Fight Club - CEO Network

Fight Club is back.

What's Fight Club?

Fight Club is a networking event (usually dinner) for entrepreneurs and startup CEOs who are interested in building their network. Yeah, there are a number of other events around but Fight club is for startups to network with each other.

Why Fight Club?

Geek Dinners already taken. Besides, it's cooler to tell your wife/staff/buddies that you're going to Fight Club than have to ask strangers directions to the Geek Dinner. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Fight Club is about connecting, not selling.

Fight Club Members are entrepreneurs and business owners who understand that people are not the sum of what they can do for you. We're organized to build introductions and relationships between entrepreneurs outside the regular business environment and without the need to immediately sell to everyone.

Read this post on Horizontal Networking for Entrepreneurs.

If you're smart, and Fight Club Members are, you build relationships that give you access to another network and have other members actively looking out for you.

How you fit in.

Fight Club is small on purpose. We want to offer an environment where people can get to know the 'person' they're talking to, before the business. Anyone can come, you just have to attend with and be invited by an existing Fight Club Member the first time.

Fight Club is not an Old Boys Network.

We're just a bunch of similarly situated guys who value semi-inteligent conversation and understand that expanding your network and being of service is also good business.

Fight Club is also about deal flow.

From time to time I expect Angels from the local community to be involved. Certainly I've found it beneficial.


Randall Bateman: IP Law & angry desk jocky.

Fight Club: Rand Bateman is an IP lawyer. Here's his last fight.

It was one of those days when you just don't feel well and you can't wait to go home.  All of the sudden I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder and realized one of the lineman from our high school football team had just punched me in the shoulder.  He probably just meant it as a joke, but just sitting upright was about all I could muster.
The next second was a blur.  When my brain reengaged I was standing above him holding his desk in my hands like a bad pro wrestling move.  He was staring up at me.
I put his desk back and quietly sat down.  As he got up off the floor the teacher turned and asked if their was a problem.  "No problem," he replied.
Fortunately my irrational action surprised him enough that he didn't wipe the floor with me.  After that he was actually pretty nice to me.


Horizontal Networking

My current philosophy on horizontal networking for entrepreneurs.

During a three way conversation with my friend Robin Peng, he introduced Fight Club to someone we were talking to as my 'philosophy' of networking. Surprise. I have a philosophy of social networking.


Well, I guess maybe I do.


Networking for it's own sake is usually a waste of time in a business sense. Too often I've found myself with a paper plate and a few edible tidbits, standing around in a group and evaluating the scene to see if there's someone I might be interested in talking too. In general there are lots of people that I don't think I'm interested in talking to because the evaluations I'm making are based on such scant information that I instantly assign them a category or level of interest.  It's a perfectly logical way of attempting to segment those who I think I want to talk to from those I think I don't want to talk to. I have no way of knowing if I'm making a good judgement or not. I might just as easily pass up an opportunity to meet a new friend or business partner.

I'm totally aware that this is always happening to me since I'm usually dressed in tennis shoes and I may potentially have a days worth of beard growth. It's not often (read never) that I wear a suit anymore unless someone died.

So, there I am, plate in hand, attempting to decide who is worth overcoming my inherent reticence and actually introducing myself to. All the while I'm muttering under my breath that I hate these things more than the waxing scene in 40 Year Old Virgin.

Corporate Alliance has some extremely good thoughts on the subject and I'll steal one here: "You just never know who you're talking to." The person who you dropped into the 'of no interest' group might be the wife, husband, business partner, best friend or window washer of someone very important to you or your business. You just never know.

Networking is like farming, not hunting. 


So, what can you do? What should you do? And... how do you do it?

Horizontal Networking

The Problem: You're not part of the networks that you want to be part of.

Everything's an old boys network, even when they're not old, or boys. Want to be part of your kids PTA, it's run by a click. Need to get in touch with Angels, they only want to talk to each other. Trying to get into Harvard Business School, it's easer if you know the dean. Want to sell me advertising space in your magazine, good luck. If you're not in, you're out. So how do you get in?

Groups consolidate into Horizontal Networks.

A horizontal network is made up of members who see themselves as equals in some way. It doesn't mean that they come from the same income bracket or social background, it means that they aggregate around a common perception that they all belong to the same group, even if that perception is fleeting.

Our kids ride horses at the same barn. We graduated from the same school. We speak French. We hate the French. We're related... Whatever . Humans have an innate sense of group that is inherently harsh. If you're in a group, you're one of us. If you're not, you're of no interest at best and we might actually want to invade your country and make you sing our national anthem.

Verticals never network... except in 'Maid in Manhattan'.

That's why groups that try to network what are perceived as two different 'classes' don't work. Just try to have an ongoing vertical networking event where VC's and Angels get together with Entrepreneurs and students. The single Angel who shows will be mobbed and that, as they say, will be the end of that. It's typical that those in the lesser stratum have much more to gain from those in the upper. For the most part, humans don't like to feel that they're offering more than their receiving and it creates 'they want something from me'  tensions that people avoid.

Of Note: Humans have the ability to form around 150 total relationships and no more according to Dunbar's Number. Interesting, military organizations have always been built around these numbers. While there are some people with linked in networks of 500+, it's not really possible to have or maintain that many.

Read: Life with Alacrity's post on Dunbars Number: The group size predicted for modern humans by equation (1) would require as much as 42% of the total time budget to be devoted to social grooming.

Good to know that your aunt Millie is taking up one of your relationship slots.

sm.fightclub.jpgEnter Fight Club: Horizontal Networking for Entrepreneurs

Fight Club is my attempt to build a networking organization that is effective and becomes more valuable over time and, most importantly, where people will extend their networks to you. To do that It needs to have some intrinsic characteristics: It's horizontal on one axis and, it's moderated by invitation. Here are the requirements.

Interestingly, the horizontal metric we use is this: Requirement #1: You have to run a real company. No vendors. No students. No sales.

This is somewhat flexible but it's something of a screening process since any group of business decision makers is a prime target for infiltration by sales guys in disguise.

It's easy enough to get around rule #1, you just need to be invited by someone who's already a member and willing to bring you. We don't want to really be elitist after all. I've even invited a lawyer. If someone want's to attend, they just have to get a member to bring them. If they're a dud, it's the member who has to endure the taunts for pissing in the pool.

So what happens at Fight Club?

First: Time.
Since Fight Club is held over a meal at a restaurant, you actually spend time with a group of people that are in this horizontal network. The time factor is of prime importance because its social interaction over time that builds trusted relationships. Fight Club events have no time limits. One went on for at least five hours.

Second: Quality. We're there for the same goal, but there is a level of trust since we ask each member to refrain from selling. This has never really been a problem since the members are all aware (mostly) of this and there's peer pressure to conform and maintain this standard. The no selling rule creates an atmosphere where you're not asking or giving business cards right out of the chute. Business is the main topic but I'm also informed about Bob Barnes search for a wife and Ryan Money's hair fiasco.

Third: Trust. If someone I know from Fight Club calls my front desk, I'll return the call. Since we now belong to the same 'network' I know that there is a social factor as well as an economic one that goes into this person's decision making. He has to maintain a level of trust with me or he runs the potential that I'll inform his nefarious deeds to the group and he'll be impacted far out of proportion to the misdeed. (Think how protective those eBay sellers are of their feedback rating.) 

Four: Fun & Easy. Since the group constantly changes (we have no fees or RSVP. If you come, you come. If you don't, you don't.) So the second time you attend, you're already going to know at least a few people and there's no wall flowers. Here's Judd Bagleys review after his first dinner.

"Sweet Sassy Mollassie! That was one of the best times I've had with a bunch of dudes. Seriously, dinner lasted like four hours but could have gone on for ten, as good as the conversation was. I'm hooked on Fight Club. Thank you Jeff for organizing it. I intend to challenge Ryan Coombs for control of the Billy Barty Memorial Knock-out Hernia Belt. What an honor."

The easy part is this: Come if you want, don't if you don't. There's no fees, dues, or need to respond to anything at all. Once you're on the email list, you're notified where and when the events are taking place. That's it.

 Five: Entrepreneurs should be networking with other entrepreneurs, not trying to finagle into the Angel & VC community's. Networking with other entrepreneurs provides you with access and information that benefits you far more than chasing other networks. Why? Entrepreneurs know more, provide many more options, and are much freer with their time. Other entrepreneurs can provide you with inside info about an VC's reputation as well as introductions. You benefit from a much wider net.

We'll, there it is. My philosophy on networking... for the time being. 

Fight Club: Where's the perfect venue?

tn_fight_club_front.jpgFight Club's been holding our entrepreneur networking & eating for about 10 months now and if anything, it's gaining popularity.

It's amazing to see how a horizontal network like Fight Club works. I'll post more on that since I've had a number of 'oh so deep' conversations on the topic that are worth posting. (BTW, we're completely female friendly as long as you meet the criteria.)

But I digress. I'm looking for some input on potential new Fight Club venues.

Here's what we're looking for:

  • Location: SL valley that's fairly close to the freeways.
  • Decent food: We've chosen 'pub' food so far so everyone can find something they want.
  • Relatively quiet: I need to hear Ryan Money (who's blog is now up again) complaining about my 'porn hair'.
  • Large area where we could pull a few tables together. The last lunch we had 17 and we're overflowing.
If you have any suggestions that approximate at least a few of these criteria, comment on this post or email me at jeffbarson 'at' If you're not a member and we choose you're venue, you're getting an invite.

Fight Club Members

sm.fightclub.jpgI've put up a list of Entrepreneures who've been to Fight Club. Unfortunately, it's slightly less than half of those who've come to a dinner. I just never seem to remember to pick up cards.

If you've been to an event and would like some free Google Juice, just fire me off an email and I'll stick you in.

Fight Club is an no stress, networking dinner. If you come, you come. If you don't, you don't. No need to sign up for anything and there's no cost except your own meal. If you've never been but would like to check it out, here's the requirements.

  1. You have to be invited by a member.
  2. No students, vendors, sales guys or lawyers. (Unless you're invited by a member.)
  3. No 'What-can-I-get-out-of-you' types: There's a strict no-asshole policy.

My own feeling is that events where you talk to someone for 3 minutes and then move on are of limited use. Fight Club is designed so that you're spending some time (one meal) talking to 4-5 people who are of some relevance to you and have been deemed 'good people' by someone you already know. Of course we are all talking business.

It seems to be working out well enough. Here's the partial, short, and incomplete list:

CEO Startup Networking: Fight Club Lunch

Fight Club had it's first lunch today and a whole new tribe showed up.

sm.fightclub.jpgWe'll, not entirely new but there were a few new faces. As is always the case, I didn't get to talk to everone for any great length of time. My apologies to those I specifically invited and then didn't get time to talk to. I'll have to make a complete FC list when I get a chance. I think I counted 17 and we were overflowing in some areas.

There are some interesting dynamics. I'm suprised at these events that there never seems to be any lapses in the conversations going on. Robin Peng of Design Engine showed up. Robin runs an industrial design shop that creates prototypes of about anything imaginable; cars, aircraft, light switches, medical devices, and the new Apple Core that's hitting the shelves as we speak.

I also got to talk for a while with Ted Broman of Integracore. They manufacture and oursorce anything and everything from DVD's to day planners. Ted's someone I've know and respected for some time now.

Brad Staker of Staker Group was also there but I didn't get a long time to talk to Brad.

Daniel Holsinger showed. I saw his pitch for his startup at the Funding Univers speed pitching event and fired him off an email.

Judd & Jordy called me since they were at the wrong location. The Overstock duo made it in time to eat though.

Hey Fight Club wusses: Where's yer story?

fight_stories_193106.jpgFight Club: Membership Requirement #1

I've heard much talk from some about what great fight stories some of you have. So far it's just been big talk. Alex and Ryan... you know who you are.

Membership Requirement #1:

Write and publish (to this site) the story of the last fight you were involved in. (Physical blows exchanged.)

Entrepreneure Fights

If you've never been in a fight you have three alternatives: Write a fictional story of a fight that you might have been in at some time in your lift but that you loose embarrassingly. Write a thesis on why physical violence can't solve society's problems and how this site is destroying our children. Put your tail between your legs and slink away knowing you're not Fight Club material.

Write your story and send it to me here

Zero Sex Lift: The life of a startup entrepreneure.

This guy is an honorary Fight Club member, right up there with Billy Barty. This is one of the funniest blogs I've ever read. Here's some tidbits.


Six weeks ago facing the one year anniversary of the last time I touched a girl I, out of both desperation and a momentary lapse of judgment, put down my $19.95 and jumped into the internet dating scene. Let this be a lesson to everyone reading; never try an Internet dating site. For those of you who don't listen to my warning here is a little advice. If she looks like a model, it's a porn site trying to get you to check out a page so they can send you enough junk e-mail to sink a battle ship. If she doesn't look half-bad, it's an old photo before the accident or the Ding Dongs reduced her life to meeting tubby computer geeks with no social skills over the internet.

Their thinking is the same as yours, "I'll rope them in to liking the real me, than when he/she sees my grotesque Jaba the Hut exterior it won't matter because they love the real me."

Truth is you don't want someone like that any more than they want you. You'll have to forgive me; currently I'm a unique combination of bitter, drunk, and lonely. I'm also getting ahead of myself.

A woman who looks lost is walking toward me. She looks like she could be the shorter fatter sister of the slightly less than average looking woman I am waiting for.

"Are you Mike?" Oh shit, it's not the sister.
"Darla?" She smiles but I can tell she's disappointed. She undoubtedly went through dozens of pictures to find the one that made her look a little closer to human than the oily husk she parades around in, as did I. After two appetizers and a few drinks she goes to, "Powder her nose" and never returns. Someone Kill me.

Progress Log

The following statistics apply to everything that has happened to me since the creation of this site, February 2003.

number of people I have had sex with (Not counting myself)


number of women who have submitted requests for sex


number of those to result in sex


number of those to turn out to be a 13-year-old punk kid who sent me a computer virus.


number of men pretending to be women who've submitted requests for sex


number of women in other countries who've made "offers"


number of nude photos sent to my e-mail / P.O. box


number of people to suggest I go on "Queer eye for the strait guy"


total amount I've paid to keep this site up (bandwidth, virus software, hosting, ect.)


total amount of money donated


Why the hell would you eat brownies sent to you by a stranger?

Yes, I was an idiot to eat the brownies but look at it for a moment from my point of veiw. I have a hand written (extremely feminine) letter that smells slightly of perfume telling me the story about a girl who had really bad acne in highschool and who can relate to my story. She is poor as well and can't donate any money but wanted to do something nice for me, so she made me some brownies.

Why would I immediatly think anyone would want to poison me? I haven't done anything wrong to anyone. Who would get so worked up about my site as to send me chocolate ExLax? And I couldn't taste it! I had a brownie, it tasted good. I had another, still good. I think I had four total before I started to feel sick. They were small though, I'm not that much of a pig.

The next thing I know I'm giving birth to the antichrist.

If you haven't been to Fight Club...

You're not prepared for a real entrepreneur.

Ryan Money of HireVue shows why he has such a heavy reputation. Ryan reports  that he's never lost a fight and watching the video you can see why. Ryan has promised for some time to post his fight story but I've yet to see it. Thanks to HireVues COO Mark Newman for sending this video of Ryan trying out HireVue in Beta. Good to see the moves Ryan.

Warning: This is not your fathers video interview. Do not attempt these moves without professional supervision.

Props to Smooth Harold 

Fiddlers Elbow: Lying to the wives club.

Fight Club Recap

tn_fight_club_front.jpgFight Club met last night at Fiddlers Elbow for dinner.

Ryan and I have had a few discussions about what we might do to make it better but we like the format and atmosphere so much that whatever we do will just be minor tweeks. I did have a request for a change of venue so we'll meet somewhere else next time. (We might also do a lunch since the Provo crowd whines that their wives won't let the out after dark.) 

Here's what I think I learned.

Alex Lawrence wasn't posting about me when he complained about prolific bloggers. (He signed a disclaimer to that effect after I sat on him and threatened to take compromising photos of him in a Papa Johns.) 

Bob Barnes ( drinks what I thought to be an odd concoction of half regular, half diet Coke. He referred to this as Mormon crack i think.  Bob's looking for love and has offered a $1000 reward to any Fight Club Member who finds him a wife. I think this bounty is payable after the marriage although he might be willing to pay half up front for an engagement. I tried to find a photo of Bob on the web but was unsuccessful. I'll look harder later as I want that geld.

Ryan Money ( needed an anniversary present so I told him I'd give his wife a $1000 gift certificate to Surface to keep him out of the dog house in exchange for him buying my dinner. That seemed like a good deal to me (save $1000 vs $25 dinner) but the blackard ran out before the bill came leaving me to fend for myself. Nice. (Note to self: Don't sit on Alex in front of Ryan. It scares him.)

Jordy Gunderson needs a cell phone charger if anyone has one. Jordy's over at using GeekSpeek to translate Python, C# (C-pound) wiki, java, and such for the accountants. Jordy's half nerd / half business / half something else. I'll be interested to read his fight story when he submits it. Still waters run deep.

Colin Kelly (Connect Magazine) sat on the opposite end of the table but I was able to move down and talk to him for a while. Colin was a Fight Club Virgin but held his own. (Everyone know that if it's your first night at Fight Club you have to fight.) I think I saw Colin wrestling with a salad. I'll be happy when Connect Blogs are scraping something other than Chris Knudsens blogger blog. (I have to read him twice and it's warping my mindshare.) Lumin is coming out with a mag specifically for entrepreneurs. My wager is that it will be good. Connect is by far the best business mag in the mountain west.

Geoff Osmond was there but I think it was just to park Colins car.

Richard Tripp from Yepic came in. His hair cut was the first of it's kind at a Fight Club Event:


 From a previous Fight Club recap:

Haircuts: During dinner I commented that there are a number of popular hair styles at the table that included:

  • The Flowbee: One length all over... aka Jordy.
  • The Hedgehog: Spiky all over. This seems to be extremely popular with Connect Magazines Geoff Osmond. I've also seen it sported by others including Brock Blake from
  • The Sissy Mohawk: Kind of a ridge running the entire crest of the head. Ryan Money of HireVue had one on this time.
  • The Ducks Ass: This is the name of that little 'flip' haircut that you see all the Neumont and SUVC youngsters with.
  • 'Warnock Porn Hair': This was one that I'd never heard of but Money labeled me as having. My own name for my hair style is 'disheveled elegance'.
Richard's cut is an "inverted Dorothy Hamill" that looks rather good on him. Richard came without his Yepic sidkick Cory which is a shame. Cory's a nice guy I've met before and worth adding. Besides, they make a nice couple.


I don't mean to give short shrift to others there but even I cant dig everyone.

Fight Clubs something of a surprise to me. It's become a really fun event that's already made a number of connections that I know of. The relaxed atmosphere leads to a comfort level that you don't get with a 'what do you do - what do you do" event where you don't have time to actually talk.

Now if we can just get Bob married. 

Let's get ready to rumble!

Fight Club Dinner, Wednesday, Nov. 1st

We're going to have a Fight Club Dinner next Wednesday. Read about FC here.

sm.fightclub.jpgHere's a partial list of previous fighters:

My appologies to everyone not appearing here yet. This list is taking longer than I thought. (I'm going to start collecting business cards as this list is at least 30 names short.)

NOTE: I've been emailing people individually in the past and it's a headache so I've created a list. I don't think I've got everyone who's attended so if you don't receive an email let me know.

If you'd like to be added to the invite list just email me.

RSS Feed List: Business, tech, entrepreneur, angel & VC RSS feeds.

overheardinutah.gifHere is a partial list of the local business, entrepreneur, angel and VC RSS feeds that I subscribe to. Post your own list and link through the comments. Does anyone know how to export a list from Bloglines so that the links work?

Utah Technology Council: Cookies at Wilson Sonsini

This week I attended my first Utah Technology Council event. I wasn't sure what to expect, but hey, I'd paid to join so I might as well find out. I also wanted to hear Niclole Toomey Davis (her blog). It wasn't at all what I expected.

It was held at Wilson Sonsini's offices and Mark Bonham was supplying the cookies. (I'd met Mark before at a Funding Universe speed pitching event where we sat at the same table so I don't really know him but I've heard great things.) Mark alluded to the pizza and beer of Silicon Valley which frankly would have been my preference.

Mark Newman, COO of HireVue was also there and from what I could tell, he was co-hosting since he introduced Nicole. Mark and I both graduated from Brighton High School in SL. I found this out while telling Mark about the student team at Brighton (of which I was a member) that flew the first science experiment from a high school on the Space Shuttle. (It was on seed germination in zero gravity.) I made the comment that that would probably be before his time. He informs me that he was born in 1984. Some of these young, wet-behind-the-ears-types don't know when to shut up. Evidently, Hirevue is run by toddlers.

Nicole obviously knows whereof she speaks. She's with Utah's Centers of Excellence COEP now and it seems that part of her responsibilities extend to trying to get science out of Utah's universities and into the market. Her presentation was short and most of the time was spent in something akin to a round table discussion. All of the talk about SBIC's and such was outside of my experience but I found it all very interesting.

There are a number of networking events around that are fairly focused and cater to specific groups. I'll get together a list and post it. If you know or are part of a group, add it to that post and I'll make sure it's included.

The Billy Barty Memorial Knock-out Hernia Belt...

Judd Bagley loves Fight Club. Funny, he didn't look like a boxer.

His comment on the Fight Club blog:

 Sweet Sassy Mollassie! That was one of the best times I've had with a bunch of dudes. Seriously, dinner lasted like four hours but could have gone on for ten, as good as the conversation was. I'm hooked on Fight Club. Thank you Jeff for organizing it. I intend to challnge Ryan Coombs for control of the Billy Barty Memorial Knock-out Hernia Belt. What an honor.
See you in three and a half short weeks.

Figh Club is this coming Tuesday

Fight Club is on for this Tuesday, June 27th at around 6:30.

If you're a senior decision maker in your organization, you're invited. (Salespeople and students are by personal invitation from a Fight Club member only. Sorry.) It'll be at the Fiddlers Elbow again.

Fight Club is a network of entrepreneurs, senior business owners and decison makers who occasionally get together and have dinner while we meet new friends. If you'd like to attend you can email me, Ryan Money, Ryan Coombs, or whoever else you might know in Fight Club. Ryan's going to be blogging about this as well. We keep the group small and informal. No sales, no pitches, no BS. (You have to save that 'till Wednesday.)