A Swiss Day in Houston

Today was a very Swiss kind of day! OK, OK, let me explain, because Houston, Texas is a pretty far cry from "Swiss!" What I mean is that today really felt a lot like my Swiss/IMD experience even though it was a Saturday in Houston.

To start, the weather was gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky and the high temperature was mid 60s F (high teens C). There was a breeze that made it a little chilly when staying still or in the shade. Taking Max for a walk in the sun, though, was paradise on earth. And the breeze was very, very welcome during my run at Memorial Park this morning. Despite the very, very different scenery, I almost felt like I was running along Lac Leman in Lausanne. In the evening we had a long, lingering twilight with a dark blue sky, prominent stars, and crescent moon. There you have it: Houston in January is Lausanne in June!

Unfortunately my experience today did not include excellent food outdoors with great friends as it surely would have in Switzerland. After my run and Max's long walk, I spent most of the day inside PowerPointing in front of my laptop. Even this felt very Swiss, though, because it's exactly how I spent many a Saturday at IMD!

Ah, Suisse, vous me manquez! It will take more than ideal weather to recreate the Swiss experience truly, though. After all, the best thing about Switzerland is all my wonderful friends there. Hopefully there will be a chance to visit soon but, in the meantime, back to work!


1982 - What a vintage!

In honor of Katie's 30th birthday, we hosted a small dinner last night featuring wines from her vintage, 1982. It was a fun chance to reminisce about what was happening in our lives and in the world 30 years ago. Top movie: Chariots of Fire. Top song: Eye of the Tiger. Top world event: Katie's birth!

While the best aspect of the evening by far was the company, the food and wine were definitely a close second. Following is brief "menu" of what we had, including links to my reviews of the wines:

Salad of mixed greens, with meyer lemon dressing
Dom Perignon Champagne 1995

Mushroom bourguignon, spicy cauliflower casserole, rosemary roasted potatoes
Chateau Beychevelle Saint-Julien 1982
Chateau Gruaud-Larose Saint-Julien 1982

Assortment of cheeses
Chateau Leoville-Barton Saint-Julien 1982
Chateau Leoville Las Cases Saint-Julien 1982

Pumpkin souffle
Chateau Rieussec Sauternes 1988
Cheatu Climens Barsac 1998

Note that, for the the red wines, we did a south-to-north tour of Saint-Julien, finishing with Leoville Las-Cases, which is separated from the vaunted Chateau Latour of Pauillac by only a stream.

It was a wonderful night. Many thanks go out to Katie's sister, Kelly, who ensured that the meal came together, and to her boyfriend, Mike, who ensured that he and I stayed out of the way. :-) Most of all, thanks to Katie for being born. As someone said last night, she should turn 30 more often!!!



2012. The Year of the Dragon. The first year I've ever begun married. Teaching my first course. The Summer Olympics. Rice's Centennial. This is going to be a BIG year!

Smart Office Energy Solutions is starting off on a good note. We closed out last year with awards, patents, and closure of our investment round. This year we must, must, MUST reach full commercial launch, which we're targeting in the third quarter. That will be a profound change from the "orchestrating" mode we're in right now to full-on "operating," to which I really look forward.

The biggest change for me professionally, though, is teaching for the first time. Rice has asked me and another alum to teach entrepreneurship to the undergrads this semester. I'll address this more in a separate post but suffice to say I'm really excited. We have lofty, ambitious goals for the course but, with capable, motivated students, anything is possible!

Also regarding Rice, Katie and I have been tapped to chair Homecoming this year. Normally we would be honored by this consideration, but we are especially tickled since this is Rice's big Centennial year! We'll work hard to ensure that this is the biggest, best Homecoming ever!

It's not all Rice, though, as I'm working hard this year to foster community among IMD's nearly 500 alumni in Houston. Instead of the traditional "big event" model, I'm hoping to generate momentum from the ground up with more frequent, lower overhead events. Additionally, I'm coordinating with the other North American IMD alumni club presidents to organize an all-continent reunion this August in Boston.

On the health front, I didn't hit my goals last year so I'm doubling down in 2012. Already I've made some great progress (separate post to follow), which I intend to keep up. This has required much more focused attention nutritionally, which has been a big change.

My top goal for 2012? Keep my awesome wife happy! Her birthday is coming up and we're celebrating with what should be an amazing wine dinner tonight - a great start to her next year!

2012: full of excitement and possibility . . . Enter the Dragon!


2011 Wrap-Up

Another year has come and gone and this was a particularly momentous one! This year I got married, advanced my startup, and accepted a faculty position at Rice University - wow! Let's take a look at the goals I set at the beginning of the year and see how I did:

Due to my wedding in May, this was the most significant area of 2011 accomplishment. Even outside of the wedding, Katie and I had the chance to spend a great deal of time with family this year and we really paid a lot of attention to our local friendships. We traveled less this year, though, so there was less development of our global relationships - something I'll hope to rectify in 2012!

I will remember 2011 as the year I got old and my body broke down! I spent much of the year harassed by injuries to my foot, shoulder, hip flexor, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting. Let's face it: I'm not getting any younger. I need to work out smarter-not-harder as much as possible and focus more on recovery. Last year I began an intentional regimen of post-workout recovery nutrition and this year I am adding compression to the mix as well.

I began 2011 at 156 lbs lean and 39 lbs fat. I finished at 156 lbs lean and 40 lbs fat - not catastrophic, but not the direction I was hoping to head! I ended the year with an average daily caloric deficit of 84 calories yet I still put on a small amount of fat. This year I am increasing the focus I put on nutrition and devoting considerable attention to nutrient timing - what I eat when - as opposed to just end-of-day calorie totals.

My average workout intensity in 2011 was a 6/10, which needs to increase in 2012. My flexibility increased significantly this year, largely due to the re-addition of yoga back into my weekly routine. This trend needs to continue in 2012.

I intended to enter more volleyball tournaments this year but only managed to enter one. Perhaps it's part of getting older but I'm becoming less and less enthusiastic about spending my entire day at a tournament - much of which is just sitting around - versus a shorter, but much more focused, outing with just a few friends. Fun and exercise are higher goals now than competition.

My running goals were met and exceeded early on this this year as I PR'ed in the 5k (20:45) and 10k (44:41) with multiple top 5% finishes.

It was an incredible year for Smart Office Energy Solutions, which closed another round of funding, won some major awards and recognition, and significantly advanced its product and market development.

Once again I devoted a great deal of time this year to engaging my mentors and to mentoring others. My mentees rated my contributions as very valuable and I was invited to join the boards of advisers for a few startups.

In 2011 I successfully pursued ongoing learning through reading articles and books and learning languages (German and Arabic). At this point these learning activities have been so institutionalized into my routine that I don't believe they need to be actual goals of mine next year.

My Klout increased from 50 to 55 last year, a trend I will work to continue. I updated one of my major presentations to IMD and published a new one for the Academy of Management annual meeting. This level of activity should increase significantly with the entrepreneurship course I'm teaching this year!

I helped GIVEWATTS achieve some major milestones this year, including approval as a 501(c)3 tax-deductible non-profit.

Whew, there you have it, lots accomplished last year and - of course - even more to tackle in the year ahead! I am so thankful for all the support of my family, friends, and colleagues in helping me reach these goals. I couldn't do it without my extended team!