Aesthetics Background

Day 184 and Enthusiasm

Nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm!

Some Waldorf classroom recitation

I went to a type of school called a “Waldorf” school for primary education. It’s a pedagogy that believes education should balance intellectual pursuits with artistic and physical ones to develop a well rounded human. A popular coinage is “head, heart and hands” but that’s honestly way too hippie dippie for what is a very practical and grounded approach to learning to be a human that has need for physical, spiritual and cerebral training.

Instead of staring at books all day you spend quite a bit of time on more classical pursuits to balance out traditional subjects like math and histories with music, drama, and a wide variety of physical education. Now you may think ok that’s just gym or music class right? Well, sort of, in the same way learning the alphabet is useful for reading. You need building blocks first. Small children aren’t particular good with javelins, Greek tragedy or the flute so they start you out small. Think “Sound of Music” Do-Re-Mi but for every subject.

One of the techniques Waldorf uses to help children learn to manage their bodies (likely also emotions & mind) is regular recitations. You memorize poems, chants and pieces of drama. You then physically practice run in a group or individually. Often a sequence of rhythmic clapping, chanting, stomping or other ways of integrating your body to the mental act of memorization is part of the process. It can be as complex as a portion of the Bhagavad-Gita (yes I’ve done this) or as simple as a sports chant.

Nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm!

I’ve got a fond memory of a classroom teacher insisting we start the day with energy and enthusiasm by using what is basically an arena chant that would be suitable for cheering on a sports team.

She’d have us get on our feet and in unison recite back “nothing great was ever done…..without….EN-THUS-IAAAASMMMMM!

We’d repeat it over and over again with a 1-2-1-2 beat upfront and then a pause between done and without, and then a great push to pull out the word enthusiasm, with well, as much enthusiasm as we could muster.

By the end the entire class would be all smiles taking huge breathes to push out all the air they could through their diaphragms to put as much emphasis on “enthusiasm” as they could deliver. We’d be standing tall with our shoulders pulled back to give us the maximum advantage for our breath work. I swear these kids had a better grasp on Wim Hoff breathing than an Olympian. For a 5th grader it made use of multiple lessons we’d been taught over the years on diction, posture, physical presence, poise, timing, control and energy. Lessons that then served us well as we went on to sing Handel’s Messiah or learn Greek wrestling.

Plus it was a terrific reminder that all great things require our full selves. Enthusiasm is the path to greatness. Sure hard work and intelligence matters but if you love something with enthusiasm that puts you in the right path. So I try to remember that if I want a big outcome for something I need to feel real enthusiasm for it. And I’ll recite that chant in my head. Because that’s one of the building blocks I use to create success.

Emotional Work

Day 172 and 3 People

I recently heard in my therapy practice that there are three distinct people being juggled inside of you at any given moment. The person you want others to see you as. The person others see you as. And finally the person you actually are. The hope is that you find a way to be at peace with all three.

I am not at all congruent on this matter. I’m not even sure I can articulate the distance between who I am and external reality. In my head, I’m introverted, cerebral and not very interested in other people. In my head I prefer to keep to myself.

That doesn’t match at all with the person who others see as cultivating and thriving on attention. The person who enjoys spending hours on social media doesn’t seem introverted. I think that’s the person others see me as. They see me as an extrovert who intuitively gets attention.

And that sure as shit doesn’t match the person that is smart, hard working and well connected. Thats the person I want to be seen as. That’s the “brand” I think I should have to be respectable in the eyes of others. I want to be seen as the person you turn to who can help you solve a problem. I want to be seen as the person you turn to if you need an introduction. And then I want the people I send introductions to to trust that I will only send them the best people.

Of course, the truth of the matter is I am all these people. I am an introverted cerebral person that likes to spend time alone with her thoughts. I am also the person who thrives on attention and knows how to cultivate it. And I am a hard working person who you can count on to make good introductions and steward your social capital well.

So next time you get worried that the world thinks you are someone completely different from who you see yourself as just remember you are 3 people. You are different. You are the person you want others to see you as. You are the person others see you as. And finally you are also the person you actually are. It’s all you. And it’s wonderful.

Internet Culture

Day 170 and Ass

I’ve got an hourglass figure and my favorite exercise is the barbell squat. That has over given me a fantastic ass. An ass that just won’t quit. Even after some health challenges my ass has been reliable as hell. So yesterday, without really thinking it over, I decided to share my appreciation for my ass.

The first response was from one of my girlfriends (who also has a great ass) sharing some body positive vibes. That was basically my expectation for likes and replies on a “feeling myself” tweet. It’s fun to share positivity on social media.

But then…it took on a life of its own. Comments started pouring in. I replied to virtually all of them. I had threads with best selling science fiction authors and anonymous replies guys. I got retweeted by big crypto and investor accounts. Venture capitalists and dirt bags had equal weight. I cracked wise and made jokes at my own expense. We made a party of it.

Obviously people joined in on the fun. Because shitposting is fun. Dunking, dumb puns and innuendos are enjoyable. But I think it’s something more than that. I believe in the cultural and emotional value of shit posting. Shitposting levels the playing field.

Audiences can be built by anyone now. Shitposting allows creators who have a firm grasp on concise and comprehensible language to get across their point to anyone. Rather than suffering through pontification by elevated voices protected by institutional gatekeepers, we can hear bursts of truthful hilarity from nobodies.

Hilarity is part of the social media experience. Many people have tried to hijack Twitter for the purposes of looking smart and influencing others. Thought leadership is an entire profession now. You’ve got Zen Koan advice Twitter abutting against “in this thread” tweet storms that are academic thesis quality. Which has been great for learning. I follow a lot of folks who use both formats. Being smart is cool.

But the essential nature of social has pushed back. The shitpost reigns supreme. We’ve had an enormous backlash against self serious Twitter. And that backlash has been rewarding folks who say weird shit like me.

Ironically, all the clout chaser and words of wisdom folks had their need to appear smart backfire on them. Shitposting is now a high status activity. Being smart isn’t high status. Being chaotic is high status. Leaning into the shitpost is high status.

You have really powerful people with enormous platforms saying ridiculous shit. I’m a reasonably respectable founder and angel investor and I’m talking about my butt. And the medium rewards you for it.

And I think that is OK. Not everything needs to be brilliant. Trust is built on the understanding that we are all humans. And sometimes humans feel themselves. Sometimes we get sad. It’s all part of the process. And if sharing your truth is what gets clout and audiences I think that’s a nice thing. I’d rather have status for being vulnerable than being brilliant any day.

Emotional Work Startups

Day 166 and Safe Advice

Mistakes are expensive in the moment but priceless long term. This is why failed founders are so respected and sought after in the startup ecosystem. Their advice is the best money cannot buy. Money literally cannot buy the experience that comes from having utterly fucked yourself.

Sure maybe you lost a couple million bucks but you will never make the same mistake again. And because it hurts so god damn bad you will go out of your way to help others to avoid your fate. I’ve found that founders with failures are generous. They have seen the ways even the best laid plans can implode and want to help you from doing the same.

This is why it’s all the more frustrating for these operators watch a startup struggle to take advice. Speaking as a founder with failures, I know when someone else is about to make the mistakes I’ve made. I feel it in my bones. But it’s not always easy to help people help themselves.

Getting someone to an emotional place where they can hear that they too are about to fuck up their professional life takes love. Psychological safety is crucial to hearing someone else.

I have a theory that it feels safer to hear a hard piece of advice when it comes from someone you know is delivering it without ego. Someone who never seems to have struggled a day in their life tends to evoke our own feelings of inadequacy. Their advice could never work for us because we aren’t as smart, rich, connected or sexy as they are. But someone with scars? Sure maybe they get why this is so hard for us.

Chronicle Emotional Work

Day 164 and Building an Audience

I’ve been writing this blog with complete disregard for whether I’m building an audience. I come every single day and I put down my thoughts on this metaphorical paper and sometimes it’s worth reading and sometimes it’s shit. The rule is simple. I write every single day. And I’ve been enjoying it for six straight months. I value this habit and this space for codifying my thoughts.

Because of the personal nature of the insights and the daily routine pace of the content, I’ve been hesitant to do anything to build an audience. All the strategic things one does – have a theme, give them value, cater to their interests – will force structure into my writing. I’m not sure I want structure. If I add in rules like stick to valuable content on a broad theme I’m not sure I can do that everyday.

This means I’ve stayed away from any of the tactical audience building tactics as well. I don’t encourage signups to read this in your inbox. I don’t have any pop-ups to capture your email. I don’t promote my writing anywhere but a single link on my Twitter account once a day. I rarely out older links to past pieces even if I think it’s a terrific post with insights worth sharing. There are dozens of ways I could be increasing my reach and growing my audience that I am just not doing.

I think it feels like too much pressure. As soon as I make any promises about what content you can find here it will add friction to my one simple writing rule. And friction eats eat away at momentum. I don’t want to do anything to slow or break a successful streak. I’m proud that I’ve written something every single day for 164 days. A lot of it has been genuinely good too!

And maybe I think that my one rule isn’t good enough for anyone but me. Why should anyone else care that I write every day? Daily content that must adhere to rules is practically a guarantee for regular “meh” posts. Sometimes I just won’t be inspired. That happens. I accept that as part of the process but if I cultivate an audience will they?

Of course I could do more to promote the content with the caveats that it’s a personal site with a rule that means you will get a variety of content. If you know what you are getting into than I’m not breaking any promises. I could post to more platforms with clear indications of what I do here. That wouldn’t put any pressure on me and would be transparent with any potential readers. But I’m still hesitant. I’d love to know why.


Day 159 and Friction

Everyone has their mental models and super powers that make them unique. While I’ve written about my more specific skills like getting attention, one of my other super powers is a bit further down the stack.

I think I have a naturally immunity to the friction of inertia. The slow stickiness of life doesn’t seem to impact me as much as the average person. Generating momentum is my natural state. I guess this means my X-Men doppelgänger is the Juggernaut.

Juggernaut from X-Men: Last Stand saying “I’m the Juggernaut Bitch”

Startups suffer particularly from inertia around them. The world pushes back actively against changes. Think of inertia like eddies in the stream of linear time. You must get unstuck or you will circle forever alongside the stream, never getting anywhere while watching as others get ferried down the currents. That’s why I recommend to startups that they simply do whatever is necessary to generate momentum. Get the fuck out of the eddies of inertia.

When you are pushing against existing reality to make something new, you already need to significantly reduce friction just to get a shot on goal. You need to change opinions, learn new skills, bring together a team, work well together.

And that doesn’t even mean you will make the goal, even if all preparation work that goes right. All of that momentum you generated simply to have an opening. Yeah even then you can still fail. The market, your underdeveloped skills, your competitors, sheer dumb luck all have a chance to block your goal. That means you need to be undeterred by failure. You need to overcome friction consistently.

Overcome the inertia and the friction to keep taking more shots is your best chance. Probability likes your odds from five shots better than one.

Finance Startups

Day 152 and Running The Play

I’m going to put $5,000 into liquidity mining and yield farming to fuck around and, hopefully, find out.

If the last year has been about laying out the primitives of decentralized finance, this summer is going to be the Layer 2 land grab and I need to learn how to stake some claims. I don’t have a clue if it is going to work but I need to start learning how to play the game by tossing the ball around. I doubt I’m going to be whatever the equivalent of a professional player but I want to learn some muscle memory. You can’t very well buy an NFL team without having ever handled a football can you? Yes I am torturing a metaphor.

On a personal psychological note, I wanted to start with a $1,000 but then I realized the difference between losing $1,000 and $5,000 isn’t material to me (which blows my mind but such is the compounded benefit of my various privileges). However, the difference between 10xing $1,000 to $10,000 and 10xing $5,000 to $50,000 is extremely material to me. $50,000 is a a material seed stage check for a company that I may want to place a long bet on.

That is roughly the cost of my medical care for an entire year (not including drugs which roughly doubles it). That is a down payment on a parcel of land to develop over the coming decades. This is a moment to learn and leverage for the benefit of my future self and family if shit goes well. And if it doesn’t no big deal. The real money is better managed than me deciding I want to toss around a ball

My Chaos thesis says it’s time to run the play on the future more generally. It’s hard to argue that I can make good puts on a chaotic future without fully experiencing some of it myself in visceral fashion. I fully expect to lose all of it trying to liquidity mine and yield farm on my own but if I don’t well then I’ve proved something to myself about the future of capital.

I need to remind myself that this isn’t representative of how I allocate capital in a diversified portfolio to preserve my future security nor is it how I’d allocate capital even in a seed stage private venture stage portfolio. But it is a worthwhile amount to put on a 100% risk basis to learn how the fuck the future of capital allocation might work.

Honestly $5,000 is a pretty cheap tuition for a fancy credentialed college class so this seems like a good deal. I will write my way through the learnings and call it an independent study.

Emotional Work

Day 148 and Ted Lasso

As I’ve written about before, I like shibboleths and secret codes. And Ted Lasso is my go to show for the language of emotional empathy.

It’s touched a nerve for a certain corner of the internet. The folks yearning for positivity. It shouldn’t have worked. And yet the show’s curiosity opens up your heart. It was a tonic for a tough year. So much of its magic is about learning to accept others as they are and love yourself for you.

Jamie Tartt: “Coach, I’m me. Why would I want to be anything else?”
Ted Lasso: “I’m not sure you realize how psychologically that is

I’ve written about the concept of psychological safety in building partnerships, most recently in venture capital. If you have a desire to improve your bonds with others try Ted Lasso. It will teach you much about feelings you never knew you had.

Whenever someone special is going through something in their life or if I just really love them I’ll rewatch Ted Lasso. I’m having an afternoon off and doing just that.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 147 and Over My Skis

For a Colorado native (let’s ignore that I was born in Silicon Valley) a number of our most cherished pastimes are kinda “meh” for me. Skiing is a sport that I can take or leave. That apres ski life is much more appealing than cutting it up on the slopes. But one key metaphor from ski culture gets used lot. “I’m over my skis.”

To be over one’s skis is to risk crashing. Being over ones skis happens out of enthusiasm. An inexperienced or unfocused skier lets their center of gravity tilt forward over their knees. Best case scenario, you are simply going too fast and you better “pizza” your skis to slow down. It’s a endearing but slightly awkward experience which is what makes the metaphor so appealing. It’s never a bad faith metaphor merely a goofy oops.

I got over my skis this week. I’ve been so excited for my workload (new investments, new startups to advise) and some new structures forming in my life ( is coming into focus) that I’m leaning in and finding myself going too fast. A friend of mine, who is my favorite person to “over do it” with, was on the phone with me a lot. I was excited to talk to her. But all this added up.

I realized oh shit I need to slow down. I haven’t crashed yet but I’m french frying. There is still time for me to “pizza” or in the immortal words of South Park’s ski instructor Thumper

If you french fry when you should pizza, you’re gonna have a bad time

I love french frying, the food, the ski position and the metaphor for speed. I want get over my skis. But if I don’t pizza “I’m going to have a bad time.” So with true Colorado wisdom it is time to kick back, get some THC and pizza. May this edition of Rocky Mountain wisdom aid you in finding balance on the slopes and off.

Finance Startups

Day 146 and Gossip

Gossip drive the world. The stories we tell about other people reflect a lot. Even if we claim we don’t care what others think what others think moves the world around us. And I would posit that this actually isn’t a bad thing. It can drive closer bonds and increased connection.

There is a concept in evolutionary psychology called indirect reciprocity. Natural selection favors strategies that base the decision to help on the reputation of the recipient. Social interactions in which one actor helps another and is then benefited by a third party are key to cooperative reputations.

This isn’t just a systemic population level issue either. People who are more helpful are more likely to receive help. It’s uneven obviously and people can obscure their reputation. Depending on if you are up or downstream of helping or being helped, you make different calculations. Some people help more but they feel it’s worth the cost. They are downstream. Others accept more help because they are upstream. We are all making trades based on our position and arguably they are fair market trades.

How we decide to cooperate and with whom is driven considerably by reputations and shared value beliefs. Relaying reputation signals to bolster your capacity to connect to others is actually a key part of empathy. We need to establish psychological safety to partner with each other. Gossip helps us find suitable relationships. This is especially true in disciplines which require creativity. Quoting myself on the topic of psychological safety in venture capital.

If entrepreneurs are solving entirely new problems with high chances of failure feeling like they can trust their financial partners should be a top priority. Yet the atmosphere of distrust is pervasive. Venture capitalist and entrepreneur are constantly managing the information flow between each other.

Managing the information flow is a key component of gossip. Showing you understand their context, their fears and their reputations concerns helps you. An act we denigrate in popular culture actually helps you to deepen the relationships as each signifier breaks down space between two people and builds trust. So don’t knock gossip. It has evolutionary, societal and individual benefit. Just remember the ultimate outcome is about bringing people closer.