Grandpa’s Rules of Success

My mother always said he had massive hair on his shoulders from carrying blocks of ice up the stoops of Brooklyn. As I grew up, I began to doubt that ice causes hair to grow, but I never doubted my grandfather’s strength.

We lived in the ground floor apartment of a three-story limestone (a cheaper version of a brownstone) on East 26th between Avenue D and Clarendon Road, in Flatbush, in Brooklyn. My grandfather owned the building (as he did several others around the neighborhood).

Dominic (no “k”) Guido, I believed, could do anything. I knew it ‘cause of the rats.

One day, as I was passing through the areaway under the stoop and getting my purple Stingray bike out of the shed to go for a ride, I saw this nose poking through a wall. “Rat!” I screamed and ran out. An hour later, Grandpa showed up. He stuffed the hole with steel wool and broken glass and patched the hole with cement. Rat problem solved. He could do anything.

He also remains to this day my ideal entrepreneur.

He’d left school after the sixth grade. He’d come to America from Palo del Colle in Bari and starting with nothing but a pushcart, he built a mini-empire of two or three trucks (and three or four buildings) selling ice in the summer and coal in the winter (and homemade illegal wine all year long during Prohibition).

He’d made enough money to raise seven kids (some of whom even went to college). And, most important, at the end of the day he always had more money than he had at the start.

I’ve met thousands of entrepreneurs over the years. I get the mindset. I’ve been there, done that; I’ve struggled, celebrated, laughed, and mourned with dozens of them. And when I was an investor, the ones who reminded me the most of my grandfather were the ones I was quickest to fund.

I thought of him, with his gnarled hands, suspenders, perpetually rough cheeks the other day when I was meeting with D.

“At least,” started my client, “at least I can say I raised a lot of money.”

Really? I thought. What would Dominic say?

I get that fund-raising is hard. It’s probably the most frequent topic in my sessions with CEOs. I also remember vividly sitting on a board of a company as it struggled to raise its next round.

But I also remember another client—T. T’s worked at his business for nearly four years.  He’s built his business selling his software product one customer at a time.  This year, he’ll clear $300,000 in revenue and be able to pay himself livable if not great wage as well as the salaries of a developer, a business/sales jack-of-all-trades, and a representative in the UK.

And he has no debt. And he owns 100% of the equity in his company.

Clearly not all companies can be built this way. And clearly, too, T’s business might be able to accelerate rapidly if it had a decent infusion of cash—if for nothing else than to improve his SEO ranking.

Nevertheless, there’s something sweetly endearing about the hand-built, boot-strapped business…something that Dominic would appreciate.

Grandpa’s Rules of Business

1)   Debt? What’s Debt?

2)   Always have a secondary income plan. Sell ice but don’t be afraid to sell a little wine as well.

3)   A nap in the middle of the day is a good thing. A nap at the movies in the middle of the day is a very good thing

4)   Figs are best when eaten right from the tree

5)   Chicks dig Old Spice

6)   Don’t take off your long underwear until the spring.

7)   When in doubt, go ahead and buy the extra truck

8)   Find out what your customer needs and sell it to them

9)    Work harder than your competition

10)   Laugh

11)   Eat lemon drops

12)   Families are good; big families are better

13)   Always remember who you are and where you came from

14)   Always have more money at the end of the day than at the beginning.

  • Peter Cranstone

    Raising money is a milestone NOT a goal. The goal is really twofold…

    1) A known customer with an identifiable problem
    2) Measurable, sustainable, profitable revenue from volume

    All the rest is stuff. Also remember – VC’s are NOT your customer. They’ll never buy anything from you. There agenda is simple – a financial success from investing in your venture. Don’t be under any illusion that it is a financial transaction (remember they’re not your customer).

    An on the subject of interest (think debt here)… Interest is what you should earn, not what you should pay.

    • jerrycolonna

      Exactly so. It’s hard not to be proud of raising money so I get why people put in on their LinkedIn profile and such. But that’s just a step in a process.

      • Peter Cranstone

        I bet your Grandpa never talked about raising money :)

        In all seriousness though, raising money is an important milestone in the process of delivering value to your customers. After that it’s all about “Focus and Execution” on a common plan that everyone agrees on. And also never forget the exit. The day that you take VC money is the day that your plan changes from one of a lifestyle to one of legacy (if you’re really lucky).

  • honam

    Sounds like a great guy. Great entrepreneur. Knew how to make money while having fun building a life, a legacy, something worthy. Remind me of other great entrepreneurs I’ve known. He said Debt? What’s Debt? I bet he’d also say VC? What’s VC?

    • jerrycolonna

      LOL. Thanks Honam. Thanks for giving me the image of my grandfather trying to understand venture capital. He died when I was ten. He was 85 (and still working, by the way…he worked at one of his son-in-law’s restaurants—Italian of course). And still going to the movies.
      Still, even at 85, it felt like he died too soon.
      Thanks for helping me reconnect with my feelings for him.

    • Tereza

      I think what Jerry has here is an “In Defense of Food”, but for startups. An analog to Pollan’s rule of “if your grandmother never heard of it, don’t eat it”

      (Think GoGurt, Polysorbate 80)

      • jerrycolonna

        Brilliant analogy Tereza!

        • Tereza

          Maybe you should start a “whole business” movement.

          I like that idea.

          In a way I feel like that’s what Seth Godin is doing with Linchpin.

          • jerrycolonna

            Linchpin is brilliant.

  • Apolinaras Sinkevicius

    We keep on searching for some new theories and innovation, when our parents and grandparents made it happen with no VC money with just hard work. Maybe, instead of getting our MBAs, we should spend more time going back and asking them about how they got to where they did.

    My late father was my idol. I have learned many lessons from him, but I know I would be multi-millionaire, if I listened to him earlier. Too bad he is gone now and I am missing out on some great wisdom. Couple of months ago I wrote an article about what I learned from him:

    Three of my favorites:
    * Be wary if no one is criticizing you anymore or if all you hear is praise. They either drank too much of your “Kool-aid” or they are looking to pull wool over your eyes.
    * Youth gives you ideas, but age allows you to sense which ones are B.S.
    * If you feel like you are surrounded by a-holes, maybe it is you who is making people act that way.

    • Brian Kung

      On the last: or perhaps your outlook tints your worldview

    • jerrycolonna

      Fantastic rules Apolinaras. Really great. I don’t want to start an anti-venture capital meme (but I it may not be helped) but I have to say your point about remembering the way THEY made it (they being those who came before us) is really powerful.

  • Steven Kane


    I worry about the “Paris Hiltonization” of entrepreneurship

    Young entrereneurs spend way too much time preening and promoting (eg blogging and tweeting and reading blogs and tweets) and way too much time thinking about venture capital, while spending way too little time worrying about the things that actually matter — do you have a solid idea (or better, ideas) for creating a self-sustaining business? Products that customers wiull buy and like and t a price that has sufficient margin? Markets that allow for growth? The people to create a team to get it all done?

    Back in the jurassic era when I started out as an entrepreneur we spent zero time on anything other than the immediate very concrete work at hand — who had time to do anything else? Nowadays I feel like every entrepreneur I meet is as much concerns with networking events and blogging as with making payroll. And thats because they all assume that venture capital is the model from day one — trade control and huge equity ownership for subsidizing deficits and hope big daddy (google) will take out your company before the business has to actually be a business

    And as long as I’m ranting, I’d argue this is why we have not seen any truly breakthrough products or technologies emerge recently

    • jerrycolonna

      Rant away buddy. You’re making a ton of sense (although I’ll disagree on point: back in the Jurassic period when we both work were in the thick of it, there were plenty of Paris Hilton-like entrepreneurs…you and your cohorts just weren’t part of that crew. But Fred and I saw plenty of them).
      By the way, if you had a nickel for every time I cited YOU as an ideal entrepreneur, you’d be rich.

      • danputt

        “By the way, if you had a nickel for every time I cited YOU as an ideal entrepreneur, you’d be rich.”

        I’d go further to say that Steve would be rich just from the number of times Jerry has cited him as the ideal entrepreneur to me. I’ve learned so much about entrepreneurship from Steve, via stories from Jerry.

    • Tereza

      I rarely say this these days because I’m really pro start-up, but I spent a long time doing corporate intrapreneurship-type things and it’s been an interested juxtaposition. Many startups I encounter are so poorly and unthoroughly conceived, vis-a-vis what the business actually is.

      In the corporate enterpreneurship environment, there was almost no time wasted on scattershot selling (events, etc). You knew if you thought through it all the way, you could get it approved. So the focus was more on getting it right. And persuading your short-list of stakeholders how you’d get it to work and make sure they’d look like heroes in the end (and conversely not get egg on their face).

      Not to put it up on a pedestal, though. Large corporations systematically shy away from breakthrough. If I had a nickel for each “breakthrough” idea which was chiseled down to a neutered state, in order to sell it politically…

      And so the pendulum swings back to start-ups.

  • Charlie Crystle

    entrepreneurs say a lot of things when they’re grieving over a loss or a failure; “at least I raised a lot of money” can be an expression of recognizing some achievement in the context of adversity.

    So I’m guessing that client had a lot of other things to say as well. I know I’ve said it, but in doing that I was denying and dismissing my own achievements along the way.

    Great list.

    My best advice to startups is to focus first on customers. Everything else follows. If you don’t have customers, don’t waste time talking about anything els, because nothing happens until a customer has paid you for something they value, and has told you how they feel about it.

    If you suck, you need to work on sucking less, so you can turn that customer into a reference or even an evangelist. When you screw up, go way over the top in taking care of that customer, fix the issue, turn the customer into your pet project as you continue to add other customers.

    In doing that, you’ll learn a lot about yourselves; next, you’ll prevent a word-of-mouth nightmare; and finally you’ll develop the humility it takes to really build a great company. Only then will your marketing have any integrity; integrity is the measure of the gap between what you say you can deliver and what you actually deliver.

    You can’t become a great company if you don’t address that gap.

    • jerrycolonna

      Good point Charlie. I shouldn’t be so quick to criticized the “at least I’ve raised” money because I think you’re right…for some it’s an honest attempt at gaining some affirmation.

    • Tereza

      Focus first on customers?

      Amen, Charlie.

  • Mike McGrath

    This may be a chicken and egg problem. Are the entrepreneurs doing this because every VC wants the next twitter (and not something boring or unsexy) or the VC’s doing this because the entrepreneurs want to be “serial” and get rich quick?

    • jerrycolonna

      Probably both are guilty (it’s the chicken AND the egg). But the ironic thing is, if you stay heads down and built a profitable–or at least break-even– company (as Steve Kane did in 1999) then, when you want additional capital for expansion, you’re have a lot more funding options.

  • panterosa,

    I welcome the simplicity of this vision. Basic living. Perhaps I also like the idea which seems to underly it which implies that business can be done on the dining room table which so central to one’s life, and it seems so much more appealing than the conference table.

    Or perhaps the depression era similarities to today’s economy in the toilet moment have me not ruing the fact that my new business is being started from the dining table, with little money, because it has the simplicity of that other era. Built from scratch on the sweat of my labor, it is all mine. If and when it makes the leap, and I quit the day job, I’ll want it big enough to manage easily, pay decently, and balance with cleaning up for dinner with family and friends. Making it that far, debt free, on my terms, will be a milestone.

  • Scott Barnett

    Your story made me think of my grandfather too. He owned a supermarket, was chief of the local fire department and was an EMT – he died having a stroke while driving somebody else to the hospital. From what I remember of him (I was 8 when he died) he was also an entrepreneur – his mantra was to treat people the way you wanted to be treated – if you do that, they’ll always come back for more.

    From what I remember, I actually believe my grandfather would have taken venture money if he felt that he could make a reasonable return from it. He would not have viewed the raising of the money as a goal, but as stated several times here, a milestone along the road to the goal. If being scrappy gets you to the point of being eligible to raise VC money, why do entrepreneurs then stop doing that once the money is in the bank? The VC money is not repeatable (for the most part, although I guess entrepreneurs who go through 4 or 5 rounds might disagree). What’s repeatable is the sales your product is generating, and until that happens, every penny is precious.

  • Tereza

    Great post, Jerry.

    I’ve been procrastinating starting a blog and one topic I planned was “What Marta taught Me about Business”. That was my mom. She was the best marketing and sales person I ever saw….and I saw a lot. It’s late so I may plug in tomorrow with a short story.

    • jerrycolonna

      What’s holding you back? (Sorry, I slipped into coach-mode there).
      So write, already.

      • Tereza

        Hey! I though it was brave that I admitted it!

        First, let me drop my 6-yr off at school and then I’ll run right back and get to it.

        Actually my new venture is really, in my own head, dedicated to my mom (digitizing her spirit, so to speak). So it would be an appropriate inaugural post.

        • Tereza

          Phew, that was exhausting. Now I have to find a place to park it. Jerry thanks for the nudge. Here it goes:

          What Mom Taught Me About Business

          When I was in middle school, dad had a heart attack and was sidelined in his job. Mom, who needed extra cash, turned to the only career path that seemed open to her. She became a Mary Kay Lady.

          And so each trip to the supermarket, she was on her game. Approaching strangers with a smile and warm eyes, offering them a “complimentary facial” to make them feel better, brighten them up. A sexy, perky brunette with a charming Czech accent – who could say no?

          She’d invite them to our house and in the dining room she’d focus on them for an hour. I used to sit in the kitchen and eavesdrop on her sessions. They would sit around the dining table, each with her own mirror.

          Mom would ask, “What do you like the most about yourself?” She would listen, letting them vent (women tend to talk more about what’s wrong than what’s great). And then Mom would say, “Let me tell you what I see.” And she’d point out all the ways they were beautiful. She meant every word. Eventually, slowly, she would segue into which products they could use to play up their assets.

          And no one left without dropping at least $100. In the early 80’s, a holdover era of Pond’s and Oil of Olay, that was breakthrough persuasion.

          I was her assistant. She and I together read up and listened to all the Mary Kay sales training materials, featuring the great lady herself. That woman had wisdom! My favorite: “Critique should be served thoughtfully in a sandwich, between two pieces of praise.”

          The money wasn’t great. To really make it big, you had to build your team. But Mom loved the one-on-ones. And she tired of driving cross-county to pick up a check for a $5 mascara. Dad called it “blood money”.

          When it became clear there was no pink Cadillac in her future, mom moved to bigger ticket items: real estate.

          The company she joined gave her a personality test. It said she was perfectly unsuited for real estate. She said, “That’s ridiculous!” and plunged in.

          It was just before the crash of ’87. A tough time to start, but a perfect time to build and hone a real estate selling machine.

          The horsey real estate ladies in our area focused all tried to be like Bergdorf — getting the huge multi-million dollar listings and sitting on them for a year or two. We were not country club people, and Mom knew this was a game she’d never win. She didn’t care.

          Instead, Mom was the Wal-Mart of Northern Westchester real estate. She helped young couples who were scraping their first down payment get into the cheapest house in town and get into the school district. She sought women whose marriages were falling apart, helping keep their children in the district by securing that (rare) condo. As their lives stabilized, they loyally returned to her to trade them up. They referred her to their friends. Local stats showed she had 3-4 times the number of transactions of the other top agents. She was a machine.

          Strongly intuitive about trends, and fearless about being a first mover, Mom viewed the other real estate ladies as being slow and stuffy. She loved trying new things. So this was a key strategy of counterattack. Mom was the first person in the office to buy software to manage her customer list. She’d send out thousands of quarterly letters on the state of the market, which hung on every refrigerator. In high school and college breaks I must have stuffed and licked 20,000+ envelopes. Her letters were quirky, often had English language mistakes. But they told it like it was, and were endlessly endearing. Her tag line: “Let me help you. I know (almost) every single road. And I’ll make it fun!” People still mention how they loved her letters. In Seth Godin’s words, that woman could “ship”.

          She was an inaugural member of, investing $5000/year to own the premium local zip codes, to showcase her listing prominently to web seekers. She was an early Blackberry user, to ensure she was immediately responsive to her customers and prospects. If she were alive today, no doubt she would already be a seasoned blogger, Facebooker and Twitterer.

          Her colleagues marveled at how Mom could make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. She could move the unmovable property, usually after her competitors tried and failed. She did it with honesty, strong analysis (and hard truth) on pricing, and creative, passionate positioning. Her buyers were invariably thrilled. And her competitors respected her. When on the other side of the negotiating table, they knew she was fair and would work hard to get the deal done.

          Mom loved what she did in work, and loved her family and her community. All the while, she was a terrific mom — always there when I needed her. A dutiful wife — making dad homemade lunch everyday (which simmered in the crock pot while she played tennis). Carved out time every day to do something for herself that she loved (usually the tennis or a Loehmann’s fix). She had a massive network of wonderful friends who adored her. She was over the moon to become a grandmother. In my adult life, I loved talking business with her. We learned so much from each other – I told her things I learned at Wharton and the F500 corporate environment (which fascinated her) – and she knew everything there was to know about human nature.

          In 2003 she won #1 seller in Pound Ridge. Performance-wise, it was her best year ever. It was bittersweet, though. Dad was dying and she was stretched thin. He died in early ’04, and a few weeks after, her sudden fatigue was diagnosed as terminal, fast-growth cancer. Only months later, in the hospital on machines, she looked at me plaintively and said, “Terezko, I don’t want to do this. I did everything I wanted to do. I want to die. When I die, I want you to throw a big party. Invite all my friends from Pound Ridge, and tell them that I love them all.” We threw the party. The house was packed.

          There’s a voice of honest, respectful truth that Mom embodied, as a mother, and as a businesswoman. She did it more purely and yet safely than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve come to realize I cannot live without it, and I don’t think other people should live without it, either.

          When I described my plan to a friend for my start-up, which is called Honestly Now, she replied with a whisper, “That sounds just like Marta.” I hadn’t realized it, but it’s true. I’m trying to digitize my mom. I am as convinced as the day is long that the world will be better for it.

          Mom, I miss having you as my “Truth Fairy”. Thank you for your endless inspiration.

          • jerrycolonna

            So beautiful and touching. Where’s your blog?

          • Tereza

            The site is built but it’s not live yet. I have to populate a bunch of other fields (it’s for my consulting business…separate from the start-up). Location will be

            I’m going to call the blog “Mashups, Markets and Motherhood”.

          • Charlie Crystle

            write the book, Tereza. Great stuff.

          • panterosa,

            Tereza, I enjoyed your post and inspiration. What a gift.

            The more I thought about your post, the more I realized my family’s approach to business is a series of red flags, the un-model, even though there was talent and intelligence. It seems to be my work to reverse this trend by avoiding all their mistakes, and forge on without their support.

          • Tereza

            Thank you Panterosa. You know something, we all need guidance along the way. I was very fortunate to have the mothering I had when it was there (and trust me — there were other family elements that did NOT work). I guess the benefit of family passing away is you are free to create a narrative that works for you!

            Last year I read “Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi. His premise is craft your own ‘board of advisors’ for your life and work. People whom you deeply respect and who care about you. Make it a somewhat formal relationship — e.g. quarterly dinners with each — and be explicit with them that them you’re counting on them to keep you accountable to your goals/dreams. And they must promise to keep you honest if they see you doing something stupid. (maybe you don’t do stupid things, but I sure do!)

            I created such a circle over the last year and it’s been an amazing bounty for me. If you’re not doing this, you may want to give it a try. Very nourishing.

            It might help populate your head with those positive role models and crowd out the un-models. Save the un-models for (short) holiday meals.

            But, seriously, what the hell do I know. We want a happy Panterosa. :-)

          • panterosa,

            A happy Panterosa is emerging, and you are sweet to put it that way.

            I like the idea for advisors. I will work on that.

            The sad part of my un-models is how fiercely bright they were, and with hearts in the right place. They held me to high standards and for that I am grateful, it is how I measure my work, and know if it’s good. The trouble now is bringing the work to market and creating commercial value, so that the day job can be quit, and that is where the model(s) would help. I don’t work in one single field, I work in many, so I don’t have in depth knowledge of any of the areas where I am working.

            I’m flying by the seat of my pants, which I think translates into learning to be my own model.

          • Tereza

            Awesome. Yay Happy Panterosa! Sounds like you’re really moving.
            Totally hear you on the day job thing. if we could all be
            independently wealthy it would be a wonderful thing.

            I’ve found to me the two most valuable things coming from the advisors
            (aside from the priceless encouragement/great energy) are:

            (1) their expertise is complementary to mine so key answers are a
            phone call away, instead incurring massive research which I am highly
            capable of doing but who the hell has time for when you’re trying to
            ship, and

            (2) accelerate my decisionmaking by helping me figure out which
            details NOT to sweat right now

            Lots of people have been helpful. Serial entrepreneurs have been the
            most helpful. They are ruthlessly practical and have sweated these
            exact same tradeoffs.

        • jerrycolonna

          It was very brave!

  • Ryan Graves

    You’re killin it Jerry. I’m loving this…

    When is this book coming out again? :)

    • jerrycolonna

      Here’s the new idea for the book: Include everyone’s comments. The really intriguing thing for me would be to extend container called “book” to include all of you.

      Here’s my Evil Plan (as Hugh MacLeod calls it): Jerry, our hero, is frustrated by the limitations of coaching model. The one on one dialogues are beautiful, gorgeous, fulfilling but there’s a limit. Question? How does one scale? Answer: Write the blog. Use it as a springboard to workshops and larger gatherings. Then collect all of that and turn that into a book. Use the book as a springboard to an even larger gathering. Make sense?

      • panterosa,

        Sounds like you’re itching to start a movement.

        • jerrycolonna

          A revolution.

      • Tereza

        A few thoughts:

        1. It’s always more fun if there’s an “evil plan to take over the world” involved.

        2. In-person coaching is wonderful but slow and linear (you meet, wait a month, you meet, wait a month). Not scalable. Physical books demand concerted attention and depth of thinking; the reader is giving the author the gift of a one-way dialog for an extended period of time, and afford introspection. But no interaction with others (2D). In-person events can be very powerful (3D) but depends somewhat on who shows up. The blog and thread provides many of the positive attributes of all these methods. BUT, they’re more effective when you’re part of the conversation when it happens, slightly less so afterwards — it’s temporal. Latecomers ‘miss the party’. But they’re also a little confusing/dizzying after the fact because we read them Top-Down when in fact people were sort of talking at the same time — doesn’t fully capture the magic of the ‘system interaction’ and hard to keep sight of the big picture. If there were a more graphical way to map comments (e.g. spider map) in an E-Book, so readers could touch different pictures and zoom in and out, it would be a richer experience. As a consultant when we used to bring large, diverse groups of people together, a super-effective way to engage them was to line the room wall with butcher block paper and have people write down there ideas/concerns/objectives on post-its and stick them up (I call them ‘butterflies’ — can’t let them fly away). Then we’d clump/cluster, and then connect. And then we’d produce a ‘placemat’ and publish it for them, laminated, for their wall/office. It legitimized each voice but got them focused on the end goal. People love this. Also, there are lots of non-blog-readers and non-commenters. Could invite them to experience the blog and give them a toe in the water to participate in that way (and ergo persuade them to come in person to a workshop or event). Perhaps this exists already or is a next generation of Disqus or Blog-To-Book Publication Feature, something paper cannot do but digital books could. That was a bit stream of consciousness….does it make sense?

        3. There remains an untapped opportunity to explore the premise that “Chicks dig Old Spice”. :-)

        • jerrycolonna

          Hugh taught me the fun of evil plans. My big fear is losing the heart connection that true one on one brings (that said, I’ve no plans to stop that work anytime soon).
          And, yeah, gotta get me some of that Old Spice.

          • panterosa,

            Coach Spice? Heart Spice? Rock on with the revolution.

          • Tereza

            My favorite TV character right now (since I only have time for kids programs) is Dr. Doofenschmertz of Phineas and Ferb. A lanky guy with a thick Hungarian accent, is frequently in therapy and each episode is a massive evil plot to develop a technology with which he can conquer the entire Tri-State Area.

            So very funny. Evil plots rock.

          • Tereza

            And as for Old Spice, ever suddenly smell something you hadn’t in a very, very long time? It’s like teleporting. Sight, sounds, etc. just don’t have the same effect.

          • panterosa,

            Heinz Doofenschmertz is our favorite too, reliably evil. The whole show is genius. Especially all the inventions.
            Can’t wait for Despicable Me, for more evil plotting.

          • Tereza

            Can’t wait to learn about your XXXX-inator. While waiting, I’ll have Love Handel’s reuniting album in heavy rotation.

      • Ryan Graves

        Makes perfect sense Jerry, so when’s the conf?

  • TanyaMonteiro

    So lovely to come across this entry! Thank you. Just raised my first $7K for a project that’s a part of my life’s work. Always thought I was an entrepreneur but never lived it till now. Great List! Inspiring Story!

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Tanya and congratulations.

  • andrew holz

    First I really want to thank you for your blog Jerry. As someone who is getting further into the NYC tech startup scene AND exploring Buddhism (through a Quaker lens actually) I feel like I get soooo much out of your blog I should be paying you. So please keep up the great work.

    On the topic of uncertainty I would even take it one step further. You need to be comfortable with outright contradiction, not just its cousin uncertainty. In my career I frequently come across situations where two facts seem true (intellectually and to your “gut”) but also seem to contradict each other. In those cases I find it most useful to actively accept both as well as I can rather than obsessing about “which is right”.

    • Tereza

      Andrew that’s a fantastic point. And welcome to the party!

    • jerrycolonna

      Perfect Andrew…you’ve solved my lack of scalability problem! I take PayPal.
      Kidding…you’re very welcome. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I think you’re right…being comfortable with contradiction…even those within ourselves…is intensely liberating…
      Whitman said:
      “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large I contain multitudes.”

      • Tereza

        What I try to remember is that contradiction is actually a
        precondition for some pretty great comedy.

  • fredwilson

    a nap at the movies is a very special thing. i do it all the time.

    • jerrycolonna

      I can just see you doing it…”sshhh, Dad’s sleeping.”

      • fredwilson

        my kids find it hilariously funny. also when i fall asleep standing on the subway

  • MR imaging

    But you can only play the game by the rules that are set and the Wildcats have ticked that box 25 times. To put Perth’s success into perspective here are some of the consecutive finals records from around the world.

  • James Ferguson @kWIQly

    My dad had some rules-of-thumb  (maybe they are borrowed) but for 1970s UK they seem quite enlightened
    1) A clean toilet reflects more than a clean mirror.
    2) Ostentation doesn’t serve clients – like a flag pole in the company carpark
    3) No reserved parking for directors (directors turn up first)
    4) No hint of fear or corruption (both block communication)
    5) No family hires (I was allowed to do some holiday work)
    6) If a job  needs to be done nobody is to good to do it

    He had some personal rules.
    1) Truth at all costs.
    2) Don’t Complain – Suggest.
    3) Trust is given not requested.
    4) Never pay for anything that you would be be uncomfortable accepting in public.
    5) Say Please, Thank you & Sorry when appropriate

    And some advice on learning.
    See a pattern – make a rule – test the positive – ignore the cost.

    • jerrycolonna

      Your Dad sounds like my kind of leader.