I'm an angel investor, birder and lister, former retail guy, grandfather, author of three books, and foodie, when I'm not managing 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 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 during presidential election years in particular, it's fair to say I'm a political junkie.
I'm now past the gut-wrenching shock and deep disappointment I experienced following the ascension of Donald Trump in the Republican Party, and what was to follow. Proactively, ahead of the election, we had to sever some previously cherished friendships as well as a couple relationships with service providers who shockingly supported a man with no moral compass, so psychologically flawed and impulsive, with no intellectual curiosity, and such a serial liar, now an ill-equipped and incompetent leader of the free world so lacking in class and stature, a stooge on the world stage, with complete disregard to presidential duty. How could they not see what Trump is? We initially fretted, losing a lot of sleep in the process. Yet we decided, well before the election, that by being silent and continuing our 'go along to get along' approach with these folks we were, in effect, being duplicitous to Trump's profound hate-mongering and his abdication of basic decency. Most disturbing to me, Trump is totally disconnected to Nature; he doesn't give a damn about the environment, and protecting our natural resources. Finally, in addition, as part of this whole interpersonal conundrum, it was time to more emphatically take a stand toward global warming denialists and the false equivalences they embrace: the FoxNewsers' growing rejection of science deeply threatens an informed democracy.
So we ended these connections. It wasn't easy.
Thank goodness we did. I really mean it, we have so much more peace by limiting these sources of conflict. What is playing out is too reminiscent of what happened in Germany in the late 1930's and Joe McCarthyism in the 1950's. Remaining silent has consequences. Elections have consequences. My feelings about Trump and the embarrassment and nightmare that so many of us are enduring in this bizarre political environment, are spot-on by this blogger here and even a Fox News host here. For me, Trump's emergence has let the genie out of the bottle; it's the bubbling up of the just-below-the-surface bigotry I've observed (and frankly, tolerated) since being a college kid in Charlottesville many decades ago.
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 oneself from the idiots and the idiocy. This usually means spending a lot of time around birds (see below)!
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 16 years I've invested in dozens of early stage companies. 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.
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 for having so far identified 748 species of birds in the ABA Area (the United States, excluding Hawaii, and Canada). I'm on the board of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. You can read more about my passion for birds here.
I'm also, surprise surprise, a bit of a creative irritant when it comes to group dynamics: my contribution is sort of an odd mix of right brain/left brain influences! I try to push boundaries, extend reach, strive for increased market share. Analysis, sometimes probing, combined with the encouragement to explore new ideas and options. This approach tends to upset the status quo. Yep, it just does. Some people love it when things get challenged, and some people break out into hives.
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 a fair chunk of it figured out, particular when it comes to understanding the human condition. Not to deny that some 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. 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.
To date, 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, BuyCostumes.com (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
The Rusinow Family Foundation was founded in 2000. So far we've donated close to a million dollars, although currently the foundation is less active. See more about what we've done here.