Wearing a seat belt

Growing up nobody wore a seat belt. I remember lying around in the back of our station wagon with my brother and sister just rolling from one end to the other. It was not until 1968 that all vehicles (except buses) were required to have seat belts.

It is a state by state law requiring people to wear seat belts. New Hampshire is the only state that does not require people to wear seat belts. The majority of states have fines that if you are caught not wearing a seat belt and from the data it appears that most comply.

The reality is wearing a seat belt is effective in reducing car deaths. Car crash fatalities are almost half than they were 40 years ago. I would gather just like any legislation that is inserting itself into people’s lives that there is push back but Government legislation does work. This has saved lives, money, and heartbreak. Sometimes we need legislation to help ourselves.

When we graduated from college, we took an epic six-week cross country journey by car. My Mom who had her own company (one of several) at that time worked with the automobile industry. Her words of advice to us before we took off on our journey is “wear a seat belt”. We did. Every day and now I feel uncomfortable without having one on.

When I was in Paris last week I noticed that in the Uber cars we took that if you did not buckle your seat belt in the back the noise would start beeping as it does in the front seat when you haven’t buckled in. The reason is that if everyone in France is not wearing a seat belt you get fined. I kind of loved it.

There is always such an uproar against Government involved in our lives but when it comes to seat belts, if you ask me, this is pretty smart one.

The Writing on the Wall

The Highline really does a fantastic job with the art installations. They tend to be thought-provoking and engaging with the audience as only a park could be.

The Writing on the Wall is a traveling installation composed of letters, poems, stories, and drawings from people in prisons around the world. The Bail Project, Common Justice, Midtown Community Court and the Center for Court Innovation and We Got Us Now participate. All of these organizations are pushing to end mass incarceration.

It is great seeing people up on the Highline participating and listening to important conversations and see installations around a topic that needs massive change.

Anton’s

Anton’s has taken over the Frankie’s spot on Hudson with a different vibe and menu. The chef and new owner Nick Anderer named the restaurant after his great-great-grandfather creating a menu that is modern with a nod to the past. His sidekick is Natalie Johnson who runs the front of the house. We have been twice to taste and dine. The menu is great, the food is delicious and we might find ourselves eating there once a week when we are in town.

There are many highlights but here is a few things we ate at dinner which I am excited about having again. The oysters are delicious, both raw and broiled with ginger broth and bread crumbs. The red eggplant roasted and pureed with roasted red peppers and spices with toasted baguettes on the side could be slathered on anything. Delicious.

Chicory salad with spots of stilton and macadamia nuts is light and intense at the same time.

There is a handful of pasta on the menu and they are all so good. The spinach ravioli is a must. Perfectly stuffed soft ravioli served in a brown butter sauce so light and explosive in the mouth. Definitely will become a house favorite.

We had the hanger steak served with sauteed with onions, grilled rib pork chop with applesauce, mushrooms on the side and a spinach dish too. Everything was lick your lips delicious and the portions are just right.

Desserts are sweets or a cheese course. Both of these luscious chocolate desserts defines what makes this place really good. Everything has a lightness to the dish. Perhaps it is the portions, but it is also the spices, the sauces and everything that comes together in each dish has a balance of flavors that are delicious yet not heavy-handed.

Exciting to see a new restaurant with delicious food in the west village. It has become harder and harder to make restaurants work but when they do, they should be applauded. I have a feeling Anton’s is going to have a lot of applause.

Why do women need validation?

Men seem to extremely confident in what they have to say. It seems to start at an early age. Women are such different animals vs their male counterparts. How we communicate our knowledge, make decisions, manage people, climb to the top, engage with people and more. The response to this, of course, is “no shit” but those unique approaches make me notice that many women do not trust themselves as much as they should.

Why do women need validation? The funny thing is we all know it. It feels good that someone backs us up. I’d like to see more women not have to be backed up in how we navigate the world, particularly business.

I have talked to countless female founders about taking control of their destinies. Not to feel compromised by a male board of directors but to own it. To get what you want and to not waver. Trust their own gut. I have been a cheerleader of sorts to many women giving them the trust they needed to hear. It is one of the things I love doing most when talking to female founders.

In order for women to dominate the world, and be the leaders of the future, we need to have more trust in ourselves. Trust me on this.

Repairing Instead of Disrupting, Mara Zepeda & Jennifer Brandel, Podcast #120

Founders of Zebras Unite, Jennifer Brandel (CEO & Co-founder, Hearken) and Mara Zepeda (CEO & Co-founder, Switchboard) is a founder-created and founder-led movement calling for a more ethical inclusive culture in the startup and investing community. They believe creating an alternative to this status quo is a moral imperative. I spoke with Jennifer and Mara about what led them to start Zebras Unite, and the work they’re doing today to push their ideas forward.

I am going to post the podcast every other week for the next few months as we start to think about the next generation of this podcast. Any and all ideas are welcome.

You can listen to this on iTunes here.

Leonardo in Paris…and new restaurants

The hype around the Leonardo da Vinci show has been huge. One of the largest show at the Louvre celebrating the 500th anniversary of his death. I got the tickets when it was announced. What an utter disappointment.

The entire experience is so flat. Small dark rooms for the number of people streaming in. The light feels like the inside of a poorly lit office building. The majority of pieces are so small and all begin to look the same. There is no information next to each piece except for a date.

Truth is I have not walked into the Louvre in years although I have gone to multiple exhibits at the Musee Decoratifs which is part of the museum. It is so big that I feel overwhelmed. I was excited to return but alas what a huge disappointment.

I did not dive deep into the 11th where most of my favorite restaurants are located. After reading a bit about some renovated restaurants that appear to have a fantastic PR team I opted to go there. Laperouse that has been around since the 1700s underwent a year-long renovation. It is just too fancy. I wonder who is going to these fancy places in the future? The bar is just killer and for that, I will return.

Le Train Bleu, that is located inside the Gare de Lyon train station is gorgeous. Similar concept as the Grill in NYC where they wheel out carts and carve your dinner. If I was waiting for a train I’d certainly return but not sure I’d make the journey for an evening.

One night we went local to Chez Fernand, a family bistro. They were so nice and the food was just fine. It made me recall the days when we would go to Paris and think everything just tasted so good no matter where you went. The explosion of creative exquisite cooking across the globe has changed the landscape of our expectations. I want to be intrigued, wowed and have that sensation of something so good just melting in your mouth. Spoiled perhaps but I am not in a league of my own.

Guns…this should not happen

I got an email from a Wesleyan graduate about Pedro Venture, who graduated from Wesleyan in 2010. I did not know him but all of our kids went to Wesleyan so it wasn’t surprising to get the email.

The graduate reached out because Pedro was attending a wedding in North Carolina. He was at a bar celebrating the night before when a stranger opened fire. This has become normal because years ago I would have read about it but this did not even make my media feed. Pedro was hit in the back of his neck, the only person sustaining any serious injury. He is now paralyzed from the shoulders down with a full spinal cord injury. 

Pedro is in for an incredibly long, difficult and expensive journey to rebuild his life. This shouldn’t happen. We shouldn’t have to be worried about attending a wedding, going to a graduation, seeing a movie or walking down the street with a fear of someone opening fire. How did we get here? The amplification of fear has created a gun culture that makes us more unsafe.

If you are able, Please please visit the link below and donate: 
GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/hope-for-pedro

Paris…

I so love Paris. It is one of the most beautiful, elegant cities in the world. There is a cosmopolitan energy to the city with just the right air of sophistication. Every time I return, I fall more in love with the city.

This time I am back with a friend, who has not been here in 15 years, to go to the Paris Photo Show. One of my favorite art shows. Galleries across the globe that represent only photography come together for a few days at the Petit Palais. The annual art book award takes place here too. Having one medium, photography, in such depth is just not as overwhelming as the big art shows.

This journey is a bit of the top hits. I am shaking it up with three new restaurants and returning to some old faves. First day, right off the plane, was a stop at Cafe Flore for breakfast. Next stop Bon Marche. You could seriously spend hours there. Now, why does that huge department store work? It is beautiful and discovery is everywhere….and it is always filled with shoppers. Dinner was at La Bourse et la Vie. Delicious and as always an excellent steak and fries.

The first full day we started at the Circus Bakery. A new spot that is absolutely wonderful. Old school space churning out bread and pastries that feel somehow like we are back in the time.

The cardamon roll is the call. Layers of dough with just a simple crunch on top yet yeasty and so soft that you can pull it a bit like taffy. Cardamon is such an underrated spice. The savory sweetness of it mixed with butter dripping through the roll is not a bad way to start the day. The cinnamon bun is good too but the cardamon is queen.

We walked and walked and walked, and shopped. Lunch was at Mokonuts, a spot I can never miss. Those cookies, peanut butter chocolate, and miso sesame, and creme caramel. Warm, soft yet crispy around the edges. Just perfect.

Ezra

Change never comes from inside. Change always comes from outside. In the next decade, we will see a much-needed change in the medical space.

The system is not working so well. The costs are sky-rocketing. Insurance is far from pro-active but instead defensive. When you get sick it is there although not without a major headache getting them to support your needs. What if they flipped the model and made sure that you had to go to your annual check-up and get as much data as possible to keep you healthy. That the insurance company would support the recommendations made from the health provider such as exercise classes, acupuncture, talking to a nutritionist. What a shift that would be.

Ezra’s mission is to detect cancer early. They provide a full-body MRI that looks at everything from your brain to each organ in your body including your bones. MRIs do not use radiation like x-rays and get a better view of the body’s internal structures.

It is not inexpensive. The cost is $1800 and it is not covered by insurance. It takes about an hour fifteen. The results come two days later.

I did it this week and now I have a baseline. It is pretty amazing that I know what is happening inside of my body. Certainly, the hope is that the cost will come down as more people do it but wouldn’t it be amazing if every insurance company paid for people to have this done annually starting at a certain age based on genetic heritage. Proactive!

Instead of spending millions of dollars and heartache trying to cure how about early detection? If the model was flipped, how much money do you think that Insurance companies would save and how much healthier would we all be?

Seed rounds raising $2-3m?

When did raising $2-3m become a seed round? More than likely when the market became happy to bear it. To me, that sends a signal with red flags written all over it called the peak of the market.

Seed is super high risk. Seed means that there is not any true product-market fit. That there is little to evaluate except an idea, a team and perhaps something quasi-built. Today when there is plenty of open-source software, why does someone need that much capital?

We can point to so many companies that have taken in tremendous amounts of capital at ridiculous valuations. Even companies that are valued so high that I find it hard to believe that everyone sitting around the table isn’t wondering that this is not going to end well.

There are still many founders out there raising capital for companies that are extremely mature or really exploring new roads expecting to get funding at valuations that are twice as large as they should be. What is it that they don’t get? Just because you can doesn’t almost mean you should.

When this all blows up, it is going to be harsh for everyone including the founders. Being level headed about valuations, the amount of capital one is raising, growing the company at the right pace with the right amount of capital works. Building companies too fast with too much cash can lead to pissing a lot of money into the wind.

I could go on and on but it doesn’t take much to point to public markets and see the reality of where things trade for software, fast-casual restaurants, consumer products, marketplaces, and media to understand what companies need to be valued at from the start to the end.

When I get the emails that say we are raising a seed round at $3m and are 50% committed, all I can do is roll my eyes and say well, good luck with that.