Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Art of Writing – Tibaldi

In this new age of digital and electronic solutions, the art of writing is often all but forgotten except to sign credit card receipts. But, if you enjoy the art of writing as much as I do, and if you enjoy how fine things are made, then please check out the pens by Tibaldi. They make limited edition pens for Ferrari and Bentley as well as a wide range of other exquisite pens. Precision writing instruments, like fine watches are mechanical masterpieces and are not cheap. Depending on what pen you want and where you find one, a Tibaldi will set you back between $1,500 – $3,000 or more. There are some other fine examples from other makers for between $100 and $1,000 so take a look at what is out there and do yourself a favor, find some nice paper and a great pen and take a few minutes out of your busy day and write someone a hand written note. They will appreciate it and you will enjoy being reacquainted with the fine art of writing.

Miller Supports Vistage, the Worlds Most Successful CEO Group

I recently celebrated by 1 year anniversary at my Richmond, VA Vistage Group (#3498). It has been a great experience overall. The benefits are access to world class speakers, our monthly group meetings and one-on-one coaching sessions. While the cost is much greater than most other CEO groups, the value of the experience is undeniably greater than other groups. I recommend Vistage to anyone that wants to take your company to the next level. Check out more info at http://www.Vistage.com

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – AKA “The Perfect Weekend”

As most of you know by now, I am a 2nd Amendment guy through and through. But that is just one side of the triad of fun. Lets take ATF in order and find out why these three were important enough for the Government to have an Agency for.

ALCOHOL:
This category usually is divided into 3 segments, Beer, Wine and Spirits. I have to admit that I am not am beer guy, sorry. My father always told me it was an “acquired taste”, but I figured anything that you had to acquire a taste for wasn’t worth drinking. As far as wine, I like dry, red wine from the Piedmont or Tuscan region of Italy. Brunello that is at least 5-10 years old from the house of Banfi is always a safe bet. I like wine so dry that you feel like you need a sip of water after you take a drink. As to distiled spirits, I was never a scotch drinker until a client introduced me to Glenlivet 21. My favorite straight up has to be Cognac and preference runs from Hennessy and Martel Cordon Blue to Louis XIII. As far as mixed, I prefer the metallic after taste of Grey Goose Vodka or the complex spices of Captain Morgan Rum. Regardless of what you pick, please drink responsibly. Never drink and drive.

TOBACCO:
Ok, first off, smoking is bad for you and can kill you. I don’t recommend to anyone that they do it. That said, George Burns lived to be 100 and smoked 1 cigar a day. The Indians of North America smoked hand rolled tobacco almost all there lives. Cigarettes are nasty and addictive products made for only one purpose, to addict you, and with only one outcome, to kill you. Really fine cigars on the other hand have not been proven to be as dangerous as cigarettes, in fact in most cases, the warning merely says “not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”. If you are just starting out with cigars I recommend the Perdomo Champagne. Mild Connecticut Shade wrapper and filler is well balanced, smooth and smokable. If you don’t smoke, then don’t start, but if you do, then try a fine cigar… You just might live longer too.

FIREARMS:
Finally we get to something protected by law. Alcohol was even banned back in the 1920s in the US. Smoking is now outlawed in most states except when 100 miles away from another human and only then outside. They even wanted to ban smoking in your own car. Go figure. As far as firearms go, there are rifles and handguns. My father always carried a Colt 45 Series 70. Great fire arm but not accurate enough for me. I prefer the Wilson Combat 45 Stealth model. If that doesn’t get the job done for you, then the Magnum Research Desert Eagle 50 Cal is next on my list. As far as rifles go, you can’t go wrong with the AR-15 Platform. Almost an unlimited number of configurations and options. Cheap and effective. For Close Quarters Combat, I prefer the P-90S. Small high velocity rounds and shoots through body armor. No matter what you pick, make sure to always keep them locked away and out of reach of kids and keep them pointed in a safe direction when out. Also, don’t ever point any gun at anyone or anything that you are not ready to destroy.

What Car Do You Like the Best?

This has to be the question I get most often. With 39 cars in the last 25 years, I guess I am entitled to an opinion. My answer used to always be – “the one I am driving right now”, but that seems a bit of a cop out. I have a theory that everyone needs an SUV, a Sedan, a Convertible, a Sports Car and two motorcycles (one Superbike and one touring). Let’s take the categories one at a time:

SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE:
This is the easiest category. For my money there are only 2. After owning 2 Range Rovers I now drive a 2008 Mercedes GL550. The only way to make it better is to allow AMG to drop in the 6.3 or 6.5 liter engine and it would be a monster, but that is my only nit pick. The BMW X5 showed up late to the party with the 7 seat and M edition, so it may have won my vote, but too little too late. Mercedes has thought of everything. Great hauling plywood, kids to school and my wife and I to a cocktail party. It is not as good in the snow as the Range Rover, but most of us will never be at Blackwater Falls, WV the day after Ground Hogs Day in 14 inches of snow. That was when I was glad to be in a group of 28 Range Rovers.

FULL SIZED SEDAN:
This is the category that I use the most. A good sedan is a like a classic blue blazer. Dress up jeans on a casual day or rock it with a tie when you need to get some business done. After years of BMW 7-Series including 750iL V12 and 740iL V8 the recent styling changes leave me wondering “what was BMW thinking?”. The Mercedes S65 or S550 is a popular option, but at over $129,000 that takes a level of passion that I just can’t seem to muster for such a boring car. The Maserati Quatraporte is a nice option but styling is out there. I opted for a more classic option of a 2004 Bentley Arnage T-24 Mulliner. The Arnage is longer than my Mercedes full sized SUV and weighs MORE. But the 6.75 liter twin turbo V8 offers 550 hp and 738 fp torque. The hand made collection of leather, wood, steel and glass is amazing. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts… But the parts are really nice too… And really expensive to replace.

SPORTS CAR AND/OR CONVERTIBLE:
I have lumped these two together because together they make up more than 50% of the cars I have had. About half the sports cars I have had have been rag tops. Some have been good track cars and some are just great for a long drive on a sunny day. My first sports car was a 1972 Datsun 240z that was Bob Sharp Racing prepared. My first convertible was a 1995 BMW 325iC that I bought in the middle of a snow storm… Great price too. I have had almost every M car BMW has made as well as 2 Acura NSXs and 3 Porsche 911s, but the 1999 Mazda Miata was the most fun.

But what is the best sports car? None of the ones I have had yet. I have rented and driven a 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo and a 2000 Ferrari 360 Modena. Of the two, the Ferrari was the most intoxicating to drive. The Lambo would be great even in the snow it has so much traction, but was boring to drive. The Ferrari 360 Modena spider is a great solution for dual purpose here, but the convertible top repair stops working after a while and the repair is $25,000 so that is not for the faint of heart. A coupe is still a great option. The new F430 is great too but a bit more pricey.

MOTORCYCLES:
A true indulgence for sure. Nobody needs one for sure. I grew up riding a Kawasaki Ninja but had a BMW K1200RS along the way too. Now I have a 1997 Ducati 916 S1 Superbike and it is a much better racing style bike than my 2003 Ducati 999 was. I also found a rare 1993 Ducati 907ie in mint condition. It was an icon of sport touring bikes in the 1990s. I can ride the 907 for 100 miles and get off and feel ready to do it again. The 916 is great for getting that 100 miles out of the way in 38 minutes, which is good since that is about as long as you will be able to stand it.

WHAT’S YOUR NEXT CAR?
Who knows. Hard to say. Any ideas?

Miller Joins 460 Angels as a Founding Member

Since Blacksburg is where all my success started, it is only fitting that I continue to reinforce that success in the Blacksburg area by working to help improve the chances for other new ventures that spring up each year out of the Blacksburg, VA and Virginia Tech area. Bob Summers has long been another SWVA success story and my thanks to him for founding 460 Angels and inviting me to join the group. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center has always been a great place to create new innovations… having started or saved nearly a dozen companies now, there is a lot to share. I know I am looking forward to the next generation of technology leaders and what they are passionate about.