Hollin Hills, 1961

Hollin Hills, 1961


About JEFF

I'm an angel investor, birder and lister, former retail guy, grandfather, author of three books, lifelong student of business models, collector of neat stuff, and a lover of good food, while doing that crazy dance around caloric intake!  As I head more toward my version of retirement, I am devoting less time as an influencer, blogger and online commenter/poster.  There is way too much outstanding content out there for me to try to make headway into that torrent of information; there's only so much time in a day, and I want to devote a nice chunk of it enjoying this incredible, golden age of series, movies, podcasts and the written word.   I've always been a seeker of fun experiences with my family and friends, and going forward now making it an even bigger part of my plans.  I also have a lot of fun collecting older, finely detailed things made by incredibly talented artisans (aka objects of vertu or 'smalls', and pietra dura). I am attracted to the romance of antiquity and really enjoy the thrill of the hunt for that elusive item.   More recently I have derived a lot of satisfaction better defining and presenting my personal aesthetic.

I'm really into birding.  It's the source of my spiritual connectedness. For me, when I go birding it's like going to church, which is great, because I don't have people between me and my maker!  Keeping a life list plays to my competitive side.  I'm world ranked (#44) for having so far identified 815 species of birds in the ABA Area (the United States, including Hawaii, and Canada). You can read more about my passion for birds here.

After spending 22 years in retail management, I left corporate mainstream in 2000 and founded Milwaukee's first angel network, Silicon Pastures.  Over the past 19 years I've invested in dozens of early stage companies, after reviewing thousands and thousands of business plans.  I have been very fortunate to have so much experiential variety over the past 20 years.   In November, 2015, I was inducted into the Wisconsin Investors Hall of Fame, and in August, 2012, was the recipient of the George Dalton Inspirational Entrepreneur Award.  I've been on the board of directors of a number of private and public companies, as well as non-profits. I've always derived immense satisfaction helping to build something from nothing.  And when there's a 'win', it's exhilarating.  Conversely, when a startup fails, as most of them do, it's no fun.  People who know me will confirm that I don't like to lose! Yes, it's a little crazy making that I've been so into startups, and probably helps explain why I am starting to pull back.  But to be clear, I still have a few dogs in the hunt.

To put it simply, a big part of my journey, as it has been for so many years but even more so today, is about actively  surrounding my little world -- literally, my space, inside whatever four walls I am at the moment as well as outside when I am in the open air -- with the good and the beautiful and the genuine and the intellectually honest, as best I can, and shielding ourselves from the idiots and the idiocy.  This usually means spending a lot of time around birds!  But to be clear, I am no longer OK with 'go along to get along'.  For example, I'm no longer going to engage with folks who deny global warming and other facts in the hopes that we can reach common ground. I’ve never had the patience (LOL) and I sure as heck don’t have the time to deal with them, I’ve taken a break from that. Put another way, I’ve become much more particular with who I play golf with.

Look, I know confirmation bias is very powerful; it's too painful for these flat-earther's self-perception as being smart and right-thinking to face up to the truth of it all.  They are so inextricably tied to their political and TV network/Fox News tribal identity.  This is no different to when their parents in the 1970's denied that smoking cigarettes caused lung cancer, remember that idiocy?  Isaac Asimov wrote years ago about the 'culture of ignorance' that is such a large part of American culture, where so many don't invest the time to lean in and learn, instead proclaiming that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."  For a lot of reasons, certain humans inherently are drawn to and prefer to spread lies.  Some things just don't ever change.

But this is now really serious. In fact, I now encourage friends and family to resist not resisting.  How bad does it have to get before you have the courage to pivot and say their ignorance is NOT as good as your knowledge?  Being complicit has consequences. During presidential election years in particular, it's fair to say I'm a political junkie.  I care deeply about this country, and the planet we live on, it's the only one we'll ever have.  

And yet, despite all of the above, I wake up every morning and start the day energized and at least in the short-term, hopeful.


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I feel that so far I've lived a full and certainly self-examined life.  And I have some peace of mind that I’ve got just a fair chunk of it figured out, particular when it comes to understanding the human condition. But I also realize that there are many things I'll never be able to fully process, or reconcile, or solve.  To the contrary:  we are prone to repeat history, the really bad parts.   It has taken me forever to reflect and dial into the truth that human history is fleeting, that civilizations rise and fall from war, weather and the flaws of human nature. And our brains are wired so that many people (to include persons you would swear would or should just know better) can't filter and process much less discern the difference between facts, science and nonsense.  How can you deal with that?  By learning about the human condition.  And then having a strategy to deal with it. 

Also, sometimes people get dealt a crappy hand (no, I don't believe that everything happens for a reason).  But there is always the next hand.  Now, I am more accepting, or at least more resigned to much of this.  The stuff I have figured out over the course of recent years has helped ground me, and has provided me with some genuine contentment that I honestly didn't have in the past.    

With this in mind, I've accumulated what I call my truths, distilled and refined over the past couple of decades of my life, about business, health, and happiness and a bunch of other topics.

Read my truths here.

MY Investments

To date, I've invested in about 50 startups; eight have so far had successful 'exits'.  I've  been chairman and lead investor in two startups that have been acquired by Fortune 500 companies: Internet retailer BUYSEASONS, which owned and managed the largest retailer of costumes in the world, (sold to Liberty Media in 2006), and ModernMed, a healthcare services company, which was sold to DaVita in 2012.

Read more about my investments here.



From the Blog

There's More

FAMILY Foundation

The Rusinow Family Foundation was founded in 2000.  So far we've donated over a million dollars, although currently the foundation is less active.   See more about what we've done here.



I've spent an extensive amount of time putting leaves and branches on my family tree. See the results and how I did it here.