Day 98 and Rejection

The other night I got suckered into the infamous Slate Star Codex comment about feminists and nerdy men. If you are already familiar with the general contours of this debate, you can skip the introductory paragraphs and go straight to my theory on the sexual dynamics of rejection in investing. I’ll caveat a lot before that. I read the above piece because I was high and while I would normally not spend an hour on angsty shit, I get tunnel vision with THC sometimes.

I’m an occasional reader of the rationalist community and often enjoy and respect their whole thing. To be honest I hadn’t ever bothered to read the feminist dunking controversies as, frankly, I took Scott Alexander at his word that this post wasn’t really representative of his work, so why would I bother? But again, weed tunnel vision. And boy golly do I regret reading it as I’m writing about it now.

I don’t want to minimize what was clearly a heartfelt and traumatic episode for everyone involved but the TLDR on the piece is basically certain kinds of women do not recognize the trauma of nerdy socially awkward men. Feminists in particular wield a cudgel over nerdy men, who it is argued in this article are victimized. There is some long winded arguments about whether this is a systemic issue. I kinda don’t care and you can judge for yourself. I myself read it as the personal trauma of one man that is being projected out as some kind of theory of power hierarchies. I’m not in the business of scratching up traffic with moralizing on woke politics. If I am, I’ll start charging for the blog.

What I did think was interesting is that we don’t like to talk about how women get rejected and how often we are in the power position to say yes or no. I do believe women to be systemically oppressed by patriarchy. I also think men are oppressed by it. And yes, women cope with sexual violence. That’s not a yes or no situation. Women in patriarchy are granted the upper hand in certain power structures. We don’t really admit this in polite discourse.

Women are the ones that get to say no. It’s a weird fucking system but somehow we have this power. I’d give it back if I could quite frankly. I don’t think it’s biological but I do think it’s true-ish. I fucking hate being the one that says yes or no to advances. I like to pursue but it’s not always an option. I don’t like that women have the power to be desired more than men do. No one talks about the female gaze because lol. Women gain power by saying no. Men gain power by saying yes. How we got here is for smarter people than me.

But I do have a theory that women generally being the ones to grant permission is honestly why pitching capital is such a bitch for women founders and male investors. Women are generally the ones who create desire and say no. Men saying no to women feels weird for both sides. I’ve maybe had one dude say no to me for sex and literally hundreds turn me down for money. It’s a head trip. It’s a personal experience, yes, but it’s also just how pitching works. People say no. Men get turned down a lot and apparently it’s traumatic as fuck for them.

Women aren’t used to it and men like to say yes to women but money can’t say yes to every company as that’s not how investing works. And yes, professionalism exists and, no, it’s never appropriate to wield power over someone’s future with sexual advances. I don’t know why that’s so hard for everyone. Like we shouldn’t be in positions where work feels like sex but maybe we should admit that women aren’t as used to being rejected and men don’t like doing the rejecting. So sometimes this gets grossly out of hand and investors say no to investing money as it’s their jobs (and it’s not personal) but still want to find a way to say yes, so inappropriate shit happens.

I think rejection is just a weird dynamic that’s lopsided with heterosexual cisgendered systems. I’d love to get rid of it. It sounds like plenty of men would too. I’ve always been under the impression that this was the goal of feminism. Clearly we aren’t there yet.

Also don’t read Scott Alexander’s blog comments when high or you too may end up writing about rejection and gender in public too.

Chronicle Startups

Day 97 and Socializing Professionally

If you know me well then you know I’m not a natural people person. Despite being both an optimist about the human potential for progress and generally being a happy person, I think a lot of people suck. I know it’s a shitty outlook.

Maybe it’s because I just don’t have the energy for socializing. Big gatherings are not my thing, even though if you met me casually at a party you’d probably think I was an extrovert. If I’m putting my time aside for you it’s because I really enjoy it. The people I spend time with have to be great. They teach me something or have a unique point of view or have great emotional capacity. Most folks just don’t seem to enjoy putting themselves out there. Or maybe it’s that they simply don’t want to offend you so never really say anything of interest. I just don’t care what shit you bought or what your constantly over scheduled activities happen to be (though this has become less true in the pandemic).

I really don’t want to go back to socializing as a professional prerequisite. I hate having to tell people how I am. No one actually wants to know. I don’t really enjoy holding my tongue. Professional events generally require you to keep quiet about how much you think someone is bullshitting.

I’m often a huge hit on panels at conferences because I don’t give canned responses but wow does that make more polished people squirm. I once made the mistake of telling the truth at a Goldman Sachs retail conference. The analysts went wild. The poor CEO next to me looked like she wanted to die. It’s easy to tell when someone is using a script and talking points when the person next to them is just talking without a filter. Humans like truth and honesty it turns out.

I really hope we don’t go back to constant networking and prioritizing people who are naturally socializers. I hope the pandemic broke some of that tendency towards rewarding the constant parade of events, cocktails and ever more exclusive gatherings. But I’m sure there will be a massive correction where everyone loves real life experiences again. But once it reverts to the mean let’s all agree to be a little more judicious in our asks to “meet up” in the future. I’ll send you a Harry and David’s gift basket if we can continue to see less of each other.

Finance Startups

Day 96 and Founders Who Don’t Want to Be CEO

My Twitter has been going viral with reply guy friendly topics like taxing high earners and public vaccine demand so I needed to get some niche startup content in today to clear my palette of the reply guys. So I’m going to think about founders, professional management teams and venture’s role in supporting founders. You know, a topic that won’t have strong feelings.

A non zero number of my founder. friends would probably pay to be extracted from certain stages of startup growth, especially later stage scaling, but somehow being founder friendly has come to mean keeping these founders in charge all the way through. Many excellent zero to one founders have to actively change their entire style, skill set and value proposition once they get a company past about employee 25. Obviously there are many inflection points in startup growth and many founders relish the opportunity for constant skill growth. But plenty of early stage founders hate stuff like Human Resources and operations. Shit a good chunk hate sales and marketing too.

Early stage work is a speciality. It’s a professional niche and hard to train folks for as it’s part personality and part dysfunction. I think we should value early stage founding for its disproportionate impact on value creation instead of forcing these early stage specialists to train to become generalists, great managers or scaling operators. Of course it’s more likely they will fail once you take them away from the stage where they are genius.

Recently a friend of mine who works in venture said of another investor “oh that VC is old school” and clarified it meant they like to bring in executive teams for their B rounds companies. Which honestly sounds like a dream to me. There has to be a middle ground between firing visionary but scattered founders once they’ve raised and trying to coach a mediocre manager into great growth CEO.

I think we should normalize founders being churned in on new ideas rapidly and churned out on scaling quickly. Let them get back to founding. Let them create more faster. Great scaling venture funds can provide more value by bringing in a scaling leadership team and easing the founder out to areas where they can focus on vision and direction. I say let the professionals run your team.

Obviously some founders dream of going from idea all the way to IPO but I don’t know if it’s the dominant path they desire. It could just be one of many. I have very little interest personally in shit like operations, process and scaling. I literally married a COO rather get good at it (insert joke about literally anything to avoid therapy). However it shakes out the “founder friendly” venture firm will remain. What it means to be founder friendly may need to be rethought.

Internet Culture Media

Day 95 and Context Collapse

I have reasonably high social intelligence. Yes I’m willing to flex on this. I’m able to suss out the contours of most situations quickly and code switch my language, aesthetic and context cues. Sure as a white woman in America’s vast “upper middle class” many social interactions and norms are designed for my comfort. But I spend time in spaces that are very much designed to exclude like finance. But I rarely feel out of place as I can find some point of intersection that allows me to find purchase with the leader (or norm setter) that sets a group’s context. To say that this is beneficial is an understatement.

I recently came across a piece of writing titled “A Theory of Collision Spaces” written by scientist who goes by the handle Generativist. The intended audience is folks who think probabilistically or at least have a firm grounding in computational thinking but if you have a head for logic you should be fine. The topic is how social media can do often lead to what is called “context collapse” but you might recognize as “people screaming at each other in bad faith in the comments section.”

The premise of context collapses is that online we may theoretically interact with infinite possible audiences. Infinite contexts makes it much harder for us to adjust or code switch such that we can telegraph that we care about the audience to whom we are speaking. It’s not impossible but it’s much harder. This is how one can make a statement that sounds innocuous but will end up pissing off some group that will come down hard on you. If the reaction is bad enough some audiences call it cancel culture.

Because I have a high social intelligence I’m less prone to getting caught in a context collapse situations. A quick scan of a profile and a few sentences of text is generally enough for me to subtly adjust my language and response. Of course, I cannot adjust for how others respond to me but I can respond to how they respond to me.

Think if it as second derivative social signaling. Limiting the possible permutations enables safety driven actions on my part. While I cannot survive an internet mob (no one can) even a tweet that goes reasonably viral is still bounded by social cues. The more adaptive you are at these cues the less likely you are to instigate a context collapse.

A lot of reasonable people have concluded that context collapse and internet mobs make social interactions on the internet too risky. The likelihood of encountering someone who will go splat against your reality and make a fucking thing out of it is none zero.

But I’d argue you have a weighting bias issue for the magnitude of the risk. You are much more likely to build something of worth from being social than you are to become “canceled” and I think this Theory of Collision Spaces essay just might convince even the twitchiest rationalist groupie. Why? Ensemble learning and computer mediated relationships are super powers for humans. Our ability to extend our thinking has two powerful tools in this era. We can learn from others. And our tools like our computers and their application layer act as extensions of our mind. But don’t my word for it. Nothing I can say will remotely compare to the paper as I’m just not as smart as this scientist.

So you get that social media has many opportunities for expanding our mind. So how do we become comfortable with the perceived risk? One point I want to get across here is that assuming all interactions online are bad makes for poor heuristics. So why is it not as risky as you think?

Social cues mal-adaptively increase the unconditional variance of expressions while minimizing the group-conditioned variance.

Basically social media makes you lean into identity cues. We fight with negative identity opponents and align with positive identity proponents. The only issue? You might be talking to someone like me that code switches. “You cannot easily distinguish between unreliable counterparties, deceptive ones, and whether or not you are wrong.” So you could be talking to someone deliberately fucking with you, someone who legitimately just misunderstand or you yourself might be wrong. How do you know? You don’t really. All this “in group” signaling doesn’t make a ton of difference. It’s just the environment of the internet honing some badly social engineered aspects that are not inherent to the human mind or social behavior.

So go read that piece. Tell me what you think. And then go enjoy being social on the internet! Don’t let being wrong or being polarized scare you. We are still figuring out how being part machine mediated. A few bumps are to be expected


Day 94 and Moods

I got some great news today. All my most recent round of blood work came back in the healthy range. After several years of piss poor inflammatory markers I’m thrilled to see it getting back to normal. But I’m somehow I’m a foul mood for the day.

I talked to a friend about some exciting work we want to do together. It’s exactly the kind of work I’m looking to do in the future and their take on the problem is especially creative. But somehow I’m in a foul mood.

It’s a beautiful Easter Day and I’ve done nothing but enjoyable activities. I went for a hike. Are a gorgeous meal made up of ingredients from our local dairy share and greens from the hydroponics we grew ourselves. But somehow I’m in a foul mood.

I can’t remotely pinpoint why I should feel angry or sad or in anyway negative and yet I’m just a half a step off from the reality of my life today. Not even a viral tweet is doing anything to cheer me. And I usually love dopamine hits. I only had one minor setback in the whole day. I wasn’t looking at a timer and I had a gaming account get zeroed (it will cost a little money to rebuild). Ironically the last time this happened was over Christmas. Apparently holy days and games are a poor mix. But that shouldn’t account for a mood.

I guess some days are just moods. But I’ve got some nachos and tomorrow is another day. I bet I’ll be happy tomorrow.

Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 93 and Distrust

I’m feeling pretty good these days. I’ve written about my progress and my biohacking. But one area I’m not improving in is consistency. Despite meticulous record keeping and a routine I maintain assiduously, it’s almost impossible to predict when I’ll have a bad day. They appear at random!

Most days were bad days the past two or three years. The good days really stood out. I noticed them because they were rare. Now I’ve got a pretty consistent pattern of several days on and one day off. Sometimes I’ll even wrack up almost a week of good days. I used to have bad months and bad weeks. Now it’s rare for me to have more than three bad days in a row.

But I’m still regularly caught off guard by bad days. Out of the blue for no discernible reason I’m in pain, exhausted and struggling with basic function. The pain is the first symptom. Radiating out from my upper spine it pins me flat on my back in bed. About all I can manage in that state of pain is my phone over my face and the light gestures required to work a touch screen. But I don’t know why I have these bad days.

I can do everything “right” and be feeling terrific and then I’m fucked up all over again on a dime. Now I’ve got a small pharmacy I can toss at my symptoms now so I can often medicate myself back to a tolerable baseline.

The issue is what should I do once I’ve recovered? Do I rest? Build up my strength? I used to practice “active resting” where I would engage in restorative practices even when I felt well. The idea was I was building up a reserve of energy for the next crash. But was that the wrong approach?

I’m beginning to think I should take advantage of every last moment of health I have. If I feel well then screw the “active resting” I’m going to use every good minute I’ve got to pursue my goals. Active resting doesn’t seem to have any benefits I can reliably track. And it seems no more likely I’ll have a good day if I have rested then it is I will have a bad day. At best it’s marginally related to a poor night sleep but once I’ve woken up to face the day the day is cast there isn’t it?

I hate that I’m unreliable. I hate that I can’t track triggers. Doctors have seemed largely sanguine on the issue. Some days will just be bad. Sometimes your immune response will be off. But I’m feel lost and angry that I don’t know how I can live life without some degree of predictability. The only thing I can rely on is that on good days I feel good. So maybe I should just pack shit in on those days. No restorative crap. Just go hard at my goals. I’m not sure this is a good plan. It’s probably a bad one. It could just be my addiction to work talking now that my mind knows my body can handle my hard living again. At least for a few days. But if hard living doesn’t produce predictable crashes then what should my takeaway be? Fuck if I know.


Day 92 and Creative Muscle

The more writing has become a daily habit the more I can feel the ebbs and flows of my own voice. Some days I feel a passionate need to share some story or insight, and others, I feel like my voice can barely muster a sentence let alone a full fledged argument.

There are days where fully thought through essays seem to emerge with little effort. As if I wrote them in my subconscious throughout the day and it’s only the slight flick of focus that brings it fully formed to the page. Other days I need to scrape at the contours of my mind to see what fancies or novelties has passed through my attention through the day. Often in theses cases a bit of zeitgeist has stuck in a crevice and I can pull it out and expand on it. I can take a small nugget and chew on it till I find the juice.

I don’t mind the days where I need turn my eye within. The self reflection and additional effort is what I think may slowly be making me a better writer. While I don’t struggle with needing discipline to write everyday, I do need to exercise effort to find ideas that haven’t formed yet. The daily nature of the experiment is building out new thought muscles. It’s making my thinker clearer, faster and crisper. The regular exercise of thought and mind, whether I’m inspired or not, feels as if it’s making inspiration strike more often and my mind see clearly.

Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 91 and Biohacking

I’m getting the sense that a lot more people suffer from general poor health than we let on. When I discuss my own struggles my inbox blows up with fellow suffers of autoimmune conditions. People are fatigued, in pain, mentally sluggish and often struggle with adjacent symptoms like chronic inflammation or gastrointestinal ailments.

Please know you are not alone. As it’s rarely considered socially acceptable to be sick (it’s own issue) I’m going to use my position of privilege to discuss how I’ve hacked my way from completely disabled to about 90% healthy. I’m here to share what luck, power, and wealth have given to me so others with less may succeed like I have.

Step 1: Diagnostic Baseline

It’s really hard to do anything when you are sick and trust me I hate being told well nothing is wrong so maybe just lose weight, exercise and eat healthy. Like sure you fuckers I haven’t considered yoga. Fuck all the way off. But alas it’s true that in order to navigate modern medicine you need a baseline. Go to a GP and ask for a full blood work up. A blood test is typically composed of three main tests: a complete blood count, a metabolic panel and a lipid panel. Read up on what you might see on a typical blood panel. This article is a good place to start (I am not a patient of theirs and do not endorse them for care it’s just a reference).

Step 2: Pick Your Tools and Measurements

If it is possible (lots of folks suffering from chronic fatigue can’t) start on the basics. Order a tracker like a Fitbit, Oura Ring, Apple Watch or Whoop. Then pick an app that can help organize your data. I personally use Gyroscope. My tracking stack is a Whoop for strain & recovery and an Apple Watch for more generalized tracking like sleep, sleep and heart rate monitor. I use MyFitnessPal for food tracking. Strong for workout tracking. Calm for mindfulness, and Gyroscope syncs it for one dashboard. I also use an app called Welltory which uses HRV & blood pressure from monitoring it does in application as well as through syncing with Apple Watch.

An iPhone application folder with wellness apps including Gyroscope, Welltory, LifeCycle, Apple Fitness, Calm, Whoop, Endel, MyFitnessPal & Apple Health.

I also track my symptoms in a journal app called Day One as it’s the lowest friction place I can do simple logging of metrics like pain, mood and energy levels. I also use Google Sheets to keep track of my medications and supplements as I take upwards of 25 different pills and remedies a day (trust me I wish it didn’t work). While there is a lot of variance on workouts I always get hour of low impact walking (3 miles a day), ten minutes of mindfulness, and all my supplements. Like I never miss a pill. I’m happy to discuss my supplement stack with folks but here is a basic guideline of what I take that is provably good.

Step 3: Steadily Improve

Most people overdo it. You try to change a bunch of stuff all at once. Or you dive right into a big change. This is too overwhelming. And it can make you feel sicker (some folks call it a healing crisis). Just pick one metric and improve it by 10% over a week. Pick one activity you will do for 30 straight days. I said I’d write every day and here it is day 91. (Edit, I updated my stack on this post to reflect current use on day 355). The point is you can’t improve everything all at once.

Part of my success is simply telling myself I was going to run the experiment even if it was a failure. Biohacking requires that you don’t change up your variables too often or too quickly. You need to establish trend lines. The biggest mistake you can make is being “noisy” as you will never isolate the meaningful variables. And you won’t stick to it. So it’s a double fuck up. Clean reliable data matters. Don’t change too much too fast.

Step 4: Try Common Experiments

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Coming up with unique experiments probably won’t be necessary till you are well along your biohacking journey. My elaborate tests didn’t really start till this year after two full years of tracking. Start with common experiments others have shown to work. Fasting is a great place to start for metabolic health and fat loss. Walking makes a big difference in your resting heart rate. Being active once an hour has proven metabolic benefits. Try intermittent fasts and then if you see a benefit you can progress to 72 hour water fasts. Adding more protein to your diet is popular for a reason. Start with 20 grams at a meal and work up to a gram per ounce of your goal body weight. Eating more protein tends to shift your diet away from lower quality calories as it’s hard to eat a whole chicken breast and then eat a bunch of fried potatoes. Though I have tried. Work in supplements for whatever your bloods showed you to be borderline on. Vitamin D deficiency is common. If want to sleep deeper try magnesium at night. If you are tired B vitamins are proven. If mental acuity is your goal CoQ10, green tea and ginseng work for many people. Metformin is the top metabolic drug for a reason. If your lipid panel said you needed to lose weight or you have metabolic syndrome Metformin is your first stop. Like I said, there are a lot of proven hacks you can test out and incorporate into your life right now. Don’t be intimidated just work an experiment that has a high probability of success.

Anyone can begin biohacking with a goal, basic tools, and some patience. I’ve taken myself pretty far in the past three years. I’ve had great doctors but some of my success comes down to being willing to experiment with my body.