Learn To Duck

by Micah Baldwin

Sometimes the best way to learn to duck is to get punched in the face

Read this first

Don’t Lie. You Don’t Care.

It began simply enough.

A post in my Facebook feed that was interesting enough that I wanted to click on it. After all, who doesn’t want to learn more about Satan worship and its effect on housing pricing? IMG_1638.PNG Link says “latimes.com” but instead of going to the article, it launches the App Store and lands you on the page to download the Digg Reader app.

Respect for being douchey. I get it. Me going to the LA Times makes you no money. Downloading your app gets me closer to ringing the cash register.

Except it didn’t. I will never use the Digg Reader, and am now writing a post telling everyone that I won’t.

deep breath

This is not a post about Digg. I met the guys. Good guys, hard working guys. Focused on driving news, engagement and proving traction. Cool. High five.

But as “Growth Hacking” has gotten more competitive and difficult, it has started to move into “Growth Hawking,” a disease...

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The Thin Line Between Creation

Last night, as I do most Sunday nights, I was catching up with all the shows I like to watch on Hulu. I wont bore you with the list, but lets just say that at least one includes a talking rabbit, another a talking robot, and yet another a barely talking human.

In between pseudo-Sorkin quips, I, as I often also do, was zooming through twitter. Most of the time, Sunday night twitter is full of football, random links to articles and really bad jokes (still not sure why Sunday is so devoid of humor). And in the midst of all of the noise was this tweet by John Meada:

Twitter___johnmaeda__Designers_are_skilled_at_...-3.png

Now John, who I have never met, is the type of person that you tell people you once ate breakfast in the next room, and were too afraid to ask a very good friend for an introduction (Scott Belsky, it was not me when we ran into each other at the Ace in NYC. Just saying.)

Former head of RISD, now a design partner at Kleiner...

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What Makes a Great VC

Every year as the Newly Minted VCs begin to settle in and blog/tweet, there is a bevy of posts about how venture capital as it stands today is broken, and they, with their new insights and operational histories are going to fix it.

Of course, most of them become what they rail against over the course of the next few years.

As I have started to think more and more about jumping the fence full force into the investing side of the entrepreneurial equation I keep asking myself two questions:

What makes up the perfect VC, and can I be that.

For many, it seems that for founder/CEOs the answer has been distilled into three key components:

  1. Keep money in the bank.
  2. Recruit amazing talent.
  3. Articulate the vision.

These three things are codependent. You can’t have one. You have to have all three. And each one requires the other two to exist.

  • If you can’t keep money in the bank then you...

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Getting Back on the Field

One thing that people don’t know about me is that I played lacrosse for 18 years, and coached for 15 of them. Coached all kinds of players from 3rd grade to college; even spent a year coaching women (which is an unsurprisingly unique experience).

As I started companies, it was easy to believe that as CEO, I would be something of a “player-coach.” I would get my hands dirty when needed, but mostly would run the team and be a leader for the players.

Turns out, being CEO is none of that.

Over the past three years or so, I have been CEO of Graphicly. Until a few months ago when I walked into our Board meeting and informed the board that it was time for me to step down.

It was time for me to remove the “CEO” part of “player-CEO.”

Why? The simple, truthful answer is that it was the right thing for the company and, frankly, the right thing for me.

If you read all the blogs of the smart...

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Founder’s Anonymous

I haven’t written much lately. Not sure why, there are lots of ideas in my head. It could be the travel (65 out of 90 days!), or maybe what is happening at Graphicly (change for lack of a better word, is good). Or maybe I’m hitting a down cycle and just want to live (bipolar is awesome!).

In the past couple of days, I have spoken with a friend that left the country in part to just disconnect, another friend that has a budding romance and an app that is soon to launch, and a third friend that is using some crazy computer chips and eInk to take over the world. The commonality among them?

Donuts.

About a year and a half ago, I was in the midst of doing Four Hour Body. One aspect of 4HB is the cheat day, which turns out to be the only part of the diet that I was amazing at accomplishing perfectly.

Near my house in San Mateo, I found a donut shop. It’s old school. No wifi. Cash only....

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I’m the Juggernaut, Bitch

I_m_the_Juggernaut_bitch_.jpg

A few weeks ago while in the midst of a silent Bikram class, the instructor, who clearly didn’t understand the true meaning of silence said:

Success is found in stillness.

And while I dismissed the statement, as I did for the vast majority of the touchy-feely things yoga instructors say, that simple statement found a spot in my brain and just stuck.

One of tenets of being a founder is to keep moving. To do more faster. There is a reason accelerators are not called meanderers. And, after all, we are the Juggernauts, bitch.

Sharks die if they stop swimming.

I was chatting with a founder today, and he talked about how the common trait of founders was that they worked in a direction until they meet a wall, then adjust and move in a new direction. That decisions are made on the move, that the past is forgotten and the focus is only on the future.

There is no present in building a...

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Yoga is Fucking Judgmental

The next person that tells me that they are impressed that I made it through yoga will get punched in the face.

About a month ago, my friend Aaron Batalion decided to take a much deserved vacation from his startup and get himself into shape.

“Hot yoga, Micah. It’s fun, you should come.”

I had done Bikram yoga in the past, and enjoyed it, so I came along to a class. It was hard. It was fun. And I became obsessed. Now, a month later, I have taken classes in five cities, four states and from countless teachers, and in 30 days, I have missed only 3 days (2 because of travel).

A couple of quick points about Bikram Yoga. It’s in a room heated to 105 degrees. There are 26 poses, which were designed by this guy Bikram after a back injury, so they are focused on strengthening the core, and stretching the back. Which means, no Downward Dogs or other yoga moves than include jumping around. Oh,...

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The Scars of the Past

Earlier this week, I wrote about 500 or so words on my practice of focusing on the moments in our days as a way to create energy, ideas and pleasure. But, I accidentally deleted it. Yes, in a moment, it was gone.

Dammit.

Over the past several years I have spent a lot of time researching and exploring failure. You could say that I was employing an experiential style of research on failure for most of my life.

In fact, my oldest scar, which sits on the pad of the index finger of my left hand was my first data point.

I had just learned to walk and was stumbling around our small house in Fort Collins, Colorado. My mom, an unabashed hippie, had probably just finished making my macrobiotic lunch and had started to sew some (very hip, I’m sure) baby overalls. This being before lasers and Walmart, she was using a Singer sowing machine with a foot pedal and belt on the outside of the machine....

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The Rule of Awesome

For years I have struggled with the concept of “hiring only A players.”

After all, what the fuck is an “A player?” Is there a test? Is there a list of characteristics that outlines the specific nature of an A player?

On top of that, the concept of an “A player” extends beyond just the skill set into the ability of that employee to engage and comfortably integrate into a set company culture.

The famed Facebook and Google interviews don’t always expose top notch employees. It certainly is a process that scares off a fair number of folks, but it doesn’t guarantee that the new employee is that unique combination of skills, personality, drive and compassionate intelligence necessary for the perfect fit within your organization.

About eight months ago I started to recognize a commonality among the employees at my startup and others that clearing indicated “A player”-ness.

The CEO/Founder,...

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The Curse of Tomorrow

While April 1 is the day that the tech world fills the world with jokes, it was the day that I stopped being one.

Back in 2006, on the March 31, I was sitting in my living room in Denver, Colorado. My living room didn’t have much life in it. The blinds were closed, the tv always on. The trash was rarely emptied, and I rarely showered.

I was skinny (well as skinny as a fat man can be), and I had a pronounced limp. It was that limp that kept me on my couch for most of the day.

Well, maybe not the limp. It was more likely the piles of drugs and alcohol that covered my glass top coffee table.

I think about that day a lot because it was the day I decided to become normal. To be sober. It was the day that I broke the Curse that had chased me for most of my life. The Curse of Tomorrow.

And, on April 1, 2006, I chose life.

It was a conscious decision and not a forgone conclusion. But, I...

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