Art, art, art in LA

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Barker Show at the Santa Monica airport.  It’s a small show and has always loved the space.

Not sure where I would put this but thought they were fun.  Folkert de Jong.

Little piggies.

These were really fun.  These pieces are by Friends by You.

They are made out of a polyplastic.

I am always drawn to architecture.

These are a series of 25 gestures by Marcelo Cidade.

A series of water by Richard Misrach


Colors by John Baldessari.

Really loved these boxing pieces.

Guy Yanai, influenced by Hockney

Hilary Pecis

After the show at the Barker we drive to Culver City to see the Adam Silverman show at Cherry+Martin.  It was the last day and since we have some of his works, I wanted to see the installation.  Extremely cool install.

We went into a few other galleries and the only thing that caught my eye was this bench.

Then we drove over to L.A. Louver in Venice to see the Matt Wedel show.  They have three shows going on right now including Matisse drawings.  This is the main room.  Really great gallery.

The Wedel is outside.  We fell in love with this piece.

We continued after going home for a quick freshen-up to go to the opening at the Hammer Museum.  Molly Lowe, who is quite an incredible young artist.  She has done other works we have seen from movies to large installations and this is the first of watercolors for her.  Really so happy to see her have a show here.  The Hammer is one of my favorite museums.

There is also a Sam Falls exhibit on the stairs, photos of California National Parks.

This piece was hung outside by Jim Hodges.

The big show is a bit out of my league but I did like this large piece that loomed over the installation.

We probably did more than most people do here in a week so we need to get our NY energy to slow down a bit.  Working on that.



Connecting and Pitching

Pitching to an angel for seed money is different than pitching to a VC for a Series A and is different than pitching to a PE investor for a Series B and so on.  Even figuring out how to get on someone’s calendar after someone introduces you is a skill.

I have introduced founders to investors and have witnessed their response in my email box and then have forwarded the response to them saying this would be a better response.  Each time I have done that, the founder is thankful because they honestly had no idea how to respond appropriately.  No doubt this skill is part of the endless “sale” founders make to get the right investors and get capital into their business.

I learned early on, to make the person’s life on the other end of the email easy.  The response should roughly be, looking forward to meeting, how is this day and this time and give two options.  They will respond yes to one of them or give you a different one.  Don’t give them an out by putting the schedule into their heads.  Whatever works for them, will work for you, even if you have to move your calendar around.  Also, go to them.  They are giving you their time and hopefully their capital so go see them.

Talking to angels about investing is selling a dream.  It is about believing in the vision and most important believing in you.  There isn’t much else there and even if there is, it will change.  I believe it is important to find a connection.  It could be anything from other people you know to your love of restaurants but find something personal.  Business is business but we spend a lot of time on business so finding a personal connection is an added bonus.

Raising a Series A means you actually have a business model that appears to be working.  You are still selling a bit of the dream but at this point, you are selling a team, tangible numbers and how the next round of capital is going to get you to the next level.  The data points are necessary but there needs to be some big-picture thinking here in regards to the size of the market and what separates your company from the crowd.

Raising Series B is all about facts.  Numbers should be proven, the team should be solid, money in creates value and revenue that you can point to.  They know how big the market is and understand the opportunity but want to see deep into the analytics to understand that the money is actually going to grow the company, send it into an abyss or hit the wall.

Founders do your homework.  Know exactly who you are talking to when you enter the meeting, or for that matter before you even reply to an email.  Only ask for other introductions when it feels appropriate.  Feel the room and the tone.  Listen, as pauses are ok.  Don’t ramble.  Shake everyone’s hand and look them directly in the eye.  Put your phone away.  Be on time. Have an intellectual meaningful conversation around your vertical.  Think of these meetings as courtships.  You are courting them as much as they are courting you.

Above all, make sure when you get that connection that you have what the people on the other end want to see.  Don’t try and pitch a Series B investor when you are at the seed level.  Don’t go see VC’s when you are still in true start-up mode.  You generally get one try so make sure you have everything lined up and even if you don’t get what you are hoping for, you know you did all the right things at the meeting and if you did, regardless if they invest or don’t invest, you have built a relationship that you can come back to in the future.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

We have all read about the gropers, the sexual harassers and the extent to how this issue is pervasive in every industry.  It is shocking on one hand yet not surprising on another but what is upsetting is the more that comes out, the more numb we become to the onslaught of revelations.  Just as there are killings in high schools and workplaces on a daily basis and it is beginning to feel like the norm.

This past week, the trial of the Larry Nassar was presided over by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.  Nassar hid under the cover of Michigan State and the USA Gymnastics organization.  There has been a lot of conversation around the Judge and if she crossed the line in her powerful sentencing or allowing 160 women come forward with their stories of sexual abuse by Nassar.  She opened the courtroom to anyone who cared to speak.

I applaud Judge Aquilina.  She gave these young women, who have been abused by Nassar, the opportunity to speak out about what happened, in a safe setting of the courtroom and the face their abuser.  I do not believe for one moment that this opportunity will be the catalyst to healthy lives or just the therapy they needed but it certainly couldn’t hurt each of them to be empowered over their abuse.

I am not tying harassment to sexual abuse of minors but what the Judge did was to allow something that has been so under the covers for so long become public.  Hopefully, she gave others who have been abused be it sexual harassment or sexual abuse, that watching Aquilina give victims a platform to speak out will hopefully bleed into others who are holding their tongue about something that has happened to them.

I hope that this is just another hope for the crack in the shield that abusers have been hiding under for longer than we can imagine.

Can STORY Reinvent Retail?, Rachel Shechtman, Podcast #51

Rachel Shechtman is the founder of STORY, a retail concept in New York City that has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store. Rachel’s journey to create STORY was informed by a successful 10-year career as a consultant, and a chance encounter that unearthed ‘the startup she never started, prompting her to finally make the leap into starting the business she’d been dreaming about since college. You’d think that after much waiting and consideration, Rachel’s transition into opening STORY would be a breeze, but nothing in entrepreneurship ever is. Rachel’s ability to have a sense of humor when things went wrong, paired with her hunger for learning, opened up new doors for her to make her business idea a reality.

The first few days of Los Angeles

It is not surprising but I do think about how seamless our winter move to Los Angeles has been.  We hit the ground and continue to operate the same way but with different surroundings.  Our first night was spent doing one of our favorite activities which are dining at Echigo and then hitting up the Big Chill afterward.  It as if we never left.

Ollie has been out here already acclimating for the past month so we were excited to see him.

Uni at Echigo.

Sake too

Java Chip at the Big Chill.

Pho one night at Blossom.

Profiteroles at Cassia.

Walking home from Abbott Kinney after picking up something to eat at Gjelina-to-go.

We will hit up the annual art show at the Barker hanger this weekend and more.  Saw some LA friends last night who thankfully we get to see on the East Coast at times too.  So far, so good.





Curry and vegetables

I have made this dish a few times now.  A few steps but so good.  The key for me is I am making my own green curry paste.  I am just not a fan of the pre-made curry pasted on the market that is too garlicky for my taste.  You can whip up this paste and keep it in the fridge for weeks too.

2 lemongrass stalks, remove the tough outer layers – cut into pieces

8 jalapenos, seeds removed

1 large shallot, chopped

1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp. dried turmeric

1 kaffir lime leaf (optional but I had it)

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. sugar

Put all of this in a Cuisinart and thoroughly blend.  It is a bit coarse but it works.

What’s nice about this curry is you can add anything you want to it.  I like Asian eggplant, red peppers, and bamboo shoots.  This recipe serves 6 with other things on the side.  I made a chicken larb on the side and some rice.

2 – 13 1/2 ounce cans of coconut milk

1 cup vegetable stock ( or chicken but vegetable keeps the dish vegetarian if you just use vegetables in the dish)

8 tsp. soy sauce

8 tsp. light brown sugar (or palm sugar)

12 tbsp. green curry which is basically the entire green curry above

2 red peppers thinly sliced

4 long Asian eggplants thinly sliced

1 can of bamboo shoots

Fresh lime juice

Basil or cilantro to put on top (optional)

Open the can of coconut milk without shaking and scoop out 12 tbsp of coconut cream from the top of the can and put into a big saucepan.  Put the remaining contents into a big bowl and whisk.  Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce and brown sugar into the bowl and whisk again until completely incorporated and the sugar is dissolved.

Place the big saucepan with the coconut cream over medium heat until it starts to bubble.  Add the curry paste and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Let that mix together for about 3-4 minutes.  Then add the vegetables or whatever it is you want to add.  Stir until the vegetables are hot and covered with the cream.  Then add in the big bowl with the coconut mixture and bring the pot to boil and then reduce to simmer.  Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Now you can play with the taste to your likings including adding some fish sauce, sugar or whatever works for you.  I let this get to room temperature and then reheated to serve.  Right before I served it I added in the soy sauce and fresh lime juice and then served with white rice on the side.  I prefer chopped basil over the top but I only had cilantro this time around.

I am making this again and again and again.



Full Harvest

I am an investor in Full Harvest.  Just watch the video and you will know why.  The founder, Christine Moseley, is rethinking produce for multiple reasons.  Full Harvest is exactly what I love about the start-up community which is looking at problems that have been created over time and figuring out how to solve them for the next generation.

Sundance 2018

We have been coming out to the Sundance Film Festival for a few years.  It’s a really an incredible event on many levels.  First off it is extremely well run and if you think about the programming of any event and this one runs for two weeks with movies, events and panels it is extraordinary.  As someone who is only a filmgoer who has nothing to do with the industry it is really insightful and stimulating to see so many independent films and hear the people behind them speak passionately about their work and artistic process.

We saw 3 films a day.  The first day we saw Blindspotting, Monsters and Men and The Kindergarten Teacher.  The first two drive home the issues of race relations in our country.  My guess is we will see more of these films in the years to come from people who have had to probably work harder and deal with discrimination in ways that is unacceptable.

The next day we saw Eighth Grade, The Tale, and Wildlife.  Eighth Grade is about a young girl in her last week of middle school.  The trials and tribulations and what it looks like today with social media playing a big role.  The Tale was so powerful that I am still thinking about the film.  The writer and director Jennifer Fox tells a story about herself.  After reading a paper she wrote at 12 years old brings back memories of being sexually abused at 11.  Wildlife is Paul Dano’s directing debut based on a Richard Ford book.  An extremely beautiful film about a family in the 50s living in Montana.

Day 3 we saw Yardie, Blaze, and Burden.  Yardie which was about gangs from Jamacia that then finish off their problems in London was not for me.  Blaze, directed by Ethan Hawke, is the story of Blaze Foley, a country singer/writer who died too young and the story of his life.  I suspect we will see Burden in the theaters this year.  It is a true story of a KKK white supremacist who falls in love, quits the Klan and slowly starts to see how hatred is not the path he wants to follow.

I am not sure I can handle more than 9 movies in 3 days.  It is a lot to take in, a lot of chairs to sit in and of course a lot of popcorn to eat.

Women in Office Will Change Everything

I have looked high and low for the actual numbers of women that marched across the country (and the globe) this past weekend.  The numbers are all over the place and the media coverage is far from strong.  Why?  The reason seems pretty clear which is that as much as women empowerment is becoming stronger on a daily basis, we are still not being given the voices we deserve.  I am quite sure that if millions of men marched in 2017 and then returned to do it again in 2018 that the media would be all over it and the numbers would be concise.

Even the USA Gymnastics trial which is one of the worst cases of sexual abuse that is playing out in the court right now is underplayed in the press.  140 women were sexually abused by the team doctor for years.  Many were paid off, asked to sign NDA’s and the organization let this continue to fester.  What if 140 men were abused?  Jerry Sandusky, the coach of Penn State, who engaged in sexually abusing 8 children for over 15 years, was front and center of the media from start to finish.

How do we truly change this?  More women in Government, more women CEO’s, essentially more women at the top.  It is time for women to take the reins at the top.  When women sit on opposite sides of the table, they usually come together to move forward with solutions which is what we need.  Social media has just amplified what we each want to hear and that is one of the many reasons for the intense line drawn in the sand in Government right now.  The time is ripe for change and the record amount of female candidates paired with many retiring from Government roles could equal a huge shift at the top.  The top sets the agenda and that bleeds down into everything including the media.

Based on the past week of the Government shutdown when the Republicans rule the House, the Senate and the WH yet want to blame the other side for this and it is mostly white men speaks volumes to me and obviously many women who are tossing their hat in the ring to make a difference and create change.  It is time.

Sticking to What Feels Right, Amanda Eilian, Videolicious, Podcast #50

This week’s episode features Amanda Eilian, Co-Founder & President of Videolicious — a video creation service for enterprise businesses and companies. Amanda and I talked about her early days as a teenage radio host, her transition into investment banking, and what led her to starting Videolicious in the first place. Most interesting, perhaps, is that Amanda and her co-founder ignored a lot of early advice they received about what direction they should take their company in — and it paid off.