Thursday, October 6, 2016

Why Wouldn't I?

Right now I am flying home from my Harvard Business School 25th reunion. It was incredible.
I admit…I didn’t go to the 15th and 20th reunion. Why? It doesn’t take a Baker Scholar to crack that case. Frankly, I don’t remember the details…but either I was between jobs, or I hated my job or something was going wrong in my personal life or something like that. Most likely my career was going sideways at that time. As a Harvard Business School Graduate, when your career is not going up and to the right, your self-esteem falls into the toilet.

When we graduate from Harvard Business School, we don’t believe, we KNOW we can conquer the universe. And, you know what? Many alumni do. So, we set lofty goals for our careers, which is probably good. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? Right? But…we don’t just set goals…we turn those goals into expectations.

As a former engineer, I love equations. My favorite equation has no numbers:


This equation applies to almost anything in life. It quickly clarifies my decisions to not attend previous reunions. If my PERCEPTION of how my career is down in the dumps and my EXPECTATIONS for my career are in the clouds…well…anyone can do the math…my SATISFACTION must be negative. But…my SATISFACTION must not only be negative, it must be REALLY, REALLY negative!

As a Harvard Business School graduate, with my career SATISFACTION down in the depths of despair, there was NO WAY I could have gone to those reunions. Right? After all, if I went, I would have to face all my classmates. And…of course…they were all masters of the universe; because, I hadn’t just set expectations high for myself, I had set expectations high for everyone in my class. And without information to the contrary, I assumed they had achieved or exceed their goals. They must have…they all graduated from Harvard Business School. Of course, they achieved or exceeded those goals. They were all CEO’s. Captains of industry. I was alone. I was the only FAILURE. I didn’t want to go to those reunions; I wanted to crawl into a hole.

The most interesting thing about my favorite equation is that REALITY is nowhere in the equation. PERCEPTIONS are subjective. EXPECTATIONS are often unrealistic. REALITY is nowhere in the equation. In reality, was I a FAILURE? Of course not. But it is easy to FEEL like a failure. And were my expectations unfair? Probably. Reasonable as goals, but unreasonable as expectations.

But, I need to circle back to this reunion. My section party was amazing. For a few hours I was surrounded by 40-50 people who I knew intimately from first year. I knew them. And they knew me. And they care about me.

Anyway…after having a GREAT time at the section party I shared a cab ride back to our hotels with a couple of sections mates. One of those section mates is a brilliant, McKinsey type. He used to come into section hungover and disheveled. Then he would proceed to crack pretty much any case for which he was asked to open. Anyway…the three of us needed to tell the cabbie which hotel to go to first. This section mate was staying at the Marriot Copley. Reunion headquarters. So…I looked over at him and said, “You must have RSVP’d early to be staying at the Marriot Copley.” He responded, “of course I RSVP’d right away.” I looked at him blankly. And then, as always, he cracked the case. He quietly said, “Why wouldn’t I? I go to all of these things.”

And the light turned on in my head. Why wouldn’t I go to ANY and ALL Harvard Business School reunions? Life takes a village, right? For the previous few hours, at the section party, I had returned to the nurturing village of my section. Everybody knew me. They care about me. And you know what…they didn’t judge me. Everyone just enjoyed each other and caught up. If I had gone to my 15th and 20th reunions, my guess is that the same would have happened. I would have been welcomed right back into that fold; I would not have been judged. I would have been welcomed and nurtured.

So…will I go to my Harvard Business School 30th reunion? Why wouldn’t I?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Napa vs. Sonoma

I just received an email from an old friend. He admitted that while he goes to Napa several time a year, he never goes to Sonoma County. Here was my response:

I will never understand why people are so enamored by Napa vs Sonoma.

Here is the comparison:

1)      Brand
·         Napa’s brand is auto parts.
·         Sonoma County’s brand is good food, beer, wine and lifestyle.

2)      Borders
·         Sonoma County has a beautiful coastline.
·         Napa County abuts Solano County.

3)      History
·         Fort Ross, Sonoma Mission, Bear Flag Revolt, General Vallejo’s adobe
·         History??

Sonoma County rocks!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Back to Blogging

Has it really been almost a year and a half since I posted to my blog? Wow!

Time to get back into it. I enjoy writing; I am not sure many read my posts, but I think they are search-able and they remain out in the blog-o-sphere.

Possible topics:

* YES! There are sufficient North Bay professionals to have a vibrant start-up community.
* The North Bay Escape Valve
* The Gambler's Dilemma and North Bay Professionals
* Come together -->Interact -->Collaborate-->Start Businesses-->Create Jobs

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Congratulations K-Diagnostics - Winner of the North Bay iHub Business Plan Contest.

The inaugural North Bay iHub Seed Round Business Plan Competition just drew to a close. The winner, San Rafael based K-Diagnostics has a sleep apnea diagnostic and monitoring medical device. How exciting! K-Diagnostics plans to move to the SMBC (Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster) and hopes to have as many as 30 employees within a few years.

The other finalists:

  • GOasis - Santa Rosa - mobile, self-contained, energy-efficient emergency shelters
  • E3 - Sebastopol - bio-methane from municipal waste
  • Barrier Free Adventures - Petaluma - mobile & internet travel information for disabled travelers

Clearly there are lots of entrepreneurs in the North Bay with compelling ideas.

There were lots of winners in this contest:

  • Sonoma, Marin, and Napa Counties -- we need entrepreneurship to spur our economy
  • The SMBC that sponsored the contest and gained a new incubator tenant
  • Sonoma State and Dominican University that inspired many of the entries
  • the Event Sponsors including the North Bay Angels (K-Diagnostics gets to pitch at the NBA's regular July meeting if it wants)
But the biggest winners are all of the 36 companies that participated in the contest. Each was assigned a mentor by the SMBC/iHub. The business plan competition gave the companies a compelling reason to take their business planing to a new level. I mentored a very early stage company/idea. My company did not make the finals...but the team said the process was worthwhile. That is what is important. I only hope that my contribution was helpful.

But, right now we give K-Diagnostics a moment in the spotlight. Great job!

Full Disclosure: I am on the SMBC board of mentors and recently became an Entrepreneur in Residence at the SMBC.

Twitter: @jroym

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It rained this week. In June. It never rains in Northern California in June. Rain only falls from October to April...maybe May. Never in June through September. What is going on?

A picnic I was planning to go to this weekend was cancelled because of a high chance of rain. I cannot remember that ever happening before. I am pretty sure that the rest of the country deals with it differently. In much of the country, it rains in any month. So...people put on events rain or shine. Ideally with alternate arrangements for rain.

I remember crouching under a table with dozens of others during a downpour at the South Carolina Oyster festival in Columbia, SC. The storm came and went. We came out from under the tables, laughing, having gotten to know a few strangers. Ironically, it was fun - and since I am telling this story, clearly memorable.

So...the rain is frustrating. We yearn for our warm summer weather. But, frankly, we in Northern California need to get over ourselves.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snowcamping! Woo hoo!

I know my blog is mostly about work...but even professionals need to take a long holiday weekend!

I am off to Crocker Point in Yosemite (this guy is not me-the hair gives it away) for 3 days, 2 nights of snowcamping. My pack is packed. My snowshoes are ready. Time for an adventure! And when I return I will be all the more energized for having taken a break.

If you think I am crazy...checkout I have taken training. I have helped train people to do this. I used to be an assistant leader on these trips. I know what I am doing...because, folks, don't snowcamp if you don't have the right gear and don't know what your are doing. People die. But not me...I will just have 3 glorious days in Yosemite.

Woo hoo!

Twitter: @jroym

Joining the Facebook Juggernaut

I have been resisting having a Facebook account for a long time. Mostly for personal reasons that I won't get into here. But, I have really embraced the social media revolution. I use LinkedIn constantly. I have a blog. I tweet. So...why the resistance to Facebook?

I guess I have trouble with the collision of worlds. My work world is buttoned down. I don't want my personal life to feel the same way (not that my personal life is wild by any stretch of the imagination). But I realize that the best work relationships are also personal. And...haven't the work world and personal life already collided? I need to ask that when I am checking my iPhone at 6AM for work-related emails. I need to face the 21st century work and personal life intermingle continuously.

So...I set up a Facebook profile this morning. I invited my direct family and a few friends. Because I am careful, I set my security restrictions very high. Facebook wants users to start loose and tighten over time (or...heck...keep 'em wide open). I prefer to set high security and loosen it as I become more comfortable and learn how to build safeguards into my profile. I won't click "Like" until I figure out what that means. I did post my first "status update". But, I do this all the time on LinkedIn and Twitter, so it is no big deal. no more wearing that "Party Naked" t-shirt.  At least not when cameras are around. Truthfully, I don't actually have one, as anyone who knows me knows. But, you get the point. I have to watch future employer may be watching at all times now. So is my wife. So is my daughter. My personal life will go on more display now. And...once something is on the internet, it may always be in the public sector. I am out of my comfort zone. But, often getting out of one's comfort zone is a good thing.

Social media is here to stay. It is valuable and amazingly effective. I still believe that the Facebook quasi-monopoly will eventually crack. The Microsoft one certainly did. But at least for now...I need to be on I am.

Twitter: @jroym