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 a good overview of what we did and where things stood as of Saturday, March 28, noting that by the time you’re reading this post, half of it may be obsolete!  I am normally a small government guy.  But not when this kind of thing hits. This whole thing calls for consistent national government response to the disease – potentially even global government coordination at a level we’ve never seen before (let alone the level that’s fashionable these days).  I’m not sure I’d want a Chinese style lockdown (although that may prove to have been effective), but South Korea’s pattern […]


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 […]


December 5, 2019

What Job is Your Customer Hiring You to Do?

My friend George, one of our co-founders at Return Path (according to him, the best looking of the three), has a wonderful and simple framing question for thinking about product strategy:  what job is your customer hiring you to do?  I am increasingly turning to that question as I work with our team on developing a new strategy for my new company, LRN. Even though LRN is in a different space, solving different problems for different buyers, I am finding George’s wisdom as relevant as ever, maybe even more so since I am still learning the new context. Why is […]


October 17, 2019

The Nachos Don’t Have Enough Beef in Them!

(This is an excerpt from Chapter 23 of Startup CEO, “Collecting Data,” in which I write about the importance of observing and learning from customers and friends of the firm, as well as employees.) Here’s a story for you that happened 10+ years ago. I’m sitting at the bar of Sam Snead’s Tavern in Port St. Lucie, Florida, having dinner solo while I wait for my friend Karl to arrive. I ask the bartender where he’s from, since he has an accent. Nice conversation about how life is rough in Belfast and thank goodness for the American dream. I ask […]


October 3, 2019

First Days

As I mentioned last week, I just started a new chapter of my career journey as CEO of LRN, a SaaS company based in New York City that provides ethics and compliance education software while advising companies on shaping values-based leadership, cultures and governance as sources of competitive advantage. That’s all good and well, but Tuesday morning, I was also a new employee walking into his office on the first day of a new job. The last time I’d done that was when I started at MovieFone in 1995 (the first day of starting one’s own company doesn’t count!). During […]


May 1, 2019

OnlyOnce, Part XX

I realize I haven’t posted much lately.  As you may know, the title of this blog, OnlyOnce, comes from a blog post written by my friend and board member Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures entitled You Are Only a First-Time CEO Once, which he wrote back in 2003 or 2004.  That inspired me to create a blog for entrepreneurs and leaders.  I’ve written close to 1,000 posts over the years, and the book became the impetus for a book that another friend and board member Brad Feld from Foundry Group encouraged me to write and helped me get published […]