July 9, 2020

Back in Business

If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time (amazingly, it is over 16 years old now!), you know that my company and main professional life’s work up to this point, Return Path, was a 1999 vintage email technology company that we sold last year.  I then had a couple other interim leadership roles, first as interim CEO of another tech company in New York, then in March as the founder and interim leader of Colorado’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, which I wrote a series of blog posts about (this is the final post in the series, which links to the whole series). I’ve generally been quiet on OnlyOnce since last year, but I will be picking up the pace of writing in the weeks ahead for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve teamed up with a few former Return Path colleagues and some amazing investors and partners to start a new company.  We’re still in quasi-stealth mode, so I’m sorry I can’t talk about it much yet, but I will as soon as we publicly launch sometime after Labor Day.  It’s a cool business in a totally different space from Return Path and plays to our team’s interests […]


April 5, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part VII – Retrospective

(This is the seventh and final post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.) I’ll start the final post in this series by sharing the overview and retrospective deck that we created my last day and the two days after.  Governor Polis is going to share this with the National Governors Association in case other states are interested in our model or learnings. This pdf, which you’re welcome to download or just view in SlideShare, is […]


April 4, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part VI – How This Compared to Running a Company

(This is the sixth post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.) As these posts have been running, a few people have asked me to quickly compare this experience to the experience of being a Startup CEO.  And that’s an interesting way to think about it. In a lot of ways, the couple of weeks of getting the IRT up and running felt like starting up a new business, only a lot more intense.  Following the outline […]


April 3, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part V – Wrapping Up, Days 10-12

(This is the fifth post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, 3, and 4.) Thursday, March 26, Day 10 Sarah continuing to take over and stronger by the day Sarah cleared me to go home, only one more person to ask Deep deep dive on Mass Testing – so good to spend that time  Pretty much got the strategy right – shocking we could get that close with so little public health experience – Kyle awesome – EOC leadership briefing […]


April 2, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part IV – Replacing Myself, Days 7-9

(This is the fourth post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, and 3.) Monday, March 23, Day 7 Wellness screening – put hot cup of coffee against my temples – now finally the thermometer works (although I can’t say that it gives me a high degree of comfort that I have figured out a workaround!) Furious execution and still backlog is growing no matter how much I do – thank goodness team is growing.  Never seen this before – work […]


April 1, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part III – Hitting Our Stride, Days 4-6

(This is the third post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  First two posts are here and here.) Friday, March 20, Day 4 Morning pilates going pretty well, a good daily routine here Wellness Screening on the way in for the first time.  Uniformed National Guard guys taking temperature on surface of face/temples.  Can’t get it to work – takes 6x Leadership and prioritization of important over urgent – staff the team Strategic National Stockpile failure – they send us 60,000 masks and Colorado is using 68,000/day.  […]


March 31, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part II – Getting Started, Days 1-3

(This is the second post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Introductory post is here.) Tuesday, March 17, Day 1 Extended stay hotel does not have a gym.  Hopefully there is one at work Walking into office for the first time.  We are in a government building in a random town just south of Denver that houses the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  These are the teams who are on point for emergency response in Colorado when there […]


March 30, 2020

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part I – A Different Kind of Startup

(This is going to be an interesting week.  I expect in a couple days, a group of friends and former Return Path colleagues and I are going to officially start a new company once initial funding closes.  I will write about that down the road, but first, this message brought to you by COVID-19.) I just returned from spending an intense two weeks in Denver.  On March 15, my long-time friend and Board member Brad Feld called me with an interesting idea.  His friend, Colorado Governor Jared Polis (who I’d met a briefly couple times over the years), had an […]


March 17, 2020

New New Employee Training, Part II

Several years ago, I blogged about the training program we created for entry-level employees at Return Path, including an embedded presentation that we used to use (which I hope still works on the blog after all these years). My brother Michael, who is an experienced manager and leader in the digital marketing space, recently sent me this email that I thought I’d share along the same lines to colleagues who are new to the working world. Enjoy! I signed up to give advice on LinkedIn, and had someone just starting her first job reach out to me asking for general […]


February 14, 2020

The Beginnings of a Roadmap to Fix America’s Badly Broken Political System, part II

I wrote part I of this post in 2011, and I feel even more strongly about it today. I generally keep this blog away from politics (don’t we have enough of that running around?), but periodically, I find some common sense, centrist piece of information worth sharing. In this case, I just read a great and very short book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, that, if you care about the polarization and fractiousness going on in our country now, you’d appreciate. If nothing else, the shattered norms […]


January 23, 2020

Context

I wrote a post in 2013 entitled Debunking the Myth of Hiring for Domain Expertise vs. Functional Expertise. In it, I talk about how in hiring senior executives, sometimes you can’t get both functional expertise (great Head of X) and great domain expertise (subject matter expert in X), but that in scaling businesses, there’s another important vector to consider, which is that if your principal business challenge is scaling, then a critical thing to look for in a potential executive is experience with scaling businesses, or at least experience working at businesses of different sizes/stages. Today’s post is about a […]