From the CEO: 2019, Here We Go
I am back from a good but busy holiday break. My daughter Carly was home for the holidays from Ireland and that makes the family feel whole again. My in-laws spent 10 days with us, both in Denver and Breckenridge. Both Grammy and Grandpa are recovering from tough 2018 surgeries and illnesses, but are aging with grace and love for each other and the family. I spent quite a bit of time talking about upcoming fishing and skiing with my 87-year-old father-in law, a triumph of health, love and excitement for life.
We skied hard, 3 days in fresh powder, bumps and bowls at our home mountain of Breckenridge CO. It was cold, but clear and with the blue sky playing beautiful light games with the dusted evergreen trees. We played in the woods with the dogs and had two beautiful moose at the top of our property on Christmas.
Nikola Power finished 2018 with flurry of exciting business development and software momentum. Like most of startups and founders I possess a large amount of impatience. Impatience for the status quo, impatience for old thinking, impatience for entrenched bureaucracies and impatience for news on our next funding round. But alas, the clock stops for no man and I was forced to be patient over the holiday break. I put down the phone, focused on family, cooking, skiing, working out and reading good books.
My reading had two disjointed themes - post apocalyptic and business founder biographies. Turns out two of my favorite genres.
President Obama has a book list, Bill Gates has a famous one, and my Techstars friend Brad Feld is famous for his book reviews. Well here is my 2018 holiday reading list and review.
The Fever - by Deon Myer - a South African crime novelist. The novel set in post Fever (90% of the world is dead) world. A father and son travel the African countryside and attempt to build a new community of good people. A big book, with a fun story and important messages. In the end, a twist and surprise that hits home for me as a long-time environmentalist. Some good undertones for a more civil society and the importance of good government for the people not the other way around.
The Road - by Cormac McCarthy - a novel set on a post-apocalyptic road in the Southeastern United States. The book follows a father and son on a harrowing journey of survival in a dark and desolate new world. The book offers almost no hope, no happiness, but lots of deep thoughts about fatherhood, resourcefulness and strength. As an entrepreneur building a business, I was drawn to the message of tireless effort, jumping over hurdles and through walls to succeed. Also strong, but dark, messages on the dangers of our do nothing approach to climate change and international strife.
Shoe Dog - by Phil Knight - a tremendous biography of a true legend. It was a fun and exciting biography with excellent writing, business lessons and life lessons. I was really surprised at how much I loved this book, a must read for all entrepreneurs and folks working at start-ups. It is not an easy path or journey we are on, but with unbelievable energy and efforts Phil Knight helps founders like me find the energy to keep going!
Let My People Go Surfing - by Yvon Chouinard, a solid book by a great, interesting guy who built an important company leading the way for environmental leadership. It is a direct appeal for a different approach to business, from material sourcing, leadership and commitment to doing the right thing for our planet, people and customers.
Radical Candor - by Kim Scott, is an insiders look at how to be a better boss and manager from a Tech giant veteran. Very helpful and practical tools and examples with a good smatter of insider stories from Google, Apple and Twitter. Based around an approach of deeply caring for team members and really listening – Scott’s approach really helped me think about building Nikola Power.
Keep reading, learning and challenging yourself and remember that obstacles get smaller not bigger the more you learn and innovate. Today on Martin Luther King Day, I am reminded of one of my favorite books a biography by John Lewis, Walking with the Wind, his memoir on the civil rights movement - a must read for all!
–J.W. Postal, Founder & CEO