East to West One Year Later

En Power and Light, Tyson Family, and the Cats
En Power and Light, Tyson Family, and the Cats

While going through some old emails today, I found the last newsletter that I sent to my old meetup group, #StartupJax. Coincidently, it happens to be almost the 1 year anniversary that I sent it announcing my wife and I would be moving from Jacksonville, FL to Denver, CO.

This was a big deal for us. We’ve never lived anywhere else, not for college or some whim of a thing in our twenties. We had a very easy stable life…but we weren’t growing towards our goals so we kicked ourselves in the ass to stir things up.

Finding this old newsletter reminded me of the excitement, energy, and gusto that we came to Colorado with. It reminded me that we shouldn’t get complacent.

It reminded me that every moment is an opportunity, and every opportunity is a gift.

My hope is that I find this post the next time I need to get my head on straight.

Thanks past Anthony for helping out present Anthony. (yeah I just appreciated myself…so what)

#StartupJax Newsletter – April 28th, 2017
Let’s get it on with your TOP 3 things for May!

Howdy howdy howdy!

1. Early RSVPs open for our next event  (official announcement next week). We are joining the JaxTech crew at “Main Event” to explore how two local companies are leveraging gamification to make their business awesome. Also…if you haven’t been to Main Event yet, holy cow…go.

2. May 12th, Anthony Catanese is moving to Denver. Yep :(**It’s weird to address myself in the 3rd person**

But it’s true…May 12th is my last day in Jax and I’ll be stepping down as leader of #StartupJax, but this group will be stronger than ever with 2 new organizers joining Philip O’Donnell to run this thing. I couldn’t be more excited to announce that Selina Pagan and Stu Green have accepted leadership roles in #StartupJax! Welcome homies 🙂

  • Selina and I have known each other for some time. She grew up in Jax and moved to the west coast for 17 years. She’s back and is ready to keep the fire alive here.
  • Stu moved here from London right when OneSpark and downtown were buzzing with activity. He met a lot of us at Cowork and has been building startups in the San Marco area the last few years. You may have met him at the last meetup since he was one of our panelists.
  • Read more about the leadership crew: www.startupjax.co/who-we-are.html – reach out to them via the links to their Twitter or LinkedIn and say Hi 🙂
  • If you want to grab a beer with Anthony before he leaves – May 12th:  4pm – who knows @ Dos Gatos in downtown Jax (123 E Forsyth St, Jacksonville, FL 32202) My wife and I are hanging out for happy hour. We’ve literally invited everyone we know to join us…that includes you…come grab a beer. You’re the reason I started this group.

3. Another HUGE announcement – Community First Credit Union has agreed to be the official #StartupJax sponsor for the YEAR. That’s awesome and makes it amazing for putting together programs over the next 12 months. Community First has always come through in supporting local entrepreneurs, and this takes it to another level. Thank you thank you thank you Community First. Without them, I’m not sure we would be around, and some of our biggest events would never have happened.

May is going to be nuts!

=======Now Sappy Anthony Monologue=======

Back in 2013, there was a group of 25 people that met one random evening in downtown Jax. We had no clear goal other than being around great people. Now there are over 1,200 of us and we’re about to hit year 4…WOW… that blows me away.

A lot of people asked me “What was your vision” for the group…and I can honestly say there wasn’t one other than “be around entrepreneurs”…but there were principles. 1) Be Kind  2) Connect everyone we can  3) Give everyone a voice. When someone would reach out and ask to speak, I always thought…does their story inspire, were they giving, and did it match our principles. We’ve now had over 80 speakers and 34 events all across Jacksonville. And couldn’t be more proud, not of what Philip and I have been running, but what you guys did with what we created.

Philip…you rock. Thank you for all your support and connecting so many people here. I truly couldn’t appreciate you more as a co-organizer and as a friend. Selina, Stu and you are great people and can’t wait to see what you guys do!

Thank you all for taking the time help each other and #StartupJax.

This World Is A Great Wiggly Affair – V2.2017

This post is and always will be a work in progress...
and each version will have its own space.
- Version 1 - 2014
Alan Watts by Kristen Taylor Wright: http://wp.me/P1eLdD-2
Alan Watts by Kristen Taylor Wright: http://wp.me/P1eLdD-2

“This world is a great wiggly affair. The clouds are wiggling. The waters are wiggling. The clouds are wiggling, bouncing.

People- but people are always trying to straighten things out. You see we live in a rectangular box, all the time; everything is straightened out.

Wherever you look around in nature you find things often straightened out. They’re always trying to put things in boxes. Those boxes are classified. Words are made from some boxes.

But the real world is wiggly, if you can believe it.

Now when you have a wiggle like a cloud, how much wiggle is a wiggle? Well you have to draw the line somewhere, so people come to sorts of agreements about, ah, how much wiggle is a wiggle, that is to say a thing. One wiggle- always reduce one wiggle to a sub wiggles. Or see it as a subordinate wiggle of a bigger wiggle. But there’s no fixed rule about it.”

-Alan Watts


This quote has sat with me for some time. At first, I enjoyed it because of the fun rantiness of it. One long deep thought about the world around us, which I often have, but never share.

We are compelled to try and order everything in our life. Nature is opposing this at all times: always changing, moving forward… being wiggly.

A large part of my early career was in the accounting and home building space while going through college. Both of these industries are heavily reliant on well-thought-out processes to squeeze as many dollars as possible. I LOVED it. Nothing felt more amazing than getting your numbers to align, or for zero change-orders to come in. But there was something inherently wrong with the way I was working on a day to day basis. My thinking became automated.

Having a set process of what you do every day is lovely, but it typically doesn’t change to take in the nuances that day brings. The process typically doesn’t try to learn how it can serve the client better. It offers the user an escape to zone out, but while the user is zoned out the world has wiggled out of sync with the purpose of the process.

And that, to me, is how businesses are lost.

We can overcome this, not by less process but by building guiding frameworks that are broad enough to give us a path forward without detailing everything out. The framework helps point out what to watch for. You build something, check it against your framework, and move on.


Here’s how Jeff Bezos of Amazon puts it in his annual shareholder’s letter, posted April 12, 2017, when asked, “Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2.

A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp.

It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us?

What excites me is that some of the top companies in the world are letting go of control…and getting wiggly:

  • Amazon is taking over the world, not by setting the company in concrete, but by flowing with the tides.
  • Toyota dominated the car industry by marrying the traditional assembly line with the freedom of their workers to make changes however they saw fit.
  • Tesla has built some of the best cars in the world using “Flexible Automation”.

This is the perfect place to play Will Smith — Get Jiggy With It, but I have to play the song that introduced me to the original quote…

STRFKR — Florida

 

This World Is A Great Wiggly Affair – V1.2014

This post is and always will be a work in progress...
and each version will have its own space.
- Version 2 - 2017
Alan Watts by Kristen Taylor Wright: http://wp.me/P1eLdD-2
Alan Watts by Kristen Taylor Wright: http://wp.me/P1eLdD-2

“This world is a great wiggly affair. The clouds are wiggling. The waters are wiggling. The clouds are wiggling, bouncing.

People- but people are always trying to straighten things out. You see we live in a rectangular box, all the time; everything is straightened out.

Wherever you look around in nature you find things often straightened out. They’re always trying to put things in boxes. Those boxes are classified. Words are made from some boxes.

But the real world is wiggly, if you can believe it.

Now when you have a wiggle like a cloud, how much wiggle is a wiggle? Well you have to draw the line somewhere, so people come to sorts of agreements about, ah, how much wiggle is a wiggle, that is to say a thing. One wiggle- always reduce one wiggle to a sub wiggles. Or see it as a subordinate wiggle of a bigger wiggle. But there’s no fixed rule about it.”

-Alan Watts

This quote has sat with me for some time. At first, I enjoyed it because of the fun rantiness of it. One long deep thought about the world around us, which I often have, but never share.

As time has moved on I’ve begun to understand it more and more. We are always trying to straighten out nature. This is particularly true with the way we develop process and go about working every day. Having a set process of what you do every day is lovely, but it typically doesn’t change to take in the nuances that the day brings. The process typically doesn’t try to learn how it can serve the client better. It offers the user an escape to zone out, but while the user is zoned out the world has wiggled out of sync with the purpose of the process. And that to me is how businesses are lost.

We can overcome this, not by less process but by building guiding frameworks that are broad enough to give us a path forward without detailing everything out. It helps to point out what to watch for. You build something, check it against your framework, and move on.

I work with teams on innovation which sounds super tech, but most of the time it’s the opposite. Most of the time it’s following a set of principles that help us understand what we’re trying to solve. Not by adding tech or adding more process, but by getting in the groove of the wiggly. Which is my new mantra.

This is the perfect place to play Will Smith – Get Jiggy With It, but I have to play the song that introduced me to the original quote…

STRFKR – Florida