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Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 391 and Breath

Daily overstimulation is starting to rub the pressure sores of America’s downer induced depression into a full blown mental health crisis. Like, even more than usual. War with Russia in the imagination, inflation and market volatility coaxing a recession, culture war skirmishes over every basic fact in the pandemic, along with generalized anxiety are fucking us up focus wise. And every propaganda outlet and publicist on the planet is having a field day.

I’m listing to The Prodigy’s Breath and mumbling lyrics like pyschosomatic insane. So I guess, come play my game?

I try not to listen too much music as it overstimulates my nervous system to be honest so its kind of rare for me to have Spotify playing. I’ve got a finely tuned propaganda radar that benefits from sensing subtle shifts in tone and extremely online discourse. I can’t do that if I’m too worked up from the rough stimulus that comes from pop music. I mostly use it to run my portfolio and investing but sometimes I think I should really be used in the service of some autocrat or multi-national. I’m the doubt factory

I guess it is nice I can make a buck during the end of the empire. I’m one of those post structuralism, post-capitalism babies. A regular Bane “born to the darkness” of hyper objects like markets and climate change. So I guess I’d better be molded to being the kind of villain that survives a world of agitprop and meme warfare. Thanks Adbusters!

Frankly I’m having a fucking blast. Sure I’m scared I don’t have my homestead property all shored up for civilization hiccups, but I’m of the mind that the crumbles is going to take a while so might as well enjoy the gains that come from a massive upheaval. I guess its true venture capitalists are ghouls. I mean at least we aren’t private equity carrion birds but it is wild that the system rewards a class of people that invest in creative destruction.

But even as I want to paint myself as bad, I do stereotypically think what venture capital does is often good. We can’t predict second order effects. Chaos theory doesn’t let us see all the future paths. But stochastic as shit power laws are just math so we’ve got a shot at accidentally making things better. So while the agitprop tries to sway your opinions might I recommend you just Breath? That is my professional advice.

Categories
Aesthetics Finance Startups

Day 390 and Pitches

So I think pitching is bullshit. My husband has a great analogy. He thinks an hour long pitch to an investor is like a white board coding interview. Have any of you ever done developer work that didn’t have access to StackOverflow and Google? Yeah didn’t think so. It’s a completely artificial environment. Real work is collaborative and input driven and not at all tied to your capacity to memorize and perform on the spot.

I think this is pretty revealing. We force intuitive input driven thinkers, our founders, into a situation where they have little to no feedback. They can’t get anything from us as investors for like twenty minutes. They lead an investor by the nose through a narrative but what if it’s a narrative the VC doesn’t care about. Then what you lose the deal? Fuck no.

You should anchor a conversation based on expressing interest and seeing together where the biggest vision might lay. I’ve legitimately talked to founders who can see their way into imploding corporate legal apparatus or building clean energy through on chain gaming. That is some science fiction level shit. But could they tell me that in a 12 page deck? Fuck no they would look insane. But I want to see you for who you are.

So if you want to pitch me just hop on over to a Telegram chat or my Twitter DMs. Let’s talk and learn and share and then I can really see your passion and vision and we can both avoid canned performative shit.

You want an investor that sees you for you. I want a founder that is building with such a keen passion it’s all I can do to stop from wiring the money that day. Our incentives can align from first contact. So pitch me however you like to communicate. Plus, don’t we all die inside a little every time someone sends a Calendly link?

Categories
Finance

Day 389 and Bear Down for Midterms

I used to be something of a perma-bear. I was always somewhat convinced that bad shit was just around the corner. I guess you can see that in my persistent interest in doomer culture. But as the world continues to experience “the crumbles” I’ve softened my general stance on everything is awful.

Crypto is arguably responsible for much of my stance. For all the bitching about Web3’s lack of decentralization and heady “takes” on how this has all been done before, I actaully do this think is the next wave. Do I think we are due for a lot of crashing and failures and unrealized promise? Also yes.

So when the market decided to do a January bubble bursting I was surprised at how sanguine I was. I kind of didn’t believe it was going to turn into a full blown recession rout. Now this is not to say I don’t think stuff is frothy, as I clearly do. But I think the weirding has so confused markets that who knows when contagion bubble popping is going to hit for real. I don’t think we are there yet.

And indeed I started this post in the morning and by market close stuff kinda bounced. Maybe a dead cat bounce. But who even knows is my point. I don’t think we will see a genuine correction till a real market leader like Facebook or Microsoft pulls a Worldcom or an Enron. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was Tesla but I ain’t playing that short. I think it’s more likely that “Meta” fucks itself in the transition to the metaverse or whatever and then we get a real systemic crash. Right now no one gives a single fuck if all of crypto goes to zero. We need much bigger game to drive a recession. Systemic Lehman brother shit.

Which is long way of me making an elaborate Community joke. That TV show with the Talk Soup guy. They had a plot where someone misspoke or made a bad joke and the theme at their community college dance was “Bear Down for Midterms” and no it isn’t a real phrase. My basic feeling on a recession is that the Fed will toss us a couple rate hikes to deal with inflation. But half of America is convinced the pandemic isn’t over. Congress could be talked into more stimulus since the midterms are bearing down on us and well the Democrats are going to lose. The exponential age, the end of American empire and global weirding means no one knows what is going on. The next real marker on our calendar is the midterms. So bear down for midterms. I’ll be wash trading to get some actual cost basis losses till then.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 388 and Washing My Hair

When I was a sophomore in high school I lived in France. As part of an exchange program I attended a private Catholic school in Evreux which is a a town midway into Normandy. The family I lived with was almost quintessentially French. The patriarch of the family Didier was a perfumer that worked in fragrances for Chanel. And this is where American bourgeois and French bourgeois diverge. In our washing up.

I was accustomed to showering every single day. I was a horseback rider, as was the daughter in the family with whom I lived. I thought it perfectly reasonable to rinse off the barn smells on a regular basis. This was not a view shared by the family. While they were immaculately groomed, their routines involved wash cloths and eau de toilette. Washing one’s hair was a once a week affair.

I was slow to pick up on this cultural norm. They would politely point out that I showered a lot. I was gifted a number of Chanel cosmetics and fragrance products. Did I perhaps prefer Allure to Number 5? They kept coaxing me. I kept not getting the hint. Finally I was told point blank I was running up the water bill and I needed to knock it off.

Lucky for me the habit stuck. That old joke where a woman tells her suitor she can’t go on a date because she’s washing her hair? That’s me now. Well, sort of. Every Sunday afternoon I set aside an hour for the full scrub down routine. I like to go into the week with freshly styled hair. If you catch me on Wednesday or Thursday you can see my hair slowly getting less coiffed. I’ll typically do a rinse and condition on Thursday but thanks to my French family Sunday remains the only full hair washing day. And I still kind of dislike perfume. But don’t tell Didier.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 386 and Pressure

I have been feeling a little disconnected the past couple days. The rising feeling that the zeitgeist isn’t coalescing around a shared narrative has been unsettling.

I usually feel a strong sense of narrative. Maybe because I’m a veteran of the internet’s propaganda class. I was a mercenary in the marketing and media space for the formative years of the social web. If anyone has natural immunity to disinformation it’s the people who manufacture it for a living.

But I can’t tease out who is placing what stories right now. I can’t even get a read on what stories are common knowledge right now. It’s like nothing is winning. There is no story capturing all our imagination at the moment. At least nothing beyond West Elm Caleb. We can agree that Tik Tok is toxic but we aren’t sure where the pandemic is headed, what politics will prevails, or where the markets are headed.

You’ve got to be careful in a toxic information climate like this. You can easily get suckered into attention holes. The more we fixate on the story of the moment the more anxiety you will feel. The zeitgeist isn’t legible. The only way you can protect yourself is to anchor what you know in core beliefs. Don’t let any one stop dictate your mood or shift your focus. Center yourself and you will be less affected.

Categories
Emotional Work Startups

Day 383 and Good at What I Am

Startups are a privilege. You meet people who are exceptional at what they do. Brilliant qualified people who are so capable you could spend your whole life working and only achieve 10% of their innate capacity by natural talent. But the real differentiator is never the talent. It’s the acceptance of who you are. You can’t just be good at what you do. You have to be good at being yourself.

Be good at what you do. Then be good at what you are. Startups require both.

I struggle with this and watch many others who struggle as well. I am brilliant at connecting and amplification but terrible at details and logistics. I used to hate this about myself. I’d beat myself up when I’d get performance reviews that said I wasn’t detail oriented. I thought it was a moral failing. But guess what? It’s just a regular failing. I doubt I’d be great at my actual natural talents if I also had to be good at my failures. Accepting your light means accepting what cast shadows equally.

It’s hard to do. Our coping mechanisms praise us for our good traits and claim full responsibility for achieving them on our own merits. Equally we disown and assume divine intervention or forces outside our control drive our vices. We cannot be responsible for our failures. We only like to take responsibility for our wins.

And I get it. Accepting your shadows is hard. Our parents and our social circles show us who we are supposed to be. Show us what to strive for in the good life. If we are loud we are told to shush. If we are shy we are urged to socialize. Acceptance oh who we are isn’t encouraged. And for good reason. We must push to grow. To become an adult requires effort and work. But we must always remember the ultimate goal in becoming an adult is to become who you are. If you never accept yourself you will never be truly great. And the road is long so start getting good at being who you are.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 382 and Your Truth

I’ve always hated when people say shit like “well that’s my truth” as it gives credence to all kinds of elaborate personal fantasies that make living in civilization almost impossible. But also perception is reality. So while it gets frustrating when people insist on their own set of facts, I can’t really blame anyone for relying on their personal feelings.

I’ve often been afraid to share my personal truths. I’m afraid I’ll be judged for my feelings. I’ve got a number of feelings that are easy to dismiss if you happen to be a fan of many traditional systems of morality.

For instance, I don’t think marriage needs to be about nuclear families. I’m perfectly fine with it being for political or financial power. I think people should start dynasties by combining resources. Which if you go back to really traditional systems of human civilization this take wouldn’t be super shocking. But it certainly sounds shocking to my family and friends that I’m all for multiple spouses. Do I think this works for most people? No, I think paired coupled monogamy is probably right for most normies. But I’m all for people trying shit that isn’t normal if it meets their life goals. Go start your empire king!

Now I’m not saying I’m living this way. Obviously I am a married white woman from the upper class. But I’d be lying if I said my marriage was all about the romance. I do want to build something with my husband!But I think it’s perfectly fine to say different people can live in truthful ways that are different from me. I’m not remotely trad. I’ve got different values than people who marry their high school sweetheart and raise kids. But explaining that makes it sounds like I’m so terminally online normies can’t ever relate. I’m conservative but not trad. Which if that is legible to you I’m glad we are friends. If it’s not then whatever. I hope it’s ok that my truths might be different than yours. Don’t worry I’m a libertarian so I won’t impose it on anyone but myself.

Categories
Startups

Day 378 and Greenhorn

I’ve been running around the mountain west as I’m looking to buy a homestead. I’ve got kind of an elaborate master plan involving mountain houses & ranches and finding a set of living circumstances that works with climate change and social uncertainty. It’s a lot.

This means I’m doing a lot of social signaling to show people that I’ll be a good neighbor. Every place has its own social mores and expectations. I’m trying to show folks that I’m a good daughter of the inter-mountain west. But I’m also someone with the means to acquire property and invest in their community. But I’m also someone who appreciates the ins and outs of rural living. And well the list goes on depending on who I need to impress and about what. Every niche has its hierarchy.

It reminds me a lot about the process a first time founder goes through when fundraising. You are frantically signaling to different constituencies that you will fit into their expectations and worldview. But you do this dance while being completely new and naive to what matters. Being a greenhorn is bad for business. Doesn’t matter of that business is ranching or raising a seed round of venture capital. Alas everyone starts somewhere. So first time founders are often distinguished by how fast they can figure out all the shit they don’t know and fix it.

I’ve got a first time founder I’m excited to be investing in that I’m coaching through a fundraise. He knows his field and business, but he is a total greenhorn when it comes to raising a round. Just charmingly naive to the ways a round comes together. Alex and I are both frantically trying to school him on manners and customs before you can accidentally fuck up something that can’t be unfucked. It’s hard work getting someone schooled up on all the little signals that can doom a deal. But it’s also our specialty.

The particularly challenging aspect of a first round founder is just how much social signaling can be life or death for your company. Maybe if I’m up in Montana scouting property I need to show a certain set of mannerisms but the worst that can happen is someone won’t do business with me. If you fuck up a crucial deal point for ignorance or send a social signal you don’t mean, in venture it can sink your deal and your reputation without you even knowing it.

In venture, someone not doing business with you probably means your company dies. Early stage angel and pre-seed venture investors teach their asses off with new founders to avoid this fate. We can’t afford you being a greenhorn because we know it means death for the business. So if it’s your first time as a founder and fundraising, do yourself a favor. Recognize you are a greenhorn. Find an angel investor or advisor who you can trust that will teach you the manners and social signals you need. Good ones love this work. And you can reward them with advisor shares and pro-rata on your cap table down the line. If you are looking for someone like that drop me a DM.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 377 and Fucked

I was having a conversation with a colleague today. I didn’t know them well so I was amused and surprised when our conversation took a left turn into “everything is fucked!”

It’s not that I disagree. If anything I strongly agree shit is fucked. But I’m not used to a normie getting apocalyptic on me. I didn’t know them well enough that they would have had much insight into my politics or views on systemic collapse. Rather it was two work related people discussing just how uncomfortable daily living is right now. We laughed about how the massive wildfires that burned two Colorado suburbs was already last week’s crisis. And it’s not funny since it was my town’s crisis.

There is an unsettling realization among regular people that life isn’t getting back to normal ever again. That some rubicon has been crossed and even the most normal among us senses that something is wrong.

Have we all become doomers this last year? Has every little crisis finally piled up high enough that it breaches the preoccupation with daily needs and obligations. I don’t like that it’s now common knowledge that shit is fucked. I’m unsettled we agree that life is on a hard left turn. I miss optimism being common knowledge.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 376 and Unnormal

I’ve been going about my life as if everything were normal this past week. I had meetings. I did long term strategic planning for various business interests. I went to a doctor’s appointment. I went grocery shopping. I went house hunting for a mountain house. I was living life.

But absolutely nothing is normal. The doctors appointments needed extra planning as old of the offices burned. Going to the grocery store was particularly emotional as I was so sure we’d lost it in the Marshal Fire that completely devastated two entire towns in Boulder County. Much of my planning meetings incorporated issues related to uncertainty on government interventions and the concern of regulatory overreach.

It feels totally normal to be concerned about political uncertainty and incorporating the aftermath of a climate disaster into errands. It is absolutely “unnormal” to use a term I heard on the “It Could Happen Here” podcast. Shit is just getting weirder and weirder. And there is absolutely no evidence to suggest we should expect life to ever return to some kind of normal. There is no “before times” normal I’ll ever see again in my life.

I say this as someone who is investing time and money into finding a homestead that I wish to be resilient against the background of an uncertain world. I believe things will get worse. And I’m actively taking steps to make my life more livable and productive even in worse conditions.

Because I don’t want another wildfire close call. I don’t want to be totally dependent on supply chains that have natural vulnerability to disease or weather. On Reddit this week our local sub had 200 comments on an empty milk refrigerator at Whole Foods. The discussion couldn’t decide if the issue was the wildfires that destroyed other area groceries leaning to increased demand, that the rival chain was having a strike labor action so more people were shopping Whole Foods to avoid crossing a picket line, or that too many Covid cases hit the trucking company that does Amazon’s logistic legs meaning goods never made it to the store. And what’s wild is no one seemed that worried that even on of those issues would have been viewed as a national crisis a few years ago. This was just all part of living our new unnormal.