50 Kilometers of Music

What do you listen to for seven or eight hours while running up and down a mountain? On Saturday morning at 6am, I’ll strap on a headlamp and attempt my first ultra-marathon. I enjoy running with music so here’s the Spotify playlist I put together to help make me through 50k and 6000 feet of climbing. I wanted to make it as diverse as possible to prevent music boredom so my rule was no more than one song from any artist. Try it out on your next run or ride and let me know what you think:

You’ve Heard Of Impulse Buying – What About “Impulse Saving?”

Last week, I spent a few days at TechStars Boston, getting to know the companies that are in the fifth week of the program. After sitting in on pitch practice, having dinner with the whole gang and then talking to them for a bit about financing strategy on Wednesday, I spent 45 with each team on Thursday and was wowed by all of them. Despite the fact that many of the founders are young enough to be my kids, I was completely inspired by their passion, focus and intelligence. It’s a terrific class of companies and I suspect that they’ll all go on to create meaningful businesses.

One company in particular really struck a nerve with me personally. The folks at ImpulseSave have created an app that lets you move money from your checking account into a separate savings account every time you contemplate another stupid impulse purchase. You know exactly what I’m talking about. The shirt that looks great hanging on the mannequin that you’ll wind up wearing 3 times and sits in your closet for four years before you give it to goodwill. The $8.47 for a Mocha and a scone that you know you’ll regret having an hour later. The 13th pair of headphones, the iPhone case for $29 when you already have one, and all the other crap we as Americans have been conditioned to buy. It’s the dopamine squirt that helps drive our economy.

As the parent of young teenagers, I’m watching my kids and their friends get bombarded by advertising and get inculcated into the cult of instant gratification through buying stuff, which is why I had such a strong reaction to what Impulse Save is doing. They’ve made it incredibly easy for you to set a goal of saving money and fund it through a few taps on your iPhone or Android. By conditioning you to choose to “Impulse Save” those few dollars each time you’re about to throw away your hard earned money on some more stuff you probably don’t need, they’re creating savings habits that our country desperately needs to learn. How I wish I had this in my college years and in my 20’s.

I urge you to check out Impulse Save and try it out. And tell your friends who have kids about it too.

The Charles River And A Bit Of Nostalgia

I’m in Cambridge, MA to spend a couple of days with the Boston Techstars crew and this morning I went for a run around the Charles River before a full day of meetings. I wasn’t on my run for very long before my thoughts drifted to my wife Pam and our very first date.

I met Pam in the South End of Boston in October 1994, eighteen years ago this month. It was a beautiful indian summer Sunday morning and I was waiting for a table for breakfast at Mildred’s, my favorite corner bistro. She walked in with a girlfriend and they sat down on the bench to wait with me where we chatted for a minute. When my friend Jib (the owner of Mildred’s) told me my table was ready, something moved me to ask her if they wanted to share a table for breakfast. Luckily for me, she jumped up and said yes before her girlfriend had a chance to answer. We spent the next couple of hours having the slowest breakfast in history. When we couldn’t eat any more muffins or drink any more coffee, I asked for her phone number and we both left.

I felt like I had been struck by lightning. When I had dinner with my family that night, I told them that I met my future wife that day which was met with the usual family banter around my dating habits. When I woke up, I resisted the temptation to call her immediately. I went to work and spent the next few hours thinking about how long I needed to wait to call her without seeming too anxious. I lasted until just after lunch when I couldn’t wait a minute longer. My heart pounded when she answered and after some small talk I asked her if she could take the afternoon off and go roller blading (it was 1994, that’s what we did back then) around the Charles River. To my amazement, she said she’d love to and gave me her address to meet her.

We set off on our blades and made our way around the entire river – over to Harvard, past MIT, around the Museum of Science past the Hatch Shell and back towards the Back Bay and South End. We agreed to go home and change and met at the Elliot Lounge for drinks and sushi. It was as magical a first date as there’s ever been.

It’s been a long time since I made my way around the Charles River and as I ran this morning, I was overwhelmed by how strong the memory of my first date with Pam still is and how grateful I am that fate brought us together for a minute on that Sunday morning at Mildred’s. The flame burns brighter than ever and I love her more every day of my life.

Oh, there’s one more thing to add about our first date. To this day, she loves to tell everyone that I had spandex shorts on that day we went rollerblading. What can I say sweetie except that the strategy seemed to have worked…