I love coffee. I had to stop drinking coffee.

Devil latte.

Three months. That is how long its been since I had a coffee. I didn’t have to give it up; but I needed to.

I love coffee. Warm, frothy, aromatic, tasty, comforting, caffeinating… That last part is where my divorce from coffee begins. I used to be able to drink the stuff all day long with no discernible impact. For years, I’ve had two shots in the morning and two shots in the afternoon. But something changed. I got in a rut. If I didn’t have my afternoon coffee, I crashed. No big deal; have an afternoon coffee and all would be well. That worked until the afternoon coffee started making jittery.

I couldn’t focus. I felt like my heart was racing. My energy level was spiky. Clearly, my body/brain’s relationship with coffee had changed; and I didn’t like the way it was making me feel. It took me a while to figure out and admit that the caffeine was the problem. I had to make a change. So I quit drinking the stuff; cold turkey.

Giving up coffee (caffeine) was hard; really hard; harder than I imagined. I went through physical and behavioral with-drawl. I had a splitting headache. My body was re-adjusting to life without caffeine and it wasn’t happy. Apparently, I was really cranky. Three days in, Wendy looked at me and suggested that maybe I should re-consider; she said “maybe you should consider drinking coffee again.” I was beyond cranky; I was apparently unbearable. But I soldiered on.

A few days later the headache lifted. My energy level re-balanced. I didn’t crash in the afternoon. My ability to focus improved. I was free. Sitting here today, I just feel better not drinking the stuff. Who would have known? This isn’t some great triumph on my part. After all, we’re talking about giving up coffee. Caffeine is addictive, but it’s not seriously addictive like heroin per se.

I’m not suggesting you give up coffee. I still love the stuff; it just wasn’t working for me anymore. But, there is a lesson here: Listen to your body. I didn’t feel right. I needed to change something. If you feel like you “need” something that is of questionable benefit to you (I don’t put exercise in the category for an example), try living without it for a while. You might find you feel better without it.

Posted in Life Hacks, Random Tagged with: , ,

Vulnerability and Entrepreneurship

I was browsing through the new Tattered Cover store in the recently renovated Union Station in Denver a few weeks back and found myself standing in the Business Psychology section of the store. For some reason, I have a habit of finding that section without trying – gravity seems to pull me there. In any event, I started thumbing through a book by Brene Brown, named Daring Greatly. The subtitle of Daring Greatly reads: “How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.” There aren’t many books that stand-out to me as having altered my world view; Daring Greatly definitely did.

I had not heard of Brene Brown’s work before I picked up the book…

Posted in Books, Entrepreneuriship Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

We Sell the Ultimate Commodity – Money

venture-capital-adLast week I participated in a panel discussion at Denver University organized by Maclyn (Mac) Clouse. Mac is a long-time educator and supporter Denver’s entrepreneurial community. I was joined by Peter Adams, Executive Director of the Rockies Venture Club. Mac’s setup for the discussion was “dangerous” because he offered both Peter and I the opportunity to speak for 15 minutes (thankfully without slides) about the angel, venture capital and growth equity investing landscape. No-one who knows me would ever give me that air time…

Peter led off and did an great job talking about the angel investing landscape and the do’s and don’ts of approaching angel investors. Peter is the co-author of Venture Capital

Posted in Growth Equity, Lessons Learned, Raising Capital, Venture Capital Tagged with: , , , , ,

Improv at the Office: Yes, and…

imgresWhen I get really busy, I communicate less effectively. Truth is, I don’t listen as well, I get short in my responses and I cut off conversation prematurely, because I’m so focused on getting onto the next thing. I’m not proud of it, but it happens.

The First Rule of Improv

When I was in B-School, I participated in a business communication workshop that was entirely based on improvisational comedy. We practiced improv skits for an hour a week. Improv is really, really, really hard. It takes a quick wit, creativity and a willingness to surrender to wherever the skit goes – and they go everywhere and anywhere. No-one is in control. Everyone is in control!

Posted in Communication, Lessons Learned Tagged with: , , ,

Founder Liquidity and Growth Equity

Founder LiquidityI’m seeing more and more growth equity financings come to market with an over-sized component of the financing allocated to existing shareholder liquidity. I’ve seen enough of these transactions to consider it as a trend and to wonder what is motivating it.

Founder Liquidity in Context

Whereas liquidity isn’t typically a feature of venture financings, it is  often – but not always – a feature of growth equity financings. A modicum of liquidity for key management team members or founders can act as lubricant for a growth equity investment, particularly where the management team founded and has successfully bootstrapped a successful business.

Posted in Growth Equity, Raising Capital, Risk, Venture Capital Tagged with: ,
Derek Pilling

About Derek

I'm a Managing Director with Meritage Funds, a growth equity investment firm based in Denver, CO. I've been working with growth stage businesses my entire career. When I'm not working, I ski, spin, coach youth sports and spend time with my beautiful wife and three kids.

I blog because the process helps me crystalize how I frame the world. I want to hear what you think. Please comment.

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