Build Awesome

I was born here. Not physically, that was in Fort Collins, CO, but as an entrepreneur. And not when I started my first business at the age of nine, but before that, perhaps at two when my mother and I moved to California, or maybe at three when my mother met my father.

My father, Rich, moved to East Palo Alto and across from my mother’s and my apartment from Michigan. My mom, who was dating Rich’s roommate, finally came to her senses, and dated the right guy.

At the time, Rich worked for the City of Mountain View pouring concrete. My mom, a secretary was always proud of the fact that a $525 a month, she made more than my father. And Rich was proud of the fact that most of what we had, he built himself.

That’s when I was born as an entrepreneur. And, my parents were the perfect founding team. A Hacker and a Hustler. My mom taking big chances and my dad fixing problems. The Silicon Valley Way.

The fearlessness I have in diving into any situation and trusting myself and the people around me comes from the long odds my parents faced and overcame. The understanding true success comes from Rich showing me that it was never about what we had, it was always about what we created.

This morning, I read Nick Bilton’s piece Disruptions: Let Silicon Valley Eat … Ramen Noodles? where he writes about how the monetarily successful in the SF Bay Area hide their wealth, by enlarge.

Change the world, and the world will take good care of you – Steve Jobs

If you move past the gilded Twitter streams of the few, Jobs statement IS the Silicon Valley. It is not a platitude. It is not an empty saying. It is what true entrepreneurs, not the wannabes with their reality shows, and empty bank accounts (but Telsa cars) believe in their hearts.

We build awesome.

I understand that those who are new to the area or are looking at it from the outside read that line and scream “Bullshit!” in their brains. I get it. Million dollars going to copy cat business or birthday parties cloud that truth. But the folks that are building amazing things, world changing things, in the office parks of San Jose, don’t care what you think.

They just keep building awesome.

When I left the Valley I was young; now, I am old.

I was always the youngest whatever. Youngest CEO, youngest varsity coach; youngest business owner. Yet, somewhere along the line, I stopped being the youngest, and now I am one of the oldest.

Not sure what that means, except I have seen a lot of things change as they stayed the same. The focus has shifted from the South Bay and Peninsula to San Francisco, probably in great part to the laziness of the tech blogs and their inability to actually chase stories and review companies that don’t get them invited to cool parties with creative people.

True entrepreneurs look at money as a means to an end and care about legacy, not currency. Does that mean true entrepreneurs don’t throw parties with Snoop Dogg? Of course not. We are still geeks and nerds that if we could have Snoop play at a party will make it happen but its not what defines us.

What defines us is how we change the world. And, we change the world by building awesome, not by caring about money.

Nick ends his article perfectly:

The Valley doesn’t need to act as if it’s not interested in money — spending responsibly is a good thing. Focusing on making worthwhile start-ups grow is even better. We already have enough people pretending to be the Sun King.


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