Texas Med Center 5k 2011 Race Report 3/3: What Now

This post is the third of three that detail my running of a 5k last weekend.

With one of my annual goals accomplished so early, I have two options: 1. check it off the list and rest on my laurels for the rest of the year, or 2. adjust the goal and challenge myself to continue improving. As I did in the middle of the race, I choose option 2 here as well. The new goal is < 20:30, shaving off roughly 6 seconds per km. This won't "just happen," though, so following are my thoughts on how to realize this goal.

First I must look back at this race and ponder why I was able to achieve a time a full minute lower than the best time of my recent 5k training runs. There are a few possible explanations: 1. Adrenaline / competition brings about higher performance. This is certainly true, but I don't think it alone can account for a full minute's improvement. 2. Being rested and well nourished / hydrated brings about higher performance. Again true, again inadequate to account for the full improvement. 3. My training runs aren't intense enough. I think this may be the real crux of the issue and it will be addressed in subsequent runs.

Looking forward, I believe the path to my new 5k goal is training each of my energy systems. The human body generally uses three energy systems to do work:

1. The ATP-PC system, which anaerobically uses the ATP stored in cells for quick bursts of high-intensity energy lasting up to 10 seconds. This is the system used when sprinting.
2. The Lactic Acid (fast glycolysis) system, which anaerobically converts glycogen stored in the muscles and liver to glucose, which is broken down into pyruvic acid, which provides slower bursts (up to 60 seconds) of moderate-intensity energy. This is the system used when running 400m.
3. The Aerobic (slow glycolysis and lypolysis) system, which aerobically breaks down glucose (faster) or fat (slower) to provide long durations of low-intensity energy. This is the system used when running distance.

Even though a 5k is pretty high-intensity, my understanding is that you are still using the Aerobic system to produce energy most of the time. By training your Aerobic system, you are able to increase its efficiency and ability to supply energy at higher intensities / speeds. Before I started running, a 4:20 / km pace would probably have "winded" me so quickly that I couldn't have kept it up for even an entire km. This is because my Aerobic system would not have been able to produce energy quickly enough for that speed, forcing my body to rely on the anaerobic systems, which would have depleted quickly. After training, though, I can now sustain a 4:20 pace for at least several km because my Aerobic system has adapted and is able to provide enough energy.

My training thus far has really been focused on building up my Aerobic system. As illustrated above, this goal has been achieved and I will continue to train my Aerobic system with runs of varying pace, incline walks, and other low-intensity activities. Additionally, though, I now need to train up my anaerobic systems.

I believe (although I welcome advice from much more experienced runners / coaches) that the "best" way to run a race, especially races of longer distances, is in three phases:

(0. Prepare)
1. Aerobic: maintain a pace that is supported by the Aerobic system for the vast duration of the race (For long distances, this can include refueling during the race so that the faster glycolysis can be used instead of the slower lipolysis.)
2. Anaerobic 1: pick up the pace for the last 60 seconds, using the Lactic Acid system to get the most out of every last glycogen molecule stored in muscles / liver
3. Anaerobic 2: sprint all out for the final 10 seconds, using the ATP-PC system to get the most out of every last ATP molecule floating around
(4. Recover)

I don't believe I'm getting enough out of my phases 2 and 3 right now. During a race I am covering 275m in the final 60 seconds. However, when rested I can cover 400m in 60 seconds. During a race I am covering 55m in the final 10 seconds. However, when rested I can cover 90m in 10 seconds.

This discrepancy is significant. Let's say I'm running a 4:20 Aerobic pace. My current final km comes out to 10 seconds (final 55m) + 60 seconds (previous 275m) + 2 minutes 54 seconds (previous 670m @ 4:20 / km) == 4:04. If instead I hit my "potential" numbers described above, my final km would come out to 10 seconds (final 90m) + 60 seconds (previous 400m) + 2 minutes 13 seconds (previous 510m @ 4:20 / km) == 3:23. That shaves 41 seconds off my total time - yowza! I could reach my new goal without changing my pace if only I could hit my "potential" during the "end game" of a race.

I believe I'm failing to run fast enough at the end because 1. I'm still using some Lactic Acid system during the first phase of my run (including the too-fast starts) and 2. My anaerobic systems are just out of shape, having not been trained intentionally in some time. 1 can be addressed with aerobic training and 2 can be addressed with interval training, sprints, and high-intensity workouts. I believe that, if I can address these two issues, I can shave 30+ seconds off my race times without modifying my pace.

Note that this assumes that one can still access the full power of the ATP-PC system after fully depleting the Lactic Acid system. I'm not sure if this is true or not. My experience in this last race seemed to indicate that there was still ATP-PC juice left even as Lactic Acid gas was running out, but perhaps there were other (e.g. psychological) factors at play as well?

I have three 10k races to run over the next six weeks so I intend to test out this training and race running strategy.


Texas Med Center 5k 2011 Race Report 2/3: The Race

This post is the second of three that detail my running of a 5k last weekend.

I got off to a nice pace (I thought!) with the balls of my feet lightly springing me forward and level of exertion in a good range. When I looked down at my Garmin, though, it said I was on a 3:30 / km pace! Yikes, way too fast! Because I didn't trust the GPS as much when surrounded by all those tall hospitals in the Houston Medical Center, I didn't let up too much at first.

After more than a minute, though, I decided to pull back a bit. I was frustrated with myself for falling prey to the classic "rookie" mistake: firing out of the starting gate too quickly, spurred on by adrenaline and the paces of the other, much faster runners who start at the front of the pack. I just hoped that it wouldn't kill my ability to keep up the pace later on in the race. Still, I was pretty optimistic; I had made this mistake in every one of my competitive races to date and it had yet to really hold me back. Plus, I was well rested and nourished, so I tried to adjust to the right pace and keep on trucking.

I finished the first km in 4:01 (WAY ahead of pace) but my heart rate was only at 166 BPM, almost exactly where I would have expected it to have been if running my pace, so I was optimistic that I had gained 21 seconds without it costing me much. If I could just stick to my plan for the rest of the race, I would kill my previous PR.

I finished my second km in 4:13 (Still significantly under pace) and my heart rate was doing just fine at 173 BPM. Just as had happened during my 10k PR run at last year's Capitol 10k in Austin, it began dawning on me that, 30 seconds ahead of my 21:40 race plan as I was, I could actually break 21:00 (my 5k goal for 2011). I adjusted my race plan in stride; I would now need to run my final three km at a 4:19 pace and get the most I could get out of my final kick. I was feeling good, though, and this all seemed very possible. By this point I was feeling very overdressed, so I rolled up the sleeves of my long-sleeve mock and pressed on.

I finished my third km in 4:19 and my heart rate was just 176 BPM - excellent, keep on going! Toward the end of the fourth km was a 180-degree turn. Last year I slowed down and hugged the turn tight to ensure that I ran the shortest distance possible. The slow down felt good but the subsequent speed up was hard. This year instead I decided to swing out wide and keep up my momentum / pace. I'm not sure what the best practice is in this situation, but I think it helped me.

I finished my fourth km in 4:20 and my heart rate was still down at 177 BPM - I knew I had plenty of gas left for my final km. By this point in the race we were all very spread out and, after I passed a few runners on that slingshot turn, there really wasn't anyone around me. There was someone about 30m ahead of me. From what I could tell, he was significantly younger and lighter than I was, so I became fixated on him as my must-beat target. This was just the motivation I needed to push me through this last km. Slowly I gained ground on him, but I made sure not to press too hard. If I could just close to 10m or less, I was sure I could leave him in my dust on the final kick.

As we approached the final turn, I pulled up even with this temporary arch nemesis of mine and my watch informed me that we were at 4.75 km. I had made it here in 3:11 - a 4:16 pace - and my heart rate was 180 BPM. My total race time at this point was 20:04 so I could beat 21:00 if I could just execute my 55 second 250m final kick. My nemesis, unfortunately, was all gassed out and offered no competition after I passed him, so I had to look inward for the motivation on this final stretch.

I pushed forward with what felt like everything I had. Looking at the data now, it appears that I temporarily sustained a 3:05 pace but that this gradually slowed down to about 3:30. As I came into the last 50m, though, I could see the clock ticking away at 20:54, which helped me find that extra gear and fly into an all out sprint (~2:30 pace, according to the Garmin). One of the advantages of being the only runner around is that the crowd around the finish line has no one else to cheer for, so you know they're cheering for you. As I gritted down for this final sprint, the crowd reacted positively and the cheers grew louder, which really helped.

The final 250m took me 54 seconds (average heart rate: 183 BPM). Interestingly, my heart rate had been climbing to 186 during the first 200m but then, when I went into the full sprint, it dropped to 180, only increasing again once I slowed down after the finish line. I suspect this has something to do with the transition from the lactic acid energy system to the ATP-PC energy system, but I'm not sure exactly why / how.

My official race time was 20:58 - a new PR and under my 2011 5k goal. I finished #48 of 961 runners (95th percentile), #39 of 447 men (91st percentile), and #2 of 49 in my age group - men 30-34 (96th percentile). After the race there was a great after party. Lots of good music, natural food, sports drinks, and, of course, beer! After official race times were posted, they stopped the music to give out awards. Since they gave awards to the top three finishers in each age group, I won an award for the first time!!! What a thrill! It must have been a pretty weak / sparse competitive field, but I'll take it!


Texas Med Center 5k 2011 Race Report 1/3: Preparation

This post is the first of three that detail my running of a 5k last weekend.

The third entry is Texas Med Center 5k 2011 Race Report 3/3: What Now

Saturday I ran my first competitive race of the year, the Texas Med Center 5k. Last year I PRed in this race with a time of 21:43, thus meeting my 2010 goal of running a 5k race under 22:00. This year my training runs had been coming in around 22:00 so I didn't think this would be the race at which I would meet my 2011 goal of running a 5k race under 21:00. However, I did think I could PR again so I set the following goals for this race:

1. PR
2. Chip time < 21:40
3. Run final km faster than any other kms
4. Run final 250m < 0:55

To accomplish these goals I planned to run my first four kms at a 4:22 pace. The fifth km would be at a 4:22 pace until the final 250m, at which point I would kick it. This kick should result in a 54-56 second final quarter km rather than the 66 second quarter km that would result from staying on the 4:22 pace.

As I didn't think I could push the pace much lower than 4:22 for the rest of the race and keep it up, this last kick was going to be especially crucial - the 10-12 seconds it would shave off my time would be the difference between setting a new Personal Record and failing to do so. I knew from my training that I had the capability to execute such a kick so I turned to nutrition to ensure that my body would have all the resources it needed on race day.

I consulted with the experts at The SHOP about my race week nutrition program. They refreshed my memory about the different energy systems involved in such a race (aerobic, using oxygen and fat for most of the race, then anaerobic lactic acid using glycogen for the final kick). In a race as short as a 5k there clearly wasn't a need to engage in carbo loading (the efficacy of which has been questioned anyway) but I would still want to ensure that my body came into the race with as much glycogen stored as possible to fuel me for that last kick. We also modified my daily breakfast a bit for more balance of carbs, protein, and fat, resulting in me feeling fuller and more energetic throughout the rest of my days.

The day before the race I rested, hydrated, and drove along the race course with my GPS on so I could visualize the km markers and get a feel for the changes in elevation (which were almost non-existent). We attended a Symphony performance that night (a whole evening of Ravel!), which kept me out a bit later than optimal but also ensured that I was relaxed when I went to bed.

When I woke up at 5 I really had to go to the bathroom, so I knew that I was well hydrated - but not so much so that it had woken me up in the night - resulting in good, uninterrupted rest. I usually get up at 6 but I like to start race day breakfast early just to ensure that digestion has plenty of time to complete - I never want to be blindsided by indigestion in the middle of a race and far away from the nearest bathroom!

Race start time was 8:30 and I arrived a little later than intended, about 8:10. It then took awhile to park, which stressed me out a bit. Note for next year: arrive by 8! The outside temperature was about 36 degrees F but rising quickly due to the clear, sunny skies. At this temperature (and based on memories of last year's race, which was COOOOOOOOOLD and windy / wet), I arrived really bundled up: Under Armour Cold Gear leggings + long sleeve mock, shorts, gloves, wool cap, and - of course - my Vibram Five Fingers Bikila running "shoes." As I got out of my parked car (T - 10 min until start, ahhh!), I could feel that, regardless of what the thermometer said, it was way too warm for all that insulation! I ditched the cap and gloves and jogged to the start line.

While waiting for the starting gun, I could tell that there were many walkers / slow runners far forward (In larger races they are staged to start later than the competitive runners.) so I made sure to line up pretty close to the starting line. After the gun went off, it was only two seconds or so until I crossed the starting line and my timing chip registered that I was "in play." I hit the "start" button on my Garmin ForeRunner 405 CX (GPS / heart rate monitor watch) and I was off!


Green Job Creation is the Wrong Argument

A friend of mine asked for my response to an article titled The False Promise of Green Jobs. The article contends that "green" governmental policies will not result in net creation of jobs because

A. these new green jobs will be offset by job losses in the "conventional" energy sector and
B. green energy is more expensive than conventional energy so its increased costs will cut overall productivity and spending.

In response to A, all I can do is wonder if anyone really bemoans the rise of the IT sector (and IT jobs) at the expense of, say, the typewriter industry. Clinging desperately to obsolete industries may prop up employment in the short-term, but it ensures a decline in competitiveness in the long term.

In response to B, I can't disagree more with the notion that "green" energy is more expensive than "conventional" energy. We currently externalize the environmental, health, and social costs of producing energy "conventionally," such that the price the consumer sees is much lower than reality. Our governments also provide significant tax breaks and incentives to conventional energy companies, which allow them to sell energy so cheaply while still generating record-breaking profits. This is all part of an implicit contract we have that guarantees citizens access to limitless, incredibly subsidized energy. Capture the true costs of conventional energy and take away all of the big corporate incentives, and I think you will see a very different cost comparison result.

Furthermore, this author is very narrowly only considering green energy generation when making claims about costs. However, he neglects the companies making great advances in greener energy distribution, storage, and efficiency, all of which make energy - regardless of its source - much less expensive. My company, for example, reduces a business's energy costs 25%, freeing up capital that can be used for, say, employment.

The biggest fallacy of all in this article, though, is the focus on job creation. If a government is pursuing a policy in the name of creating jobs simply for the sake of creating jobs, well, that's socialism. This isn't a big surprise coming from a Scandinavian (where governments are generally relatively socialist) author. In the US, though, where we claim to be capitalists, green businesses should be supported not because they charitably create jobs, rather because they make sound economic sense, increase energy security, and help us operate as a much more robust, independent, efficient society.

My green business has created only two green jobs so far and we plan to create many more. However, policy arguments focused on green job creation alone are totally missing the point.


2011 Goals

Last year I defined many yearly goals and, as I described in my 2010 wrap-up, I accomplished many of them. Looking back at the system for goal definition and tracking I set up, though, I've found several areas for improvement.

Most notably, I need to focus more on measuring outcomes, not just on the ways of attaining those outcomes. Most of my goals last year were very "tactical," e.g. "accomplish XYZ each week" and I lost sight in some cases of the bigger picture. This year I am defining higher-level strategic objectives first and revisiting them frequently to check whether or not meeting my tactical goals is helping me achieve them.

My objective here is to maintain positive, engaged relationships with my friends and family - as well as to meet new interesting, positive people. Last year I tried to quantify my success in this area by tracking how many times I met up with others - physically or virtually. I easily achieved my targets but I'm not sure there is necessarily a correlation between such activities and meeting my objective. This year I will measure success in this area in a more qualitative way: by tracking my feelings. I will periodically check how good I feel about my personal relationships. To start, I am trying out a website called Mercury App for this tracking. If I really wanted to take it to the next level, I would track how my friends and family felt about their relationships with me too - but I'm not ready to impose that on others just yet!


1. Body Composition: I'm beginning the year at 39 pounds fat and 156 pounds lean. I'd like to finish the year at < 30 pounds fat and more than 160 pounds lean. There are two components to this objective:

Lose fat: To lose fat I am aiming to create a daily caloric deficit of 250 calories. Getting adequate activity for calorie burn has traditionally not been much of an issue; my major challenge has been in restricting caloric intake. Although I generally eat healthy, natural, good foods, I eat a lot of them, sometimes when I'm not even hungry. I like the way food tastes or I use it for procrastination or the obsessive-compulsive side of me just wants to see the food gone because it feels more clean / complete that way. This year, each time I eat, I will ask myself, "Am I hungry?" "Am I savoring / appreciating this?" I will track how many "no" answers there are, ultimately going for zero on an ongoing basis.

Gain muscle: Last year there was a wide range of intensities in my resistance training workouts. This year, I will track how exhausted / sore each workout makes me and, whenever the result is suboptimal, adjust that workout the next time for a better result.

2. Increase flexibility: I'll measure this with a pretty crude - but valid - metric: the distance between my the tips of my fingers and the floor when bending forward, straight-legged, from the waist. My starting point is 10" so I have tremendous room for improvement! Last year I tried and failed to focus dedicated workout days on stretching. This year I'm trying a more "decentralized" approach, spreading out a little bit of stretching every day. This includes stretching immediately after each exercise activity and going through a full body stretch routine each time I sit down to watch TV. I'll tally a "demerit" each time I catch myself having skipped one of those stretch times and aim for zero such demerits on an ongoing basis.

3. Volleyball: I failed to meet last year's objective of winning a men's A tournament so that is back on the list for this year. One way I can give myself a better chance is by creating more opportunities. Last year I only entered two tourneys all year; this year I need to enter more. I'll also add winning a BB coed tourney to the objective list for this year as I am hoping that Katie and I will start playing 2s together consistently. I also plan to attend at least one volleyball skills workshop this year for more focused improvement than just playing.

4. Running: I hit my running goals quite early last year but now I have a better idea of where my current limits are. My objectives for 2011 are to run a 5k race under 21:00 and a 10k under 45:00, taking about a minute off my PR in each event. I'd like to finish top 5% overall and top 10% in my group at least once this year. To achieve these objectives I will continue my 5k and 10k training runs, introduce additional aerobic training and add sprint workouts back into the mix for the first time in several years.

 5. Balance: To round out my health and well being, I have resolved to continue reading at least one book for pleasure each month and to introduce a new practice of taking time each morning for meditation. I've found this so far to be a very helpful exercise in centering myself before each day, reflecting on what is really important, and preparing for the hustle and bustle that follows. To measure 'balance" in my life, I will once again let my feelings be my guide, polling them periodically.


1. Smart Office Energy Solutions: As I learned last year, setting goals / objectives for a business this early / dynamic and then trying to measure myself against them 12 months later is a real exercise in futility. As such, within Smart OES we will continue to set goals, measure our performance against them, and update them frequently as our business changes. I personally will track my feelings about "how it's all going" at Smart OES.

2. Relationships: Last year I mentored three entrepreneurs on an ongoing basis and many more professionals on one-off or temporary bases. As anticipated this was a highly rewarding experience and this year I hope to increase the scope of this part of my professional life. Instead of just tracking the quantity of mentorship I am providing, though, my objective is to provide more real value. Therefore this year I am asking the people I work with to rate me on how much value I contribute and to provide feedback regarding where I can improve. I will also do a better job this year of engaging my own mentors on a weekly basis.

3. Development: Last year I successfully read one professional book or article each week but I have come to realize that reading the material alone isn't enough. Top business schools teach with the case method because applying knowledge to real situations is much more valuable for development of business skills than is just reading something. Accordingly, this year I have set aside time each Friday to apply the lessons from each week's book to my own business / life.

Last year I also successfully worked on new language development each week. Working on it a little each week is just a means, though. My objective this year is to use the new language skills I'm developing. With trips to Italy and France already planned, I can brush up on my existing languages but several potential trips might also give me the chance to study for and then practice Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and German.

4. Brand: Last year my professional brand as a global greentech executive went from relative obscurity to gaining some recognition. I finished the year with 50 Klout, which is only one [very course grained, very social media-focused] way to measure. This year my objective is to reach 65 Klout and to contribute two original pieces of thought leadership. I welcome ideas of other ways to measure the success of my professional brand!


GIVEWATTS is growing by leaps and bounds and I am so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished. This year will be even more demanding but I know we can really take this organization to the next level. The Board has its own metrics of success and I frequently poll the CEO for feedback on my performance as a Director. I intend to contribute significant time to both Rice and IMD this year but I'm not sure how to measure the efficacy of my contributions. Again, ideas welcome!

There you have it, my 2011 objectives and targets. It took me over a month to publish this so you can see that I'm already behind!


US Cleantech Energy Policy => #fail

A recent post by Battery Ventures VP Mike Dauber on the Obama administration's challenge to cleantech entrepreneurs generated some discussion among my friends and colleagues. One point of focus was whether or not this really is our "Sputnik moment" and, if so, whether the race to the Moon was really worthwhile anyway.

Responding to this point first, any reader of my blog will know how strongly I feel about our successful efforts to put a man on the moon. Aside from all of the economic benefits the follow-up to this program yielded, the greatest benefits were less tangible. JFK's challenge inspired a nation (the world?), galvanizing us to achieve a nearly impossible goal in a nearly impossible time frame. And the nation responded with the very best of its capabilities. Nearly 50 years later, the race to the Moon still inspires at least this engineer / entrepreneur / leader and, I suspect, many more.

That said, saying that cleantech is our new Moon race doesn't make it so. I look around me and it definitely doesn't feel like a Moon race. Some of the nation is divided about whether cleantech efforts are valuable but most of the nation is blissfully ignorant about what cleantech even means. I wasn't alive during the Moon race, but I believe that it captivated the nation almost entirely. Those who were alive, feel free to contradict me. So my first response to the administration's attempt to paint cleantech innovation as "the new Sputnik moment" is: #fail. It will take real leadership to inspire that kind of moment, not a few soundbites in a few speeches.

Now, when it comes to evaluating this post and the White House policy that it references, I can't claim to be objective because I am professionally right in the thick of it. Objective or not, though, I'll tell you exactly what I think.

The stated policy to use government funds to incent cleantech innovation is, at best, ineffective and, at worst, intentional BS that just pays lip service to a current "buzz" topic. As Dauber pointed out in his blog, almost all government funding goes to university / research labs where they work on multi-year / multi-decade cycles and are completely insulated from commercial outcomes. The result: technologies that may pay off in 20+ years and may or may not ever be economically viable.

There is also a great deal of stimulus money going to large, established companies to deploy existing (and often outdated) technologies in the name of cleantech. This includes smart meter deployments and solar installations. While this is a little bit more helpful because it produces results in the here and now (and helps some companies move a little further along the scale curve), it does nothing to foster innovation, it lets large companies live temporarily in a capitalist fantasy world (in which their products / services are paid for by an irrational consumer) - which doesn't actually help them in the long run - and, most importantly to me, it does absolutely nothing to incent / motivate/ support small business entrepreneurs. Of course, fostering small business entrepreneurship is another alleged goal of the administration since these organizations are the source of so much job growth but, if that really is the goal, put your money where your mouth is.

So where does that leave the cleantech entrepreneur? Looking for capital from traditional private sources: VCs, etc. That sounds well and good except that the VCs aren't investing much in early stage cleantech deals. There is lots of great PR about the $4B invested last year in cleantech - that sounds great! When you dig deeper, though, the vast majority of this is mezzanine (late-stage) investment in companies that are already quite mature (relative to new startups) and project finance (e.g. financing the construction of a wind farm).

So you have cleantech entrepreneurs like me, with a market-validated concept that is so much more than just green for green's sake. Smart Office Energy Solutions reduces office and office-like building energy consumption by 25% with payback periods of less than two years for our clients! You don't have to be a green zealot, you don't have to care about our nation's energy security, you don't have to care about dwindling energy supply for this to make sense - you just have to care about saving money, which we do so much better than the traditional, capital-intensive retrofit solutions that are already out there. And yet we're spending months out there trying to raise capital from professional and private sources that are still pretty risk averse / gun shy from the beating everyone took in the recent downturn. Oh and by the way, the government just passed regulations to make it harder for us to legally take investment from private sources! We are the exact poster child of what the administration claims to want to support and yet we are killing ourselves just trying to move along.

Maybe I'm wrong about this. Maybe our idea sucks. Maybe I'm just very bad at raising funds - it is my first time, after all. I readily admit that this is quite possible. But I see many other great ideas / entrepreneurs out there in the same situation while, at the same time, the capital markets are throwing ridiculous bubble-style money on social media companies that have yet to show any true value creation.

I was in Washington DC the week that Obama was elected and I was electrified / excited. In front of the Lincoln Memorial I signed a huge card to him. Above my signature I wrote, "Lead us to a better energy future!" Instead I've seen him spend a lot of political capital getting more people insured by a healthcare system that is totally broken (Stay tuned for a subsequent blog post on this.) and take very few, ineffective steps on energy.

A better energy future will not be attained by doling out government funds for slow, academic research and deployment of existing technologies. In fact, it isn't the government's position to dole out funds for these purposes at all. The government has no competence in taking risks and it is actually built from the ground up to avoid such risks. Doling out funds should be left to private industry so that efficient capital markets can determine what gets funded. If the government wants to help - and I believe it should want to help - it should set a better economic context to motivate cleantech endeavors. This means eliminating massive tax breaks for dirty energy production and ceasing to subsidize energy as heavily as we do throughout the value chain. This means more money for the government to reduce its insane deficit and more motivation for investment in newer / riskier startups.

Finally, the government should step up and show some true leadership. Create a sputnik moment by inspiring people. Obama has many more eyes on him than I do but, as long as he continues to fail in this regard, I'll keep trying to inspire people from the ground up. Day by day I get a little bit further and I have little bit more effect. If Obama lets me beat him to inspiring a generation to focus on cleantech, then shame on him.


The IMD Global Leadership Challenge is Over!

I'm so grateful for all the support I received in my participation in IMD's Global Leadership Challenge! I finished #27 out of 5,380 contestants from 124 countries on five continents and I couldn't have done it without all of the help I received.

The contest was broken down into three sections, each of which embodied a different aspect of global leadership: Open, Pioneering, and Collaborative.

The Open section was essentially a test of global political, commercial, and historical knowledge. It reminded me a lot of my IMD MBA "International Political Economy" course. As with the initial quizzes in that class, I fared poorly in this event, garnering only 115 out of the maximum 400 points. Still, it seems that others found the questions challenging as well; my score was still #543, top 10% in the event.

Pioneering was a matching game, matching pictures of pioneers (individuals or organizations) who have profoundly affected the world with pictures of the results of their innovations. I did better in this game, earning 358 out of 400 points, which was good for place #45, top 1%.

My best event by far was Collaboration. In this section each contestant wrote a short quote in response to, "Imagine you could be someone else for one week. Who would you be and why?" Then three months of online voting revealed the most popular responses. My quote was:

"I would be...myself. I can't think of anything more worthwhile than working feverishly to address the global energy challenge with innovative business ideas. Entrepreneurs can change the world. Many of us may fail, but those who ultimately succeed ensure that none of our attempts has been in vain."

This turned out not to be very original as many other quotes also bore the "I would be myself" theme. However, thanks to the efforts of my friends, family, colleagues, and others, who not only voted for my quote but also called others to do the same, I finished with 532 votes, #18 in the entire contest, earning me 392 out of 400 points.

The Collaborative section is clearly the one that boosted my total score up to #27, top 1%, and that is incredibly fitting. In real life as well my major achievements are attributable to the contributions of others, whether those on my immediate team or those who provide me with the support I need to achieve on my own.

Tremendous thanks go out to those who kept voting for me day after day and, especially, to those who engaged others to join them. As always, I stand on the shoulders of giants and I only hope that I can give back even a fraction of what you have done for me.