My Father, Hyperloop & Execution

The pursuit of faster travel has always been at the forefront of human desire. From horse to car, train to plane – anything that can reliably get us from point A to point B in less time has the potential to dramatically impact our world. Faster travel increases global commerce, reduces economic friction and engenders richer lives for all of us by exposing us to new ideas and cultures.

Last week the Internet was abuzz about Elon Musk and his forthcoming Hyperloop concept. When I saw it my jaw dropped.

H-O-L-Y Shit.

I was stunned. Why? Because it is something I have been hearing about this idea since I was a little kid. My father envisioned a train that would “float on air” and travel hundreds of miles per hour between distant locations. I have the image on the below left as well as the image at top hanging in my home office on the wall. These images, hand painted in the 1960s, are a constant reminder of my father’s creativity and vision. They are one of my most prized possessions. For more on that read this post from a few years ago.


What my dad understood way back then was that in order for a train to reach maximum speed the entire thing would need to be enclosed in a frictionless tube. He also told me that the “cars” could either be connected or independent, since the entire thing would be powered by thousands of linear motors, rather than a single engine.

I have seen many train designs that have made me think of my father over the years, but when I read about Hyperloop I choked up a bit. I said to myself out-loud “H-O-L-Y Shit. Elon is going to build it and I am going to take my dad for a ride!”

tom_murphyVision vs. Execution

Many visionaries have ideas, but we often don’t have the resources necessary to execute the master plan. The successful visionaries figure that out. My father wound up scaling down his idea and eventually selling the company for a nice win – knowing he was missing the big opportunity. He knew he could see the future, but he also knew that it wasn’t going to be attainable any time soon. His challenge was three fold :

  1. He wouldn’t be able to raise the capital needed to build out the infrastructure.
  2. The technology available made the solution too expensive (or didn’t exist).
  3. There wasn’t a perceived value or need.

Fifty years later, Musk is in a totally different situation.

  1. He has the track record required to raise huge amounts of money.
  2. The technology to build out the infrastructure exists and is relatively inexpensive.
  3. Most importantly – Our world now needs a solution like this in order to survive long term.

The global population has doubled from 3 to 6 billion people since the 1960s and will be at 8 billion by 2020. Our airspace and roads are increasingly congested and inefficient. The pollution we are generating is not sustainable for our planet. We need a reliable, high speed transportation that is eco-friendly and inexpensive enough for the masses. Hyperloop could very well be the answer.

Timing is Everything

elon_muskOne of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make is that they are often too early for the market (something I have been guilty of a few times myself). The financial, technological and consumer components that are required for ultimate success aren’t all in place. I believe Musk innately understands this concept and is able to time his entrepreneurial endeavors perfectly. He is always an early pioneer, but not so early that he needs to wait decades for things to fall into place.

He did it with PayPal, then Tesla and SpaceX. None of those companies were the first at what they do, but they timed the market right and did it better than their competitors.

Does Musk have it right again? If I had to place a bet I would say yes. Hyperloop is a long time coming – I just hope it is done fast enough for me to take my father for a ride.

Tony Hsieh’s Las Vegas Downtown Project

A few months ago Tony Hsieh set up an opportunity for me to take a tour of the Downtown Project in Las Vegas. This is a massively ambitious effort dedicated to transforming downtown Las Vegas into “the most community-focused large city in the world”. I walked away from the experience excited about… and a bit jealous of… the future of downtown Las Vegas. In fact, this tour is what inspired me to create Trucks and Tech and take a more active role in the development of Orlando’s tech community.

tony_hsieh_downtown_projectTony and his team are true visionaries. They are empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs to rethink and reinvent the way they work and play. They have already created 454 new jobs and the project is still in its nascency. I followed up with Kim Schaefer of the Downtown team to get the 2 minute lowdown for my readers.

What was the inspiration behind the downtown project?

When Zappos announced their move to their new headquarters, Tony and several other Zappos team members decided to make the move Downtown–they had actually been hanging out down here for quite some time. But they had also been talking a lot about what their new campus would be like. They decided that rather than creating a really cool, but insular campus that had all of the amenities employees would ever need, it would be interesting to turn that idea inside out. Downtown Project was born from that idea. How could the entirety of Downtown be helped by the new influx of people and activity.

What makes Vegas so special?

Las Vegas was for a long time the fastest growing city in the country. Because that growth happened in a very condensed period of time, there was a resulting sprawl that occurred. That sprawl can lead to a disconnect between people in a community. The area we are helping to revitalize was once the vibrant core of our city, a place where families came to shop, dine, and meet with friends. It’s our hope that the neighborhood can return to that vibrancy and once again be the heart of the city for the people who live here–not just Downtown residents, but all residents of our city.

You have raised $350M so far, where did it all come from?

The $350 million is a private investment from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

What startups are part of the program?

Tech startups are important to us because we believe you change the world with a laptop. As opposed to a brick and mortar operation, in which we are also investing, tech startups can rapidly scale, creating jobs and helping to further diversify the Las Vegas economy.

(When I was there they setup a meeting with the founders of Romotive)

Why is coworking so important to the downtown project?

Coworking is a great way to accelerate learning and innovation. It allows technologists and entrepreneurs opportunities for serendipitous interactions, which we call collisions, to interact in a casual way where they can learn from one another, collaborate with one another, and support one another as they grow their businesses. We’ve invested in a coworking space called Work In Progress that also offers its members support in the form of classes, talks, office hours with experts, and mentorship to help them scale.

If you are ever in Las Vegas and have some time to broaden your mind I encourage you to reach out and try to schedule a tour with the Downtown team. This experience beats any show you can see on the Las Vegas strip! I promise you will walk away energized and driven to become more involved in your local community.

10 Ways to Spark Creativity

Creativity is a mindset, and a way of thinking. It’s not a task. One way to think of creativity is the bringing together of previously unrelated concepts or ideas to create something new. Naturally, like anything else, some people are better at doing this than others. The good news is that there are some things anyone can do to better create an environment that sparks and encourages this mindset. What follows is a list of ten things to try if you find yourself in a creative slump.

Be Quiet. Turn off all distractions. Sometimes total silence can get us in touch with the voice in our head. Listen to it. So many ideas come to people in the shower because there is nothing else to do but think. My sanctuary is a nice long run.

Try Something New. How can you expect to bring together unrelated concepts and ideas if you’re never exposed to any new ones? This is why I love to travel, why I love to tell a waiter to “bring me whatever you want”, and why I am constantly pursing new creative projects. Some experiences I love, some experiences I hate, but all experiences bring me new ideas.

Pick From a Hat. There are authors out there who have admitted to coming up with story ideas by throwing a bunch of words and phrases into a hat, picking out two or three strips of paper, and coming up with a way for them to relate. Even if the idea ends up being stupid, it might lead to another fresh idea. You may want to try Team Storyteller.

Question Everything. Sherlock Holmes is a genius not because of his intelligence but for his ability to notice everyday “elementary” things that others take for granted. The process of discovering an answer, even crazy ones, can lead to profound insights that can give rise to other ideas or methods of doing things.

Soften Your Focus. There’s a video that floats around the internet every so often in which you’re asked to count how many times a basketball is passed between teammates at practice. Meanwhile, a gorilla walks through the scene. Most people miss it, because they’re concentrating on just one thing. Always watch for the gorilla others miss.

Carry a Notebook… Better Yet Get Evernote. Rely less on your memory. Writing down ideas as they come to you, no matter how trivial, gives you material to work with later and frees up your memory for other things.


Free-write. Sit down and just do something. A lot of time is wasting sitting around waiting for inspiration. Doodle. Once you give yourself permission to do, you can start planting the seeds that can be revised later and grow into something great.

Keep a Dream Journal. Again, another great use of Evernote. Dreams are our subconscious mind literally sorting through ideas and concepts without the interference of our own internal dialog. Writing them down will help you remember more of them, and start giving you insights into how your own thought processes work. Even though most of my dreams are cray cray… every once and awhile there is a gem hidden in there.

Talk to Yourself. Tara (my wife) often catches me talking to myself. While she thinks I have an imaginary friend, it is actually me sorting through my ideas. Talking to yourself allows you to put yourself in the position of someone else. You can play Devil’s advocate to your own ideas. This forces you to come up with explanations and justifications, and to see a problem from another perspective.

Give Yourself Permission to Fail. As a guy who has failed many, many times I can tell you that nothing is perfect the first time. If you have an idea that you know needs more work to be perfect, don’t wait for that to happen on its own. Get your idea out there. You can go back and revisit it whenever you want.

Work with Your Hands

There is something magical about creating a physical object with your hands. I love the Interwebs as much as the next guy, but to be honest I feel more fulfilled when I produce a work of art or craft something from raw materials that I can hold and touch.

I have started working on a table for Tara. She wants to be able to look out over the lake when she is working from home. It will also serve as a dinner table for our little family when Zane is old enough to be in a high chair.

I am overbuilding it a bit. It is made of thick cedar lumber and will have a very heavy top. My goal is to make this a keepsake that will be in our family well into the future. I will post pics of the progress as I reach major milestones.

When was the last time you built something with your hands?



The irony of the #occupywallstreet movement against “corporate greed” spreading across the country amazes me.

There are now thousands of people gathered together using their iPhones (APPL) to upload videos to YouTube (GOOG) on AT&T (ATT) and Verizon (VZ) networks, sipping Starbucks (SBUX) and taking bathroom breaks at McDonalds (MCD). They are dressed in clothes from GAP (GPS) and American Eagle (AEO), writing on paper signs from International Paper (IP) with markers and pens manufactured by BIC (BIC). People are demonstrating against the very companies that they depend on every day to provide them everything from food and clothing to communication and entertainment.

The idea of corporate greed is altogether wrong.

Corporations don’t have desires, people do. People are greedy. People want more. They want more service from companies for less money. They want higher paying jobs. They want cars and homes they can’t afford. They want a better lifestyle for themselves and their family. They want it not because they have earned it or because it makes fiscal sense, but because they feel they deserve it. Entitlement spans the entire gamut of society from the rich to the poor.

This is the real greed that is ruining our country.

We need to look no further than our government to see the collective greed of the people. We are $14.8 trillion dollars in debt and have an annual budget deficit of $1.3 Trillion. The government is hemorrhaging money and we continue to increase the debt ceiling to fuel the unrealistic demands of the general public. We all want more… we push our politicians to get more… and we are drowning in debt as a result.

We are in this situation because most of our politicians don’t have the strength to say, “NO”. Our system rewards the short term “YES” despite the consequences and long term fiscal health of our country. Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter. Politicians get reelected on platforms of increased allocations, not cuts…tax reductions, not revenue generation.

The exact opposite is true in the corporate world. CEOs are selected and rewarded based on their ability to grow the top line, manage the bottom line and make the hard cuts when needed. Most major public corporations are profitable. It is not because they are greedy, it is because they are fiscally responsible and have a duty to their shareholders. I am not going to say that their aren’t issues with corporate governance, but I wish our government was managed more like a corporation.

Every CEO would love to pay their employees more, offer more benefits, increase dividends, upgrade infrastructure and make huge investments in the future. The reality is that there is only so much money to go around and they can’t do it all. CEOs can’t print more money… but the government can and does because of us… because of the peoples greed.

Corporations are not our problem. We are our problem.

Redirect the Energy

The energy of this movement is exciting and intense; I just feel it is wasted and misguided. I believe unemployment is at the heart of the unrest, causing people to point fingers and look for a scapegoat. Protesting about corporate greed doesn’t create more jobs. If anything it freaks investors out, drives the markets down and devalues the very corporations that could be hiring. If the organizers of the movement really want to have an impact they should change the message to be one of job creation and entrepreneurism.


What if those thousands of people came together to create startups instead of protesting? What if we were able to harness all that negative energy, hate and resentment to turn the world into a better place? What if those gatherings created hundreds of new companies, with new lives and futures for people who are currently unemployed? What if the organizers actually welcomed corporations to sponsor the movement and provide seed capital to the new startups?

Instead of #occupywallstreet how about #startupwallstreet?

I believe that there are positive ways to approach any problem. America was built on optimism and capitalism, let’s not sit around complaining about corporations keeping us down… lets go out there and create a the next generation of corporations.

We need corporations, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change the way they are run. If you think you can do it better go out there and start your own!

Steve Jobs – My iMentor

As you probably know by now Steve Jobs passed away today. I could go on and on about my passion for all things Apple; how I hope they can continue to innovate without him… but what really strikes me is the hole I feel in my gut right now.

Two people have stoked my entrepreneurial fire for as long as I can remember… my father who literally created me, cared for me, mentored me, and supported everything I have ever wanted to do… and Steve Jobs, a man who I have never met or corresponded with in any way (despite many attempts of mine).

Steve accomplished so many things in his life that I can’t possibly list them all, but I believe his biggest contribution to the world was being an iMentor. Steve’s boldness, perseverance, work ethic and incredible attention design have guided me without our physical paths ever crossing (though I was so close at one MacWorld). I can’t tell you how many times I have thought to myself “what would Steve do?” I know I drive my development team crazy at times and it is thanks to Steve teaching me that good isn’t good enough. I want things to be “insanely great” and I am not alone.

An entire generation of entrepreneurs have been iMentored by Steve. His mark extends far beyond the iPhone in your hand or the iMac on your desk. From movies to music to robots and quantum physics, the people that are changing the world draw strength from following Steve’s long road to success.

Steve taught me that disruptors are often hated before they are loved, that the best ideas come from your heart (not focus groups), and most importantly to never give up on something that you believe in (even if your board or investors do).

Apple burst on the scene with the Apple I & II and that was incredible, but what really impressed me was the long term commitment Steve made despite what seemed like insurmountable odds. Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy and Steve came back to transform the company with his vision and commitment to innovation.

I have been there. I have been running on vapor. I have had everyone tell me I was crazy. I have been told, “don’t waste any more of your money.” I have been told to “just give up.”

I knew Steve wouldn’t give up. My dad doesn’t give up. I never give up.

I am no Steve Jobs. There is only one. However, I do hope that in some way my actions, failures and success can iMentor a new generation of entrepreneurs, developers and designers following their dreams.

I will miss you Steve. Give iGod a high five for me. I will buy you a beer when it is my time.

Adaptive Creativity

A few months ago I found myself sitting on a plane, staring at my computer screen, reminiscent of days gone by. I was looking through old screen shots and photos of projects I worked on when I was younger. From print design and logos to websites and videos, I used to spend the majority of my day pushing pixels, story boarding and drawing. I knocked down quite a few design awards in my day and I absolutely loved seeing my creative visions become a reality.

Things have changed over the years. I spend most of my day in meetings. I travel constantly. Inspiring brainstorms with designers and engineers on beanbags have largely been replaced with giant oak tables lined with lawyers, bankers and investors. I am pursuing the same dream, but in many ways it feels like I am living a different life. When I was in college I considered myself to be an artist that happened to be entrepreneur, in reality I am an entrepreneur that happens to be an artist.

I don’t think I am alone in this. Many founders struggle with identity issues as their organization grows and their roles change. Some fight it. I have chosen to adapt my creative energy to my changing role over time.

Creative Energy

You may think of yourself as a coder, a designer, a writer or photographer… but what you really are is a creative. You do things differently. You are an inventor… a visionary. Once you recognize that your true asset is raw creative energy, you can learn to adapt and convert that energy to overcome any challenge (and make any task fun).

Business as Usual + Unusual = Art

I spend a large part of my time these days meeting with people in suits. I am talking buttoned up, cuff link-wearing, hard-core wall street types. I could grab my suit and conform. I could be absorbed into the machine and “act like a public company CEO”. Instead I see these meetings as an opportunity to adapt my creative talent and demonstrate what makes our company special. I don’t want my meetings to be business as usual. I want to share what makes our business unusual.

I walk in wearing cowboy boots, jeans and the biggest smile they have ever seen. I yell with excitement. My pitch includes offbeat photos, jokes and enough passionate energy to power a small city. I blaze through 60 slides in 20 minutes. I rock their world.

I have spent hundreds of hours tweaking my investor presentation. It features photos and videos I have personally created. It is story that includes my wife, my dog, my trials of the past and vision of the future. It may not be a new website or logo, but when I deliver it in front of an audience it is art.

I am still an artist, I just paint with different tools. You can find an opportunity to adapt your creativity in virtually any job role. Every change is a new canvas begging for your paint.

(Except for accountants. Sorry, I don’t want you guys getting creative.)

Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash

This morning I ran the Warrior Dash with my IZEA teammates Larry and Rhia. I have to say it was probably the most fun I have ever had running, partially because of the obstacles, mud and party atmosphere, but mostly because of the people I ran with. We were by no means the fastest team out there, but we had a great time, stuck together and “Rhia and The Sprinkles” crossed the finish line holding hands.

The Warrior Dash is a 3 mile run combined with a challenging and rugged terrain. Along the path you will encounter mud crawling, fire-leaping, balance beams and various other obstacles. It all ends in a big party, complete with a band, plenty of over-sized beers and giant turkey legs.

Great Team Building

My only regret for this years Warrior Dash was that I didn’t make it a bigger company wide initiative at IZEA. The race is short enough that everyone could have finished, yet challenging enough that you feel like you accomplished something. Next year I plan on having a company tent, spending the entire weekend in a camper and paying the entry fee for all the Izeans that want to participate. Unique events like this are true team building opportunities that foster team work, comradery and some incredible memories.

Foosball Isn’t The Devil

For The Disruptors…

People fear what they don’t understand. There will always be those that down play the big idea, criticize it or even personally attack those behind it. Don’t let the naysayers get to you. Don’t let their small mindedness cause you to question yourself. Believe in what you are doing. Go against the grain. Make the dream a reality.

Most of all never ever stay off the field because others don’t like the game. Get out there and run like hell.

You can do it Bobby Boucher!

Let’s Get Muddy

Tara and I recently returned from Maui. One of our goals for the trip was to see some waterfalls. We stopped at twin falls, one of the highlights along the road to Hana. We jumped out of our Jeep, grabbed our stuff and made a quick trek up to the waterfall just off the road. When we got there we were disappointed. Maui has been in a draught this year and there wasn’t really much of a waterfall. Water was barely trickling down the mountainside and the pool it flowed into was cloudy.

Just as we were about to head back to the Jeep a group of adventurous tourists appeared out of nowhere. They were covered in mud and out of breath. “There is another waterfall up this path,” one of them said. “You’ll get dirty but it is worth it”. Tara and I looked at each other, then back at the people who had just come down the mountain, then back at each other. “Let’s get muddy,” I said. Tara agreed and we started up the path.

Neither of us understood what we were getting into. Not only was the path covered in overgrowth, rocky and extremely slippery, it lead us to a 30 foot tall bridge that had a 2 foot wide path and no guard rails. I am not afraid of heights, but I didn’t like this bridge at all.

In the end it was definitely worth it. The waterfall was gorgeous. It was clear, cool and so remote it felt like our own special treasure.

Don’t Be Afraid of a Little Mud

Life is full of opportunities. The best opportunities often lie at the end of a trail that will leave you muddy, winded and a bit beaten up. Some people avoid the mud all together. Some people jump in and celebrate every dirty step forward. Life is simply too short to always play it safe.

Go on… it is time to get dirty.