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Fixing a Maytag Neptune Gas Dryer that isn’t Drying

Posted by admin on Nov 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

My Maytag dryer recently stopped fully drying.  We called the repairman and unfortunately, the earliest he could come was 10 days from the time I called him. We had already been hanging our clothes for days and I had had enough.  So I took matters into my own hands to fix the dryer myself.  Something about dealing with both gas and electricity didn’t seem wise, but hey, that’s why they have YouTube.  This was an incredibly helpful video.

I also learned that the most common problem for Maytag gas drivers are when two gas solenoid valves stop functioning.  They look like this:

Basically, when they stop functioning, the ignition coil does not get hot enough and the gas does not ignite.  The unfortunate result is that the dryer simply does not produce heat and obviously your clothes remain wet.

The beautiful thing is that they can be purchased on Amazon for around $10.  You can buy them here.  It’s even more amazing how easy they are to replace.

Obviously, make sure you turn off the gas valve and unplug the dryer from the wall.

Good luck!

 

 
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When Friends Die

Posted by admin on Apr 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

jim tramel jeff yasuda

As I write this, tears roll down my face like confused streams that have lost their way. For I am confused and lost. It is beyond my comprehension how such good people can be taken away so quickly and unexpectedly.

A few weeks ago I learned of a hopelessly tragic, terrible and unexpected occurrence.

My friend died.

And, I am in shock.

 

It was only a few weeks ago when we were toasting glasses and telling jokes over a nice meal and great company. We talked about work, our first-world “problems” and how they got in the way of our dreams, and our wonderful kids, who sometimes weren’t that “wonderful.” Life was good.

And now my friend is gone.

Jim Tramel was an incredibly good person. He was a great dad. A great husband. A great friend. And perhaps the very way that he died is the ultimate demonstration of who he was as a person.

He died a hero trying to save his daughter.

The circumstances of his death are less important than the celebration of his life. But, we can’t help but to try to find answers to explain what greater force allowed it to happen. How could such a good person be taken from us? Why is life so cruel? Who is at fault?

In my disbelief and shock, I initially became angry searching desperately to find someone or something to blame. But in the end, there is no one to blame and only sadness. Desperate sadness. The type of sadness when you can’t breathe and momentarily lose hope.

That’s what it feels like when friends die.

 

In college, one of my best friends and roommate committed suicide. To this day, I blame myself for not being available in my friend’s darkest hour. I was studying for a test, was running late for practice and was generally stressed with inane minutiae that would only bother a twenty-year-old. He asked if I had “just a minute” to talk to him about something on his mind. I said I was “too busy.”

Those were my last words to him.

When I got back from practice later that day, he had taken his own life.

What I would do to go back in time and punch my self-absorbed self back then in the face and say, “Help your friend, damnit!”

But I can’t. And I still live with regret about it. And I’m helpless to change the past.

That’s what it feels like when friends die.

 

I cannot even begin to imagine what Jim’s dear wife and family are going through. I am afraid to reach out to say something for fear that I might make it worse for them. But my heart goes out to them as they begin down the long path towards acceptance and recovery.

But perhaps it begins with a celebration of his life.

Jim was the type of guy that always put a smile on your face when he showed up. His soul patch would wildly bounce up and down as he laughed. He was not one to ever be stingy with the smiles. He was a master griller and was the consummate host. Even while he was closely monitoring the temperature of a burger – yes, he put a thermometer in a burger to gauge its doneness to perfection – he was refilling your glass with an awesome vino from his cellar or making sure you were a happy guest.

He was also quick to help a friend in need. On the professional I often reached out for advice or an introduction. He was always there to help. Always. He was the physical embodiment of “pay-it-forward” and was clearly a net-contributor in the start-up world.

In the days to come, my state of shock and disbelief will likely fade to acceptance and sadness. In so many ways, his life was similar to mine – a dad of an older child and younger twins working in the crazy startup space. Perhaps that is why his passing hits home so hard. We often don’t release how precious life is until it is so quickly taken away. The sadness is unbearable, but the memories of how he made life better for me and everyone with whom he interacted helps to lessen the pain.

May he live on forever in our memory and in our hearts.

 
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2015 – A year of Change in the Business of Music

Posted by admin on Jan 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

2015 has come and gone in a flash and it was an exciting year in music on many fronts.  Apart from the senseless tweet squabbles between various artists for publicity stunts and Kanye’s announcement that he’s running for President in 2020, there were several moments that will shape the music ecosystem for years to come. The industry is still scrambling to catch up with the massive changes in listening habits and the fallout has been painful to watch at times. More than anything else, last year was about the changing of the guard. Old institutions becoming less relevant, streaming services wielding more power (and battling it out amongst themselves), and top-selling artists flexing their own muscles in answer.

Below is a chronological list of the top of events that highlight this ongoing saga as the music industry slowly figures out how to create a formula that benefits labels, listeners, artists, and the technology platforms.

timeline3

February 9, 2015 – Beck Wins the Grammy for Album of the Year for his album Morning Phase

Beck moved on from irony and chunky beats with two albums ago, and, with Morning Phase, continues to embrace beauty in a messed up world. There are many derivative moments throughout the album, but it is a lovely collection of tunes meant to inspire us through dark times. That said, the win for Album of the Year was a huge upset, and not just to Kanye. The nominees were as follows:

Beck, Morning Phase

Beyonce, Beyonce

Ed Sheeran, x

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

Pharrell Williams, Girl

Why it’s important- A once vaunted institution widely blasted as outdated

In the days that followed, the blogosphere exploded with questions around the voting process, the politicking, and the fact that the ballot itself created a split vote – Beyonce v. Sam Smith in pop, Beyonce v. Pharrell in R&B, and even Ed Sheeran v. Sam Smith who are both from England. It made people question whether the winners accurately represented what the masses believe or was more of a reflection of an outdated process.

Ultimately, the truth behind what happened probably doesn’t matter, but I’m sure it was a close vote. Controversy often brings exposure, which is good for the artists.

Good coverage here

April 30, 2015 – Grooveshark shuts down after a protracted legal battle with the major labels

Grooveshark, which launched in 2007, was sued for a whopping $17 billion in damages.  At its peak, Grooveshark grew to over 50MM monthly uniques through its on demand streaming service.  Users were able to upload music to the Grooveshark servers and those songs were made available to all for listening and sharing purposes.

Why it’s important – The end of an era

Grooveshark was one of the last holdouts of startups that have lived by the “infringe, get big, then ask for forgiveness from the labels” strategy.  This has never been a winning strategy as evidenced by familiar names like Napster, Imeem, and Project Playlist (btw – there’s a new Playlist that is going live soon that is doing cool stuff).

The aftermath was also terrible when Josh Greenburg, its CTO and co-founder was found dead in his apartment just a few weeks later.  No evidence of foul play or suicide was ever found.  I considered Josh to be a friend and spoke to him from time to time about technical solutions to streaming challenges.  Josh was 28.  May his soul rest in peace.

Good coverage here

May 19, 2015 – Pandora begins acquisition spree with purchase of Next Big Sound

Next Big Sound, founded in 2008 by Alex White, provided comprehensive analytics on the popularity of artists and their music across social media and various streaming services.

Why it’s important- The battle for streaming supremacy heats up

A senior company executive said the strategy was to bring on the team via an “acqui-hire” to help Pandora with its data strategy. Pandora’s service is ultimately based on data – both demographic and behavioral – from their 250m + users, so this acquisition is an obvious move.

Pandora’s first and only previous acquisition was a terrestrial radio station on June 11, 2013.  The company continued with additional acquisitions of TicketFly on October 7, 2015 and Rdio on November 16, 2015.  Pandora is clearly embarking on a “buy vs. build” strategy as it looks to augment its product portfolio.  Let’s look to see what other acquisitions take place in 2016.

Good coverage here

June 21, 2015 – Taylor Swift gets Apple to change their artist compensation policy within hours of writing a heartfelt letter to the company. 

The key issue was that prior to the launch of its new streaming music product, Apple announced that artists would not be paid during the 3-month trial period that new subscribers could sample the service. Swift’s message to Apple was polite, but also painted them as a giant that is ridiculously out of touch with artists.

Why it’s important- Power plays continue, and record labels are not a part of the conversation

This is the first time in memory that an individual artist single-handedly forced the hand of a multi-billion dollar company.

Taylor threatened to remove her album “1989” from Apple Music.  Within hours, Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Software and Services tweeted, “”#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period.”  He then followed that up with “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”

One lens by which to view the exchange – Jimmy Iovine’s old school label tactics clashing harshly with Jobs’ legacy. Iovine led the negotiations with the labels that required them to give up their music for free. Interestingly missing in this whole exchange? The labels. This conversation was between Apple and Taylor Swift – artist and platform. The good news for artists is that this may signal a shift of power away from those that invest in music to those that make it.

Good coverage here

June 30, 2015 – Apple Music launches

I remember reading this impressive post on TheNextWeb about Apple Music.

I, along with the rest of the world, couldn’t have been more excited for the launch. In reality, though, the user experience is not intuitive and the internet grumbled loudly about the disappointment. Apple Music is completely serviceable, but we were promised amazing. So, how have they grown? With so many consumers already locked into the Apple ecosystem, many of us have acquiesced while we wait for improvements.

Why it’s important- The battle for streaming supremacy heats up, part 2

Apple Music was largely panned until CEO Tim Cook revealed in October that it had amassed more that 6.5MM paying users with an additional 8.5MM in the trial phase after a few months.  This was in contrast to the market leader Spotify who claimed to have over 20MM paying subscribers across the globe, amassed over many years.

Eddy Cue claims that Apple is in it for the long haul.  With a cash balance of over $200 Billion, I think it’s fair to say that Apple has some flexibility to take its time to figure out how to convert the massive global iphone user base to the service. It will happen, but it’s just a matter of time… unless they simply acquire Spotify or Deezer.

Good coverage here

November 13, 2015 – Terrorist attack at Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris

We are all aware of the tragic and horrific coordinated terrorist attacks across Paris in mid-November that shocked the world.  One of the attacks took place at the Bataclan Theater at a performance by the California rock band The Eagles of Death Metal.  89 people died.

Why it’s important – First direct target placed on music fans

U2 also cancelled its tour through Paris that was scheduled only two days after the attacks.  Since then, U2 rescheduled for December and the Eagles of Death Metal will be returning in February.  The Eagles of Death Metal have been grateful for the level of support from the Parisian and global community after the tragic events.

The band has asked musicians across the globe to cover their song, “I Love You All the Time.” Every dollar from the sale of the song will go towards the families and victims from the attack via The Sweet Stuff Foundation.  It is the first time the music community has mobilized against terrorism.  We expect to see more mobilization using social media in 2016.

Good coverage here

November 20, 2015 – Adele releases ‘25’ and rejects streaming platforms, including Spotify

With fans waiting over 3 years for the album, anticipation for ‘25’ was at a fever pitch by the time it released in November. On the eve of the release Adele penned a heartfelt note to her fans that included “i am so overwhelmed and grateful to be able to even put out another album, and put it out how i want.” Adele is said to have been personally involved in the decision to hold back on streaming, although many decried it as a foolish move initially.

Why it’s important – Another point on the boards for the artists

At the time, famously cranky critic Bob Lefsetz called Adele “dumb and uneducated” for holding the album back from streaming. Post-game analysis paints a very different picture. Music Business Worldwide estimates that the album has taken around $115m in retail, which is conservative. They also did the math to figure out how many streams on Spotify it would have taken at the current royalty rates to reach that number. The album would have to have been streamed 16 BILLION times to generate that same amount of cash, which is impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I still think streaming is the future, but this case just illustrates that the industry has yet to figure out the right formula to map usage to revenue.

December 16, 2015 – CRB comes out with ruling to moderately raise rates; Pandora’s shares are up 20% in aftermarket trading

The Copyright Royalty Board, which regulates royalty rates to be paid to labels for music streaming via internet radio, recently announced the new rates through 2020.  This affects companies that stream music under the compulsory statutory license for internet radio such as Pandora, iHeart Radio, 8Tracks, and Feed.fm.

Why it’s important – Streaming services handed a small win as they become the leading music consumption platforms

This ruling was highly litigated and involved numerous expert witnesses from the industry.  It represented a compromise between streaming services and the copyright holders and will govern rates for the next 5 years.  Streaming services will pay .17 cents for every time a user listens to a song.

Pandora had argued for a rate plan of .11 cents per listen.  SoundExchange, which handles royalties on behalf of the labels and recording artists asked for a rate between .25 and .29 cents per listen.  The market reacted positively to the news and shares traded up more than 20% once the news broke and erased any uncertainty that had previously depressed the stock price.

Since Pandora is the industry bellwether for music streaming, and the fact that many investors look to the company as a proxy for how the music streaming services are doing, it was a closely watched announcement.

Good coverage here

There were many more examples of tumult that is shaking out as the tectonic plates collide in the industry, but these examples were standouts. It’s not a zero sum game and we’re hoping that labels, artists, and technology companies can find ways to deliver music to the consumer in a way that all parties can live with

 
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It’s time to ditch the old radio ad model

Posted by admin on Nov 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

How jazz wisdom helped us think differently about in-app promotion.

Jazz Great Miles Davis

I’m a jazz head.  I started studying jazz guitar when I was 13 as part of a protracted negotiation with my guitar teacher.  I wanted to learn how to play Mark Knopfler’s  solo on “Sultans of Swing,” by Dire Straits.  He wanted me to learn how to play Joe Pass and Miles Davis tunes.

“I’ll teach you that kind of music if you learn how to play Jazz,” he postured.

“Um.  Isn’t that the kind of music that old people listen to?”

The lesson came to a swift close at that moment.

I cautiously returned a week later and explained that I was up for the challenge.  During that week I tried to learn everything I could about jazz.  I went to the school library and listened to old records by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Joe Pass, Bill Evans and others.  I just didn’t get it.

There were no lyrics.  The musicians seemed to have endless solos that sounded completely out of key.  To make matters worse, ALL of the musicians took a turn playing some crazy solo.

But over time, I learned.  I learned that there is a method to the madness. I learned about the creation of musical tension and subsequent release.  I learned about playing “out” when soloists would purposely play out of key to heighten that musical tension and how returning back into the proper key would create a heightened feeling of release.

One of my favorite jazz artists is Miles Davis.  Miles created the modal jazz movement which exploded on the scene with the landmark album, “Kind of Blue.” It was a direct contrast to the bebop jazz era and use of ornate lines and superfluous notes (as Miles would say) popularized by by Dizzy Gillespie.  Miles’ solos were beautifully phrased, and they deliberately used few notes.

When asked about the Spartan quality of the new modal style by critics, Miles explained, “Music is the space between the notes. It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play.”

The clear simplicity of that statement lodged in my brain. It’s a concept that extends itself to more than jazz phrasing.

Professionally, I’ve been working with my team to leverage music in apps as a tool to build engagement, retention, and revenue for brands.  In a page taken from Miles’ philosophy, we’re working with companies to use the spaces in between songs to reach their customers in new ways.

Rather than just utilize the traditional radio ad model, we have an opportunity to create interactive callouts and personalized messages that leverage those spaces more effectively. For example, we worked closely with a large adult beverage company to power music in the mobile app of a popular winter music festival.  Bringing music from the performers into the app is a no brainer and drove huge gains in attendee engagement.

In fact, average app session times increased 13X to nearly 10 minutes when fans listened to radio.

To add to the experience, we also included house audio spots that included more into on the artists, updates on schedules, and callouts for secret performances. The content kept the fans coming back – an average of 40 sessions per fan during the festival.

Moving over to the retail vertical, smart retailers are focused on finding ways to drive more cohesive experiences across the digital and physical realms. Customers expect seamless service and consistent branding at every touch point. We recently worked with American Eagle Outfitters to promote their latest Reserve, Try, Buy product in app. While customers stream hand-curated stations during their shopping experience, they are subtly reminded that they can easily reserve clothing in the app, then pick up at a store near them. Utilizing in-app radio to drive sales in the app has been incredibly effective, and now we’re finding ways to help get foot traffic into the store, as well.

Space can be used in a lot of ways.  Miles Davis believed it should be sacred – a time for listeners to relax and reflect.  Brands are using it as another opportunity to communicate with their audiences.

Rather than shouting at users with another discount or call to action, the success stories are built around delivering relevant, personal, unique content that augments the music experience.

Back to the inspiration for this post: I’m just glad my guitar teacher opened my eyes to the awesome world of jazz. Just last week, I tried to teach my son how to play a jazz tune.  “Isn’t that what grandpa listens to?” he asked. Some perceptions never change.

Jeff Yasuda

 
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How the Music Industry Is Creating a New Breed of Entrepreneur

Posted by admin on Aug 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

Here’s an article that I just put up on Inc.  Bands are exploring creative ways to diversify their revenue streams and are becoming more entrepreneurial in their approach to exploring new strategies.  Perhaps an intersection of Silicon Valley and Entertainment?

Check it out here

 
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My Debut on National Television… with a few speed bumps

Posted by admin on Oct 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I had an opportunity to appear on Fox Business News for a show called Risk and Reward with Deidre Bolton.  They reached out to us a few months ago and asked us to be on the show for a 5 minute startup spotlight.  The Fox team was incredibly informative and helpful.

As you can imagine, for my first appearance on national TV, my nerves were firing hotter than usual.  To complicate matters, my twins have been waking my wife and me up several times a night for the past few weeks.  Sleep deprivation is a sure-fire way to take one off his or her game.

My marketing guy and I walked into a studio called MediaOne on Battery Street which acts as a remote studio for several television shows.  They film you and transmit the recording to HQ with about a 15 second delay.  These guys are real pros and are super helpful.

Inside, the individual studios are about 15 feet by 15 feet rooms painted black with a background screen and a small desk.  There are two extremely bright lights and a large camera lens where you direct your commentary.  Since there is a delay, there’s no way to see yourself and your only connection to the outside world is a little earbud that they place in your ear.    While in many ways, the interview was like a telephone conversation, I needed to remind myself that my actions, facial expressions, etc. would be televised.  No one wants a deadpan guest, right?

I sat down behind the desk, got wired up, and then… had a coughing fit.  Perhaps, some water went down the wrong pipe – who knows – but I couldn’t stop and I had to run to the bathroom.  Ugh…

When the fit ended, I came back and felt I was ready, but the lights just seemed so darn bright to me.  Nonetheless, the interview began and I was off to the races.  I thought the questions were good and hopefully my answers made sense, but my eyes started killing me.  Unfortunately, I started to blink… a lot.  I knew there was nothing to do about it and I knew that I couldn’t shield my eyes from the light, but I just persevered.

In the end, I thought it went OK.  When I asked my mom what she thought she said, “You blinked too much, but we still love you.”  Thanks mom…

Here it is…

 
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Startup Lessons from Getting My Butt Kicked Sparring Every Week

Posted by admin on Apr 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Yasuda Kicking Bob

Like many “good” little Asian kids, I grew up taking a series of different martial arts: judo, shotokan karate, american kenpo, shaolin kenpo, taekwondo, wing chun and jujutsu to name a few.  Perhaps at the outset, my parents thought it was a good way for me to connect with my cultural heritage (or lack thereof).  Or, more likely, as a “well-rounded” or maybe just a “round” kid, my parents wanted me to be able to protect myself.  I remember many of the routines that I went through as a kid during martial arts practice: running around like a senseless fool, useless stretching, memorization of some bizarre movement that made no sense whatsoever, group humiliation by attempting to execute the bizarre movement, brutal physical conditioning, attempts to not throw up during practice, more useless stretching, and finally mental torture.

As the years went on, I began to realize the importance of a proper warm-up, stretching to avoid pulling a muscle, learning techniques (blocks, punches, throws, holds, locks, kata, etc.), actual execution against an attacker, strengthening exercises, fitness, stretching after a workout to avoid soreness, and meditation.  After a long hiatus, I got back into martial arts again in 2000 and have been doing it ever since.

A few years ago, I joined an awesome school here in San Francisco.  At the outset, it was mainly for my son, but I soon started taking classes myself.  In fact, we’ve been able to set the schedule in such a way that while he takes his class, I’m able to take my own class with one of the instructors.  It’s truly a win-win where my son can learn in a great school and I can get a workout in at the same time.

The instructor, who is literally half my age, is an amazing teacher and a great practitioner.  Years ago, he encouraged me to start to spar.  Reluctantly, I agreed and dusted off my gloves and pads from yesteryear.  Yes, we wear protective gear, but I can assure you that no head guard or chest protector can prevent the impact of a well-executed kick to the solar plexus or punch/kick to the face.  I have had a few injuries that have put me out for weeks, required crutches, and/or various pain remedies.  My “favorite” recent injury was getting kicked hard enough on the side of my face that I felt the TMJ on the opposite side of my face momentarily dislocate… ouch…

Furthermore, every week I enter the school knowing that I will lose.  My instructor is a better sparring practitioner than me in every way: faster, fitter, stronger, and excellent execution of moves.  He’s an instructor, so maybe it’s his job.  But, he’s just better.  I’m lucky if I can get a few punches or kicks in from time-to-time.

So, why do I take this abuse?  Am I glutton for pain/punishment?  Pure stupidity?

The answer:

I LOVE IT!

Really!  It’s an incredibly intense workout where every muscle in my body is tensed and firing for quickness and power.  Stamina and fitness are key – the more tired I get, the more abuse I take.  I can assure you that there is no better incentive for keeping fit than avoiding punches or kicks.  Moreover, it’s an opportunity for me to practice various techniques in a controlled, but real fight.  I learned the hard way that many traditional forms just don’t work for me.  It may seem crazy, but I feel that all of the other types of exercise that I do from running, jump rope, tennis, surfing, lifting, and practicing traditional kenpo curriculum all come together when sparring – endurance from running; staying light on the balls of my feet from jump rope; footwork, hand eye coordination and explosive power from tennis; balance from surfing; strength from lifting; and martial arts techniques from kenpo all come into play.

But these are all related to the physical aspects of sparring.  There have been several other positive attributes that helped me in my professional and personal life.  4 come to mind immediately.

  1. LEARNING TO EMBRACE FAILURE:   As I mentioned, every week, I go into class knowing that I will fail.  BUT, going into adverse situations knowing that the odds are stacked against you builds a certain “toughness” of character.  Without going into crazy detail here (I may write something in another post), I’m in the start-up world.  9 out of 10 start-ups fail.  But the most successful startup entrepreneurs are ones that may fail 9 times, learn WHY they fail, and keep going up against the odds to find just 1 idea that works.  In sparring, when I fail, I LITERALLY get punched in the face.  It sucks.  When I fail as a start-up entrepreneur, it sucks, but it certainly doesn’t suck as much as getting punched in the face… I really used to FEAR failure.  Now, I accept as just a necessary part of the road to success.  More to come on this topic later.
  2. LEARNING TO CONTROL EMOTIONS:  The first time I sparred as a kid, I got my @ss handed to me.  More specifically, I was hit with a 5 punch combination and took a side kick to my stomach which put me on the floor.  I remember getting up, yelling several expletives, and going after my sparring partner with a highly unsuccessful “windmill” style of punching.  When that didn’t work, I tried to tackle him.  That prompted another 5 punch combination and side kick from my sparring partner which sent me sprawling.  When I got up from the floor I was in a rage and my sensei (teacher) moved in to break up the “fight” – quite honestly, to protect me from getting destroyed again. I remember him saying, “OK Jeff.  What did we learn from this?”  I responded, “We learned that [such-in-such] is an asshole!”  “No,” my instructor calmly responded, “YOU are the asshole.  When you lost control of your emotions, you turned into a horrible fighter.  You had no control over your body and you ran around like a crazy person trying to tackle your partner.  Because you had no defenses or proper form, you left yourself wide open to attack.”  While I was incredibly pissed off, I must admit that it made perfect sense as I wiped away mucous and blood from my nose.  He then went on to explain, “When you lose control of your emotions, you just lose.  Period.”  I’ve found that getting out-of-control upset when things go wrong in the startup world just creates more problems.  Sure, there are tons of disappointments, rejections, and professional embarrassing episodes along the entrepreneurial path, but having emotional outbursts creates a bad culture and makes it tougher for everyone to pick up the pieces and start again.  I recently saw the movie with Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs.  I think you get the point.
  3. STRESS RELIEVER:  I just have to admit that physically hitting something is a great release of stress.  I’m not saying to “reach out and [touch] hit someone,” but go get a standalone punching bag and start firing away with your fists of fury when things go awry.  Believe me, it’s a great stress reliever!  Startups are hard.  You have investors, employees, customers, business partners, and vendors to whom you have to report.  When things go wrong (which they ALWAYS do), there is stress.  The bigger the problem, the bigger the stress.  Learning to find HEALTHY ways to relieve that stress is a good thing and sparring works for me!
  4. LEARNING TO LEARN:  Once my ego gets out of the way about the importance of “winning” or being the better “sparring partner,” I’m incredibly receptive to learning where I can do better.  Since I expect to lose, I want to learn WHY I lose.  I ask for feedback.  I ask for specific suggestions and strategies for doing better next time.  I ask if I repeated a bad habit that I tried to “fix” from earlier sessions.  The list of questions goes on and on.  In my start-up, like performing a science project in grade school, we often have a hypothesis, a procedure to execute the experiment, and then record the results.  Most of the time, it’s a failure, the odds are against us.  But understanding WHY it failed is incredibly valuable.  Question EVERYTHING.  Not only so you don’t make the mistake again, but because it sets up a system of experimentation, execution, and analysis that could eventually lead to a successful outcome for the business.

 

I’m sure I will revisit this post, but thought I’d share a bit about “Kung Fu Fighting” and how it just might make you a better startup entrepreneur…

 

And now the original song!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 
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Fixing Busted Fan on MacBook Pro (2nd Generation)

Posted by admin on Oct 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

To my horror, the night before I had to record and stream a band’s performance over the web, my primary laptop started to have bizarre buzzing noises.  Normally, I would’ve sent it to the shop but since I needed this computer for the next day, I took matters into my own hands.  Apparently, this kind of job costs about $50 bucks in labor and $50 per fan.

After researching possible sources, I narrowed down that it was a faulty fan.  I read this post to get me going in the right direction and it was super helpful.  Basically, it instructed me to add lubricant to the axle of the fan.  So far so good…  The post does a pretty good job.

However, on the second generation MacBook Pro there’s another fan that’s pretty tricky to access that is found on the left side of the motherboard.  Here’s a picture of what the motherboard looks like once you open it.  I’ll presume that you know how to take apart your computer already and have the proper phillips head screwdriver and torx kit.

2013-10-02 09.18.41

 

The fan on the right side is relatively easy to open.  There are only two black phillips head screws that need to be removed.  Be careful when peeling back the orange clear tape to avoid ripping.

Here’s what it looks like when you take it apart.

 

2013-10-02 09.15.09

The left side fan caused a bit more brain damage but it wasn’t terrible.  If you carefully remove the yellow tape, you will notice that there are several wires that run over the fan (and unfortunately make removing the top a bit tougher) that connect into the motherboard.  Try to remove as little of the tape as possible and gently pull the wires up to pull out the black connector to the motherboard.  I believe there were two that I needed to remove to the right of the fan.  A few wires that blocked the lower part of the fan cover also needed to be moved.  Again, there were only two black phillips head screws that needed to be removed.

I then removed the fan blade from the cover and cleaned them with tissue paper.

From what I read, the reason the awful rattling noise starts is because of the lack of lubrication.  You can use WD40 or whatever.  I used 3in1 mechanical oil.  I just dabbed a bit on the tip of the axle and put it right back in the pin-sized hole.

The fan blade looks like this.  You’ll notice that I wasn’t that “exacting” with the amount of oil I used.  Also be careful when trying to pull out the blade.  I broke one of the plastic spokes when pulling it out.

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Hopefully, this was helpful in solving your fan issue.  Good luck!

 
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Best Potstickers in San Francisco

Posted by admin on Sep 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’ve been on a search for great potstickers in San Francisco and have had no luck for years… until recently. I just checked out Shanghai Dumpling King on Balboa between 34th and 35th Avenues out in the Richmond. The place was a total hole in the wall – scary to most – but kinda had that awful Chinese decor that made it totally legit in my mind (never trust a Chinese restaurant with a nice interior anyway, right).

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The Xiu Long Bao (or juicy buns) were excellent.  Some say that the skin is a bit too thick, but I disagree.  Eat it with the ginger sauce or without, they are incredible.  Sure, they may not be as succulent as the ones at Yank Sing, but you at least don’t need to fork over a month’s wages ;)…   In any case, do NOT put the whole thing in your mouth when they are hot.  The soup inside will scald the skin off your mouth, quite literally… so be careful!  I’ve made the mistake and still continue to do it as my brain says “don’t eat too fast” and my belly says “come on in, we’re open for business.”

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Here’s a pic of the classic potstickers.  I thought they came out well.  The filling was nicely seasoned.  They were good enough to eat without soy sauce.  There’s nothing I can’t stand more than being forced to eat dumplings with soy sauce because the cook didn’t spend the time to properly season it…

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I still haven’t had a chance to go through the entire menu, but there seems to be several amazing dishes to choose from.  The only dish that I thought was lame, boring, and generally lacking of flavor were the noodles.  They were really just filler and not worth the amount of real estate they took up in my ever-expanding belly.

My kid and I take kenpo karate classes out in the Sunset and we often will just call ahead and do pickup, but make sure you leave plenty of time as these dumplings take abou 15-20 minutes to prepare.  Call ahead (415) 387-2088 or just show up to 3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, California 94121.

Try it out… you won’t be disappointed!

 
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Reaching a Critical Mass of Negative Feedback, Failing Faster, and Building Back Up

Posted by admin on Nov 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

I often hear about the importance of failure. What? This is the antithesis of what we learn in school. Work hard, practice, know your stuff, etc. BEFORE you share your idea with the world… That doesn’t work in reality, particularly around consumer products on the web. I’ve had several unsuccessful attempts at building products. BUT, I thought they were great when I first shared them… WRONG. Often times, I’m the “anti-Midas” – I tell my guys what I think with the explicit direction to do just the opposite. Why? Sometimes, you think a user is going to use your project in a certain way and they do just the opposite. OR, we find that users will use the product in ways that you never imagined. I think the important thing is to get your product out there as quickly as you can. HOWEVER, my one caveat is to do so in a manner that gives you the best chance at success. Here are some thoughts on a potential gameplan:

1.) Get a core feature that you think is cool and try it on a few users AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Don’t worry about the UI too much (I know it’s hard)

2.) This is NOT a public alpha. Rather, get folks that are not afraid to give you the HARSH, UGLY, and DIRECT truth about your product. This is key. It is also important to get users that have not been involved in ANY of the product discussions or iterations. You need a fresh set of eyes.

3.) Keep it PRIVATE. Given the massive amounts of new products that appear everyday, you had better be sure you are damn confident about the alleged awesomeness of what you are sharing. Start small first and don’t be too quick to push something out of the door to the masses. HOWEVER, YOU DO NEED TO PUSH SOMETHING FOR USERS TO TRY ASAP. If you are going to fail, at least fail fast. You’ve heard that one before, but it is so true.

4.) Try to do as little talking as possible about the product. Let the users struggle through it ON THEIR OWN. Try to avoid the need for lots of words to explain what to do. No one reads FAQs except power users. The UI needs to be intuitive.

5.) Be open to negative feedback. Do not explain yourself. Just collect the feedback. It’s amazing if you just shut-up and let a user vent about a product, they build momentum and fully voice their frustrations. Open a Google docs form to collect feedback, but keep in mind the best pearls of advice come from watching a user struggle with the product or a direct conversation about what happened. Keep in mind that positive feedback is simply NOT useful. You can’t act on “This is great!” You can act on “I hated the fact that I couldn’t quickly figure out how to…”

6.) REACH A CRITICAL MASS OF NEGATIVE FEEDBACK… FAST. Collect the feedback and at some point, the glass of negativity will start to overflow – meaning the pieces of negative feedback will start getting repetitive. I doubt there are many products that come out of the gate as awesome.

7.) Collect the feedback and regroup. Chances are that you’ve already been struggling with some of the issues that your test users have mentioned.

8.) START FROM SCRATCH WHEN REBUILDING… I often hear that iterating on an initial design that is flawed is the way to go. I’m not sure I agree. If there are fundamental problems, I think it’s better to start with a clean slate. It clears the mind and the clutter that results from throwing new features at the problem.

9.) Do ONE thing well. I often struggle with this problem. You come up with a few good ancillary ideas that you want to bolt on to the product. The result: a cluttered UI where the user doesn’t know what to do. Redefine the core value proposition in words may be needed. Do users care about the need? Is it even a real need? Why can’t they simply use another product to do this? I know everyone says it, but it’s so true: SCRATCH YOUR OWN ITCH.

10.) Hire a good UI/UX designer. Outsource, or in some cases bring someone on board full time. There will be plenty of stuff that they can do…

And, because we go to “11.”

11.) Spend as LITTLE money as possible in the test phase. The cardinal rule of a start-up is NEVER RUN OUT OF MONEY. OK, maybe that’s not possible, but most start-ups pivot and reach success doing something totally different than what they first thought about. You just need a long enough runway to have a few chances to screw up before you find something that works…

Here are some great blog posts (much better than my own) that touch on pieces of what I’m talking about:

Why I’m treating startups more critically lately

Bill Nguyen: The Boy In The Bubble

Hey mom – since you’re the only one who reads this blog anyway, give me your feedback.

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