San Francisco 1906, New Orleans 2005

It’s hard to think about anything these days but the thousands of
people who perished in the hurricane and floods and the 1.5 million
people who have been displaced whose lives are permanently disrupted.

Today I’ve been inspired by reading an article written 99 years ago in
the aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. This was
the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States up until
that time.

Please read this and pass it along, if you think it can give us some hope and a new perspective.

Source: Great Epochs, Vol. 10, p.163-8. Author: Henry James Forman, “The Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco”
Three-fourths of the city of San
Francisco have been destroyed by earthquake and flames. Three hundred
thousand people have been rendered homeless, and are facing, for the
moment, want and misery. The Federal Government, the States, and the
cities, newspapers, societies, and individuals are urging and
hurrying aid to the sufferers of the greatest calamity of the kind in
American history. No one is blind as to the extent of the disaster.
Yet, from every quarter comes that word of cheer and encouragement, of
sympathy and friendship, that is so helpful in times of distress, so
typical of the American character. Fortunately, says the New York
Journal, “it is certain that the spirit of ‘Forty-nine’ lives in
California to-day. The same courage that changed a wilderness into a
great State, and a strip of land by the sea’s edge into a beautiful
city, will do that work again. And from the ashes and the ruins, the
blasted hopes, the broken fortunes, there will arise another San
Francisco, more beautiful, more worthy of a brave people

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Donut Auction to Help Katrina Victims

This weeked government rescue efforts and private charity have kicked
into high gear. It seems we have turned the corner in providing relief
for the 1.5 million displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donations
to the Red Cross and to church-based relief efforts are in the
millions. I saw first hand yesterday how generous people are here in

One creative way to help the victims was to bid on this eBay auction for the “world’s most expensive donut.”
The winning bid was $5,200. All proceeds went to the Red Cross, and the winner will
appear on television. lists some of the most destructive hurricanes in history, but nothing seems to even come close to Katrina.

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Another VOD Trial Bites the Dust

Disney’s MovieBeam experiment apparently hasn’t gotten traction yet.
The company has spent at least $70 million trying to market this
video-on-demand service to three cities (including Salt Lake City).
Consumers received a set-top box and access to 100 movies stored on a
local hard drive, with up to 10 new movies per week replacing movies
they no longer wanted. Disney may be trying to sell the service.

I thought there were several problems when I heard about Moviebeam: the
cost of getting set-top boxes into homes, for one, the limited
selection of movies (not true video on demand), and competing against
companies who already have millions of PVRs in homes as well as
broadband internet movie providers (there are at least five).

Want to read something eerily prophetic? I just found a brilliant
prediction from Jim Cramer in September 2003. He said Moviebeam would
be a massive Disney failure and lead to a $100 million write-off. If that doesn’t put him up a notch in your book, I don’t know what will.

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Microsoft vs Skype vs Google

Microsoft has purchased internet-calling startup
Teleo, which may enable them to offer features in MSN Messenger similar
to what SkypeOut offers — the ability to make a phone call from your
computer to an ordinary telephone.

Google Talk doesn’t currently have this ability, but the “wisdom of the crowds” predicts that Google will have a significant impact on Skype’s business (in addition to a very detrimental impact on Vonage, the leading commercial VoiP player.)

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Another Angel Group in Utah!

This morning’s paper mentioned a new angel group in Utah, the Olympus
Angels. The 15-member group led by Jim Ellsworth will provide “seed
capital and advice” to young entrepreneurs, according to Alan Hall.
Alan is the founder of Grow Utah Ventures, which now has spawned both
Top of Utah Angels and Olympus Angels. Both angel groups can be
contacted by visiting Grow Utah Ventures or calling 801-479-5525.

Whenever I discover a new angel group, I add them to I hope you’ll do the same, until this becomes the leading resource and directory of angel investors in the world.

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Will Your Management Team Succeed?

I am totally disappointed today. I just learned that the UITA-sponsored Will West/Amy Lewis discussion
today about management teams was a breakfast meeting. I marked
September 1 on my calendar, but I thought it was a lunch meeting.

Please, please, please, if anyone attended, can you send me your notes/impressions or blog about what they said?

Will is the #1 fund-raising entrepreneur in the history of Utah. Amy is
one of the most energizing speakers I have ever heard. I can’t believe
I missed this event.

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Will West and Amy Lewis on Management Teams

Thanks to Ryan Money (Junto 2005), I got a copy of the handouts Will and Amy used in today’s UITA breakfast.

Keys to Management Success – Will West, Control4

Hire right.
In fact, hire people that are better than you are. If you don’t you
can’t grow an exceptional organization. Do this right, and 80% of your
job is done. Do this wrong, and you’ll sink.

Be yourself. Don’t try to be the manager you read in a
book. Use those learningÂ?s to mold your approach, but don’t try to
become someone else. You aren’t, and you probably won’t do it well.

Create passion. Retention, extra hours, loyalty to the
business, etc. are all easier when your management team believes in a
vision. Help your team understand why you are going to change your
little comer of the world.

Measure. No matter how good your people are, you can’t
be successful without finding the critical drivers for your business
and measuring them. Find data that shows you the heart of your
business, and make sure each department is watching those vital signs
on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

The Executive Team is
the single greatest factor that determines Success or Failure for any Company – Amy Rees Lewis,

Hire the Right People for the Management Team:

. Different Skill Sets (area of expertise)

. Same Core Values

Examples of Core Values:



Willing to say what they think (w/out fear of being wrong)

Willing to admit when someone else has a better way or idea

Genuinely Humble yet Confident


Optimistic about the future and the people they lead

Respectful of all others

Willingness to make decisions (even if they’re wrong) – has guts!

Exec Team operates with Total Trust in One Another

  • Absolute and total Honesty and Open Communication (no back channel conversations or clandestine meetings about one another)
  • Willing to confront one another w/ disagreements
  • Always resolve an issue (no unspoken resentments)
  • Complete commitment to the Team

Exec Team Meetings

  • Passionate, intense, exhausting, and never boring
  • Keep meetings efficient (only discuss critical issues)
  • Openly hold each other accountable for individual performance
  • Fight about issues, not personalities
  • Challenge each others ideas
  • Ultimately
    arrive at decisions that everyone agrees to support (total buy in) . No
    one walks out of the meeting with bad feelings or resentment

Responsibility of CEO to Exec Team:

  • Embody the values you look for in hiring the exec team
  • Do what you say you will and Live _what you believe
  • Create the atmosphere that allows honesty wlout punishment or backlash
  • Make sure every exec understands exactly where the company is headed
  • Clearly define both your expectations and your success measurements for each exec on an individual basis
  • Make sure every exec knows the boundaries they can operate within (what they can do on their own with and w/out CEO approval)
  • Get out of their way and let them do the job you hired them to do
  • Always give credit to your exec team for every success
  • Commit to allow and encourage a balanced lifestyle for your execs
  • Remember that leadership isn’t about you; it’s about the people you serve.

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Entrepreneurship and Funding in India

Anant, an entrepreneur in India wants a resource like
for India. (The domain name is already taken, but
we’ll find another one soon.) But he also wants it to give
entrepreneurs access to mentors and service providers as well, and
tools for buying and selling things they need to get their businesses
off the ground–something like Craigslist. I like all these

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