“It’d be like winning the lottery!”

Quick post with a story that gives me hope and happiness. A friend of mine organized some very successful marrow donor registration drives over the past couple of days. At one of them, she was having a conversation with another friend about how amazing and wonderful it would be to match and be able to save someone’s life simply by giving up a few hours of time and some extra blood cells. But, as a South Asian, she knows the odds of being a lucky donor are reeeally low; after all, patients face a 1 in 20k chance of matching. “It’d be like winning the lottery!” she said.

Fast forward a few hours later, after the registration drive, when she finally has a minute to check voice messages. One is from the National Marrow Donor Program organization, and it starts out thanking her for setting up the drive. And for registered herself 11 years earlier. And oh by the way, she may be a match for a 36 year old Leukemia patient (not Vinay or Sameer) so can she please schedule time in the next few days for follow-up tests. To see if she won the lottery :)

Chica, you’re amazing.

Book review: “Love Is The Killer App”

In an effort to (1) better retain what I read in non-fiction because my mind is like a friggin sieve, and (2) help save some of you from buying/plowing through books not worth their weight in cheetos, I’m going to write mini-book reviews on this blog; hope you like.

Book: Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

Two sentence summary: Invest in your network and you’ll reap intangible rewards. Read a lot and share the learnings from what you read with your world.

Eh. Sorta. Nothing revolutionary in here, but that’s because this is how I’ve tried to approach my “network” from the beginning. Do what I can for people in my network without expectation of anything in return, and trust that when I need something the door will be open to ask. Right guys? You’ll hook me up when I need ya…right?? Also, the author clearly thinks I don’t read enough. Or maybe he reads too much. Waay too much.

Key takeaways:

  • After I read a book, exit a conversation, see a good movie, enjoy a good slice of chocolate cake, etc., take a minute to summarize the “Big Thought”, and then think about how to apply it.
  • Actively apply the learnings from the books I read shortly after reading them (yes, that’s where the idea for book reviews came from). Also, think about past experiences where they could have applied (explicit examples…yeah, the ones that make me go “doh!”).
  • Create a “personal university” of contacts/mentors that I can tap for input on an infrequent, as-needed basis. Bono, expect an email soon. You too Angelina.
  • Always have a joke or two handy. Or just look funny.
  • Prioritize my network (can’t wait to have a network to actually prioritize).

Questions I asked myself in reading this book:

  • Is there anything I’d rather be doing? Or anyplace I’d rather be? (As I type this, I’m IM’ng with my buddy Charles who’s chillin in Espana for two weeks. Sooo not fair to ask this question of myself right now…).
  • Am I truly going after what I want, all out? Am I pushing passed my limits to reach my goals? Am I really going to reach out to Bono?

Favorite lines:

  • “If you think you disappoint people with apathy, try disappointing them after you’ve committed yourself with compassion.”
  • “After my day ends I work on improving my conversational skills. Like a football coach, I run the tapes of the day’s game in my mind. I think about missed opportunities. I think about mistakes….” [I try and do this before going to bed each night…my days are boring enough that I fall right asleep.]
  • “Having permission to get close to people is everything.” [I think he means in business.]
  • “By expressing compassion, you create an experience that people remember. When people remember you, it’s good for your business.” [See “look funny” comment above.]
  • “The act of listening is absolutely critical to the act of connecting….” [Listen for what people do/offer and what they want/need…sounds great in theory but I have trouble just remembering names; see “friggin sieve” intro above.]
  • “Alan Kay, father of the personal computer, says that perspective is worth fifty IQ points.” [If you’re in M&A at a big company with deep pockets, you should know that our startup has loads of perspective.]

The power of passion

In the past year I’ve been blown away by first-hand interaction with what I think is one of the most powerful of human emotions: passion (many would argue that it’s merely a derivative of the strongest human emotion: love). First it was watching members of the Kiva community rise up from their computers and become evangelists for the organization and its cause (stay tuned for an depth post on that). Now, I’m in awe as I watch the South Asian community come together to save the lives of their brothers Vinay and Sameer. I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of what Vinay’s closest family and friends call Team Vinay, and watching it come together and grow and make a real impact in driving registrations and awareness has been inspiring. What’s more remarkable, over the last few weeks people who’ve never met Vinay, Sameer, or any of their friends and family have been sponsoring drives, mailing registration kits, and otherwise been not only getting registered but crusading to get their communities registered. It’s. Just. Beautiful.

What’s also been interesting to watch is how each person is playing their part in these efforts. Vinay and Sameer may have a medical condition, but it will be the efforts of a lawyer who’s running the campaign that will deserve a lot of credit when matches are found. And the efforts of a programmer who maintains the website. And the photograper who’s put Vinay’s face on banners and post cards. And the actress who helped raise awareness. And. And. And again, it’s. Just. Beautiful.

Some pictures of Sameer, followed by a picture of Vinay with his wife:

Be The Time Traveler, not an Eloi

There are few movies I watched growing up that really bothered me for some reason or another, and The Time Machine was definitely one of them. One of the standout scenes that stuck with me for a long time was the one that took place in the Future, when one of the Eloi (what we evolve into, supposedly) is floating down a fast river screaming for help and other Eloi are sitting on rocks in the river and alongside the shore just ignoring her. Just ignoring her as she floats away screaming for her life.

The Time Traveler shared my shock, and luckily was on location to pull the Eloi out of the water.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our lives these days that I think we forget sometimes how easy it is to help someone in need. Sure, we hear the screaming, but we’ve got too much going on to be bothered, or we figure someone else will help. We forget that to save a life, sometimes all we have to do is reach out and pull someone to safety. We forget that we have that power.

I have two friends with leukemia, Vinay and Sameer, who need bone marrow transplants within the next several weeks. For these transplants they need to find matches in the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry; unfortunately, as South Asians they have a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding that match (as a point of contrast, Caucasians have a 1 in 15 chance).

If you’re South Asian and you haven’t registered as a Bone Marrow Donor (sounds waay scarier than it really is), please find a drive and get registered. Be The Time Traveler, not an Eloi.

“Stay on target….staaay on target”

[A worthy carryover post from my shortlived “Web 2.0 startup” blog at nasahablog.blogspot.com; thanks for stopping by and welcome to thesunrising]

I love that line…know where it’s from? Star Wars, Episode IV (the first one, ifyaknowwhatImean). Every couple days I open up my RSS reader to find hundreds of technology/startup oriented posts. I’m usually hit with momentary nausea before I dive-in and wade through all the noise out there. It’s particularly disconcerting as I’m starting a “Web 2.0” company myself…I look at all those companies and think “wow…in a way, I’m competing with all of them for something that’s becoming ever more scarce: attention.”

But then I recollect stories from Founders at Work, I think about friends who are at or have their own startups, and I remember: stay on target. All of a sudden all those Tie Fighters and Death Star gun turrets fade away…I feel a sense of calm and focus on my product.

I firmly believe that at the end of the day, a great product that fills a real need, and if necessary, a clever distribution mechanism (notice I didn’t say “marketing strategy”…ideally, the product markets itself), gives a company a fighting chance at success. There are many other things that can go wrong, but reduce anxiety and stress by not worrying (too much) about what else is out there.

Now, take a deep breath…ahhh….doesn’t that feel better? Alright, back to work. :)