It's interesting situation. I was given a project that required my undivided attention. None of the team that I am working with is in our Atlanta office. They are literally spread across the globe. Remove me from the office, remove distractions.
I have been doing this for a week or so and my typical day looks like this. Get up in the 3:45 - 5:30am time frame and communicate with my Eastern Europe comrades. Work til 8:30 then help my teenagers get off to their summers camps/jobs for 30 minutes. Turn my attention domestically then and perhaps a little exercise or a meeting for lunch. Then back to task with the USA Eastern time zone cohorts. Wrap that up around 5, set tasks for those whose workday begins at 1:00am Eastern time, and communicate with contractors on the West Coast or those with full time gigs between 7 and 11pm. The latter which I just wrapped up before writing this post.
Not sure if it is an actual lifestyle improvement or not. I will say this, I am not getting much sleep but I put on long pants for the first time in about a week today.
Willie King over at WorthPoint reached out to me earlier this month via LinkedIn, "Congrats Lance on 2 years" he said. How time flies. He is talking about my time at Half Off Depot/nCrowd.
It has been quite busy. So busy that I have not really had a chance to practice my preach of updating your resume every year just to remember what you have accomplished. Doing that and keeping it to the required two pages is just way too time consuming. So at the risk of being self aggrandizing here are the bullet points of the past two years (one of the reasons I have a blog is to find things that are important to me) that someday I am going to have to whittle down and properly format for a resume.
Played a significant role in the company securing $7 million series A.
Selected expansion markets and in conjunction with CEO set expansion strategy.
Successfully expanded into first additional market within 60 days of joining company.
Based on the results recommended to board that we accelerate expansion.
Expanded into four additional markets with 100 days of joining company.
When Groupon botched its IPO recommended a market rollup.
Took over direct duties of CTO and Vice President of Marketing.
Personally led the negotiation of two asset acquisitions.
Identified and made initial inquires to major acquisition target, oversaw due diligence and closing of the same.
Oversaw the development of proprietary platform and assumed direct management of the darn thing. As in doing sysadmin and committing code.
Assisted in securing venture debt for major acquisitions.
Acted as corporate secretary.
Started as employee number 21, employee base now reported to be 70.
3.5x revenue run rate growth.
Not a bad list for two years. It will be interesting to see what the next two bring.
Last Thursday night Atlanta Public Schools had a meeting at Grady High School to discuss the shooting incident that took place on its campus Wedensday morning. I attended the meeting. My opinion is Atlanta Public Schools is not acting urgently
enough, is not being vigilant enough, and is not communicating with the community
enough on how it intends to make schools safe.
Students are in harm's way. I am
compelled to voice my opinion to raise awareness of the issues at hand so that the Atlanta
Public Schools will rapidly take action to correct their policies and
procedures. If what is transpiring at Grady were widely known the public might
come to the conclusion that given the circumstances there has been a failure to
exercise reasonable care by the school administration. My intent is to motivate
Atlanta Public Schools to act with more urgency to protect students.
Before I go on I must add that what I
am about to say is not reflective of the quality students, teachers, and
parents that make Grady one of the top public high schools not only in the city
of Atlanta but the state of Georgia. Its debate, journalism, and robotics
programs are renowned. These people deserve more than what they are getting
from the Atlanta Public Schools system.
I also want to commend the teachers for
their reaction the day of the shooting. They acted swiftly. They let students
use cell phones (counter to official Atlanta Public School policy). Because I
was able to speak with my daughter via cell phone I knew what she was unharmed.
She was also able to search news sites to learn what was going on, and I was
able to communicate to her that she was safe. It seems that most teachers made
the decision to let students use their mobile phones to contact their parents.
Back to the Thursday night town hall
type meeting. It was called by Atlanta Public Schools and held at the Grady
High School auditorium. Associate superintendent Steve Smith led the meeting.
Grady principal Vincent Murray, Atlanta Public Schools security chief Marquenta
Sands, and regional K-12 executive director David White made opening statements
that lasted for about 30 minutes. Student body president Lauren Alford was also
on the dais.
I was initially extremely impressed
with what these administrators were saying. "The safety of our
students" is of utmost importance. "What happened yesterday was
unacceptable." "We are not here to sweep anything under the
rug." Ms. Sands talked a lot about "gaps" in the security
process. Then she made a statement that they were not going to talk about plans
to fix the security issues at the school. The sole reason why over 100 people
showed up was to learn what Atlanta Public Schools was going to do to keep
students safe and they were not going to address it. That is one big rug and
Fortunately anyone that is smart enough
to make it through at least nine years of schooling is smart enough to see the
gaps in Atlanta Public Schools security policy at Grady High School. And it was
time for the Grady community to speak. This is what I took away from that
Gap 1: Grady is an open campus.
Grady High School is an open campus. It
is not a monolithic building but five buildings linked together by walkways and
courtyards. The ability to secure the entire campus is challenging if not
impossible. If someone wanted to go on campus to do harm they could do so with
Gap 2: Security measures only in main
If you are a non bus-riding student
(bus riders have to enter via the main building) with a class that is not
in the main building (technically buildings C & E which are connected
internally) there are no security measures. Students with first period classes
in the auditorium, Black Box Theatre, music hall, new gym, old gym, or god
forbid a trailer, do not have to go through any security measures. To use an
analogy it is somewhat akin to having security only at the main terminal at
Hartsfield airport but leaving the access to terminal T unsecured.
Much has been made about the shooter
skirting school security because two students opened a gym door for her. It is my understanding that she could have just walked in the gym unaided at
anytime via an unlocked door with no metal detector on it. There is nothing to
stop anyone from bringing a weapon to school if they have classes in a remote
building. When directly asked if a metal detector had been installed in the gym
since the incident Ms. Sands replied "no." When asked when one would
be she did not respond. When asked if any charges would be brought against the
two students that aided the shooter she did not respond. Makes you question her
"the time table is now" statement.
Update 3/5/13: Students were required to go through the main building today to enter auditorium and music hall.
Update 3/6/13: Turned first period into home room to force most students through main building.
Gap 3: Security measures stop when
The teachers are responsible for
implementing morning security. Once they do this they go to teach class. If a
student has a first period class in a remote building by the time that class is
over security has been turned off. If such a student were so inclined they
would be free to roam the entire campus with a weapon.
Gap 4: Backpacks and purses do not go
Students are required to go through
metal detectors. Their backpacks and purses are not scanned. These bags are
supposed to be properly hand searched, but many parents, including this one,
are being told by their offspring that this is not happening. Mr. White made a
comment that unbeknownst to him the school must not be following proper
procedure. Grady High School is not
following proper procedure and according to the students that I interact with
on a regular basis "nothing has changed" since the shooting.
Update 3/4/13: I learned today that a change was made where bags are currently being properly searched. ROTC leader is currently overseeing bag searches.
Gap 5: Teachers are not trained
Good grief, what would they even do if
they found a weapon? Teachers need to be preparing for the school day. They
need to be teaching. They are currently arriving to first period classes as
much as 30 minutes after class starts. Trained professionals are needed during
security check in. Superintendent Davis has stated that he would rather have
school resource officers elsewhere. I honestly don't understand what they could
possibly be doing that is more important then ensuring a student does not bring
a weapon on campus.
Gap 6: Education.
to be a lot of emphasis on this at the meeting. Providing methods for students
to contact authorities. Maybe things have changed since I was in high school
but it was pretty uncommon back then to report illegal activity to the school
administration or police. But I will play along in good faith. Students can
report potential illegal activity to the Atlanta Public Schools tip line at
877-801-7754 or to Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.
Gap 7: Holes in lockdown procedures.
My daughter had a substitute teacher
the day of the shooting. The sub did not have a key to the door of the trailer.
They were locked down without a lock. Anyone could have opened the door and
walked right in. During a hard lock down. Imagine if something evil instead of
careless was taking place. Imagine that you are a kid in a trailer with an
unlocked door during a hard lock down because a gun had been shot on your
school campus. Imagine that you are so afraid that you are trying to hide under
a desk. Unacceptable indeed.
Gap 8: Communications
A number of parents at the meeting
indicated that they did not receive any communication about the incident even
though they received normal communications from Atlanta Public Schools. Neither
my wife nor myself received any communications from Atlanta Public Schools on
the day of the incident. We have not received any communications from Atlanta
Public Schools since the day of the incident.
With all that said the highlight of the
night for me came from a student toward the end of a meeting. A female freshman
pleading for the administration and teachers to address the emotional trauma
this whole affair has brought on the student body.
is a real life problem, that is a grown up problem that we are dealing with as
This is our problem. Our communities deserve
safe schools. The shooting incidents at Price Middle School and Grady High
School (there have been two shootings within a month) demonstrate that Atlanta Public Schools is failing to provide safe
Atlanta Public Schools needs to
communicate what it plans to do to keep our schools safe and not hide behind
the cloak of not going into details for safety reasons. If some outsider wants
to do harm at a school it cannot be prevented. What can be prevented are
students carrying weapons on campus. The community deserves to know what is
being done to prevent this before the next incident fatally harms an innocent.
I urge you to spread the word on what
is transpiring at Grady High School and Atlanta Public Schools in any manner
you see fit. I urge you to demand accountability and action by Atlanta Public
Schools. They are not doing everything they can to
protect our children. This must change.
My daughter is a freshman at Grady High School in Atlanta. Grady is an intown public school that is a part of the Atlanta Public Schools system, about a mile from the center of Midtown Atlanta. We leave about a mile from the school. We live in the city and send our kids to public schools. We believe experiencing diversity while young better prepares you for the rest of your life. But we could be wrong.
On Wednesday morning at about 10:20am I got a call from my wife. "Kate texted me" she said, "there's been a shooting at Grady". The fact Kate was texting was good. I called her, she answered, something that does not happen all the time with a 14 year old. It certainly does not happen with a 14 year old during the school day. She was shaken but laughing. The school was on hard lock down but she was in a trailer with a sub who did not have the key to lock the door. Students were hiding under desks. Fearing for their lives. Why she was laughing I knew not, her own nervous fear I suspect.
Students were using their smart phones to figure out what was going on. Seems a girl shot herself in the leg. My daughter was in lock down in a trailer with no lock and a sub that had no idea what was going on. Just after noon I got a text from my daughter. "Pick me up please." "Be there" was the response.
Walking onto the Grady campus where some student just shot themselves was a little surreal. It actually seemed too normal. Lots of kids were in the parking lot deciding where they were going to gather for lunch and the rest of the day. I went to the main courtyard darn close to where the gun went off, waiting for my daughter. As I did so I was serenaded by the sound of metal detectors as students went into the cafeteria. Detectors singing out warning to which no one took heed.
She came out. "What happened" I asked. This is what she said, more or less.
"Big Morgan was changing classes. Her first class is PE and you do not have to go through security to go to your first class. She had a gun in her purse and the safety was off. She shot herself in the leg, threw the gun in the bushes, and went to the nurses station."
"So how would she get from her first class to her second class with a gun?" I innocently asked. "Well when you go through the metal detectors you but your purse and backpacks on a table, the teachers give them a pat or two but they really do not look at what is in the bag" she replied. "Somebody told a friend of mine that they knew of at least five people that were carrying guns to school on a daily basis."
Let that sink in for a moment.
Students are packing heat at high school. And the reaction from the Atlanta Public Schools administration is that schools are "not designed to be fortresses” and that Big Morgan did not “did not follow protocol to check in.” The girl is 17, packing a gun to school, and has already been to court this week for some other matter. She is committing a felony along with all those other students on campus carrying weapons. I suspect that she, and the others carrying weapons that are smart enough not to shoot themselves, do not really care about protocol. I suspect that she and other students know how to get weapons into the school. They are free roaming convictable felons.
According to one student interviewed by The Atlanta Journal “It’s not that hard to get anything into Grady.”
And that has to change.
And the only way that is going to happen is for the Atlanta Public School system to lift their head out of the sand and admit they have a big problem. If not only one, but two student shooting incidents within a month is not enough to do it I am just going to have to nudge them along a bit.
First condoned cheating and now condoned violence. Geez-o-pete.
I disagree with the Atlanta Public Schools system and its leadership. I think as a society and species that we must protect our young until they are old enough to protect themselves. I think we all can agree, with the exception of Atlanta Public Schools leadership, that no one should be allowed or enabled to hurt a child.
I am going to be writing about this for a little while until the Atlanta Public Schools system takes action to protect our youth. I urge you to join me in this mission and to tell everyone that you know to do the same.
For those of you that follow FoG for its normal content I beg your patience. My kids are in a school system where the leadership does not believe it is their responsibility to keep them safe from harm. Some things are just too important to remain silent on.
Truth be told I seriously contemplated using the occasion to shut it down. Outside of family I have very seldom done anything in my life for more than five years. Seven in my mind is the absolute longest time anyone should do any one thing. But for some reason I could not bring myself to turn it off.
The annual stats over the life of the blog show a certain disinterest. The past year was the lowest number of posts that I have authored since FoG started. And the comments, which is the only thing that really makes this more than just a self-aggrandizing free flow of not totally organized thoughts, dropped 6x.
But it seems that over the past month or so I have figured out how to discuss some of the things that are going on in my startup world and that I may be able to keep on a pace to put up two posts a week which in my mind about what is needed to build a healthy community.
So I decided to remain calm and carry on. Like family, FoG has become a little too cherished to leave.
So about two months ago over on Atlanta Starup Community Johnny Bird wrote an article about why more of Atlanta's startup community leaders should blog. Of course they should. And I meant to wrote a response to Johnny's article agreeing with him 100%. But I did not. For one simple reason. It is kinda tough to find the time to blog when a dozen other more pressing things are commanding, yes commanding your time. Commanding it on things that are mostly hard to share in a public venue.
So I ran into Johnny at Venture Atlanta yesterday. I told him it was time for fresh blood to pick up the baton. He's a good sales guy. He convinced me otherwise. So here is a non committal I am going to start blogging a bit more. Not sure I have the time. We will see where this goes.
To be selected a guy has to work for a technology company and be a member of an executive team that is working to create create a culture of transparency and authenticity. I have no idea how I ended up on a list that includes Michael Dell and Craig Newmark. Thanks the folks over at Blue Focus and to anyone that had a hand in bringing me to their attention.
When my kids were a bit younger and they brought home those straight A report cards we would always make a beeline for Jake's Ice Cream Midtown for a tasty treat. I would even indulge, which is quite the rarity.
Jake's closed their Midtown and some other locations during the recession. Jake, he is a real guy, is back with a new model. Home delivery. They are extending their delivery area today from their Old Fourth Ward neighborhood to all of Atlanta. And they have chosen Half Off Depot as their launch partner.
I got to test the offer. Did not get bite of what they delivered. Kids devoured the stuff. Great flavors like Chocolate Slap Yo Mama, Brown Shugah Vanilla, Sin-oh-Man, Red Velvet Cakescream, and Coffee & Donuts.
Six pints of yummy Jake's Ice Cream for $15. Half Price. Delivered for free. And for every order Jake's is going to donate a scoop of ice cream to a child at Scottish Rite Hospital.
Force of Good is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You are free to share, remix, and share alike with attribution.
The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone (with the exception of comments by others of course). They do not represent the opinion or position of any other person or entity. All postings adhere to my personal values.