Bracketology 2016

Today is the first day of the best weekend in sports! Better than the Super Bowl or the NCAA Football National Championship! The first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament starts today on Thursday and goes through Sunday. This is March Madness at it’s finest with 16 games on Thursday and 16 on Friday, starting at 12 noon and wrapping up at midnight.

Everyone in America — sports fans, non-sports fans, gamblers, kids and employees all get in on the action by creating a bracket that selects an eventual winner that is led by school allegiance, color, the eye test, or just plain ole heart and belief that your team will win. I wonder how productive America is today. Many folks like myself have decided to make today and tomorrow a holiday and find a location with good food, beer, and a wall of TV’s to binge watch all of the games!

This year should be a great tournament. The parity in college basketball this year has been at an all-time high. With that said, I do believe that several team stand out!

Here is where I see possible upsets in the first round:

South Region

#13 Hawaii v. #4 Cal

Cal’s 6’6 point guard broke his off-hand (right) in practice over the week and therefore Cal could be ripe for an upset! Hawaii has done an exceptional job this year and they play great defense. Cal should win this game because of their talent level, however, I expect Hawaii to pull an upset!

#11 Wichita State v. #6 Arizona

This has upset written all over it! I have great respect for Sean Miller, coach at Arizona, however, I believe that Wichita State’s Fred Van Fleet and Ron Baker will have a deep run in their last tournament appearance.

Midwest Region

#11 Gonzaga v. #6 Seton Hall

Fresh off the Big East Championship for the Pirates, I think they received a bad draw here. Yes, Gonzaga did not have the year that we are accustomed to seeing every year. They struggled to get in this year, but now that they’re in, I expect them to make some noise. This could screw up a couple of brackets.

Ultimate Winner:

This was so hard not to pick with my heart — UNC Tar Heels. It was hard to select an eventual winner, but there were several teams that stood out — Indiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Michigan State, UNC, and Virginia. The team that I believe many people pinned their hopes on to win it along with me is:

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Making a TRANSITION

For most of my career, I have been employed by a Fortune 100 company and have been fairly successful in multiple industries. I have worked in the financial services, new home construction, energy, higher education and tech industries over the last 15 years. I have consulted with companies and helped start new businesses. The economy expands and contracts at times and sometimes the wind of change is in your favor, either by choice or by force and you become a casualty of a firm either merging or contracting.

During those periods, I have tried my hand at starting a business and had some success and failure at times. Currently, I am in that period of transition and for those that know me and my work ethic, know that I always have my hands in a prospering opportunity. Right now is arguably the best time ever to be an entrepreneur because of the cash in the market available to startups. I have three start-ups that I am working on right now and they all have major potential to grow and be successful.

I work more now than I ever have at a job because of the investment and potential involved with being an entrepreneur. In saying, that, I might consider going back to a corporate role, if the opportunity is right and if the company is ethical. Right now, I am enjoying my family, coaching, teaching as an adjunct, and potentially writing a book.

Part of moving beyond working for someone else is mental and changing the way that I think. I want to use this Dluxedad platform to help others as they go through transition and share the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, my motivation, being the father of two girls, and learning to live, instead of dying to work!

Apple vs. The Government

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(Disclaimer) Before I write this – I do not support terrorism at all!

I had to write about this to get it off my chest. It has been stirring in me for the last six days since the news came out that a US court has ruled that Apple should help the FBI break into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter because they believe that it contains vital information to their case.

Apple has since opposed the order and is prepared to fight it all the way to the Supreme court because if allowed to happen, it would be unprecedented. Many of the Silicon Valley juggernauts have come out in support of Apple — Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, just to name a few all stand with Apple.

Apple’s stand on this, is that the request by the government is overreaching. I am in agreement with them and here is why. The government is trying to use the “All Writs Act” as the order to require Apple’s cooperation, however, if this happens, we should run for the hills!

This is opening pandora’s box! If you create a tool to remove encryption, that will ultimately be bad for the millions of iPhone users that have adopted the iOS 8 and above operating systems. Apple Pay is the most secure payment method to make purchases, would be subject to attacks in the form of hackers acquiring millions of credit card numbers, etc. All of the data on your iPhone would be subject to a hack. The FBI says it is just for this phone, but Apple routinely fields thousands of calls from law enforcement for assistance in accessing phones. If they do it once, the lid will come off.

History has shown us that once a backdoor is created, it’s another way for a hacker or cybercriminal to use it against us. For all the protestors and people that back the government, let’s look at how this works. Bill Gates stated that Apple should help the FBI. He mentioned the banks and other government entities that provide access to law enforcement. Well Mr. Gates should know that  banks are often hacked, the IRS was just hacked, the postal service was hacked, the CIA was hacked, and yes, even Microsoft’s OS has been hacked.

This is not a politically correct thing, an opinion thing, this life and death. There will be no stopping the government if this happens. I salute Tim Cook and Apple for taking a stand for freedom and liberty for all of us.

My final word is this: A backdoor for the FBI would be unsafe for all of us.

 

 

More Than a Salesman!

I like sales! I like building a rapport with a prospect, qualified lead, and a potential customer. It’s one trait that some of the best sales people have in their tool kit. I am more than sales though. I have done so much in my career that I believe I am unique to the corporate environment. I think about Liam Neeson in Taken, when he is speaking with the abductor of his daughter, “I have a particular set of skills, that will help me find you” and the guy on the other end says, “good luck.” That’s how I feel when I interview for a job. I have acquired a unique set of skills that will help an organization beyond sales.

Most interviewers point to something you have not done or in many case are threatened by your ability. I have worked in so many industries, that I feel like a chameleon. I am capable of working with anyone, any company in any industry and being successful at it because of that skill set that many do not have.

Corporate America does not reward you or me for having a unique set of skills. They instead penalize you and try to make you fit into a one size fits all meritocracy. They have rules beyond measure, they track numbers and use that data to make decisions, and sometimes they could care less about your well-being.

I am more than sales. I am a CLO in waiting (Chief Life Officer). I don’t fit in your box Amazon, I am the rebel to your 13 Leadership principles. I believe people are the measurement of value to an organization. I believe in giving people chances to be successful — an opportunity outside of their comfort zone to make something happen.

I am more than a sales guy! I am just qualified!

1/3 of the Way Complete

First post of the new year. Wow! Cannot believe it is 2015. This is the time when people start new resolutions or start evaluating their life’s purpose. Recently, I was going through my email and I had this new message from a blog that I follow called, Out of Your Rut. The title of the post was, “Why It’s SO important to Enjoy Your Life Now.” After reading the post, I could not believe that it took me so long to read it. I felt like it was speaking to my soul. In one of the examples in the post, he uses a parable to drive home his point, “that after you turn 30, your life starts to move like lightening speed and before you know it, 1/3 of your life is over.” Well that hit home and I started to reflect on my life as I approach 40. What have I done, what impact have I made, what are my personal accomplishments, what experiences have I achieved and lastly, what legacy am I leaving behind.

As I pondered the answers to those questions, I was disappointed that I have not achieved what I wanted to and I only have 2/3 of my life to go. I felt instant pressure to live more, do more, experience more, do a profession that I love. I am so excited to have read this post. It opened my eyes to what I should be focusing on. I don’t really get into resolutions, but I want to do more in 2015 to find my true purpose. I want to start saying to people Carpe Diem – Enjoying the people and the experiences around us. I want to live the best quality of life possible.

No need to keep writing, it is more about action at this point. I want to be spontaneous and live life abundantly. Come join the ride with me!

Injury Prone???

I am starting to feel like it. Since 2009, I have had the worst luck with injuries and surgeries. When I first started running, I knew I would have a ramp up period for me to meet my own expectations. The crazy part is that all of these injuries are freak injuries and only one, indirectly has anything to do with running! In 2009, I had my right rotator cuff repaired due to a rollerblading accident. I endured 6-8 months of physical therapy and eventually lost some range of motion.

In 2011, I had an emergency appendectomy because my appendix was going to explode. That was happening while I was giving a lecture to my undergraduate students and I could barely stand upright. Amazing what the body can do to protect itself from further injury. That was the one of the worst procedures that I have had, well not because of the appendix, but the healing process was not as smooth as I anticipated. It took me about 3-4 weeks before I felt like myself again.

During the break in between injuries, I managed to run a half marathon and do an acceptable job at finishing. It was a really flat course along the Atlantic Ocean. I was proud of that accomplishment and I thought I was on my way to bigger and better races. I started plotting my races for the year and I got excited when my Runners World magazine came in the mail. I was a runner! Well until the next injury…

In Fall 2013, I was moving and as I was getting off of the U-Haul truck, I twisted the wrong way and I heard something in my hip go “pop” like a rubber band. Ironically it felt more like a groin pull than a torn labrum in the hip. For the first few weeks after the injury, it grew increasingly more painful to do normal tasks. I use to make fun of athletes with groin pulls, but now I understand!

I went through 10 months of physical therapy and did not run, just focusing on strengthening that hip muscle and the gluts. I managed to get cleared in time to start training for a 10 miler that I pushed through to finish. I thought it was a great foundation to prep for my fall half marathon.

On a hot August day, I was on the last day of a one-week pass at a Cross Fit box and we had to do 150 meter sprints three times in a relay format. I did not want to let my team down, even though I was just getting familiar with Cross fit and all that it entailed. I managed to injure my knee by full out sprinting. It was the back of my knee and I could not walk initially. I thought I might have torn my ACL. Well after three months and running a half marathon later, I was diagnosed as having subjacent marrow edema in my knee, right on top of the tibia. It looks like a severe stress fracture when you look at the MRI. It’s a relief to know what has been bothering my knee, however I am very frustrated by all of the injuries.

Sometimes, I think, “running is not for me, I always get injured” and sometimes I am just too hard on myself. Who knows at this point? I just want to exercise injury free. I am on the shelf for the next four weeks to give the injured area rest and no additional stress.

Are there any other runners out there experiencing the same luck with injuries?

The Sony Hack Solved!

I am not going to lie! This Sony hack has created a golden opportunity! No I am not responsible at all, however tis the season for cyber attacks. When will people start to pick up the phone again? I think I have, no, I know I have the answer. Eventually everyone will use 5 For Friends for their communication. The recent emails from the executives at Sony may have caused them to lose their jobs over insensitive comments about the President and other celebrities. In addition, Sony is going to lose their credibility in the film industry.

At the same time the news of Sony’s misfortunes hit the media circus, we received news that we could download and start testing the 5 For Friends App. When I downloaded it onto my iPhone, it was like a dream come true. All the hard work and late nights were worth it as we see the dream come to fruition.

Here’s to 5 For Friends! Sony executives along with others will definitely see the benefit. Too bad it was not available prior to the hack.

Hey Sony execs, Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal, we need people on our team and it seems like you guys will have some time on your hands.

Stay Tuned…

Lack of Diversity in the Venture Capital World

I have been conducting some informal research over the last couple of weeks on Venture Capitalists to get as familiar with their culture and investigate some of the companies that are under their umbrella. While I am impressed with their portfolio’s and the level of innovation that exist, I was also very surprised at the lack of diversity that work for some of these VC firms. Across the board diversity is lacking in new tech start-ups and at the firms that ultimately decide to invest in new ventures. While I was aware of the lack of diversity, I am shocked that out of the top 100 VC firms that there were only a handful of minorities that were apart of their teams. Drew Houston, who is the co-founder of Dropbox has said, “You can’t make it 10 times better in 10 minutes,” Houston said in an interview with USA TODAY. “But we are determined to build a community and a culture that is inclusive. Dropbox is equally determined to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities going into technology,” Houston said.

Here are some quick stats that I picked up while reading a post by Eze Vidra via Venturebeat

  • The average partner is 46 years old.
  • Of the 2011 NVCA Census, which included 600 respondents, 79 percent were men and 87 percent of respondents were caucasian.
  • Of the 151 VC bios scanned, 79 or 53 percent had an MBA. Another 15 percent had a Phd, JD or MD. In the US, 60 percent of the MBAs were graduates of Harvard or Stanford.
  • They previously had a job in consulting or finance.

I would argue that by adding more minorities to VC firms and opportunities in Silicon Valley creates more profitable opportunities as well as a fresh perspective on future innovations. There are some industries that do not advertise their opportunities and they make it insanely difficult to invade the impenetrable closed circle. As the world continues to move closer to a global community and ideas, creative opportunities, and new innovations spread, I believe that minorities cannot continue to be left out of the loop. I am learning more from actually trying to bring a product to market than I ever have in obtaining my MBA. Creating a start-up and working all of the angles is better than working in a traditional setting trying to squeeze profit from a rock by reducing head count and eliminating the opportunity to be creative. There is nothing wrong with obtaining an MBA if that is the career track that you want to follow. My purpose in this post to draw attention to the lack of minorities hired by VC’s.

My vision for the future is to become a venture capitalist at some point and provide an opportunity to others that are looking to make a mark on the world. After reading, The Alchemist, Paul Coelho states that, “it’s the possibility of having a dream come that makes life interesting.”  

We need to raise awareness to the situation to present opportunities to people like me and others who have a desire to be apart of the VC community.

Raising Funds for the First Time

I was recently reading a great blog by Joel Gascoigne similar to the title above and it made me sit back and ponder how this process is going to work. We embarked on this ambitious goal to deliver an app, a product that solves a problem. Not sure if our app and/or product takes us from 0 to 1 or 1 to n (a reference to Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One). What I do know is that it is hard work raising money. You watch Shark tank and you read these blogs and stories on the internet about how it is possible to secure funding, however it never seems to work in your favor.

Now that we are in the process of having the app developed by a reputable company, we thought this would be a great time to go to investors with our beta in tow and hope that they saw the light like we did and be forever drawn to us and give us millions of dollars like: Yik-Yak, Twitter, Tango, and you get the idea. Wait for it…. You heard it hear first, it is not that easy! So now that we have a beta, we need to get traction! Traction is what will make the investors come and possibly give us more leverage, right?

I thought testing your concept was supposed to alleviate this and have investors banging down your door to give you money. How are entrepreneurs supposed to make the dream come true without any money? It’s great in theory to show that you have a 10,000 users in the first 60 days and that your product is in demand, but there is a risk for the founders as well because the service, app, product needs have cost too.

We are still on this journey to bring 5 For Friends to iOS and we fully expect to do so in January. The next part will be to get the necessary traction to catch the eyes of investors and other companies that will no doubt pay attention to what we are doing. All I can think about is traction, traction, traction, which equates to money, money, and more money.

Stay tuned this should be an adventurous ride!

Coastal Living

 

Coastal living is a must! Every time that I return from a long hiatus at the beach, I often wonder aloud to my wife, how can we make this happen? What I love about going to the beach is the relaxing environment, the food…OMG, the food is delicious, and the ocean breeze. As I returned from a recent stay, I realized more and more that finding a beach home (not literal), but a place to where I could call home and start pursuing the opportunity over the next several years. Why do I like it so much? Outside of what I listed above, it just feels good! My creative juices start flowing again. People have an interest in talking to you and it does not seem like a facade. I like running on the board walk or just walking and sitting near the beach area. All of my worries seem to disappear when I am staring at the beauty of the ocean and marveling at the works of God.

I am thankful that I get a chance to do it annually, but annually is not enough anymore. I want out of the rat race and I want to live coastal. I worked with someone who lived in a beach town and she swore that it was the best living in the world. So much so – that she moved to Florida for all year round beautiful coastal living. Am I jealous? Now I am. Her kids are all older and it was the right time for her and her husband. My wife has two teachers that commute three hours from a coastal town just to go to work. I am not sure that I want that type of stress, but with my current job situation being as flexible as it is, now would be the perfect time. Why not do it? Well, my children are in school and we have moved enough already that my wife will literally try to strangle me if I suggest another move.

What am I going to do? Good question — I guess, I will continue to visit beach towns up and down the east coast in hopes of finding the right one. Try to go more often. Maybe after some of my expenses decrease, perhaps buy a home in a coastal town and go more often. I do not know!

We recently came back from vacation and it was the best. We were far from the ocean. About a mile. We did not mind the walk. Gave a us an opportunity to talk and laugh or in my case be mad (inside joke). The distance from the beach was not that important this time around, it was the freedom from the electronics that I enjoyed. We had BASIC cable. I thought I was in the stone age. Shows how far we have come. We also did not have internet. That’s right! No connection to the outside world. I had relatively good cell service and occasionally I would check out a score or a social media platform, but we really did not do a lot of that. I feel more relaxed this year coming off of vacation than I have in previous years and I attribute that to working while on vacation or just staying connected.

I enjoyed my time thinking about 5 For Friends and how we will grow it in the future. I loved spending time with my wife, my children, my sisters, and my niece.

Back to coastal living though, it is an absolute must experience. Again, just being able to forget about your daily life, being able to walk or bike everywhere is fantastic, and food is always awesome. I think at some point in my life, I will transition to living in a beach town, but for now I will visit often. Already have two towns in mind for 2015.

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