Give the Policeman outside some Chocolate Almonds!

When I came home today from lunch, I saw a Sacramento Police car parked in front of my house. I’ve seen it before in the same area, so I presumed it was the same policeman. He usually looked like he was doing paperwork or taking a break or something.

I never looked closely.

Today, I parked a few spaces away and went inside my house. The thought crossed my mind to go say ‘hi’ or take him (or her) a small gift left over from Christmas. But I brushed off the thought as I took my shoes off and went up to my home office on the 3rd floor.

I got up to the 3rd floor and then thought, why not? There’s some weird thing that keeps us from doing simple, nice things sometimes. The upside would be to show generosity that’s unfortunately probably pretty unusual.

The downside would be… well, there is no downside.

So I went back downstairs and grabbed a bag of chocolate-covered almonds that were meant for someone else who never saw me over the holidays.

I wondered if the policeman outside would eat them or be suspicious. What a terrible thing to wonder, right? But I figured the package was sealed and new and I could always open it and eat some in front of him.

So I went outside, walked over to the police car, and said ‘hello’.

It was slightly odd, but it was pretty easy to say “Hey, I live right there, I think I’ve seen you around the area, and I thought it would be nice to give you some chocolate-covered almonds.” He was surprised but in a good way.

We ended up talking for maybe 10 minutes about the neighborhood and such.

I’m glad I did it.

It’s so easy to assume someone else will, or that it’s not my job, or it doesn’t matter, etc.

But I think if everyone does simple, little nice things for others every day or every week, it’s gotta add up to a better society for all of us.

And especially for a policeman – imagine the negativity he sees every day.

Pass it on!

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Fun Stuff & Business History



I co-founded Parallax in 1987 with my best friend. We were both fresh out of high school. We grew from a bedroom operation to a $3M/yr business.

I learned a TON at Parallax! We strugged for several years to find a market we fit, but once we did, were were able to "pivot" (today's term!) into that market and then execute on manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. We didn't even know the term "VC", so we *had* to make money! We took $20K from friends & family and had day jobs to bootstrap those early years.

As I left Parallax in Winter 1996, Radio Shack started carrying our BASIC Stamp computer.

I spent a few years trying to make money in the mobile-messaging space. Unfortunately, I learned lessons about how to spend all of my cash chasing a market that simply was not yet developed enough. I wish I had known about VC :-)! I closed up shop and put up a notice saying "goodbye" to my customers.

Which led to a San Francisco VC-funded startup in 1998. They were in the mobile-messaging space and were on the normal VC route as everyone else back then. Unfortunately, it didn't end pretty, but my friends and I learned a lot through the CEO, who was nice enough to tell us how things worked with his Board, the investors, etc.

I got laid off along with most other tech folks in SF in 2000. What does one do at a time like that? Start Quality Humans, Inc. as a way to offer my programming services to clients. QHI grew to employ 8 guys working around the USA.

My friend and QHI consultant, Tom Mornini, saw Ruby on Rails coming over the horizon, so we started offering Rails consulting. Within a few months, Tom noticed that Rails clients didn't want to worry about details; they just wanted to deploy their apps.

That led me to co-found Engine Yard in 2006 with Tom, Ezra Zygmuntowicz, and Jayson Vantuyl. We built a great business and then took VC after a year from Amazon, Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, and others. I served as CEO until Jan, 2009, when we started building an executive team who can take EY up a few more notches.

I reflected on major pain points we experienced at EY, and recurring billing was one of them. That led me to Chargify.

In Chargify, I joined great folks from Grasshopper. It's been very cool working with the team as we grow Chargify in 2011.


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