East to West One Year Later

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.

Damn Stoked

Dawn meditation in Jacksonville Beach

Kicking off the year with a new domain!!! Welcome to Ant.Cat 

So damn stoked for 2018! For our family, 2017 was all about new beginnings…

Despite all the sad news that 2017 brought into the world, the Catanese household had a super cool year.

  • We moved from Florida to Colorado
  • My wife graduated top 1% of her class and has the job of her dreams #SoProud!
  • I started a new gig at Cognizant Accelerator (f.k.a. QuickLeft) in Boulder
  • We both started working with the VR art collective DenVR
  • Spoke at conferences
  • Successfully transitioned the entrepreneur group #StartupJax to new leadership
  • Explored proper Europe for the first time in Portugal

We’re now ready to dig in….and we couldn’t be more stoked about it. Of course, we’re always willing to be wiggly if the world needs us to be.

Huge thank you to our families, Ben, Morgan, Lauren, Amy, Erin, Jordyn, Shawn, the Jacksons, Philip/Alexandra, Stu, Selina, Bob/Celeste, and all the amazing people in our lives that pushed us forward. Love you all!


Keeping up with the tradition of adding a music video to each post. This time though, we had a hand in creating it  😀

DENVR ARTIST BEN TYSON’S REMIX OF GEOGRAPHER — KITES USING LYRA:

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

No, I agree

I’ve had this one in the hopper for awhile, and silly enough I wasn’t sure how to write it. It’s about communicating.

My Biggest Struggle, Communication

I have to say my biggest struggle, and I think for most people, is with communication. This plays such an important role in everything we do from interacting with families, coworkers, and helping people solve problems, yet we’re all so good at sucking at it.

I realized just how bad I was when I heard myself say, “No! I agree.” Which is it Catter (my friends call me Cat), No or I agree?

In this situation, it’s always I agree.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and is a little communication deal that can be solved just by changing my personal habits. A much bigger struggle  though lies in the same realm, framing the problem.

Frame the Problem

You can conquer nearly anything in this world if you can do one thing, frame the problem. What does that mean? This means that you can take a problem that you’re trying to solve and change your approach based on who you’re talking to. You frame the situation for them in a different way that speaks their language and get’s them emotionally involved in what you’re solving for. Simple…I know.

There is a short blog post here that explains techniques to do this in more detail: www.idea-sandbox.com, and a great video from Clayton Christensen called “Jobs-to-be-Done” that shows this working for a company that wanted to understand why people bought their milkshakes.

Clayton Christensen- Jobs-to-be-Done

Did you catch the reframe of the milkshake problem? The reframe is in the, “Why did you hire this product?” This tilted the problem and gave a  different view to the customers. It took them out of the  process of thinking what they’re doing, and put them in a state of why this milkshake was in their life.

This means that as a product owner you  need to change your messaging for every person involved. You need to nail the problem of your customer to the customer in their language, you need to frame a customers needs to a developer in their language, and you absolutely need to speak the language of your investors.

This is all simple stuff, but we struggle with it – all of us. If we didn’t, then we would understand every product ever created. My hope is that by writing this I can revisit it and understand how poorly I explained it 😉

The Delfonics – Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – Live 1973

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOvfctgwnug&w=420&h=315]

I chose this song because I finally saw Jackie Brown last night and because honestly….Didn’t I Blow Your Mind? 🙂

Pasting

The world is a weird place…a wonderful, funny and weird place.

Pasting

About 2 months ago I discovered something I really didn’t want to. I was writing something for work and for some reason I had to use the word “pasting”. It just didn’t look right. It looked like past-ing. Which in my world is the act of dreaming of the days that were. So I did what any person does. I Googled it to see if it would correct me. It didn’t correct me . I won the spelling bee!!! Wooo, but then I stumbled on a definition I wasn’t expecting.

According to Urban Dictionary:

Pasting is the act of putting toothpaste on one’s nipples with the intent of getting lightheaded or high.

Drugs are not my deal. I just don’t get them, especially when it involves household chemicals or needles. I’m not judging those that do use. I’m just curious about that first time it happens, when they think it’s a good idea to inject something…I feel the same for Botox.

I was so curious about pasting though. How was this discovered? Are my children going to have to be 18 to be purchase toothpaste one day? Does it have side-effects?

This was a real problem. Facebook pages and outraged parents against the awful tooth-whitening menace are all over the place. Such a readily accessible drug just feet from your children. What’s your family to do?

As I kept reading, I noticed that all posts where all from early 2012 and that was it.  There are videos, tutorials, forums, and everything you could think of if you wanted to get your paste on, but nothing new. I was so confused. If this was so awesome what happened? Why isn’t this all over the news? I can’t even buy Aleve-D without a pat down, thanks a lot meth.

Then I learned that the whole thing was a prank. It was started by a couple guys who tricked the media into helping spread the craze.

Makes me really think of the line:

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.

If the media is able to fuel a hoax like this without proof or investigation, what’s to say they get any of the important reporting correct?

Oh media, how I don’t miss you.

Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_raXzIRgsA&w=560&h=315]

Tales of a PO: Week 6 – Ask for Help

You don’t win friends with salad, and you certainly don’t win friends by taking a really long time to solve problems.

The lesson for this week is to ask for help to get it done. This is especially important when it affects the ones around you. I know simple simple advice, but it’s the simple things in life. I finally accomplished a task tonight that has taken nearly a year. It took 9 months to accept help.

Outside help was brought in about a month or so ago and it was great working with them. There were some troubles though with  equipment failure. I felt bad to continue to ask for help, and because of that, it just drug out instead of just getting it done. Tonight was the end of it…wooo! I felt accomplished for about 5 minutes until I realized how long this whole thing took. Then I thought about the lesson.

Leaders put people in the position to get things done properly and don’t pretend to know everything. Get it done by letting others do what they do best.

The Beatles – Help

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNahS3OHPwA&w=420&h=315]

Error Dirty Laundry

This is a short story that is completely true as I remember it. It was told to me by the parties involved about 2.5 years ago. I’m writing here because I never want to forget it and I would love to share it.

laundry

Trying to be a gentleman can be a stressful situation. Every moment with a guest receives a bit more attention than it really deserves and can be distracting for conversation. Doors for instance:  Does the door I’m trying to open push out or pull in? How far away are we from the door, and should I ignore what this person is saying and make a mad dash to try and open, only to find out that it opens out so then I stand partially in the door while holding it, making it a bit of a tight squeeze? Or do I just walk-through and open it, but first I have to leave the conversation to sprint ahead? Do the same rules apply at a business meeting (equal treatment) or should courtesy be extended to everybody here? Is it awkward that I squeezed through a door with my boss and chest bumped with no cause for celebration?

It can be stressful. And awkward. But there is one gentlemanly situation where it’s not either of these things: taking out the trash. With that said, onto the story.

Three years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting all of my wife’s friends and boyfriends. All of them lovely, successful people who have been friends for over 10 years. While out one night, a story of a friend that lives out of town was shared.

Their friend is a very independent woman who loves to do everything on her own, and is great at creating meaningful friendships. She moved to a big city by herself, prides herself in maintaining every part of her life, and supports herself in nearly every way.

Except when it comes to laundry.

During the story it came out that this independent woman was not a fan of laundry and would go through great lengths to not do it.  Friends from her hometown would visit quite often and it was understood that, as a friend, that if you visited her you had to bring a bag of her dirty laundry back home for her mom to take care of. Then, when the next friend would come to visit they would swing by the independent woman’s parents house, pick up the trash bag of laundry, and bring it back to her.  The ultimate “fluff and fold“. This woman loved her clothes. Every piece meant something to her and no laundromat was going to ruin her things.

It went on like this for months. Visitors would come, have a great time, and comeback with dirty clothes. The next trip, friends would stop by the parents house and pick-up the clean laundry on their way to visit.

The independent woman has some amazing friends. And one of those amazing friends has a very gentlemanly boyfriend…

The latest excursion to visit the laundry queen went as it usually went, except a much larger than usual load of dirties was sent back in 2 bags. No problem, put it in the car, give it to the mom and all was magically taken care of. A few weeks later a visit was planned, but there was a slight change.

The independent woman’s parents were going out of town the day before so they had to drop the laundry off with the friends that were about to visit their daughter. Awesome, the friends no longer had to make a stop in the morning and their trip just got simpler. All they had to do was to remember to bring the clean laundry on their way to the car in the morning.

With the extra time available, the friends (who are also roommates) decided to do a spring cleaning and start getting their place in shape. They even had the extra help of the gentlemanly boyfriend. Together they kicked the crap out of the place and got into shape. They went through every drawer, cupboard,  and room gathering everything that wasn’t needed and ready to be trashed. Tired and wanting to be ready for the trip in the morning everybody headed to sleep.

(alarm…it’s 6 a.m…shhhhhh)

The boyfriend is up and ready for work. He’s quite as can be trying not to make a sound so that his girlfriend and her friend will get enough sleep for their trip. He makes his way through the apartment, takes out the trash, and is off to the local grocery store to pick-up something for his lunch.

(cellphone call from his girlfriend)

  • Girlfriend: Hey!
  • Boyfriend: Hey, good morning,
  • Girlfriend: Did you mess with the bags by the door?
  • Boyfriend: Yeah, I took them out when I left this morning. They’re in the dumpster.
  • Girlfriend: THE COMPACTOR!!!!???
  • Boyfriend: Yeah, we had all the stuff we cleaned up last night. I wanted to help out.
  • Girlfriend: SHIT! Independent Woman’s clothes were in trash bags by the door!!! We hadn’t put them in the car yet…
  • Boyfriend: OH NO! Doesn’t the compactor start every time you close the hatch.

The independent woman was not a happy camper.

All of her favorite clothes were gone, because you only wash the clothes you wear.

On a positive note, she is much more independent.

(because this is the song that comes to mind when I think of this story…it’s very independent)

Beyonce – “Single Ladies”

Leaders Pour Concrete

I talk way too much about Daft Punk. I can hear myself talk about them and I cringe. I think to myself, “Really, Anthony. Again?”

Well here it comes.

concrete

What is a Daft Punk? It’s a fun/serious electronic musical duo that have songs that can be listened to over and over and over again. They have relatively been unknown in the U.S. until this past May when their latest album was released. Except they were only unknown by name. Nearly the whole world over the past 20 years has heard parts of their tracks or were listening to tunes that were influenced by them in some way.

How could that be?

Because they’re leaders.  Silent robotic leaders.

Their new LP, Random Access Memories, is a great example of how they set their own rules. It’s funky, not too fast, very different from most things they’ve done, but you can tell it’s them.

The funny thing is I don’t know what they actually did on it. Every song is a collaboration of other artists, producers and electric magicians. The album brings back the days of funk and splices in the sound of the current era.

I was put off when I really started to think about it. Can they claim credit for a great album when every instrument, vocals, and production are provided from others? How can their name be behind it?

Because they’re leaders.

They knew the sound they wanted. Their spirit drove them to find the people to collaborate with, and take their industry in a new direction. They poured the foundation and found the best people to build the dream. They partnered with the biggest names that specialized in the music they were looking for, such as Nile Rodgers of Chic, Panda Bear, and Pharrell Williams.

This isn’t any different when launching a business. The founders job is to pour concrete, find the right builders, communicate the dream. The hard part is letting the dream become bigger than the team….even bigger than the silent robotic leader.

George Barnett – Get Lucky

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6NDY8FSr9M&w=560&h=315]

Cheat

It’s pretty cool that growing up you’re allowed to have a cheat sheet.  You’re just called prepared instead of sent to the principal’s office.

Just something to think about.

Here is a fun cheat sheet in case you want to be prepared for the future:

Time Travel Cheat Sheet

Bright Eye – I Believe in Symmetry

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhhyXdhhnY4&w=560&h=315]