The Art of NYC Cycling for Entrepreneurs #bikenyc

Great day to bike to the office.  #bikenyc

A lot of people ask me about cycling in NYC.  They ask me about startups, too.  As I was biking around the other day, I realized that they have a lot in common and so the advice I have to give about both is pretty similar:

1. Cycling is a *higher* risk activity, but it doesn't have to be dangerous. 

If you're going to start a company instead of working for someone else, you're definitely putting something at risk--current income, opportunity cost, some social capital perhaps.  That being said, it doesn't mean you're going to wind up homeless if things at your startup don't work out.  Failure of a startup doesn't mean failure of your career by any stretch--so long as you treat people with respect and honesty, and you work hard.

2. Taking some amount of additional risk can make for a better overall outcome--because biking in bike lanes all the time is boring and may not even be that much safer.

If you're going to put it all out there in a startup, bite off something that you're not 100% sure will work out, but that, if it did, would make a significant impact.  If you have zero chance of failure, you really didn't challenge yourself--and you might actually be more successful if you attempt something harder that is worth doing.  That will inspire others to join and help.

3. Pay attention to traffic patterns--buses only pull over at bus stops, taxis will dart back into the street after a dropoff, etc.

Pattern matching is one of the most useful skills out there as an entrepreneur.  How do users generally behave around your value proposition?  What has worked in other startups?  Why?  What hasn't worked?  If you can't learn from the patterns of history, you're going to get flattened.

4. Big trucks are slow to accelerate--you can always beat them out when they're moving from a standing stop.

What if Google does this?  Well, they could, but you have to believe that you'll do it better, faster, cheaper.  They could do anything but you have the advantage of already being in the flow of the market.  By the time a big company gets its act together, you'll be free and clear. 

5.  The things that will get you aren't what you expect--it's not the cars, but potholes and pedestrians. 

Startups are all about being prepared for anything--knowing where you're heading, but being nimble at the last second when something comes up that could wipe you out at the wrong moment.

6. There is absolutely nothing you can do when a car door swings open right in front of you except brace for impact. 

Staying alive is the name of the game in a startup--and you're going to have plenty of near death experiences along the way.  Know they will happen, and that you won't see them coming.  Just hold on tight and weather the storm.

7. There's no such thing as the "best bike".  There's only the best bike for you.

There are lots of goals people have when they start a company.  Some people want to see their ideas win.  Others want to make a ton of money.  Other people just like the challenge.  Just because another company does things a certain way doesn't mean they're necessarily right for you. 

8. You need a good lock.

Don't get obsessed with competition, but know what the alternatives do well so you know how you can be better.  Sometimes you'll win, sometimes you'll lose, but you don't want to lose on a feature that you could have easily built which is what your competition ate your lunch with.

9. You must wear a helmet. 

Put all the right legal documents in place--co-founder agreements, privacy policies, etc.

10.  Get some bright lights and reflectors. 

Learn how to market yourself and what you're doing, both personally and as a business.  You won't have a ton of money to put towards marketing, so understanding PR and ways of building up awareness about your efforts through social media are really important to get noticed.


Safe biking! (and startupping!)

Be a team player, but strive to be the best

I always liked Heath Bell--thought the Mets shouldn't have gotten rid of him.  He once avoided arbitration because he said he didn't want to have to wear a suit and a tie.  Today, he showed what a great mindset he had that struck a good balance between being a team guy, but also being a standout all at once...


"ESPN reports that Padres closer Heath Bell told reporters in Arizona, where he will pitch for the National League in the All-Star game, that he would be willing to serve as a setup reliever for the remainder of the 2011 season if he is traded. He did insist, however, that he wants to be a closer in 2012. “If you’ve got a closer right now and you need me to be the eighth-inning guy, I’ll be the eighth-inning guy,” Bell said. “Secretly, I would probably tell the manager, ‘Look, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to show you I can beat the other guy.’ If the other guy is better than me, then we’ll have one heck of a bullpen.”"

Draft Results for the Jesuit Ultimatum

This is what my fantasy team looks like for this year.  Outside of Gardiner, we're a bit slow around the bases, and we're going to need a real 2nd closer, but I'm happy with what I put together on draft day.  

I think I'm going to get a lot more out of Carmona and Young than what CBS has projected... and that my starting pitching should be pretty tight.

Triathlon Recap

It's been a busy couple of weeks, but I wanted to recap my first triathlon-- the Nautica NYC Triathlon. 

So let's start out with my expectations coming in.

I taught myself to swim this year--at least to swim with any kind of regular stroke. Before that, you could bet on me not to drown and be an awesome water treader/doggie paddler, but that's about it.  That being said, I still wasn't very confident in my freestyle, so I decided to do a breaststroke.

I figured about 38 minutes for the swim, and wound up doing it in 20:56. 

Thank you Hudson River current.

Seriously, the current is insane.  As soon as I got into the water, I had to hold on to the barge to make sure I didn't float down river too early.  You could go down on your back making snow angels and probably be there in about 30 minutes. 

What was really annoying, though, was that it took so long from when I got there to when I actually got in the water.  It's nearly two hours of just standing around, getting in lines, etc.  I suppose there's not much you can do about the whole thing, but it does require a lot of patience. 

That leads me to Tips #1 and #2.  Some people try to save time by bringing all their stuff the day before to lay next to your bike.  This would be a great idea, except that this year, it rained.  So if you do bring stuff... seal it all up or cover it.  The guy next to me on the swim line returned to soggy running shoes. 

Second tip is to bring your own black marker.  You need to have your number on your arm and your leg, but the lines for getting marked were way long.  Save time by bringing your own, asking the person next to you to mark you, and then throw the marker out.

When I first got in the water, it was a bit crazy.  People were climbing over me to swim, and I was definitely getting kicked.  Fight through it and get over to the side as much as possible. It's every swimmer for himself for the first 100 yards or so.  It threw me off and I had real trouble getting my stroke going.

Once we got seperation, I mentally regrouped and settled down.  I tried to be as deliberate as possible about my strokes--and once I did that, I started moving fine.  One thing about doing the breaststroke in a wetsuit is that I was actually too bouyant.  My legs and feet kept popping out of the water and so I was having a bit of trouble keeping them down.  Next year, I'll try to get a shorter suit if I use the same stroke.

I may very well use the same stroke, because, to be honest--this isn't about swimming.  How much better could I get?  Could I shave 5 minutes off my time?  Even if I did, it wouldn't nearly compare to how much time I could shave off biking and running with improvements there, so why sweat it that much?

First transition went pretty well.... 6:21.  I was wearing swim shorts under my wetsuit, so all I needed to do was throw on a shirt.  I put on mesh shorts over the swim shorts just b/c I didn't want to be all Spandexy looking.  Low cut socks and my sneakers, which I had opened up the laces of nice and wide earlier finished it off.  Last thing you want to do is kick off your shoes in the beginning and waste 30 seconds picking out a knot or something.

The actual biking wasn't so hot.  It was very hilly and I had the absolutely worst bike in the race--no question.  I mean, I didn't even have racing handlebars.  It was pretty sad.  Guys with teardrop helmets and those solid back wheels were humming by me.  On the downhills, I just didn't have the gears to maintain my speeds.  I got up to about 32 MPH on the downhills, but I had to slow down to 25 before I could actually continue pedaling for real. 

That's what makes me want to do it so badly again next year, because I know I can improve so much on my bike time with a better bike.  I finished in 1:26, but there's no way I can't shave at least 10 minutes off my time--and in this race, ten minutes brings you up 20% in the rankings.

Second transition was quick... 2:13, because it's really just getting off the bike.  This is where I made a pee stop during the race, though.  I think it would be hard to go the whole race without it given how much water and stuff you're told to drink beforehand--despite the fact that I went in some bushes right before the swim.  TMI?  Sorry... there was like one portapotty for every 1000 swimmers.  Everyone was doing it. 

The run was great.  I'm a good no energy runner, and it's only a little over 6 miles.  So, no matter what I had left, I'm just good at willing my legs to maintain a certain stride at a certain pace, despite the hills around the park.  I even sprinted at the end with whatever I had left!  My run time was 49:43 and my overall finish was 2:45:40, which was just below the median for my group.  I might be able to go down to about 47 min, but that's probably where I'd top off.  I don't think I could do much better than 7:30 min miles.

The race was great fun--definitely doing it again.  Triathlons are great because you never get bored of any individual activity--so you don't really have enough time to listen to your own head doubting your ability to finish. 

With about a minute better on the swim, 12 min improvement on the bike, and 2 min off the run, I'll be trying for 2:30 next year.  Can't wait!

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Link: - MLB - McAdam: The Big Question.

I'm liking this Typepad quickpost thing.   So if you're the A's, who do you deal?  Hudson, Mulder, or Zito?   

Personally, I like Hudson and Mulder better, especially because of one stat I've been paying more close attention to...  ESPN now has pitches per plate appearence... the total amount of pitches thrown per each batter that comes up.  High strikeout pitchers tend to have high numbers in this area, and you get a couple of freaks like Ryan, Johnson and Clemens who are able to ring K's up for 15, 20, 25 years, but if I'm making bets on longevity of young pitchers, I'd bet on someone who doesn't waste a lot of tosses.  Zito's P/PA number is almost a half a pitcher higher than the other two, meaning that over the course of an average game, that could equate to nearly 15-20 pitches extra for the same amount of batters--if he lasts the same amount of batters.  Throw in some inexplicably mediocre recent years and Zito is a tougher bet to me.  Hudson is just a winner, year in and year out, and Mulder is better than Zito if I'm choosing between the lefties.  Its tough to let Hudson go... its tough to let any of them go, but Hudson has the second highest winning pct of out any active pitcher.  If I'm the Mets, I'd sign whoever they give up.  Let the Yankees and Red Sox throw money at Pedro "5 innings 1 run" Martinez.  The Mets need a young arm to hang their hat on and Aaron Heilmann is not the answer, and I don't have a lot of faith in Kris Benson or that other goofball who can't throw strikes.

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