Sidenote – Nordica Hell and Back Skis

A wonderful thing happened last weekend.  I had a work trip to Steamboat Springs, CO.  A few clients were heading out there and I joined on for three days of spring skiing and offsite, casual discussions with clients and potential partner firms.  The work aspect was great but this post is about Nordica Hell and Back skis.

I do not travel with my own skis anymore.  Airlines charge too much and I always want to try new skis.  So I went to steamboat’s Ski Haus and ended up speaking with Ryan, a tech in their shop and gave him my background.  He convinced me to try the Nordica Hell and Back skis.  I never would have tried Nordica skis if he had not been insistent that these were the skis for me.

POW!  Best ride I have had in a long time.  Slightly rockered tips, full camber beneath foot, and little (if any?) rocker in the tails.  They were awesome.  Awesome on the super fast bluebird first day bombing down groomers (77.6mph per my Ski Tracks app), Awesome the second storm-ski day when we could not see 200 feet amidst inch-per-hour blizzard conditions and Steamboat’s legendary aspen groves were mid-shin-deep.

It’s a lesson that I try to use in my work life showing up in a ski shop in Steamboat.  Look to experts and people who have gone before you.  Listen to them and model their actions when you have the opportunity.  Thanks to Ryan and the guys at the Ski Haus for listening to me and pointing me in the right direction

You can bet I will be riding on Nordica Hell and Backs next season!


Mark Suster & David Jaxon – More Must Reads

I have been reading Mark Suster’s column for about 9 months.  He has a great writing style, interesting topics, and a recently re-vamped (and totally badass) website.  I’ve now got Mark on my must-read list along with Fred Wilson’s, NYT,,, and a quick browse of Twitter each morning.

fred Wilson also recently recommended A Founder’s Notebook ( by David Jaxon, founder of Seeking Alpha.  Once again, and example of a great blog but a different style than Mark Suster.  David finds and reposts quotes and information from elsewhere with his own comments included.  Mark writes long and well structured posts that often link back to his previous posts (something I am working on).

Writing great blogs is an acquired skill.  Interesting subject matter, personal writing style, consistency of postings and quality of postings, etc.  I am almost ready to release to the outside world.  It remains a personal writing space known by very few and visited by even fewer.  But soon….ohh, but soon.

You Say To-ma-to, I Say To-Mah-to

In a recent post I noted that a lot depends on one’s point of view.  Are US soldiers in Afghanistan supporting the government (Western media), or invaders (Afghanistan villagers)?  Are further tax hikes crushing our economy (Conservatives), or supporting growth (Liberals).  But the most prevalent, global instance of differing perspectives comes from Russia.

Yesterday, Russia’s President (for life?) Putin “reclaimed Crimea as a part of Russia”.  Speaking of NATO he stated, “they cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our backs, presenting us with completed facts…”, when discussing NATO’s Eastern advancement in the last 60 years.

But ask almost any Western analyst and they would say that NATO’s Eastern advancement over the last 60 years has been done openly, and with the consent of the governments of each of the countries who have partnered with NATO.  It is similar to the events in th eUkraine in the last month.  Western media and analysts see what happened there as an overthrow of the government by a morally outraged populace who have taken “democratic” control of the country in the short term with plans for a formal election in the coming months.  But Russia saw it as a coup that overthrew a legitimate government.  A coup led by insurgents who have no authority to control the Ukraine at this time.

So your version of events, in the Ukraine and in other instances, depends a lot on your desired outcome.  We are all inherently subjective in our analysis of any given situation.  It takes a conscious effort to be objective.  And who knows what is right… it correct to allow one’s inherent feelings to cloud one’s assessment of a situation?  Some would say yes.  But to me, especially in the spectrum of global geo-politics, objectivity needs to rule to achieve outcomes that can last.

What Do you Read?

As I went through my media intake this morning (reading online news, blogs, twitter while alternating between local, national and int’l news on TV) I thought less about what I was reading (except for China widening their Yuan trading band!), and more about the who and why of what I read.  So I decided to jot down this list in no particular order

New York Times – Still the dominating news source in my life.  Great content, great opinion pieces, easily navigable website

BBC via Twitter- A bit too much local UK news, but great international pieces

TechCrunch via Twitter – the news leader for the FX & CFD industry. – FX & CFD industry news – Fred Wilson’s excellent daily blog. – Markets new – Mark Suster updates a few times per week.  Often a motivating voice to me. – I do not get to they gym as often as I would like, but good to know the programming that Ben bergeron is puttin gup to his elite athletes. – Ski “porn”.  Updates on pending storms and videos of deep powder; my version of Valhalla.

I am open to suggestions and always looking for more, relevant or eye-opening information.  Please send along any suggestions.


Fred Wilson Breaks Down Equity Valuation – Simply

Fred Wilson’s is one of my daily reads.  A thought leader and preeminent venture capitalist.   His blog yesterday is a bit wordy, but simple.  It starts with a question about the seemingly frothy valuation of pre-IPO companies, but he follows through to the publicly traded equity markets.  As always when I link to, it is well worth 5 minutes of time.

Sleepytime at the NYT Editorial Board

I read the NYT’s Editorial post this morning about the need for the US and Europe to impose their collective will against Russia (read as Putin) for their annexation of Crimea and the forgone conclusion of a referendum in the Ukraine this weekend.  The Ed Board at the NYT are in such lala land that they must be dreaming.

Putin is not going to back off in the Ukraine.  He will certainly get his way in Crimea; whether they become an independent state or choose to join Russia, “dosvedanya” to an independent Crimea.  As for the rest of the Ukraine one’s point of view correlates closely with one’s perception of the new government.

Western, liberalized countries would state that the people have risen up and formed a new government with temporary but morally confirmed powers in the Ukraine, and there will be a democratic election shortly.   Others would tell you there was a violent coup and those currently in power have no legal authority as they bypassed what has been the rule of law in the Ukraine.  It is kind of like when the Western media call the Taliban “insurgents” in Afghanistan while the local population of Afghanistan call the US troops invaders.  Point of view and semantics mean a lot.

Back to the issue at hand.  Europe will not chance losing the 40% of their natural gas needs that flow from Russia through the Ukraine.  And the UK and Switzerland will not chance losing the hundreds of billions in Russian deposits sitting in banks in those two countries.  The US is certainly not going to get violent in a third region which has almost zero tactical significance to our military.  And finally, nothing Obama has done while in office has scared Putin.  Obama suggested we attack Syria for their human rights transgressions.  Putin said nope, and it did not happen.  Send us Snowden?  Putin said no.  Nationalize the multi-billion Chevron (a US corporation) oil refinery in Siberia?  Putin gave the green light.

Putin does not fear the US, nor should he.  We have not been able to stand up to him yet, and he knows we will not go to war over a “who cares” Eastern European country.  So the NYT Editorial Board ought to wake up and stop dreaming.  There will be no sanctions with any teeth imposed, and Russia will continue to do as they choose in the Ukraine.

Selling To Japan – Just Give Them The Demo

I have spent a few late nights this week doing WebEx presentations to some prospects in Japan.  Japan is a massive market for our services, but extremely tough to overcome the cultural and language barriers.  I had a translator for the presentation last night who has been in the FX industry for 8 years and has a proven track record of building and running businesses.  And her English was good.

But the awkwardness of translation is a horrible barrier to overcome.  And her language skills are good but not great.  And answering their questions was tough.  An hour into last night’s presentation, and not wanting to spend an additional 2 hours, I threw in the towel.  I explained that the best thing to do is to just give them the platform and let them use it themselves.  I figured that as proven entities in the industry, they would have a natural curiosity and just start to poke around and use the stuff.

At 10pm I grabbed one of our Support guys who spend an hour creating a demo environment.  VM’s UAR credentials, settings adjustments, whitelisting IP addresses.  He made the whole thing happen in 2 hours.  At midnight I sent over the usernames and passwords to the Japanese prospect and wondered if I had made a bad call.  Japan is big on customs and respect and I had essentially cut them off mid call a few hours earlier.  I was not even sure they understood that I was going to send them a demo; they may have thought I had hung up!

And then this morning at 6:30 am….there it was.  In my inbox from the prospect.  Broken English but ……. they LOVED it.  The word “wonderful” was used a few times and a few buyer’s questions were listed.  I checked the logs and they had spent almost the entire 6 hours they had it working on it and testing the software.  They worked through their Friday night!   Changing the settings, executing orders, working the risk management aspects.  They turned themselves into knowledgable, power-users of our software before becoming a client.

What a revelation.  If your software is intuitive enough, just give the client a demo.  3 hours on a WebEx awkwardly explaining the minutia?  Nope.  Give them the demo.  Let their natural curiosity lead them through the platform.  It is not even translated into their language!  But they were hooked last night.  It is a great lesson for me.  We have a great product that is intuitive to use.  JUST GIVE THEM THE DEMO!