Our family has had CenturyLink internet services at the house for a while and they are reliable but the speed hasn’t been that great. It’s advertised at 60mb and normally I’d see 30-25 over ethernet, and ~10-15 over wifi. Sometimes that lagged even lower. Since we don’t have cable and all of our TVs and devices use the wifi it got pretty sluggish when everyone was home and one of the kids fired up Netflix while Jami and I were using Spotify in the kitchen. At any point in time Jami might have been syncing a huge load of new high res photos to the servers in the house or somewhere externally. I ended up running ethernet through parts of the house to try and combat it with mediocre results given the time invested.

As usage peaked with CenturyLink the modem would just stop working. This was a pretty tough thing for the kids (and me) if Elliott was in the middle of his big bridge scene and because I downloaded a file from box the internet ceased to work. Our network configuration didn’t gracefully handle internal traffic either so those big uploads for Jami’s art projects would fail even if the transfer was in the house.

Since moving from San Francisco I’ve long missed the connection I had there. It was advertised at 100mb and I got 100mb. Des Moines just hasn’t had that type of option for residential users that was available until Mediacom released the 1G plan.

Our office has incredibly fast internet because we sit on a fiber loop. I do not sit on a fiber loop at home and that has been painfully obvious!

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Over the years I’ve done quite a few interviews and not many questions stump me anymore but this one did.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

It’s not very often someone asks a question about you in a interview.

I came home and talked about it and realized that I’m an introvert whose job has requirements to be an extrovert on occasion. I think, truly, that I can be an extrovert when I need to be.

My closest anythings know that if given the opportunity I’d close the door, shut the lights off, and probably work on something in the dark for weeks on end. Darkness tends to reduce distractions. In the weekends I got to spend alone in my SF apartment, I’d typically draw the shades and turn my phone off from Friday night until Sunday night. I’d spend the time reading and writing what those same anythings know as shitty code.

Most of that code has either been long replaced or never shared, like a terrifically strange journal entry that I don’t even know where I left.

With all the time in the world and a lack of responsibility I tend to use the time I can to invent and try to make something new. There’s a deep irony that in order to share whatever idea comes from that time, I need to share it if I want it to go anywhere.

Over the years writing has been a very passive way for me to engage in sharing while being able to control the frequency at which I’m required to do so.

Lately, I’ve started blocking off time to intentionally be alone. There are places that I’ve come to understand that I can go and just be. I really value those places.

I realized that I’m an introvert through the question and time talking/thinking after. The times when I need to be an extrovert, on stage or otherwise, I decide to be. It took a lot of practice and it still takes a lot of energy.

When I’m truly left to do whatever I want I tend to close off and use the time to recover and create. Recovering and creating feel like the same thing to me.

I shared this with a friend a few years ago. It’s humbling to work on a project long enough to see most of your best work replaced by something new. A lot of the work I contributed to in the early days at Dwolla, we’ve shut down or replaced. Even my early business models have been replaced a few times.

It’s been a somewhat therapeutic exercise to talk about some of this with friends/founders lately. There’s no shame in discontinuing a product. No more than when a better engineer replaces something you did years prior or a better designer replaces something you created around the same time.

Companies, brands, and technology are meant to evolve. Sometimes that evolution is just an end to a product.  (more…)

I was having a conversation with Jami this afternoon at brunch about different books that friends or acquaintances have written and how that ends up changing our relationship with them, normally for the better, because of how much more we know about them and the depth of what we’re able to discuss when we are all together.

It makes the time we have together that much more meaningful and our relations stronger because they wrote the book. We didn’t do the work, they did.

This was also spawned from another conversation the night prior when we attended Around The Table, a small private dinner that I can only really describe as an artistic experiment. We ate and talked with a bunch of people we didn’t really know and before I got so tired I had coffee at 9pm, this was a point of conversation.

I started thinking and have throughout the day about what topics, anecdotes, or ideas I’d want to convey in a book if I were to write one. The one that keeps coming up is that if I didn’t show up to either one of these meals, dinner or brunch, neither one of these discussions would have happened and I absolutely benefited.

An amazing amount of progress in life is a function of what you show up for. This is one of many reasons I spent the morning prior at the Women’s March in Des Moines.

Show up. Be present.

It’s amazing what you can miss by not showing up. The more intentional you are about where you show up everyday and how, the more good things happen.

I have been surprised a few times at the dramatic impact someone’s lack of presence can have on them and those around them. Especially, if they are a leader.

On the flip side, it’s even more amazing what showing up and being a positive contributor can do for your career, family, and company.

Whatever your IQ, political affiliation, gender, or disposition, it really doesn’t matter. Show up and positively contribute. Do that and you’ll change your life and the lives of those around you.

No excuses. Show up and do the work.

This was something that popped into my head as something that felt obvious that I’d want to convey if I did write a book. Then I realized I don’t need to write a book, I can just put it on the internet.

No one ever really knows what will work and what won’t but in order to find what does work, we must show up and give it a shot together.

 

2016 is a year that I’ll remember more about how I felt emotionally rather than the milestones. The specifics of it I don’t think I will recall well 10 years from now. I think I’ll remember more about how I felt at various points this year as opposed to specific events.

Jami broke out on her own in a big way in 2016 professionally and that’s been a change at home. As weekend and nights became time for shoots and creative projects it was an adjustment but a positive one. The amount of work in terms of volume she produced this year is astonishing.

I traveled less and that had benefits as well as new learnings. My Travel in 2016 was ~50% less than what it’s been in years past. (more…)

// Over the last few months I’ve been back on a plane quite a bit. Its given me time to do some reading. Specifically, Cybernation, Who owns the future, and But, What if We’re Wrong.  //

You’d be right to expect this has something to do with financial services, but doesn’t! A lot of the discussions floating around on this topic have very little to do with FinTech.

Most of the discussed automation and where it’s expected to occur is fairly obvious. In financial services, the automation is focused on taking processes that involve paper+people, where people create a compounding error. The automation reduces that cost center by reducing the number of errors and through that automation is valuable.

An easy example where a company like Dwolla can help customers using automation is in the ACH returns and corrections process. An analyst reviewing lines in a batch file and clicking buttons doesn’t really help a business operate more efficiently and it introduces a number of things that could go wrong. Automating the ACH return process through an API saves everyone time.

By and large, automation has allowed financial businesses to reinvest in more people where they can generate greater value for the company. Handing paper between two people is not typically*1 a high value task.

Back office automation isn’t really obvious to individuals in organizations who don’t have access to, or read, the P&L. It might show up as increased margins for the accounting folks and leadership, but otherwise its success fades into the background. It also seems to be the focus of angst for those holding jobs that could be displaced by future automation, as well as those among us who believe they are important/creative/human enough not to be replaced by an automated task. (more…)

A key advantage to developers using Dwolla’s white label APIs is that they get their businesses to market faster.

There are other advantages to big established businesses but this article has precisely nothing to do with that.

Very plainly speaking…

Ease of access for developers with a strong market need means more experiments will be built. More experiments being built means a higher probability of one of them taking off. When one of them does, everyone wins.

Not all experiments work, so in order to find ones that do, we need to make it as easy as possible for experiments to take place.

Experiments really mean: new businesses or business ideas.

Dwolla has made it really easy for companies to build new ideas and get into market with a infrastructure that leverages bank transfers and moves money for free.

Aside from the free transactions part of that, here is what excites me about what I see happening on a daily basis.

When I got started building Dwolla, it took significant time and investment to get it off the ground and it cost me my life savings. Generally speaking:

  • What is cost me: 2 years
  • Team of: 2
  • Cost pre-market: ~$80K

Let’s assume that time is worth $20 dollars an hour at 40 hours a week, which is a lot less time than any of us would put into launching a company.

Call it ~$40K per year, per person. Cost of ~$80K if you really carefully manage the money. It’s easy to spend a lot more.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.57.27 PM

It cost me a lot.

It doesn’t cost new companies getting into the market anywhere near that. (more…)

Life is full of weird and fleeting experiences. Most of which will be forgotten because the memory isn’t important enough to be called upon. It’s unfortunate, yet true, that most of life is comprised of things that may influence you but are mostly forgettable because the experience is insignificant and truly unimportant.

Thankfully, there are also experiences in life which are serendipitous and completely unforgettable. We all have these and they are rarely calculated. I feel fortunate because I think one of the reasons I’m optimistic about the world is that I have had far more positive serendipitous experiences to draw from than negative. I know the world is far better than worse and people are far better than bad as a result.

This week has given me the opportunity to appreciate a different type of moment. (more…)

I served with a board member a few years back who said something that I’m reminded of on a regular basis.

Never underestimate the power of the default setting.

What he meant by that wasn’t always user-centric. At least I don’t think so.

This is an interesting statement when put into the context of how powerful default providers are in new FinTech software.
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When I say establishment, a few examples that could fit are:

  • Financial Institutions. Banks and credit unions.
  • Governments. State and Federal.
  • Regulated exchanges.
  • Media companies.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to share what is an obvious overlap between blockchain based technologies that are recording asset transfers in a open ledger and large established organizations.

I’ve written in the past about when the appropriate time is to use various database types like blockchains but a recent Coindesk article made me feel like I should probably write some more.

While this is all going to be really obvious to a group of people, it’s something that the market seems to be coming around to: the practical applications of blockchains and how to connect them to the rest of the world and in existing business processes.

This entry is very much a stream of thought so if you find an error in this blog please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll get it corrected.

I’ve oversimplified a number of the details to make this blog easier to read. I’m well aware of that so please don’t take this is a copy / paste solution. It is not.

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