New Year. New Beginnings

I know every year is filled with resolutions and empty promises on the ideas of making you or the world around you better. I actually stopped making “new year resolutions” a long time ago when I realized that it became a chore of simply reiterating the same thing I have been saying from years before. Kinda pointless.

This year is different. I didn’t make a resolution to do something, I actually started to do something. I looked at 2014 with new eyes.

New Years Eve is also my birthday. This year I turn 40. As I look back on what I remember of my 40 years, there are so many things I wish I had done differently and so many things I would not change for the world. This year feels different for me. It feels like a year of new beginnings and new adventures.

To ensure I don’t miss anything, I have created a Wunderlist of what I have committed to do. Not just this year, but for at least the next 40 years.

My Life Wunderlist (just a sampling. not my complete list)

  • Drama free - I have been surrounded by drama to often in my life. Not any more. I will do whatever it takes to remove myself from dramas.
  • Ideas to paper - I had kept a Moleskine of my ideas since 2008. For some reason I stopped 12/16/2012 (the last dated page). There is something about pencil to paper that is timeless and my ideas flow best when it is in that format. I have cracked the Moleskine again and let the ideas start flowing again.
  • Publish a video game - I have always loved video games. It is what made me fall in love with computers and technology. I created my first basic strategy game for my younger brother on my C64 when I was 13. There is no nothing else like bringing your imagination to life in such an interactive way.
  • Own a drone - done
  • Complete at least 1 GORUCK event a year
  • Walk both my daughters down the aisle - when you have 2 daughters under the age of 3, you realize that staying healthy is not about you anymore.

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It has been almost a week since Rahul Sood announced the creation of Microsoft Ventures to build, innovate and grow the startup ecosystem. Since then, my twitter, LinkedIn and email have been buzzing with questions about what the hell I do now.

I am not going to go into all the details that Rahul already described, but let me describe my role briefly.

I am on the fund side of Microsoft Ventures. I care for North America looking for early-stage startups that are ready for a strategic corporate seed investment. I am not looking for startups that are pitching an idea or are thinking about “doing a startup” part-time. While the financial investment might be early seed size, the commitment I am making once that investment is made, to bring the unparalleled routes to market that Microsoft uniquely offers, is priceless.

Here’s how I describe what I do to family and friends not versed in startups: I try to help great teams become great businesses. How? Depends on the need. Because every startup is unique. Maybe it’s funding that propels them to the next level. Or tech enablement by accessing our deep domain expertise. Perhaps it’s a matter of tapping into the vast partners ecosystem Microsoft has cultivated over the years.  When they still look at me with a blank stare, I say “Have you ever watched Shark Tank? I am one of the sharks but not as mean.” (Actually, Mark is not mean)

The team at Microsoft Ventures is small compared to Microsoft businesses which is what I love. This allows us to be agile and move faster than most. It is also filled with some of the brightest minds I have ever worked with at Microsoft. This combination is addicting.

So even if your startup is not ready to be funded directly by Microsoft Ventures, the good news is this: Microsoft has unified all efforts to engage entrepreneurs by creating a single entry-point that is Microsoft Ventures. With enhanced offerings, a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and investors, and accelerators around the world, Microsoft Ventures is Microsoft’s bold commitment to entrepreneurs everywhere and at every stage of the journey.

I’m looking forward to going on the journey with you.