Best of 2015

Happy New Year! Some of my favorites from 2015:

Best Movie (that I saw in 2015)

Whiplash

Best Thing I Read (Book)

Dead Wake

Best Thing I Read (Short Post)

The Day You Became A Better Writer

Best Podcast

Brene Brown on the Tim Ferriss Show

Best Memory

The sunset in Batu Ferringhi. A pic can’t do it justice, but here it is anyways. IMG_1694

Yeah, I know I’m a bit behind putting a movie from 2014 and blog post from 2007 on my 2015 best of list.

2015 Stanley Cup

A personal aside here — wanted to gather a few pictures from Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago Blackhawks 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 0.

Here’s a video from our seats of the final few seconds:

And a summary of the night’s events:

Announcing Poseidon Financial

I’m excited today to announce the official launch of Poseidon Financial, a company I’m co-founding along with Jimmy Atkinson and Andy Hagans.

Poseidon Financial will run a network of five targeted sites in the investing vertical: FundReference.com, DividendReference.com, AllEmergingMarkets.com, ETFReference.com, and FixedIncomeDatabase.com.

Our goal is simple: on each of these properties we will produce data, tools, analysis, and commentary that makes it easier to be a smart and informed investor. We’re launching today with just a few pieces of content on each site, but are hard at work on a number of products that will roll out over the coming months.

Approach to Poseidon

I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by really great teams everywhere I’ve worked, but I’m especially excited to be working with Andy and Jimmy again. We’ve all learned a lot since we launched ETFdb.com six years ago (and a few less successful ventures in the years between), and we’re all determined to make Poseidon Financial into something that makes a difference — however small it may be — in the lives of our users.

We’re doing things a bit differently this time around. Instead of rushing to get products out the door, we’re taking the time to discern what is essential, set aside whatever isn’t, and thoughtfully execute on what is. The clean site designs — complete with some beautiful logos — are the first fruit this approach has yielded.

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I’ve always loved the Abraham Lincoln quote “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Now I’m trying to live it. We’re confident that this approach will lead to better products, better sites, and a better user experience.

The rest of the Poseidon Financial team includes a talented developer, and a couple of extremely smart advisors and investors. The dream team has been assembled, and now we’re getting to work.

Part of starting a new venture is getting back to basics, so I’ve been doing a lot more writing than I have in the past few years. Here’s the part where I shamelessly plug some of what we’ve been working on:

If you have any thoughts, ideas, or complaints, I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading, and for your interest in what we’re building.

Three Quotes to Live By

These are three that I love…and try to live:

When a problem came up at the mills, his first concern was to discover what error he had made; he did not search for anyone’s fault but his own: it was of himself that he demanded perfection.

~From Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (said of Hank Rearden)

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

~Abraham Lincoln

Do less, but better.

~From Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Hot Streak!

I’ve been riding an unbelievable reading hot streak lately. It seems like every book I’ve picked up has been insightful, entertaining, or interesting. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite reads from the last year or so.

  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Thanks to Andy Hagans for tipping me off to this book. I was nodding in agreement from page one here. Essentialism proposes a new way of thinking about being an entrepreneur, employee, or boss: do less, but better.
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This is a pretty challenging subject matter — death — but I really think it is a must read for everyone (thanks to my mom for this rec). It’s a smart, pragmatic, and thoughtful look at a very complex component of life: that part at the end when bodies and minds start to fail.
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. This might be the best book I’ve read in…well, a really long time. It’s the (true) story of a young man who grew up in the rough part of Newark, escaped to an Ivy League university, and was dead in his early 30s. It’s inspiring and heartbreaking, and was hard to put down. Holy cow I loved this book!
  • Quiet by Susan Cain. If you’re an introvert (or think you might be), read this book. If you’re an extrovert, you probably won’t enjoy it nearly as much. Incredibly insightful into the two types of people in this world.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The translation here can be a bit rough, but I loved this book. Try to read it as a guide not only for physical organization, but for organization of your professional and personal lives as well. Very simple, yet insightful.

Other recommended books (novels, for those who just can’t get in to non-fiction):

You can own all of these for about $70 through Amazon (!!!).

Random Notes

Two random notes:

  1. A shout out to my former colleague Tom Reese, who is firing up his own blog. He’s someone I’ve always admired as an entrepreneur and self-taught jack of all trades.
  2. I got to watch my 14-year old niece perform at an open mic in Chicago over the weekend (performing an original song no less!). It was incredible to see her confidence and talent on full display! Future rock star!

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New Tools!

Some comments from Mark Cuban about the size of the current tech bubble made some waves this week (likely thanks to a few sensationalized headlines). His thought is basically that this time around, much smaller investors have major skin in the game (relatively major at least; a $25,000 investment in a family member’s startup is nothing to a VC, but may represent a major portion of net worth for a middle class family).

There’s probably a lot of truth to this. But in the spirit of staying positive as I get back into the process of firing up a business, I am also encouraged by all tools now out there that weren’t around five years ago when I was going this for the first time. So many great tools that help entrepreneurs stay organized and focused have popped up. They’re obviously too many to note, but here are a few that I’d never heard of but have loved at least tinkering with:

  1. CoSchedule (WordPress editorial calendar)
  2. Slack (Gchat replacement)
  3. Trello (too flexible to really categorize)
  4. Stripe (payment processor that blows PayPal away)
  5. Memberful (member management software – no more aMember!)
  6. Google Groups
  7. UberConference (conference calls)
  8. Ghost Inspector (automated testing)

I’m sure everyone working in the startup world can immediately think of tools that make their lives much easier. That wasn’t really the case five years ago…which is exciting.

On a personal note, my oldest nephew turned 18 this week. Watching him grow into a talented, smart, kind, and friendly young man has been such a joy to me as an uncle–I can’t imagine how proud his parents (my brother and sister-in-law) must be. Happy birthday Danny!

DJ