Blogging in 2015

One of my 2015 goals is to blog once a week so when January 1, 2016 rolls around I can look back and see 52 posts over the course of the year. Three weeks in to 2015 and I only have one post…I have some work to do.

My objective in blogging once a week is primarily to share what I am thinking about and find interesting right now in my life/career arc. I also think it will help me improve my writing skills by forcing me to write a compelling post every week that people will find funny, interesting and worthwhile.

To pay homage to Mark Suster, I am blogging for the hell of it. My posts will be stream of consciousness and are not meant to last forever. I will be wrong and I expect my opinions will change over time as I get more data/experience. I hope you enjoy my forthcoming 52 posts (now 50 posts) and find them worth your time.

My Life

Top Ten Experiences of 2014

Welcome to my fourth annual post highlighting my top ten experiences of the past year. I was inspired to start this post after noticing a shift in society to value experiences over material goods.

2014 saw less travel – evidenced by my Delta miles being a piddly 7,000. This means 2015 will not be blessed with Platinum status so I’ll be at the back of the plane and boarding in Zone 3 with the rest of you.

To all my friends and family who didn’t make the list this year or disagree with your placement, remember there is always next year. Cheers to another great year and for what 2015 has in store.

10. Ran the Torchlight 5K


My sister Ellie and I ran a 5K through downtown Minneapolis in July. Thanks to the countless times running around Lake of Isles, I finished with a time of 21.30! The actual race was brutal, but drinking the free Mich Goldens with Ellie at the finish line was very rewarding. Look for us to bump up to a 10K in 2015.

 9. Hog Roast / Camping with Friends

pocket lake

I went on two camping trips during the summer of 2014.

The first was to attend the Hog Roast at my friend Ryan’s cabin on Pocket Lake (picture above). Side note: Ryan and another friend Mike recently launched an organic grab-and-go eatery in the Minneapolis Skyway called SIMPLS, check it out. The Hog Roast has been an annual tradition for the last four years and has somehow alluded the Top Ten list thus far. Nothing beats eating some slow cooked hog, playing yard games and getting the crew together for some fun in the great outdoors.

The second camping trip was with my friends Riley, Megan and Karla. It was a great trip except we had one casualty: Riley’s left flip flop. Despite my valiant attempt to save it, it will never be seen again. Sorry about that bud.

8. Moved into a New Apartment


I moved into an apartment near Lake of the Isles in the Lowry Hill/Uptown area. It’s small and has some character, but has a great location – its proximity to downtown gave me the opportunity to bike to work during the summer. I also want to formally go on record with my claim as the fastest biker on a Nice Ride in the Twin Cities. Challengers please take a number.

7. Ice Fishing

ice fishing

2014 was the year I finally became a true Minnesotan: I went ice fishing and hunting.

Riley and I went ice fishing with our good high school buddy Chad. Riley fit in well with his ’80s moon boots and JanSport hat (pictured above). Despite his best efforts to scare all the fish away with this outfit, we did catch some fish..or was that each others lines?

6. Hunting


Part two of me becoming a Minnesotan was going hunting for the first time. My college buddy Derek and his family graciously took me in for the weekend and introduced me to the hunting culture in Wadena, MN. From filling our thermoses with coffee at 5am to stopping by the VFW for a nightcap, I enjoyed every minute of it including shooting my first buck. If anyone wants some venison, I have a very full freezer.

5. Virtual Care Inflection Point


Zipnosis had white-hot growth in 2014 driven by patient demand for new virtual access points. We are now powering virtual care with several health system partners across the country, have a great team and are poised to make a strong push in 2015.

4. Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld

Karla and I got to see my favorite comedian Jerry Seinfeld at the Orpheum theater in January. Seinfeld is my favorite show so of course I spent the whole show laughing as Jerry brought his act into the current age of cell phones, social media and the Internet. Seeing him live, you can really appreciate his humor and the amount of time he invests in his craft. I wrote about how Jerry spends years writing and tweaking his jokes to get the perfect reaction from the audience here.

3. Sailing on Lake Harriet



Since I moved to the Uptown area, I wanted to take advantage of my proximity to the lakes by buying a buoy on Lake Harriet for my dad’s sailboat. After spending 20 years in my parent’s garage, the sailboat was finally able to stretch its legs on the cool blue water of Harriet. I built my confidence as a sailer through changing winds, different weather conditions and the occasional 747 flying overhead. The experience wasn’t always perfect as we had to devise strategies to prevent the boat from turtling during storms, cleaning up after the ducks and rowing a half mile each direction to and from the buoy. Overall, it was a great summer spending time with my dad and family that convinced me there is nothing better than the wind in your sail and the sun dancing across the water.

2. Golf Trip to Whistling Straits and Erin Hills in Wisconsin




The Bash Bros / Good Ol’ Boys crew really outdid ourselves by playing 63 holes over four days at Whistling Straits (host of the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships) and Erin Hills (future host of the 2017 US Open) in Kohler, Wisconsin.

Whistling Straights sits atop bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan with panoramic views that rival my 2013 golf experience at Torrey Pines. Erin Hills is nestled in between the corn fields of the Wisconsin heartland. These courses were challenging and really tested both your mental and physical toughness. The Good Ol’ Boys ran away with the title, but if I could have hit every shot as my caddy recommended then it would have been a different story…

1. Ski Trips

ski trip 2014

Karla and I made our way to Colorado in February and December for some skiing at Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Loveland.

We were very fortunate to have perfect conditions for both trips with fresh powder each day. We got absolutely dumped on with 22 inches of snow over 2 days during our trip in December. Karla has yet to see the sun and blue sky in Colorado so she is hoping for that in 2015 and I am hoping for more 22 inch powder days.

Honorable Mention

WWE Elimination Chamber at Target Center


I am not a big wrestling fan, but when 15 of my friends booked a suite to watch the WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event, I couldn’t say no. Daniel Bryan’s YES! chant really was pretty incredible.


Identifying Big Breakthrough Ideas

Marc Andreessen discusses how his venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz identifies big breakthrough ideas in the YouTube video below.

He explains that big breakthrough ideas are not predictable and may seem nuts, but so do all the crazy ideas that will never amount to anything. So how do you identify them? Andreessen Horowitz “tilts into the radical ideas” by having a prepared mind, which means reading broadly about as many things as you can. Then when they meet with an entrepreneur, they enter into a zen like state with perfect humility and ask the entrepreneur to teach them about their idea. He explains the reason really big breakthrough ideas appear nuts is because if they weren’t nuts than a big company would already have done it.

Andreessen contrasts this with the “top-down” approach of how other venture capital firms identify big ideas. He explains that the partners draw a map at the beginning of the year with boxes that represent product categories within each market. Then they go out and try to find the best company possible to put into each box. If they have names in each of the boxes at the end of the year then it was a good year.

I really like Andreeseen Horowitz’s approach to identifying big breakthrough ideas.


What’s a Good Sales Methodology for a Saas Company?

Mark Cranney of a16z recently published an excellent post titled “If SaaS Products Sell Themselves, Why Do We Need Sales?” In the post, Mark outlines his sales process to qualify a customer as answering three questions:

1. Why Buy Anything?

2. Why Buy From Your Company?

3. Why Buy Now?

Here’s his process:

These questions are also the first three phases in Mark Suster’s PUCCKA methodology:

Pain – Why buy anything?

Unique Selling Proposition – Why buy me?

Compelling Event – Why buy now?

Champion – Employee of your customer who is leading the internal “selling” effort

Key Players – Other stakeholders who need to sign off

Aligned Purchasing Process – Customer has budget, resources and approval process to make the buying decision

We use Mark Suster’s methodology at Zipnosis. I like the additional phases of Champion, Key Players and Aligned Purchasing Process because these can all be land mines that can kill a deal, so they should be qualified as quickly as possible before investing heavily into the deal.

If you are looking for a good sales methodology, you really can’t go wrong with the first three questions/phases identified by the Marks.


Can EMRs Move From Enterprise To Cloud?

Embed from Getty Images


Jonathan Bush, the CEO of athenahealth, was interviewed by Jim Cramer on Mad Money last night. Bush describes athenahealth as a cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR) that can take advantage of the network effects of having all their customers on the same version of software. Athenahealth’s biggest competitor, Epic, is an enterprise software EMR that deploys a unique piece of software or ‘island’ for each customer. The result of enterprise software is no portability of data or continuity of care from one implementation to another.

Bush goes on to say they have 5-6% of doctors on their platform. Athenahealth’s market cap is currently $4.72 Billion which means the back of the napkin EMR market estimate is roughly $100 Billion (noting that some of this is already built into their current valuation). The biggest challenge for athenahealth to get more of this pie is the switching cost creates a barrier for health systems and physician groups that have invested in $100 million Epic implementations.

So how do athenahealth and cloud-based EMRs win? Cramer touches on it in the interview which is I think it needs to be driven by patients demanding better portability of data and continuity of care across the spectrum of care delivery.

Hopefully we can see cloud-based EMRs catch fire like we have seen in the broader technology industry over the last 10 years because there are real benefits that can be realized by health systems/physicians and patients.


Healthcare Inflection Point

I have been reading technology blogs since 2009 and would see one or two healthcare posts every year. In the last two weeks, there has been an explosion of activity:

When VCs and major companies are paying attention to the healthcare market, it is safe to say we are entering a boom like we have never seen before. So what is driving all of this activity? I think there are two major drivers:

1. Obamacare regulations completely changed the rules of the game and where there is change there is opportunity.

2. Technology is finally infiltrating the healthcare fortress. If you look at where other industries are at, healthcare is 10-15 years behind. Patients are asking, why can’t I interact with my healthcare providers online like I can shop on Amazon or manage my finances online?

Needless to say, I am very excited for the future of healthcare.


Top Ten Experiences of 2013

This is my third annual post where I highlight my top ten experiences over the past year. I started doing it after I noticed a shift in society to value experiences over material goods. The number one experience in 2012 was spending time with friends and family. This year this would be a given for number one again, but I decided to pull it out of the list as all of my top ten experiences were with my friends and family.

10. Outhouse Races

Outhouse Races

I flew out to Nemo, South Dakota for the 8th annual Nemo 500 Outhouse Races to visit my buddy Jeff who is in Teach for America (TFA). TFA had won the last four Outhouse Races, so tensions ran high. They of course retained their title in 2013 and look for the unprecedented six-peat in 2014. And yes, this event is exactly as the name would suggest: people racing outhouses. Here is a video to give you an idea.

9. Wedding / Bachelor Party



I was asked to be a groomsman in my buddy Nick’s wedding in October. We had a lot of fun at Nick’s bachelor party in August where we went down to New Ulm, MN and toured the Schell’s brewery. It felt appropriate to wear captains hats, blazers and mustaches for the occasion, to the chagrin of the New Ulm locals. The morning of the wedding started off a little rough when Joe forgot to wear his purple socks, but it turned into a great day and celebration for Nick and his wife Lisa.

8. Skiing at Lake Tahoe


I was fortunate to go skiing in Tahoe for a second time in March. This time I went to the north shore and skied Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The spring skiing conditions convinced me even more that everyone in northern California is spoiled because they get to ski without the cold.

7. Finishing up my project in California


After nearly a year and half, my time traveling out to California came to an end. I flew 133,620 miles in 2013 and received Platinum status from Delta. The picture is of my last rental car, which was a great way to end my time in California.

6. Trip to Fort Meyers

Fort Meyers

My girlfriend, Karla, and I traveled out to Fort Meyers in March to play golf, watch the Twins and hang out at the beach. Highlights were Karla flying first class for the first time and hanging out with dolphins every day.

5. Golf Trip in Northern Minnesota

Golf Trip

After playing golf as a foursome regularly for the last six years, we finally scheduled a weekend golf trip to play 54 holes at the finest courses in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the Good Ol’ Boys defeated the Bash Bros in the final 18 on Sunday (related: this trip likely would have been ranked higher had we won). We are stepping up next year and have scheduled a trip to play 54 holes at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, which undoubtedly will be on the top ten list next year. The Good Ol’ Boys better watch out.

4. Camping Trip to North Shore / Canada


Karla and I spent 10 days camping around the north shore of Lake Superior. Highlights were a 16 mile hike to the “Top of the Giant”, trying to outrun a downpour at Gooseberry falls, a 79 degree hotel room in Duluth and not having a good map or working phones in Canada.

3. Playing Torrey Pines


Torrey 2

In June, I flew to Southern California for the weekend to visit some friends. I spent a night in LA and then drove down to San Diego to play Torrey Pines. We played the South Course, which is where Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate to win the 2008 U.S. Open in a 19 hole Monday playoff. The course is on bluffs overlooking the ocean just north of San Diego. It is beautiful and is my favorite course that I have played so far.

2. Summer Trip to Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Summer

Karla and I went to Lake Tahoe in May. This was my third time to Lake Tahoe and Karla’s first. We golfed, hiked and soaked up the lake views. Tahoe is awesome in the summer too which cemented it as one of my favorite locations in the world. We will definitely be going back.

1. Continuing my Entrepreneurial Journey

a. Starting a New Job at Zipnosis


I am really thankful for my experiences at Optum, which prepared me for my next endeavor: Zipnosis. I joined Zipnosis as the seventh employee in November. Zipnosis provides online diagnosis and treatment for common medical conditions. We regularly shop and do our banking online, so we should be able to access healthcare online too.

b. Starting ValetBlu


Two co-founders and I incorporated ValetBlu in September. ValetBlu allows you to get your dry cleaning done through the mail. I saw the value in this idea because when I was traveling I would need to give my dry cleaning to my parents to bring to the dry cleaners for me. We are currently testing the concept with target customers.


2013 was a great year. I traveled a lot for work and pleasure, but am looking forward to spending more time in Minnesota in 2014. Until next year.