Southern Documentary Fund

I recently joined the Board of Directors for the Southern Documentary Fund.  

SDF's mission is to cultivate and preserve stories made in and about the South.  Over the past ten years, the organization has nurtured over a hundred projects - documentary films, radio programs, and photography.  SDF-support projects have screened at international film festivals, won critical acclaim, and garnered countless awards - including an Oscar shortlist designation.

As you might expect from an organization largely driven by documentary film, SDF has a very cool trailer:

I'm happy to be a part of the organization and look forward to many good things to come.

Risk, Focus, and Time

Argyle just turned 2 years old - plenty of details on the Argyle blog.

And I just skimmed this blog post via Hacker News - I'm turning 30 and I've produced no amazing art.

And I've had a few conversations with a friend that is wrestling with long-term career decisions.

Which got me in a reflective mood.

I'm still MILES away from the entrepreneurial finish line, but I've learned enough and have spent time with enough successful entrepreneurs to recognize that the recipe for big success is a mysterious cocktail of risk, focus, and time.  It takes all three ingredients...with a few incredibly rare exceptions to the rule.  And you're not gauranteed anything even if all of the ingredients are present.

The 30 year old that hasn't produced amazing art hasn't put in the time, nor has he focused his efforts.  My friend that is wrestling with the direction of her career is confused by risk - she is looking for the "certain" path to big money and a great life, which obviously doesn't exist.  Both stand to see enormous entpreneurial success in their careers, but only after they come to terms with the recipe.

It has taken Adam and me 2 years, incredible focus, and multiple leaps of faith to get Argyle this far.  And we still have light years to go.

Unintentionally Brilliant Entrepreneurial Decisions

I started writing this post a few months ago.  I'm wrapping up the draft tonight as a part of an effort to pick up the pace on The Boggs Blog.  I've been reading lots of good stuff from David Cummings, Chris Dixon, and others - so I feel compelled to offer my humble $.02 to the start-up blog echo chamber.


There are hundreds of highly influential inputs that factor into the "successful start-up" equation:  Can you build a product?  Can you build a team?  Will the dogs eat the dog food?  And so on.  

Founders face many challenging hurdles to jump and decisions to make in the very early days of a company.  And there are lots of blog posts about start-up advice that cover most of these issues.  But I haven't read as much about the underlying life decisions that put the founder in a position to start the company and address the issues in the first place.

Here are a few decisions that Kelly and I have made over the years that (somewhat unintentionally) put me in a position to start a start-up in Jan 2010:

Managing Debt

Kelly and I bought our first house in 2004 - back when redongo loans were the norm.  I was 23 and Kelly was 24 and neither of us made much money, but we were "approved" for a significant loan.  Thank goodness we were smart enough to realize that spending $300k on our first house was a bad idea.

Instead, we bought a very modest starter home in a nice neighborhood.  We still live in it and probably will for a while.  A brilliant decision

Managing Burn

Our personal monthly burn rate is minuscule.  Our mortgage is less than $800 per month.  We own Kelly's car and my truck out right - so no car payment.  My monthly student loan payment from business school is the equivalent of a small car payment.

If we were paying $1500 per month on a mortgage and another several hundred dollars per month on a car, then there is no way that I could have gone as long as I have without a market salary.  And if I *had* to work full-time to make ends meet, then there was no way that I could have started Argyle.

Simply put, your ability to start a company directly correlates with your ability to not get paid.

Working at a Start-Up

My first "real" job was at a start-up - I spent 4 years helping a company grow from a handful of employees and customers to 40+ employees and hundreds of customers by the time I left to go to business school.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I was working an apprenticeship that would pay enormous dividends later on.  Because my prior start-up experience, I've been able to loosely execute a well-known playbook at Argyle.  This is my first time as a CEO, but not my first rodeo.  Makes a huge difference.

2010 Resolutions

Last year's New Year's Resolutions and my efforts at keeping them were pretty weak:

  • Re-establish weighlifting routine.  (First 8 months - Fail.  Last 4 months - High Pass.)
  • Read more books.  (Low Pass)
  • Stop eating like a 14 year-old.  (Fail)

I'll blame the mixed results on the ambiguous goals, the transition from student to reality, the three weeks spent in Spain, and my Nintendo Wii.  Plus - I never really "published" my goals, so there wasn't really any public accountability. 

So - this year's resolutions are broadcast to the world and a little more measurable:

Bench press 280 lbs.  Most type-A, white, overly-educated, American males in my situation - approaching 30, cognizant of their waning athleticism...and expanding waistline - would opt for a triathalon or marathon as validation of their physical stamina, mental toughness, manhood, etc. 

Thanks to a lifetime of basketball, I don't have the knees or ankles for such a pursuit.  So, since I can't be a distance runner, I'm instead gunning for the ability to pulverize a distance runner in hand-to-hand combat.

Plus - I'm tired of being the wimp in my family.  My brother is enormous and strong as an ox.  My future-brother-in-law is also enormous and also strong as an ox.  My dad is pushing 53 and can still out-lift me.

I weigh 200 lbs, I have really long arms, and I can barely push ~210 lbs right now - which is (ahem!) more than I've ever lifted.  So 280 would be a pretty big win.  300 lbs is the stretch goal.

Read 1 novel per month.  This is the "watch less TV, play less Wii" resolution.

Note that Dan Brown, Twilight, Malcolm Gladwell brain candy shite doesn't count.  I'm talking about books that I can discuss with Ben Rogerson.  Books with depth and sub-text - not just plot.

I finished "The Human Stain" last night - a fantastic read on race and identity.  I have two more Philip Roths on my nightstand.

Be Resolute.  This one is admittedly fuzzy, but certainly more personal and more meaningful.  Details forthcoming in another post at some point.  I'm going to play some Wii before going to bed.  :)

Hadron Colliders, Poverty, and Priorities

I'm guessing you've read about the Large Hadron Collider, a $9B project funded by CERN.  If not - here is the latest.

I'm guessing that you may have also read The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs...or maybe have a general awareness that 1/6 of the world lives on less than $1.25 per day...or at least have seen a Sally Struthers commercial.

Frankly, I'm having a hard time reconciling the 2.

It isn't that I'm opposed to research, science, seeking the truths that may unravel the complex questions of our existence, etc.  On the contrary, I can think of few other causes more worthwhile than applied scientific of which happens to be ending one of the most pressing and solvable issues of our time.

I'm currently about 1/4 of the way through Sachs' book, hence the departure from my typically pointless programming.  I've felt a mix of emotions - mainly embarrassment - with every page I've turned.  I have such relative wealth and opportunity to the developing word, yet I squander so much of my time and resources on the remarkably insignificant.

Maybe I'll get my act together and figure out a way to do something about it.  Maybe the Big Bang Machine will lead to world-changing discoveries...or maybe it won't.

Either way, I can't help but think that there are better ways to invest our time, money, and minds.

Plugging away...

Despite the lack of activity on The Boggs Blog, summertime is chugging along. Some things have ended up about like I expected:

- The online media start-up I'm working with is showing promise.
- I continue to try to plug myself into the local technology entrepreneurial scene.
- I'm not very productive working from home, but getting better.
- Our backyard gardens are awesome - more herbs and veggies than we can eat...
- Lots of good down time with Kelly, Tyler Dog, and friends.
- I started sweating around June 1 and haven't stopped since.

...while others haven't. Namely - getting laid off from an internship. Yes. I was laid off...from a 10 week part-time internship.

Of the many insights I've gathered - and will probably continue to gather - from the experience, these two are near the top of the list:

1.) Do your due diligence before accepting a job - no matter how short the contract.
2.) Be wary of joining companies that recently botched a $30MM acquisition.

I feel like I've done a pretty good job about keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing.  As the "I have an ulterior motive for buying your lunch..."conversation unfolded, I very quickly decided that I wasn't going to be a jerk or a whiner baby. I laughed openly about the situation, explained the irony, etc. that caused my laughter, asked some thoughtful, candid questions, and left on great terms with my supervisor - whom I actually really liked.

I certainly don't harbor any grudge toward the company - these things happen. Integrian is a good company with good people and exciting technologies - it's just facing a tough market in a tightening economy.

Plus, I'm pretty sure that I was one of many lay-offs company-wide. So there are other people with children, responsibilities, etc. (read: not part-time 10 week interns) that are probably in a pretty tight spot right now...

I've filled the spare time with more work on the other venture and accelerated efforts to find a new solution to a problem...or a latent problem to solve...or any company/idea that gets me beyond the first couple steps of consideration. It's slow going, but steady and strangely exciting.

On an unrelated note, my brother Evan comes home from 6 months of military training this weekend. I haven't seen him since Christmas, so I'm looking forward to the family time...and sucker-punching Evan while we wrestle in my parents' swimming pool...and then running away because he's a much larger/stronger man than I...

Two Good Reads

I flew to California for an interview this weekend and finished 2 really good, really depressing books, American Pastoral and Everyman - both by Philip Roth.

It was an absolute pleasure to read something completely unrelated to school, despite the fact that I felt awful after finishing the last page of each.

I've got a few interview-related stories floating around in my head that I look forward to posting as soon as I have a job.

I've also soft-launched another blog that I think might be a $100 idea that will actually earn me $100.  You might be able to find it with a thoughtful Google search.  There isn't much to see yet, so I don't suggest looking too hard...

San Francisco

Kelly and I are in San Francisco for a business/pleasure trip.  We wandered around yesterday and have all day today and Saturday for fun.  Tomorrow, I have interviews with 2 high roller Internet software companies...and I'm nervous as hell.

We're staying with friends Alison and Fabian just a few blocks away from Haight St.  Their place is unbelievably nice and located in a great neighborhood.  Per Fabian, Craig Newmark (the "Craig" of Craigslist) lives in the area and frequents a nearby coffee shop.  Kelly and I are dropping by in a few minutes in hopes of a sighting...

Other than that, we have no plans for the day.

Positioning Strategy

I had a couple internship interviews this week. Surprisingly, the fact that I've listed "" on my resume only came up once. Even more surprisingly, I was caught a little off-guard when it did and the interviewer asked "Why do you write a blog?" and "What do you write about?"

I eventually put forth adequate answers - "because I love to write" and "whatever comes to mind - usually technology or whatever MBA silliness I enjoyed during the week."

This morning, however, I put some thought into the questions and came up with this:

Boggs Blog Venn Diagram

So I guess that is the positioning strategy for The Boggs Blog...or maybe it's just a venn diagram that illustrates 3 blogs I enjoy and a overly self-congratulatory categorization of their intersection. (I really wanted to make a venn diagram...)

If you don't read Fred Wilson (VC, technology, music), The Sneeze (humor, silliness), and Basketbawful (NBA hoops, humor), you should give them a look.

NOGA Wins, Worlds Collide

North Gaston High School, my alma mater, defeated Asheville to earn a bid in the NC high school football championship game.  My dad called me after the game - it evidently came down to a very exciting last play in which the Wildcats held the Asheville Whatevers on a 2 point conversion.  Go NOGA!

It's funny that we won because North Gaston football has been atrocious for as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, my friend Kenneth and I pal'ed around during games and laughed about how badly the Wildcats were getting stomped...that is when we weren't playing pick-up football in the open space by the home stands.  I guess things change when a team has a player like AJ Blue - North Gaston's star QB that has scholarship offers from UNC and Illinois.

It's even funnier that we won because all of Dallas, North Carolina will pack up to make the trip up to Chapel Hill for the championship game next weekend.  Much of my Saturday will be spent at KFBS for the VCIC, but I really hope that I can at least see part of the game.  I suspect that it will be pretty fun to catch up with old hometown acquaintances in my new hometown.

I Am The Nutcracker

This has been another week that has caused me to (jokingly) question why I decided to subject myself to the endless punishment that has become my MBA experience.

(I say "jokingly" because I self-select into the stress with all of the extra-curricular jive - case competitions, committees, advisory boards, and such.)

At the moment, however, I couldn't be happier.  Kelly is picking me up in a few minutes and we're going to the Ronald McDonald house in Chapel Hill.  I'm dressing up in a Nutcracker costume and we're going to give away tickets to the Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker performances at UNC Memorial Hall this weekend.

My stress level normalized the moment she suggested the idea.

There are a lot of things more important than my finance homework...and this is one of them.

Prime Time Week

This is a seriously prime time week for me.

On Friday, I'll participate in the Finals Match Day for the Carolina Venture Fellows program. Essentially, I'm competing for the opportunity to interview and possibly land a summer internship at a local venture capital firm.

Match Day is a bit of a cattle call. VCs from several local firms will be on campus and herded into a room. The finalists - there are 10 of us - will each get 5 minutes to give a pitch to the room. No notes, no slides, no handouts. While some are worried about the rules of the pitch, I think that they actually play in my favor...

After the song and dance, the VCs rank whom they wish to interview and we rank the firms with which we wish to interview. Once the matchmaking magic happens, there are 4 15-minute interview slots lined up back-to-back. Kinda like speed dating for an internship, right? (Obviously, one would arrange for subsequent interviews if all goes well on Match Day. )

I feel like I have a pretty good shot. I've already met VCs at my 3 targeted firms and feel like I'm differentiated enough from the other (very qualified and very smart) finalists such that I'll be able to make a pretty compelling case to the firms that focus on early-stage technology investments.

Immediately after I'm done with the Venture Fellows process, I'll hit the road for Day 2 of the Darden Innovation Challenge in Charlottesville, VA. My team has prepared marketing concepts that we'll pitch to executives from American Express and Hilton. I like what we've got and think that we stand a reasonable chance at taking down the $20K prize.

(I broke my snare drum this weekend, so I need the money...)

Word on the street is that Google is sponsoring the event after party. Should be cool to hang out with some real, live Googlers.

To top it off, I have a Macroeconomics mid-term and Marketing case brief due this week as well...a handful of lunch meetings...and an IM basketball game...and the Heels' season opener.

As much as I tend to whine to Kelly about being busy, I hope that I can continue to make forthcoming weeks just as action-packed.

FriendFeed, Madden, Etc.

So Fall Break is almost over and here's what I have to show for it:

- I've gotten extremely/pathetically good at Madden '08 on PlayStation 2.

I like to reward myself for doing something well, in this case finishing finals, by un-boxing my PS2 and regressing back to the "13 year-old Eric playing Tecmo Bowl for 6 straight hours" days. It usually goes like this:

  1. I buy a video game at Target, usually a basketball or football game.

  2. I play it every spare minute of the day for ~2/3 days.

  3. I become an absolutely unstoppable force in the game.

  4. I realize that it is pathetic that I've played so much that I've gotten so good.

  5. I never play the game again.

I've realized my supremacy (Step 3) and the incredible amounts of time I've wasted to achieve it (Step 4), I'm just not quite ready for Step 5. Perhaps after a few more games...

- I finally got my invitation to beta test FriendFeed. The service is quite handy and more or less exactly what I thought/hoped it would be. Essentially, its a "here's what I'm doing" app that aggregates my activity across numerous web applications (Flickr, LastFM, NetFlix, etc.) and spits it out as a webpage and RSS feed. (Think Facebook news feed for activites beyond Facebook...)

The company was started by a handful of ex-Googlers and will probably pick up some (more) buzz fairly soon.

If you're interested, here's my feed.

- I rediscovered my love for making music with friends. My family was in town this past weekend, so my brother and I rocked out like we usually do. We played "Foxy Lady" so loud that everyone else in the house went outside.

Charlie came over yesterday and we sang a number of tunes together. It's such fun to sing along with a good singer and to unexpectedly discover that you have so much in common with someone you've only recently met.

- I watched the Heels nearly eek out a big win over the Lamecocks with Kelly, my dad, my brother, Andrew, Dave and my numerous other tailgating dudes. The Heels are so close to becoming a relevant football team again...

- I watched "Thank You For Smoking".  Easily the funniest movie I've seen in months...

- I made inroads on the summer internship search. (No details that I can publicly divulge.)

- I realized that having nothing to do gets boring fast.

In Search of the Summer

I can't believe how quickly the summer disappeared. Just a week or two ago, it was 110 degrees outside, school had just gotten underway, and I was still buzzing from the post Italy and China afterglow.

A round of midterms and a few football games later, it's autumn. It is still warm outside, but "pleasant" warm instead of "gates of hell" warm. Instead of enjoying the novelty of being in school again, I'm knee-deep in the stay up late, wake up early, can't put it down drudgery of actually being a student.

(Not that said drudgery isn't both extremely manageable and enjoyable, by the way.)

Despite the significant task at hand and the impending doom of finals, everyone here - me included - already seems amazingly fixated on next summer. Nearly all of my classmates are eagerly running the company presentation gauntlet in search of the ideal summer internship. Everyone shows up in suits and spends their lunch and dinner time listening to whatever it is J&J, GE, Deloitte, McKinsey, Lehman Brothers, etc. have to say. Some are going to 2 and 3 of these presentations a day. (Insanity if you ask me.)

I haven't attended any of these presentations (and probably won't), but that doesn't mean that I'm not hiking my trek toward summer internship Shangri La. I've got a number of irons in the fire and, excluding a Kenan-Flagler sponsored VC fellowship program, all of them are individually driven and outside of KFBS' career services machine.

It is mildly frustrating that I don't have the institutional support of my classmates.  However, I must admit that I enjoy the underdog/individual effort aspect of my internship search, as well as the freedom from the company presentation grind. Plus, my internship search is a great primer for the job search that I'll start this time next year.

As much as possible/appropriate, I'll update The Boggs Blog with my search progress and lessons learned.

Kelly Lets The Truth Slip

Because my hairline economy is mired in an unfortunate recession, I've started keeping my head buzzed.

I've gotten a little fuzzy and Kelly has been begging to give me a fresh clipping, so I let her cut my hair tonight. When she finished cutting, she cheerfully exclaimed:
There! Now you look more like David Beckham.

I was not amused.

Home Again

I'm back from 3 weeks in China - the land of screeching brakes, oppressive heat, staring people, dirty streets, deranged taxi drivers, $3 feasts, over-zealous street hawkers, sprawling modernity, ubiquitous poverty, and other varied cultural expressions the likes of which I've never seen.

Oh yeah, and there's the Great Wall and some other stuff, too.

Unfortunately, the People's Internet would not allow reliable access to, so I (obviously) could not update my blog while I was away. Thus, we've got a lot of catching up to do here at The Boggs Blog, including:

- Long overdue recaps from my and Kelly's travels through Italy, by far the highlight of my summer.
- Posts from my travels through China, which will most likely be excerpts from my journal.
- Thoughts on my impending matriculation to Kenan-Flagler.
- Catching up on the usual meaningless tripe that I somehow allow myself to publish here.

More on the way soon.

We're Back...

...and I'm tired.

I just uploaded some of the best photos from our trip. Take a look when you have a few minutes. You can start here and follow the trip chronologically or you can browse at your leisure.

All in all, the trip was the best I've ever taken. It was all at once adventurous, educational, inspiring, and relaxing. (Well, it was relaxing except for returning our rental car in pedestrian and scooter infested downtown Florence and the 3AM cell phone calls from my friends that didn't know that we were in Italy.)

I plan to highlight some of the photos and write more about our adventures over the next few days, so stay tuned.


Apologies for the lull in Boggs Blog action.  As much of my constituency already knows, Kelly and I are in the midst of a 17 day jaunt through Italy. 

Because I'm paying 2.7 Euros per hour here, I'll keep it quick and list some of the highlights:

- Jet lag worked in our favor on our first morning.  Both Kelly and I awoke at the crack of down and decided to just start our day at 6AM local time.  We took the metro to Vatican City and enjoyed a fairly empty St. Peter's square and Basillica.  Lots of good photos.

The place was PACKED a few hours later.

- Our 2nd night in Rome, we walked up on a barricaded street.  One of the many nuns wandering around the street that evening told Kelly that the Holy Father would soon make his way up the street as a part of the Corpus Christi tradition. 

Sure enough - 30 minutes or so later, the massive papal procession rolls up with the Pope bringing up the rear, riding on a platform built into the bed of what looked like a 70s model Chevrolet pick up truck.  (Not joking.)  He rolled by about 10 feet in front of Kelly and me. 

Sadly - he wasn't wearing a funny hat.

- 3 days in the Cinque Terre.  Google Image Search results will have to suffice until I can post my photos.  Best scenery and best food of the trip so far.

- On our first night in Florence, Kelly and I stumbled upon the BeBop Music Club for America Rock Tribute night.  Good times - no cover, decent beer, and the surreal experience of watching a band of 5 Italianos blast GNR and Bon Jovi covers.  "You give low-ve a bad name." and "Reminds me of childhood mammaries." were a few of the lyrics hilariously lost in translation.  Interestingly, the song lyrics and our conversation with Giovanni, one of the managers, were the only words I heard spoken in English the entire night.

- Unlike the US, cheap wine it Italy is actually pretty good - especially when consumed heavily, with cheese, in public squares or scenic vistas.

- I've grown an Italian beard and both Kelly and I have tried to dress so as to blend in.  (No fanny packs, tennis shoes, or baseball caps here.)  As such, locals have greeted us speaking Italian on numerous occassions - at the train station, in shops, etc. We're so cool!

Sadly - we quickly blow our cover when we just smile politely and say "Non parlo Italiano."

That'll have to do for now.  We're in Florence for 3 more days - including day trips to Pisa and Siena (via rental car) and a tour of the Uffizzi Gallery.  Then we're off to Venice and then back to Rome to wrap up our trip.