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In 2017, while at Amazon, I was thinking about starting another company, but I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind that I no longer had “it,” that special thing that made normal people into Founders.

I decided to grab a flight to Boulder, CO, and meet up with friends and mentors to ask one simple question, “Do you think I still have it in me to be a founder?”

I reached out to David Cohen, who I met in 2007 right after selling a company. …

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“You are not alone.”

Over the years I have received and given so much advice about how to build and run a company. Things about hiring, fundraising, leading, and growing. But of all the advice those four words always rang as the most important.

“You are not alone.”

It is always hard as a founder to realize that even as the buck stops with you, that you are not unique in having to make those decisions. Many have made similar decisions and experienced similar paths. I always found comfort in that. …

For most of my life, I would sit down in front of a white screen with a blinking cursor and just start writing. The words would flow and in the back of my brain, a small, but persistent, voice would cheer me on.

A year ago or so, that voice was replaced with a louder voice reminding me of how little anyone wanted to read what I wrote. That my skills as a writer were lost, and the best I could ever hope for was a few likes on 280 characters.

So I stopped writing.

For most of my life…

from wikipedia

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion around what types of company is venture capital helpful.

A few years back, Bryce and his partners at OATV asked the same question. They came to a realization that there is an entire swath of companies that either isn’t right for traditional venture capital (based on potential exit, growth trajectories, etc.) or, frankly, are not interested going down that path. …

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Everyone I know has some activity that when everything else is lost, they can find solace within. That when the world is burning around them, they can find respite within that activity and say, “I am fine.”

That activity provides sanity, support and the freedom from all the difficulties that life likes to provide us, even in moments when things are actually fine.

Some point, at the beginning of 2018, I realized that my activities were becoming out of reach, and had been replaced with constantly burning fires that manifested in a distinct lack of motivation.

I became the embodiment…

When people ask me what's special about Silicon Valley, I answer: “success begets success, and entrepreneurship perpetuates entrepreneurs.”

For any startup ecosystem, there are three phases to its maturation: First Raise; Messy Middle; Repeatable Exits.

First Raise

Before I went to Amazon, I spent a lot of time flying around the US meeting and speaking to entrepreneurs in various ecosystems. In total, I think I did more than 100 talks. Most of those conversations were focused on the creation of a business, the path to building an MVP and landing the first investment check.

That is where an ecosystem gestates. It’s about…

As you can see from the screenshot, this post is from a little while ago. I am updating it because things haven’t gotten better and in many ways, Dark UX has gotten worse. As product people, we can do better.

It began simply enough.

A post in my Facebook feed that was interesting enough that I wanted to click on it. After all, who doesn’t want to learn more about Satan worship and its effect on housing pricing?

Link says “” but instead of going to the article, it launches the App Store and lands you on the page to…

An on-going series taking a look at the Amazon Leadership Principles from a startup point of view. Start here to see others.

The Amazon Leadership Principles are a set of 14 statements that drive the culture of innovation at Amazon. Each focuses on a different aspect of that culture and each holds interesting lessons for startups as they transverse their journeys from inception to success.


Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job”.

Back in September, I wrote a post titled, Want to Start a Company? Work at a Big One First with the intent of exploring the Amazon Leadership Principles from a startup’s perspective.

What I realized soon after writing that post, that my customer was me, and so I obsessed over myself for a bit, focusing on mental and physical health, and time passed.

A bit more time than I meant. Ah well, things happen…

What are the Amazon Leadership Principles?

They are 14 guiding principles by which every decision is made at Amazon. They permeate the language and actions of every Amazonian. Ever wonder why Amazon…

When someone asks me how they should go about deciding what to build, I always answer the same way:

“Build something you wish always existed.”

Over the years, I have spoken to thousands of startup founders across the country, been involved with Techstars and other accelerators, worked at a big company (Amazon is still pretty big, right?), and even have had the pleasure to invest in a few companies.

At this point, I feel pretty confident that I have seen the entire life cycle of the founder’s journey a thousand times.

As I was getting ready to leave Amazon, a…

Micah Baldwin

Executive Coach @highoutput. Angel Investor. Founded or early at 6 startups (4 exits). @amazon @madronaventures alum. Loves dogs, cats & donuts.

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