some great content for your weekend...

Patti Smith on the BBC yesterday... "Loss is something we never get over."

Barb Corcoran speaking the truth!! (Lo Siento if you too are exposed to the espanol ad before the real content!)

loved this (second ever!) New Yorker podcast with Amy Schumer & Jorge Ramos. hosted by New Yorker editor, David Remnick on WNYC. loved the part where Ramos says his yoga breathing helps him keep his calm in stressful on-camera situations :) 

i find this kind of thing amusing and proof that we are still in such an early-early internet landscape. we are just barely toddlers - learning to police ourselves and things like copyright law are hard to find relevant in the digital age.  and the beat goes on.

dynamically stable systems -- my tribute to Jane Jacobs


I've always been inspired by Jane Jacobs' observation of cities and economies. Her thesis in her work, The Nature of Economies was around dynamically stable systems and how they avoid collapse.  

Efficient ecosystems do four things, she said:

  • bifurcate
  • create positive feedback-loops
  • ensure negative controls
  • adapt to emergency

It occurred to me after hanging with my friend (and Summit roommate!) Leyla Acoroglu:

^^ my awesome Summit roomie


...that we all live in many independent and efficient ecosystems everyday.  Our world, of course, the largest and most common denominator ecosystem that we all share.

The environment, atmospheric conditions, our garbage production and carbon emissions we know and collectively acknowledge affect us now and will affect us in the future.


We're each individually members of concentric circles - institutions of learning, groups of friends, people bound by shared interest or property.  They are, though, not as independent as we may think they are.  They need common denominators to function, people to bind them.

They are, in fact, more like interconnected concentric circles with multiple points of crossover and connection.


Bifurcation happens when we begin to identify in different circles or groups...technologist, teacher, athlete, mom...our individual identities (chosen and unchosen) begin to allow us to see similarity and difference in each other. My friends who are having babies are joining a new group 'mother' - which will now be an identity they share with mothers all over the world.

When we receive positive feedback that these groups are working (mommy groups, lobbying groups, athletic endeavors like a marathon), we double-down. Technology is like this too: we find a market-segment need and solve for it.

With regard to technology, Uber is a perfect example of these first two steps in Jane's theory.  Bifurcation occurred when Uber's co-founders observed a need in the market: a cab to their location in Paris. The trial runs for Uber perfectly mimicked the market conditions we'd hope for: since Uber's founders basically disregarded the established Taxi and Limousine Commissions that govern local taxis, they were able to receive positive feedback fairly quickly validating this was a worthy idea. The positive feedback loop was validation enough to continue to grow this emerging company...Thusly, ensuring negative controls were in place. By the time the government and regulating bodies came to call, Uber was a profitable company - able to hire the talent they need to keep Uber in major cities.  Therefore, adapting to emergency has become second nature to this company that seemingly can know no bounds...

Back to mommy friends, the groups we create for ourselves in small and large help us to create dynamically stable systems...and ones that we feel safe in.  

dr. maya angelou was San Francisco's first black streetcar driver

and the way she got that job was basically the same way i learned to play ice hockey.  by being fully supported, encouraged, and sometimes terrified of her own mother.  worth the watch.

at the end of that job, her mother asked, "what did you learn from that job?"

maya said "i don't know"

"you learned that you're strong and with determination and dedication you can go anywhere in this world."

inspired thinking

some of my favorite guys are on this interview saying some REAL truths

my friend and former colleague, Brad Stone's book about Amazon but really about business and people.

here it is in the iTunes store!

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.29.00 PM
Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.29.00 PM

what i'm reading now -- Feb 2015

hello from 2015!  here's the latest from Gretchen's library!

BOOK: Neuro-Linguistic Programming
NLP - A Changing Perspective by Rachel Hott & Steven Leeds

"Neuro-linguistic programming is a model of communication and change. NLP is a model about influencing our own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. NLP is a model about influencing other people's thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  NLP is a model of models. It is a modeling process...Using NLP we can learn 'how' to listen to verbal and non-verbal language patterns so we can recognize how other people understand the world and how it is uniquely different from our own.  In this way, we can truly understand others and in understanding them, we begin to understand ourselves. With this awareness, we can influence and transform the way we think and how others think," - Chapter 1

Download the book on iTunes or Amazon and change your experience of life.

WATCH: Re/Code and the POTUS interview

Kara Swisher interviews the POTUS.  Be still my heart. Re/code is doing it.  Loved President Obama's answers to these very tough questions.  Issue of encryption is, I think, is becoming increasingly more important than ever and one that the US government needs to lead. After all, we created this technology-based economy and we'll also be the ones up in arms if our safety is compromised from something we could've prevented.  Remember how mad we got about Uber's godview?...yeah, and that was just for rides to a party.

READ: The Changing Face of Payments

Guest editor Bill Gates on The Verge talking proliferation of mobile banking as it relates to the unprecedented rise of mobile devices in third world countries.  Change comes quickly when net 2 billion devices join the internet and small transactions that were previously inefficient with high barriers to entry become possible.

Read the article & see the future in the world of:

  • Facebook Payments
  • Google Pay
  • Amazon Payments
  • Paypal
  • PayNearMe
  • Square
  • The list goes on and on...

The future is limitless. Sign. Me. Up.

BOOK: Give and Take by Adam Grant

 This seems to be the motto of every great leader I know. I do love my Management & Leadership books...see previous blog posts.

Adam Grant's Give and Take

Here's the simple premise: workers can be broken down into takers and givers. Takers only agree to do things that will benefit them eventually.  Givers work collaboratively without a lens towards 'what will it get me?' Grant concedes: takers aren't always super successful at work but:

"Something distinctive happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades. When takers win, there's usually someone else who loses... Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them...the difference lies in how giver success creates value, instead of just claiming it." = pg. 25

ARTICLE: Women At Work

Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant have been writing this five-part series about women at work.

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Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.29.19 PM

This one in particular struck a chord with me. The latest in the series, it is bizarre to me that we all-too-often automatically delegate household-type chores to women in the workplace before we think to assign this type of work equally amongst the team or delegate to a more junior employee.

I've seen it happen in companies I've worked for, though, and I admit that -  more often than not -  women are simply better at the admin and logistics work.  (Placing office food & coffee orders, greeting visitors at a collective door, assigning badges and administrative work, etc.)

I'm not sure where I net out on 'Office Housework' -- it's a little like the nature vs. nurture argument:  if you spent your entire professional life organizing, ordering and supporting an organization, then you will, of course, end up in a more high-touch, less analytical, more people-focused type job -- IF that's what you were aiming for.

If, on the other hand, you'd prefer not to end up in a people-first type of job, perhaps it's more logical to start or pivot one's career towards analytics, engineering, programming, IT or finance.

Just a thought. What do I know?

 ARTICLE: Home Team Love

You gotta love how my dear friend and constant source of light, Kathryn Budig, opens up in this post on Yoga Journal. Life is full of injury -- all the time -- it doesn't need to be a shoulder injury & yoga teacher scenario. Sometimes it's illness, sickness, disease...we trick ourselves into thinking that life's answer is to 'power through it.'

It's not.

It's taking a month, three months, a day, a year -- whatever you need to to get back to a state of ease. Where you can perform as close to 100% capacity as your body will allow.

Trust me when I tell you: your students will appreciate you taking time to heal, your co-workers or future co-workers, your partner and family. You will be much better at whatever you do if you're really honest about the body's need to heal.

Oh, and meditate. Do that too!

AUDIBLE.COM - LISTEN: The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan

(first, the preamble):  It's no secret if you've ever worked with me that I learn in a very specific (and some might say, unique, way).  I'll save the back story for another time but short version: growing up, our family did not have cable TV and for many years, didn't have a TV at all. This led to the Sword children learning quite differently than other children. For me in particular, I've noticed that friends of the same generation are able to watch something on TV and learn about the subject matter at hand.  I tend to watch things and fall asleep...I do not learn by watching anything, really.


In order for me to truly learn a subject matter, I need to hear it, experience it and see it. (In that order). (And ultimately, teach it).  I actually suspect that things like the Serial podcast (which gained such enormous traction last Fall) are this generations' response to how we learn -- it's quite different from how it used to happen.  Anyway, that's for a different blog post.

Enter -- an internet 1.0 company that survived the fall-out and one that I have huge respect for.  Don Katz (Audible CEO) & Guy Story (Audible Chief Innovation Officer) are some of the most interesting & innovative people I've met on this side of the Mississippi -- and they've pioneered a technology that, while simple, is a life-changer for people like me.

My playlist is filled with non-fiction, education-based books. Although I must admit I own this particular book in hardcover, on iTunes AND on Audible....when I want to check back on historical data to help inform future predictions OR I simply want to remember a time in our country's recent financial history, I put this book on my Sonos sound system and get to listening.

This is a wonderful book because Alan Greenspan has a brilliant way of bringing the reader right back to the time and place where policy was affecting market conditions. Where his decisions as Fed Chairman seemed to change the axis on which our earth was spinning. Where the markets began to reinvent themselves to create the environment we see today.

Because he was Fed Chairman for SO long (1987 - 2006) and served as an adviser and friend to many of the President's of the United States over the course of his professional career, he has a unique and welcome disposition in the changing tides we live through: one that I hold in high esteem when I look at our collective future.

Finally, can't leave this bit out -- I've been a student of the Federal Reserve since 2003 when my mentor and teacher, Professor Pat McGuire, told me if I understood macroeconomic conditions, I could understand how economies everywhere work.  Thusly, I've owned this book since it was published (an untimely publishing -- in the middle of the recession)...and studied it like a textbook since that time.  Last summer (2014) I got to spend the weekend with the co-author of the book, Peter Petre. Life has a beautiful way of coming full-circle just when you least expect it...stay open, stay curious, kiddos, you never know where it might lead you.

With that, I bid you adieu until next time -- would love to know what YOU are reading/watching/consuming! Write it below or drop me a line.

[contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

P.S. Thanks @Nathan Ingram for the assist with the WP images on da blog.

what i'm reading...oct-nov 2014

eric schmidt's important distillation of 'business nirvana'

i think this is a more important conversation than we realize. today, we have the power of technology, unrivaled communication tools and more computing power available to us than ever before.  but we get bogged down. and in our own way. the 'old way' of doing things befalls us...all the time. ALL.THE.TIME.  think of the last time you thought a person shouldn't get ahead because they haven't 'put their time in.'  working well is working responsively, quickly, adeptly no matter how much experience or hierarchy you have in your company.  key element to success: hiring well so that the people every (metaphorical and literal) room are delivering the best final product: whatever your product is.

Hello, World!

My friend Ashley wrote this rad piece on MindBodyGreen about the truth about multi-tasking  (no surprise endings here, y'all: no one can do it well).

The new frontier on music development is upon us.  My (future) children will be making music on instruments I've never dreamt about.  And there seems like a lot of white space here for me to play in. (My favorite kind of place to make a mess in).  #wontbewhiteforlong

(Watch this space)

^related: when did AppAnnie become like the Nielsen of apps and let me know when they're raising their next round? k, thanks, bye.

some of my favorite guys are on this interview saying some REAL truths

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Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.27.15 PM

two people whose opinions matter deeply debate the issue of our time.


Dirge Without Music

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,— They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

"Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Collected Poems. © Harper Perennial, 2011.

my friend and former colleague, Brad Stone's book about Amazon but really about business and people.

here it is in the iTunes store!

and for all those curious about what ACTUAL books i'm reading - here's the latest screenshot of my iBook collection. send me yours!

till next time, y'all - let me know what YOU are reading!!

what i'm reading...

Malcolm Gladwell on the power of Entrepreneurial Underdogs.  I love that he talks about people and companies who have come through great tragedy and have one of two reactions to it. Here it is in Inc Magazine:  It's go time. Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.35.55 PM

Sumpto:  (a company I have great faith in) is really upping the ante with regard to rewarding college students for their interactions with Brands on Facebook and Twitter. It's a brilliant concept, really.

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gotta shout out to the home team, Casey Neistat dropping some knowledge the last few weeks. here's one i loved (obvi)


Hook'd:  this app is brilliant and hilarious all at the same time

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.37.09 PM:

this is effing brilliant, i think:

Jason Calacanis dropping the knowledge: "real strength is having alignment with what you are and what you're doing."


and OF COURSE i'm reading this month's Yoga Journal where my dear friend, Kathryn Budig is gracing the cover!

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till next time!!

how to do introductions -- mostly by Michael Sidgmore

when introducing two people i think it's important to ask for permission from both parties separately (sometimes people are overwhelmed and simply can't handle one more intro). and then to send a thoughtful message to both parties that describes each person and why you thought they should meet. my friend Michael is literally, one of the best introducers i know. not only is he thoughtful about how and who he introduces, he writes the gosh darn best bio's around!!!! here's a recent one he wrote for me:

Dear XXX: Gretchen is entrenched in the NY startup community as she is running her own co-investment firm, Adipose, where she applies her expertise in media and marketing to help startups grow. She works with a portfolio of companies, including Market Realist, Upworthy, and Cameo (acquired by Vimeo). She also works with two Lerer Hippeau Ventures portfolio companies as VP, Strategic Partnerships and Advertising. Her expertise in marketing comes from her time as a founding member and National Director of Quartz, the wildly successful digitally native news outlet owned by Atlantic Media and as the West Coast Director of Bloomberg West, which was the first dedicated daily tech TV show on the West Coast. She's also an all-around awesome person - she's a certified, trained yogi, having done over 800 hours of Jivamukti training ... and she's done all this before the ripe old age of 30!

needless to say, he writes something equally as thoughtful and descriptive about the other person and why i should take time out of my day to meet him/her.  (for anonymity's sake i decided not to publish other people's intros!) once you've read Michael's introduction emails once, you realize that every introduction he makes is a carefully thought-out one and one he takes great pride in.  you're quick to respond knowing it's likely someone important on the other end of the email chain!!

so, maybe next time you go to make an introduction, take a page out of Michael's book and put a little effort into it. (with special thanks to my main man, Ice Cube)

what i'm reading

....we may need to change the name of this series to watching/reading/consuming...

ed snowden: the most wanted man in the world

// my own personal hero.  i think he's changed all of our lives in a way we won't know the impact of for a long time (if ever).  also, in hero category: Glenn Greenwald and James Bamford.  and all the orgs that are keeping the documents safe - like First Look Media.


Fruits of Solitude by William Penn

 500. For tho’ Death be a Dark Passage, it leads to Immortality, and that ’s Recompence enough for Suffering of it.  47

  501. And yet Faith Lights us, even through the Grave, being the Evidence of Things not seen.  48

  502. And this is the Comfort of the Good, that the Grave cannot hold them, and that they live as soon as they die.  49

  503. For Death is no more than a Turning of us over from Time to Eternity.  50

  504. Nor can there be a Revolution without it; for it supposes the Dissolution of one form, in order to the Succession of another.  51

505. Death then, being the Way and Condition of Life, we cannot love to live, if we cannot bear to die.  52


 undercurrent practices what they preach!

[slideshare id=34974774&doc=ucbacrosscorepublic-140521175436-phpapp02]

it's so refreshing to see a strategy company turn the gaze inwards and see if they are practicing what they preach!

find you some religion: i know that my redeemer liveth -- gardiner c. taylor

part 1:

part 2:



millennials and generation nice

an interesting take on what certainly is a changing culture.


.....catch y'all next week for another edition of WHAT I'M CONSUMING!

what i'm reading/watching... that did not turn into a weekly segment.  soooo let's just say here it is again!

gut and psychology syndrome research

it's not the most wildly interesting (or polite!) table conversation, i've learned...but i'm deeply interested in how our stomach health affects our mental health.  there's been a lot of research done on this topic (mostly outside of the US) but needless to say, we all know well the feeling of having a 'pit in our stomach' or butterflies or the like.  this may have more merit than we've previously thought...

full catastrophe living


desire versus long-term relationships: how to maintain the fire

sometimes mystery is not about traveling to new places, it's about looking with new eyes.

stay open to the mysteries, babies.

just get to 5minutes 30seconds...

...and you will know why this is worth your while...

what i'm reading (a weekly update)

inspired by my dear friend Janie, (seen here dropping the cricket set...cutie!)  



i henceforth bring you the weekly update of websites and content that i'm paying attention to right now!


the Dodo: a rad website with tons of cute gifs of animals and also important information about animal welfare today

Fancy: i could waste an entire afternoon paging through all this stuff i never knew i needed.  and sometimes convincing myself i do need it.  it's like the modern dan hammacher schlammer.

aVC: i enjoy fred wilson's musings on early stage tech and life in general.

BWEST: seems crazy but this is still a resource that tons of people don't use in the tech industry...almost feel like i'm letting my secret out by posting it here!

theSkimm: a quick easy update on the world's news. delivered to your inbox every morning. in a snarky, fun way.  i'm lookin at you, ms janie.


....5 more coming at ya next week, y'all.  


congrats to first portfolio company

Did y'all hear the news?  Cameo has merged with Vimeo. Cameo was the very first portfolio company for Adipose and is representative of the type of work we're keen to do.

  • Cameo has tremendous value to advertisers, brands and consumers alike: allowing anyone to make a simple, beautiful video.  Because it's cloud-based, groups of people can make a Cameo, too.  This is a huge pain point for experiential marketers and a need that is ever-growing in the land of social media.  Therefore...
  • ...Brands and industry influencers were eager to get involved with Cameo and reap the benefits of first-mover success. Here are some examples: Free People, Bespoken Clothiers, CMJ, PopWater, Pete Francis, Rebecca Minkoff, Washington Post, Mike Schmid
  • Adipose structured strategic partnerships and alignments with brands and influencers for Cameo.
  • Adipose advised and retained marketing and PR support for Cameo through to sale of the company.

Looks like this is going to turn out well.

serendipity knowing a good idea when you see one and then realizing gratitude when you're sitting at the table with the founders. 

or put a different way..."luck is preparation meeting opportunity." - the wise one, Oprah.

changing of the tides...

i just wrapped my third year of duty at the yoga journal conference here in NY and for the first year, i noticed something dramatically different than other years: many of the most 'famous' yoga teachers and students there were famous due to their social media followings...primarily instagram. see, instagram is a great vehicle to bust a quick asana or a 15-second sequence and the yoga community is quite strong and vibrant on it.

i'm not sure i'm ready to make an observation about whether this was a good thing or bad thing yet but certainly a changing of the tides.

with that, may i recommend you follow my dear sweet teacher, @kathrynbudig on INSTA! ha!




the name, Adipose

The Adipose Fin represents a fin on a fish that has long been misunderstood to be a useless piece of fatty tissue but may in fact, be quite important to some fish.  It has repeatedly evolved a skeleton across many different species of fish who are not related (Catfish, Salmon, Trout, etc.) : offering a new understanding into tissue types and convergent evolution.  Adipose fins, therefore, represent a new model for exploring the evolution of vertebrate limbs and appendages. "It's pretty incredible that a structure which is incredibly common could be so misunderstood," Stewart said. "Our finding, that adipose fins have evolved repeatedly, shows that this structure, long assumed to be more-or-less useless, might be very important to some fishes. It's exciting because it opens up new questions."

Read the full report here from Science Daily, oh ye of disbelief.


So, why the name for our company?

Well, we're of the disposition that companies ought to think through sales and marketing strategies concurrently with their growth

...(not after they IPO or a significant capital raise).

We've heard the tales of companies like Twitter losing money rapidly before their IPO and heard from many an optimistic Wall Street analyst say "because they haven't yet started actively working on revenue models, there's tremendous upside! much more than Facebook - who has revenue models and sales teams in place and therefore, less potential upside in the future."

This is bubble thinking.  Here's why:

- Twitter counts 60% or more of its traffic from mobile devices each month.  Mobile advertising is still very undefined. If we're at our infancy with digital and banner ads, we're at the point of conception with mobile ads in 2014.  A few things are certain, though, about mobile advertising:

  • It should cost more than traditional advertising.  (A mobile device has become your most intimate possession: with you at all times.  This precious experience has taken mind share from others you used to focus on - TV, magazines, books, etc.) More engaged minutes should dictate a higher CPM.
  • In Q4 Twitter reported an average CPM increase of $1.49 up from 97 cents in the previous three months.  This is not a good CPM. It is much harder to drive a price up than it is to bring it down.  Starting at 97 cents doesn't give us tremendous room to charge existing advertisers more money and puts the burden on Twitter dramatically increasing the number of users to make this a profitable enterprise.

- We have an irrational market dictating the value of a company like Twitter in a very short-term, news-oriented way.  I believe great businesses are built over time and with careful consideration towards revenue, growth and profit.  In fact, history supports this with companies like GE, Apple, and Exxon all building profitable businesses over the long term.

- The irrational market believes that with this increased liquidity, Twitter will get to work on the hard work of finding advertising dollars and partnership deals throughout the world.  The fact, though, is, we now have a lot of smart people who were, at one point affiliated with Twitter who are now #filthyrich and it's unclear who's left to actually execute on sales and revenue strategy.

So...what does all this have to do with Adipose?

At Adipose, we will help your business think about revenue, sales, modeling and financial forecasts before any life changing event.

We think the companies that will succeed in riding out any market volatility will be the ones with clear revenue streams structured well in advance of any liquidity event in the public or private markets.

We think once you're worth a couple hundred million dollars, it may be too late to run around doing hundred thousand or million dollar ad deals...but the truth is: that's where the long-term, stable, bill-paying, business-building money is.