Category Archives: Darren Herman

The Most Important Car America Has Ever Made

I spent late yesterday afternoon with my father at the Tesla showroom in the Westchester Mall.  We left the kids behind and went to seriously look at the Tesla because I’d been reading glowing reviews and I’m, well, a curious car guy.  The picture below is actually my father driving the car.

Tesla Model S PerformanceExpectations were set high for this car due to the reviews and listening to @jason talk about how much he loves his car.  Also the entrepreneurial side of me was unbelievably curious as to how Elon Musk built a car in the USA without being part of the old Detroit boys club.  Building a business without knowing the constraints of the industry, being naive, could be a very good thing, especially when disrupting it.

In one statement, I was blown away by the car.

We test drove a Model S Performance car (pearl white w/19″ tires – winter).  Here is what stood out to me:

1.  Power:  I had no idea that an all electric car could be as powerful as this.  While I knew it was technically possible, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought driving my Audi A7 was fun for a sedan but the Model S Performance car certainly gave it a ride for it’s money.

2.  Seating:  I have two young kids so having the option of the 2 seats in the back of the car is a major plus as it frees up the second row.  This means we can take family and friends along with us because right now, my current car has two car seats in the second row.

3.  Electronics:  Google + Garmin was pretty sweet.   I was used to Google from my Audi but having a 18″ screen in the car is pretty sweet.  This screen can do HD back-up camera, music, tuning, air suspension controls, etc.  It’s gorgeous and love the touch of night vs. daytime lighting.

Downside:   I cannot wrap my head around how much this car will be worth in 3-4 years when I’m likely to move on.  Maybe this is the wrong question to be asking?  But it’s something that I’m noodling and holding me back.

I don’t think this car is revolutionary as it’s still 4 wheels and takes up a parking spot, but I think this car is evolutionary to our automotive world and something that is going to set the standard for the future.  It’s almost like driving the future, today.

I read a ton of online reviews of this car and Road and Track says it best:

“Beautiful, well-crafted, cool, and seriously fast, the Model S isn’t just the most important car of the year. It’s the most important car America has made in an entire lifetime.”

kbs+ Ventures: Creative Entrepreneurship

Just last week, we launched our first book at kbs+ Ventures.  The book was derived from the insight that our agency‘s staff wanted to learn more about innovation frameworks and what entrepreneurs have to do in order to build a business.  You can download the book here (more formats for the book coming in the near future, follow me on twitter to find out when launched).

Creative Entrepreneurship Books

Last summer, Lara, Eugenia, Taylor and I embarked on the process of creating this book with the support of our agency and MDC Partners.  A few months later, we had a finished product of the book in-hand and were ready to launch it.  We turned the book around in about four weeks.

We decided not to re-create the wheel and write all new content.  Some friends of ours are top venture capitalist and entrepreneurs who already write amazing content online so we asked them to donate some content to our book.  And they did;  some old posts they had written and some brand new content for our book.  A huge fist bump to all the contributors including Blake Masters, Tim O’Reilly, Paul Graham, Jay Jamison, Sarah Lacy, Felix Salmon, Mark Suster, Steve Blank, Marc Averitt, Fred Wilson, Charlie O’Donnell, Chris Dixon, Andrew Chen, Seth Levine, Scott Weiss, Babak Nivi, Matthew Waterman, Dave McClure, Dan Shapiro, Adam Penenberg, Robert Ackerman Jr., Walter Kortschak and Rutul Dave.

We plan to use this book for our Fellows Program.  We also plan on making the book much more widely available – it’s free to you.  We will be distributing the book thru different accelerators, incubators, venture capital offices and other places of entrepreneurship.  Reach out to me if you want to put a bunch in your office or in a place which could reach many entrepreneurs.

Here are some pics of our launch party for the book.  It was a blast.  And here is the writeup on our Tumblog.

We believe this book can have an impact and I’m super proud of the team who made it happen.

 

Hustle in 2013 and CES Plans

I’ve been looking forward to 2013 for quite some time both personally and professionally.  Personally, my kids are a bit older and it’s easier to do things with them.  Now two and four years of age, they are young and eager to take on many challenges except of course, eat broccoli or string beans.  Professionally, the market has been catching up to what we have been talking about and executing on at the agency which has translated with growth.

I’ve sacrificed much of my blog posts for personal time at home with the family which I think has been a very worthy trade off.  I do miss blogging often and getting consistent feedback from all of you so hopefully I’ll be typing more in 2013 and fit blogging back into my schedule.

Next week, I will be at the Consumer Electronics Show for the first few days.  Not sure if you will be there but if so, get in touch and we’ll try to hook up.

Hope 2013 is filled with hustle, excitement and health for you.

Happy new year.

 

Bored vs. Tired

I met with a friend and seasoned entrepreneur turned academia recently, Aaron Cohen.  For those of you who know him, he’s been around the block and has seen a lot in his days of being a successful executive at digital media companies.    He walked in the room and asked, how I was doing?

I am doing great, I replied.

He said I looked tired, which isn’t the first time someone has told me that.

We then dove into a discussion of being tired vs. bored.

It’s ok to be tired.
It’s not ok to be bored.

Lets discuss this here.

Tired.
Athletes train a lot.  Olympic athletes basically spend their life training.  But even at peek performance, athletes do get tired.  It’s ok to walk off the soccer pitch after a match and be tired.  It’s ok to drop the 400lbs of weights and lie down.  Why?  Because in most cases, you gave it your all.  You put everything you had into the sport.

Business is no different.  More often than not, founders get fat.  I put on weight.  I know plenty more who did as well.  Why?  Tireless persistence to achieve a goal left going to the gym, proper diet, and sleep all secondary and tertiary needs.

If you are giving it (whatever you are pursuing) your all, then tired is in your cards.  That’s good.  Make sure a vacation or time-off is planned to recoup, re-energize and reset.  Without this, you will run yourself down to the point of system failure.  If you get to that point, you’ve gone too far.

Bored.
There is a big difference between being tired and bored.  Boredom comes from not being mentally challenged and leads to complacency.  Boredom is not good because it causes negative attributes and tends to spread to people around you.  It’s like a negative-vibe-virus.

If you are bored, do something about it.  A vacation will not solve boredom.  You need to first analyze why you are bored and then talk to your superior to do something about it.  If there is no room within the organization to move, then get out.  Plain and simple.  You are not being fulfilled and I’m going to guess that your output is not up to standard because you are not mentally there.  You suffer.  The company suffers.

I have met plenty of people who are bored in their jobs.  Being bored is fine as naturally, your learning comes to an end in each role you take.  The smart people then move on to a role that’s fulfilling.  It’s a hard conversation to have with your employers but one that at the end of the day, is mutually beneficial.

I might be tired, but I’m certainly not bored.  I still wake up each day to new and fun challenges.  Some I dislike but they grow me professionally and personally.

Ava and Dad

Trading the Work Grid for the Family Grid

This past week, I took my family to the Outerbanks for a beach vacation.  It was actually the first time my two kids flew on an airplane and it was quite the experience (they did well, FYI).

I made it a point to be “off the work grid.”  While I uploaded some Instagram photos and updated Facebook every now and then, I did less work this vacation than on any of my previous ones.

While I was off the “work” grid, I was on the “family” grid.  It felt amazing – bonding with my kids and wife and some other family and friends who came down with us.

I traded in emails, meetings, vendor pitches, startup pitches, subways, commutes, business lunches for Candyland, donuts, trolley rides, and sandcastles.  The associated smiles were priceless.

I urge any and all of you to shut off every now and again.  I’m juiced and charged and ready for what lies ahead for the remainder of 2012.

2012 Silicon Alley Golf Invitational Right Around the Corner

It’s that time of year again when we’re just weeks away from the Silicon Alley Golf Invitational.  Or SAGI as I commonly refer to it as.  This event started ~7 or so years ago but only in the past 3 years have I used the fancy name.  It all started with myself and 3 founders of tech companies in 2004.  We played golf and chatted.  It was that simple.  The next year, each of us brought an additional founder.  And each year after, it grew.  The common theme each year was to keep it to either founders of Silicon Alley based startups or venture capitalists funding the innovation.

Fast forward to 2012, we’ve got an absolutely full event of 72+ golfers (can only fit 72 on the course at any given time) and about 30 non-golfers coming for the luncheon and awards ceremony.  We have amazing sponsors who enable the day to happen.  We even have a guest keynote speaker who will be announced much closer to the date…

A lot of planning goes into this event, especially because it’s a labor of love and not a business and I have very limited staff to pull this off.  I personally handpick everything for the event – the invitational list, the swag, the event location, the foursomes, etc.  It’s a lot of work but in the end, it pays off because of all the great conversations and camaraderie that’s had at the event.

Unfortunately, the event does not scale well.  It cannot accompany 1,000 people.  Or even 250 people.  With just one day and 18 holes, you can only accompany so many people on the course.  It’s a fact of life for the event but a good one at the same time – we do not always need to be able to scale in order to have a great event.  In this case, it’s quality over quantity.  This year in aggregate, we have founders representing over $1.2BLN in exits in the past 1,000 days.  Quality is important.  We’ll leave “scale” for the companies we’re building.

I’m super excited for August 6 and look forward to participating with everyone.  Here’s a link to the official video from last year’s event.

If you have any questions about the event, feel free to reach out through my contact form.

A Bit of a New Look Around Here

Things look a bit different around here, no?

Over the years, this blog has gone through different designs.  I like changing things up every 3-4 years or so to keep not only the site fresh, but my mind inspired to keep blogging.  With a new look and feel, I hope to contribute again regularly and keep blogging about the things that interest me:  advertising, marketing, technology, and media.  I’m sure there will be a post or two that’s not listed there, but hopefully they will be welcomed.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the new design when you have a chance.  Leave comments below.

Rethinking What I Know About Formal Education

I grew up in a middle class home in Westchester County, NY where the forced dream was to go to college.  I grew up with the pressures of “not if” but “where” I was going to college and from early grade school, I was prepping for the SAT’s.  That one test was the key to getting through the admission door at many top tier schools, all schools in which I had my sights set on.

I graduated (almost did not – was going to leave early to pursue a startup) with my 4 year degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I did not have the typical college experience as I was only there for 13 weekends in four years due to running a business while in school and traveling to the office and clients Friday-Mondays.  School provided a campus for learning as learning did not happen in just the classroom.  I think I actually learned more outside of the classroom then in it.

Fast forward to today, I have two children, both under the age of four.  I’m thinking about college for them already but I do not know if they will have the same college education I did.  Why?  The forthcoming education evolution here in the United States and how it might impact them.  The NY Times just wrote an article called The Campus Tsunami that outlines a lot of the current landscape.

Companies like Skillshare, General Assembly, Lore/Coursekit, Udemy, Minerva, Khan Academy, Codecademy, Edmodo, and others are forcing us to re-think what education is, not just what college is.  While much of this post has been about college, I think I need to re-think how my kids will even go through grade school.

I do not know what the future holds, but I have to imagine that the Internet will disrupt everything it touches.  This means education as I and my parents know it is being re-written.  I am excited for what lies ahead.

2012 Silicon Alley Golf Invitational

I’m about a month behind planning for this year’s 2012 Silicon Alley Golf Invitational, but rest assured, by Friday, I’ll have the date and venue which will get sent out to all of the players from last year to reserve their spot at some point over the weekend.

If you’d like to add your name to the list of potential players, please click here and sign up.  This does not guarantee you a spot, but does get you on a list that will be notified if there is extra availability.  Requirement to participate in the event is that you must be an active senior participant of the Silicon Alley ecosystem as either a founder/executive/partner/etc of a start-up, venture firm, technology company, or other type of organization.  I hand pick every attendee at the event.

This is one of my favorite events as it brings together a fantastic group of business executives and puts us all in a neutral setting to have a good time and celebrate our industry.  It’s nice to remove yourself from the day to day streets of NYC and set foot on the 6,300+ yard courses of Westchester, Rockland, and Northern New Jersey.  We change the course up each year and I spent all of Saturday touring different golf clubs trying to pick the right atmosphere.

A lot of coordination goes into this day as it’s a labor of love and there is no “business” behind it to get things done.  I might change a few things up from the previous years but it’s still too early to tell.  Either way, the 2012 Silicon Alley Golf Invitational is going to be special and I’m looking forward to seeing you on the course.

Mad Men is Back

For 2 hours last night, I sat uninterrupted while watching AMC’s debut of Season 5 of Mad Men.  They did a great job recapping Season 4 and setting up plenty of plot opportunities for the remainder of this season.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to watch Mad Men without having worked in an advertising agency.  I guess it’s like watching CSI Miami for me, as I’ve never worked in public safety.  There are plenty of subtleties that you pick up while watching having worked in the industry.

A few things stuck out from last night’s show:

1.  Pete’s power move of gaurding his potential clients and using them as leverage for a new office.
2.  The Heinz presentation that shows that not everything Madison Avenue does is right the first time… this is so true and often goes overlooked.
3.   Sounds like SCDP are going after a new airlines which back in the day, were the top accounts to have
4.  I like the scenes on Metro North railroad as I too take the train in each day.  It’s a nice touch.

It’s amazing how the producers of the show are able to replicate the 1950s, even down to Metro North.  It’s impressive.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the season!

Oh, I was interviewed by Paper Magazine for an article titled, “Meet New York’s Mad Men and Mad Women.”  Enjoy.