Next trip: San Francisco, Hills Bros., Wharton

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Photo credit: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

One of the most inspiring people in my life has been my Grandfather. Although he's passed, there's not a day that goes by where I don't think of him. He had that much of an impact on the person I am. The next trip I take will be to San Francisco, which is where he spent most of his time.

My Grandfather, Ernie Shaw, worked for Hills Bros Coffee for 42 years. Starting as an office clerk he rose to Vice President. An amazing feat that simply doesn't happen anymore. Work place cultures will not allow it. They burn people out.

It's a shame, because like my Grandfather, many of us have the energy and passion to grow with a company - provided they recognize us for doing so. I just read an article about a small business owner who is offering a $50,000 bonus to any employee who stays with the company for five years. You know what I call that? A good start.

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Anyway, exit soapbox.

The Hills Bros. Building at the base of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco is where Ernie Shaw worked for 42 years. It remains today, with the Hills Bros. Coffee sign now a National landmark. This January, the Hills Bros. building will have a new tenant, Wharton | San Francisco. I can think of no other tenant my Grandfather would rather have occupy his building. Yes, I said his building.

He was full of life, excitement, energy (likely from all the coffee), loved a good drink, a nice cigar and conversation. Most of all, he loved learning, growing and overcoming challenges. One can only hope his presence is felt in the building and our business leaders of tomorrow remain inspired. 

Wharton, one of the best business schools in the country is expanding its presence on the West Coast. Wise decision. Ernie Shaw and I can think of no better place to be.

P.S. Since you read this far, I figure you must really like coffee. I can dig that. Maybe coffee even gives you superpowers?
You probably love West Coast coffee, too. Check out this book about the history of coffee on the West Coast.

For additional information on Wharton |San Francisco, see: sf.wharton.upenn.edu.

Spring Time: Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants Fans

See you in Scottsdale, bitches.Each year there is one thing I look forward to more than anything else. Spring Training in Scottsdale, AZ. Many of the Bay Area fan failthful make this yearly pilgrimage each year. The temperature in Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ around this time of year is a cool, crisp 75-80 degrees. The scenery is well, let's just say amazing. And it's baseball time.

When pitchers and catchers report to the AZilla in February, I'll be with them for a month of heaven. I've already got my tickets. 

Tech Office: Zynga and San Francisco's SoMA neighborhood

Zynga's new digs, located in the SoMA hood of San Francisco.

I've been critical of Zynga here and left them out of my previous "Best of the West: Bay Area Office Spaces" post here.

Even I must admit, as someone who believes Zynga is way over-valued, their offices are bad ass.

With Silicon Valley "blowing up" yet again, the battle to both recruit and retain top engineer and programming talent means the workplace needs to be jaw-dropping. Pardon my drool, but I think Zynga got it right.

The office space is located in the trendy SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, where you can hit up swanky hotels on the waterfront or dive into an upscale bar before a SF Giants game (AT&T Park is in SoMA). 

Acupuncture, massage rooms, basketball courts, a fitness center, a sports bar and video game arcade, a coffee house, Zen Tea Garden and free food are just some of the features available. If that doesn't wag your tail, your dogs can run a muck and they have free pet insurance. Sold. Now, if we can just get rid of all the annoying people who play FarmVille and FrontierVille on Facebook, we can get on with our lives. Of course, if that happened, this office would be vacant.

When you check in at Zynga, you'll do so at this FrontierVille-like shack.Photos courtesy of Fortune Magazine. See more photos at link provided.

Best of the West: Bay Area Office Spaces

I've been rearranging my apartment looking for the perfect balance between productivity and creativity for WestSide Culture to develop. It's coming along nicely (maybe I'll do a behind the scenes tour soon) and has me thinking, who has the best office?

The Bay Area is known for having some of the most creative work stations in the world, let's take a tour.

Google - We all know about this one. Slides between levels, bus rides to work, bikes in the office.

Someone from Google is reading this caption right now. They are watching.

AOL - Yes, apparently they are still around. I know, I was surprised, too!
"You've got mail!" And a bad ass office.

AOL: No longer using dial-up.

Facebook - Employees were asked what they wanted. Imagine that?
The answers? Write on walls, add their own artwork, and move furniture when and where they want.

I'm CEO, bitch.

Twitter - Performances from Snoop Dogg, classic twitter graphics on the walls and tons of light.

Quick, describe this office in 140 characters or less.

Pixar - Their cubicles are individual huts. Freaking awesome. 

No wonder why they are so creative. As a side note, is that me working in there?

Three Rings Design - Something straight out of Alice and Wonderland or my worst nightmare. And I love it!

Creator of Puzzle Pirates and many other online games.

Really San Francisco 49ers, you're 7-1?

Who would have thunk it? Alex Smith finally figured it out. He's actually decent this year, thanks to his new head coach, Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has a special way with quarterbacks; last year, when in charge at Stanford he coached Andrew Luck to an unbelievable season. He's doing the same this year for the San Francisco 49ers.

(Editor Note): As an Arizona Cardinal fan, I hate the 49ers, but this year I find myself rooting for them. Jim Harbaugh seems to have that effect on people. When I watch the games and see him on the sidelines, you can tell he has that "it" factor. He's a leader.

Silicon Valley and the next bubble

Ahh yes, the Valley. The place were miracles (and disasters) happen. I'm inspired by Silicon Valley because of it's ingenuity, creativity, passion, energy and technology. Apple. Twitter. Facebook. Skype. Google. Salesforce. Netflix. My goal is to receive a journalist pass and visit the offices of each of the above businesses. My gut tells me the enthusiasm I would leave with would be enough to carry me through a year back in San Diego - where truthfully very few people seem to work. I believe this, because I believe in their products and their cultures. They inspire me.

Then there are the others. Zynga. Pandora (worth $2.8 billion, really?). LinkedIn (worth $8.9 billion, really again). Have you ever been on LinkedIn?It sucks. And for it to be worth almost $9 billion dollars shows what a joke our economy is currently. It is rumored Zynga will be going public soon and be worth $20 billion. For FarmVille, FrontierVille, CityVille, LoserVille, TechBubbleVille and Mafia Wars. OK, so I added LoserVille and TechBubbleVille, but really? $20 billion for a company who makes games that are not even that cool?

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, drives a $1.6 million Bugatti. Hewlett-Packard just paid a $13.2 million severance package to it's former CEO and then gave $13 million to it's new CEO. In fact, since 2007, HP has given it's 4 CEOs $59 million. And yes, they have had 4 CEOs during that time. This is what is wrong with Silicon Valley, heck, currently this is what's wrong with America. (That and banks charging us money to use our debit cards. And institutions being bailed out by the government). For every legit business, you have one that is over-hyped and over-done and it makes billions. Why? Because of greed. Remember, what goes up must come down. And crashing down it will. Or in the case of the Valley, the bubble is sure to burst. Again.

It's sad to me because there is such potential, especially with all of the businesses I listed at the beginning of this article. I'd like to invest in them. Infact, I have cash to do it. The risk of blowing up is too great for me, because when this bubble bursts, the good companies (along with beautiful Silicon Valley) are going with it.

This article was written with research done from Fortune Magazine's Tech Bubble 2.0 and Yahoo Finance's Daily Ticker.