Say Hello To Airtime for Email

I’m really excited to announce that the project I’ve been working on over the past 5 months is finally ready to see the light of day. A lot of awesome stuff has happened since that first commit: the product has pivoted, every bit of code has been written and rewritten multiple times, and I’m lucky enough to have brought on an amazing co-founder Patrick Leahy back in November.

With that said, I’m proud to introduce you to Airtime for Email. Airtime is a really great way for companies to showcase a standardized, centrally-controlled marketing message with every email their employees send. Our technology allows companies to insert a banner into the signature line of every email that they send that rotates between different products, tracks clicks, and tracks impressions. Continue Reading

30 Jan 2012, 10:08am | 1 comment

How To Cross The Street

There’s something I notice about people who cross the street. Most people look at the crossing sign. If there’s an orange hand they stay on the sidewalk. When it turns white they start walking. 

But sometimes you notice someone who has gotten halfway across the street just as everyone else is leaving the sidewalk. He strides confidently ahead of the pack, not fearful of wayward cars or motorcycles.

He’s ahead of the pack because he pays attention to the right things. He wasn’t watching the sign that told him when it was safe to cross. He was watching the traffic light and the cars. As soon as it turned red and the cars starting slowing down he knew he could start walking.

And that is business success in a nutshell.

21 Jan 2012, 6:00pm | 7 comments

SOPA: The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth

Imagine for a second the dawn of the New World. Imagine the Massachusetts coastline creeping into view for a passenger aboard the Mayflower. Imagine that tired and hungry he lifted his eyes to gaze upon the vast stretch of land before him. I imagine that “for a transitory enchanted moment he must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder…”

Today all across the internet, thousands of websites have gone dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA. Today thousands of tech leaders of every variety have put their livelihoods on hold in the collective interest of the world wide web. Every so often we become witnesses to history. Maybe once or twice a decade we live through a day that will shape our lives for the years to come. I believe today is one of those days. I believe that today January 18 2012 is the day that the technology industry comes of age. Continue Reading

18 Jan 2012, 7:39am | 6 comments

Doing Away With Dogmatism

The world is full of crazy people.

The Pope bans the use of contraception to preserve the sanctity of life, and ends being indirectly responsible for thousands of deaths through the spread of AIDS. Ron Paul seems like a pretty reasonable guy, but have you heard his foreign policy? And don’t even get me started on Octomom – the woman who ended up with octuplets after a disastrous fertility treatment and a decision not to abort. Continue Reading

14 Jan 2012, 4:27pm | 6 comments

What I Read Over Break

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman – link

Death In Venice by Thomas Mann – link

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – link

I read Meditations and the Enchiridion after reading Letters from a Stoic last semester. I think the Stoic philosophy is absolutely fascinating and I think about my life in a completely different way than I did before. Although I think Letters from a Stoic is the best of the three, Meditations was still really valuable (although a little repetitive).

The Enchiridion by Epictetus – link

My Man Jeeves by PG Wodehouse – link

Hilarious stories about bumbling Englishman Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves (the inspiration for the Ask Jeeves search engine – remember that?) I think it’s a really good example of tight, funny, and witty writing although the style is a bit anachronistic and takes some getting used to.

The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (still in the middle of it) – link

I starting reading this as a counter point to Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism, and I can’t decide which I like better. Reflections is amazing because Burke basically predicted Napoleon’s rise in France after their revolution, and his writing style is awesome. However, I think Paine makes a lot of valid points. I’m reserving full judment until after I’ve finished it.

What did you read recently?


12 Jan 2012, 7:01pm | 5 comments

How To Tell Someone You Won’t Sign Their NDA

“Will you sign my NDA?” is one of those awkard questions I get fairly often. Over time I’ve used a few different responses for why I won’t sign. Here are three of my favorites. Continue Reading

12 Jan 2012, 1:48am | 2 comments

Why We Do Startups

The following is an excerpt of the company manifesto I wrote for my current startup Airtime for Email.

There’s an old joke that goes something like this: 

An old fish swims up to a young fish and says, “Boy, the water sure is nice today!” 

“Yea!” says the young fish, “wait…what the hell is water?” 

The point of this story is that “the most important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” To put it bluntly, the point of the story is that most of the stuff that we take for granted as fact, or that we are automatically certain of in our lives, is very often completely and utterly wrong. [1] Let’s call these things that we are automatically certain of our “default settings.” 

Default settings are all around us. Why do we go into work at 9 AM instead of 8 AM? Why do sales people work on commission? Why do we have an 8-hour work day? 

The fact is that very often there are no good answers for why these default settings exist, they just do. And not only does that create a great deal of waste in a business environment, it also leads people to certain misconceptions about what is and isn’t possible that are simply false. 

Given the existence of our default settings, one of the most important questions in our lives then is: Why do we do the things that we do? 

We do the things that we do to be happy. So then how do we become happy? And how does this relate to startups?

In our heads we all have a vision of the person that we want to be. We have certain ideas and principles for how we want to act and how we want to be remembered. However, what we do every day makes up the person that we actually are. So what do we do every day? 

We go to work. 

Thus, the kind of people we are is, in large part, a reflection of the work we do. 

I would like to posit that happiness lies in matching the vision in our heads of the person that we want to be, with the person we actually are. In short, happiness is becoming the person you envision in your head. And if the person we are, is a result of what we do every day, and if what we do every day is our work, then our happiness is tied directly to our work. 

Let’s look, for a second, at our lives as a struggle to match the person we are, a collection of actions, with the person we want to be, a collection of principles. If we look at things this way then it becomes clear that the only way to live up to our collection of principles is to make our work a reflection of those principles. And so if the work that we do every day can be a mirror image of the ideas that we hold most strongly, then we will be happy.   

This brings us to startups. 

Since a startup is the work that we do, it is tied explicitly to our happiness. So the way for us to be happy is to make our startup a reflection of ourselves, and the principles we hold most strongly.

Doing so provides us with a motivation to go to work every day that is not only non-monetary, it provides us a way to be happy every single day of our lives. Because if every day at our startup gives us a chance to live up to our principles, and living up to our principles means being happy, then we will be happy every day.

And that’s the reason we do startups.

If you’ve read this far you should probably follow me on Twitter.

[1] Joke and partial analysis borrowed from a David Foster Wallace commencement address

5 Jan 2012, 3:30pm | 4 comments


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