I just returned from a truly "Sleepless in Seattle" gig with our COO, Mike.
The MIT Forum was the first stop Thursday night. I was pleasantly surprised by:
1) Bellevue Washington's rise in the business class. It is truly the beloved stepchild of Seattle and Redmond.
2) Ron Weiner, CEO and founder of Earth Class Mail. I've known Ron for 17 years now, and he is one of
the true, diehard serial entrepreneurs. Earth Class Mail is Ron's 5th or 6th startup, and each one is amazing for many reasons. This one looks to be a serious global enterprise, and I am very excited for he and his team. I hadn't seen Ron since my return to Vantucky from Newport Beach, CA in 2004.
3) Seeing Jonathan Conners speak (VC and a founder of Ignition Partners). The guy was a straight as I
have ever seen. And funny. And engaging. And smart as hell (a product marketing guy from the word "go"). Funny thing: All of Seattle is seeded with ex-Microsofties. John is no exception. And he spoke very fondly of Macintosh throughout the night (he once ran the Excel product line, and gained some great product insights from a Cupertino Apple Store).
4) See and hear Kelly Smith of CuriousOffice cover some truly inspiring road from the stage. Kelly is another example of "the real thing"
in terms of being an entrepreneur who still rolls up his sleeves (he was creating the Powerpoint for the Northwest Entrepreneur's Network presentation until 4AM. I thought I was the only one doing that sort of thing...;-). Thanks to Kelly, all the YouTube wannabe's have a platform to play with.
5) Staying in Mike, Jen, Dan and Ben's "marina view" room after an evening of martini's and great conversation and TiVO explorations (I don't keep a TV in my home, so I'm always like a deer in headlights when I'm near one of those shiny boxes).
Very enlightening 24 hours.
Make SURE you have awesome, grounded, "sane", fun and really smart business partners who are willing to go the extra mile with and for you.
Certainly in this company, I have the delight to be surrounded by phenomenal people:
Mikey P is a standout. We call him our "Adult Supervision". The MBA in the group... but not afraid to ask the "dumb" questions to get the smart answers. And as giving a soul as they come.
Spence is one of those dream partners you never knew existed... and can't live without. Not only a brilliant designer, but a truly passionate and committed business mind. Like Mike, Spence goes the extra mile, and does it without a complaint. And with a killer sense of humor (mandatory around our place).
Kelly Smith said it best this morning: "No Certified Orifices". Companies, especially startups, have no room for "&$%#-holes". Or, as I saw it: No Bandwidth for Buttholes. Oh, how true.
AndyB is another example of one of those "I'll go home when this sucker works... or I ain't leaving" kind of guys. Thanks to Andrew, we have a radically effective broadcast platform that performs amazing feats without even breathing hard. Very fortunate to have his genius on hand.
I'll cover Paul, Dave, Marty and David in another post. All unique, wonderful, cool and wicked smart in their domains.
Suffice to say, I believe we have one of the most diverse, talented groups around. And thank God they all think this is fun and engaging.
BTW: Bellevue is where I first met David McInnis, CEO and Founder of PRWeb. Thanks to David, I got the unique opportunity to evangelize online media, spend time with The Wizard, and experience yet another ExitPath... this one a great win for David and his associates, employees and friends (a $28,000,000 win).
More later. I'm zonked.