heard, and counted.

We get to vote, and decide who will represent us and help shape our country and the world for a better version of itself.

And in that effort or any effort to grow and improve, there will be pain, there will be stress, there will be disagreements, there will be failure.

Whatever happens today or this week, it’s important to remember that this perfect union called America is far from perfect, and frankly, it will never be. But as long as we keep putting in the work in our own way like voting, by creating new jobs and opportunities, by making our voices heard, by being decent, by being honest, by doing the right thing, and anything else that perpetuates ‘good’ and the values we hope to live by, we should rest assured that things will indeed get better, as tough as they may seem in the moment.

As a comparison, remember that just years ago the world was in a much worse place compared to today.

  • Political grievances were settled with gun duels
  • Mothers and fathers were sending their 18 year olds off to the beaches of Normandy
  • The average life expectancy from 1500s to 1800s was between ages 30 and 40 years old
  • Poverty, hunger and child labor are at the lowest levels they’ve ever been
  • Child mortality is the lowest it’s ever been
  • Homicide rates are the lowest they’ve ever been
  • More people in the world live in a democracy than ever before
  • The literacy rate in the world is the highest its ever been
  • Moore’s law, which describes the empirical regularity that the number of transistors on integrated circuits double every two years, is still tracking since inception in 1971
  • Access to the internet is increasing
  • Solar energy is the cheapest its ever been

By mostly all accounts, the world is in a much better place than it has ever been and I take solace in this fact.

But I also recognize that we must continue to play a role to maintain this forward progress.

So today, please take the time to vote and reflect on what more you can do, regardless of the outcome.

Whatever happens, I’m still the most optimistic I’ve ever been about what’s ahead.

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9/11/2020

Today is September 11th. Like many of you, I remember exactly where I was and how I felt the minute I saw the plane fly into the towers.

That sort of thing sticks with you for the rest of your life.

I know it has for me, and painfully, more-so for others.

In a blink of an eye, the world changed forever.

As we know, the world changed again this year in more ways than one.

Not a single American has been unaffected by COVID or the state of affairs, and like 9/11, some have been much more affected than others.

This has been a tough year.
It still is.

However..

Through it all, I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to spend my days with incredible people in my life.

I recognize that this thing called life is a lottery ticket. It’s an opportunity that’s been stolen from many.
I plan to make the most of those opportunities….for me and for them.

#NeverForget is something we’ll all see on social media and it is true, we should never forget what happened that day.

But we should each take a moment to #NeverForget the opportunities we have and the position we are in. We are all, relatively speaking, very blessed and fortunate.

So in those moments of pain, despair, regret, frustration, sadness or anxiety, just never forget that you will get through it and come out stronger on the other side.

This year is far from over, but I’m the most excited and hopeful I’ve been in a while, despite the state of the world.

#NeverForget

My Daughter’s First Pediatrician

Sometimes you experience something in life that’s rocks your core and makes you take stock of the short time we have here.

Today was one of those days.

My wife and I took our almost 8 month old daughter to see a specialist. I say “almost 8” because at month 8, the doctor wouldn’t see her.

Our pediatrician told us that after month 8, it really doesn’t make sense to get your baby checked out for having “flat head syndrome.”

That’s what the check up was for…

We simply wanted to know if our daughter would grow to resemble her parents with decently shaped human heads or that of an alien.

In my case, maybe both!

We asked our pediatrician and he seemed to think it would be fine. After all, he’d seen countless babies over the years and had seen our daughter grow up since her very first day on earth.

He gave her the first check up, her first shots and vaccines, and so on.

He also shared with us a sort of “go with the flow” philosophy on parenting I could get on board with…and a “no TV policy” that was far less exciting.

“Her head is fine” he said.

“She’s perfectly healthy. But if you really want to get her checked out I have a good friend and specialist that you can see.”

A week goes by…

“Dan, our daughter is going to look like an alien!” my wife said.

I replied, “But aliens have big heads because their brains need the space.”

You can guess who won the debate.

So today we went to see the specialist.

“So what brings you here today?” said the specialist, Dr Peter.

“We are concerned our daughter’s head may becoming too deformed and could present some developmental issues. Our pediatrician said it probably wasn’t a big deal but we figured we’d come in anyway especially now that we think her head has gotten a little worse” said my wife.

He took a quick look and her head was fine.

He asked, “Who’s your pediatrician?”

“Dr. Cammerman”, my wife responded.

“O he’s great. He was my kids pediatrician their whole lives. They are teenagers now but they’ve been seeing him forever.”

As a new parent, it felt pretty great to know another doctor shared the same pediatrician as us. We told him how much we liked him and how great he was with our daughter.

“We saw him 3 weeks ago and will be going back soon for another check up.”

He asked, “you’re going to see who?”

“Dr. Cammerman,” I said.

And then another question….

“Umm…Daniel Cammerman?”

I said, “Yes, the same pediatrician your kids use. The one that sent us here.”

Silence….

“I don’t know how to tell you this but Dr. Cammerman died two weeks ago in a biking accident.”

More silence..

“He was riding from his home on the upper west side across Central Park to his office, he slipped on a patch of ice and was hit by a school bus.”

More silence…

He was only 50 years old with two kids.

But he really had more like hundreds if not thousands of kids over his career.

My daughter was one of them.

And now a good soul and good man is gone. In such a short period of time he imparted wisdom, kindness and care on me and my family.

I wish my daughter would have gotten to know him better.

I’m sure his family wishes for a lot more than that.

I do too.

I can only hope with time they appreciate and cherish the impact he’s made on so many children and families. His kindness and caring will stick with me forever and act as another reminder of how important it is to be kind and be in service of others, wherever and however we can. Life is too short to do otherwise.

He knew that and became a doctor.

He will be missed.

Please do something good today. Make a dent in the world in a positive way.


Article: Doctor riding bike through Central Park wipes out on ice, is fatally struck by school bus full of kids

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Decade Predictions and Pontifications

I’m late to this, but let’s do it anyway. Here are some predictions and pontifications for the next decade. Some I really believe and others not so much…although I wouldn’t be shocked if they happened.

Travel

  • Air drone taxies – we’ll be calling for on demand pick ups only we’ll get picked up and delivered by flying drones designed to transport humans short distances.
  • Commercial space travel – this is happening. I’ll be buying a ticket.

Energy 

  • Clean energy will represent one of the biggest opportunities and we’ll see companies take off that focus on carbon reduction, water sanitation, and solar energy.
  • Battery innovation will continue. Long TESLA
  • Nuclear energy will make a comeback
  • The energy grid will begin to decentralize. People will get tired of blackouts and intermitted service from their energy grids designed decades ago.  

US Politics 

  • The politics pendulum swings more violently back to the other side and then at some point the pendulum breaks. We’ll see more unrest as the wealth gap continues to increase, which also fuels continued and growing antisemitism and then at some point, a legitimate conflict here at home.
  • The space force completes its first media-worthy mission

Geo Politics

  • The middle east alliances shift and old enemies become allies
  • China officially becomes the global super power largely due to their government structure enabling them to play the long game, despite limiting freedoms among their citizens.

Money and economy

  • Trillionaires!
  • The ‘haves and haves not divide’ gets even bigger. This isn’t good.
  • Cryptocurrency becomes a legitimate and regulated means of monetary currency among some countries.

Education

  • The college business model blows up. Student debt is the next bubble, even after the debt obligations have been pushed out for longer payback periods. At some point, it just breaks.
  • The rise of “Influencer teachers.” Much like we see instagram influencers today make a lot of money promoting products, we’ll see “influencer teachers” doing precisely that: teaching. Only they’ll get paid for it because the millennial generation and their kids prefer to get the ‘right’, supplemental and cost effective tutoring and education for their kids.
  • Chemistry and biology > Computer Science because we need to fix the physical world. More jobs here, more students here. It becomes the new hot thing to study.
  • Genetics > Chemistry because we need to fix and alter people that can save the world. This is also more effective and cheaper medicine. This too becomes the new hot thing to study.

Medicine

  • CRISPR technology will commercialize and will disrupt the traditional pharmaceutical industries replacing the current chemistry-driven supply chain pharma and medicine companies. For example, instead of taking insulin for diabetes, you get your genes sliced up to never need insulin in the first place. A lot more money gets invested here.

Social and digital media

  • We see a new social network pop up that reminds us a lot like MySpace. A site that supports creative expression but does so in a way that feels messy. And people love it.
  • The oasis is here! See Ready Player One. In fact, this medium becomes ‘mainstream media’ with more users and eyeballs spending time in it either playing games together, watching shows together, gambling and more.

Ecomm & CPG

  • 100x the startup CPG brands that we see today because it becomes easier than ever to start an independent CPG brand with products and companies like Shopify making it dead simple to get up and running.

SaaS

  • We of course see more and more SaaS startups pop up, which also means we’ll need more ways to get those tools talking to one another to enable business to make sense of their information and customers.
  • Homogenization of business and customer data will become a priority for every company
  • Interacting with this information in an easy and human way will be more important than ever so we’ll see the increased adoption of conversational mediums for work whether voice enabled or more purely messaging mediums

Health and beauty

  • More clean products. Clean ingredients. Clean and reusable packaging.
  • Plant based everything

Investing

  • Startup investing looks more like public equity investing. We’ll have an NYSE or Nasdaq of sorts for private companies. 
  • More people can and will invest. Simply, we’ll see more angel investors.
  • Rise of the founder/investor incubator model where former operators don’t want to start just one company, but don’t want to only invest either. Instead, they want to leverage their operating background plus access to capital to get more shots on net within their own firm or incubation studio. More of these.

E-Sports

  • Biggest sport on earth as measured by viewers and liquidity through the ecosystem. 
  • Pro gamers are celebrities. We’ll know many, many more by first name. My parents included.

Religion

  • Much like scientology became a topic of discussion in the main stream zeitgeist, we’ll see another new religion of some kind pop up. It can and will likely be a scam or cult, but we’ll see it and hear about it.

That’s my list for now. It will be fun to revisit this at some point in the future. Surely I’ll be wrong but it’s great to get it on paper.

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