Categories
Startups

Day 490 and Startup People

One of the more transformative experiences of my young life was attending a founders only conference in 2010. I’d never been around that many other people who did the same thing as me before. I felt so seen.

The most unexpected thing was how relaxing it was to be among other people who understand the context of my life and my work. All of the weird and idiosyncratic elements of being the CEO of an early stage company are hard to translate to someone who has never had to live it. Startups are lonely work and being the CEO is the loneliest job in the company.

Obviously the last twelve years of bull market have greatly expanded the pool of people who have worked in startups. It’s gone from a niche to the driving force of American industry. Everyone grew up. Some of us made money. We’ve professionalized. We’ve developed best practices. What was once a scrappy singular experience is now a repeatable innovation.

And like that conference it is transformative to be seen. don’t feel so alone anymore. There are more people who can share in the context and specifics. I’m in Montana this week with friends who have a similar life path to myself and my husband. Our friends completely understand the context of our lives and we understand their context. We are all founders and executive team members and angel investors and LPs. And yes it’s relaxing. I highly recommend it.

Categories
Politics

Day 488 and Life

I woke up today feeling betrayed. I’ve never been concerned that my reproductive health would be decided by anyone but me. It’s been a luxury not to fear my own body knowing I had a right to chose for myself. It was my belief my family would do it’s own planning.

And we did plan. We did fertility treatments and it went catastrophically badly. Four years later I’m just barely stabilized from the attempt to extract eggs and freeze eggs and embryos. The vast majority of people have to cope with our reproductive health in some capacity. Having a family is pretty standard issue. Mine just happened to be a little more dramatic than average. But I never had to worry if it was my life or my unborn child. Or who would get to chose. I never got that far and now I’m a bit afraid I never will. I’m afraid to be pregnant in a world where my health decisions are not my own.

In case you missed the news, last night someone decided to leak a draft opinion from Justice Alito (supported by the conservative justices but without any indication where Roberts stands) that would overturn Roe vs Wade. Abortion would no longer be a federal question but devolve to state authority if Roe is overturned. After 49 years it looks like a major reversal is possible. To be clear it is a draft and while Chief Justice Roberts confirmed it’s authenticity, he said it’s not final or representative of any current justices or the courts final authority.

But it didn’t fucking matter what anyone intended. Chaos has absolutely ensued as various parties look to assign blame for such a massive breach of judicial norms. Everyone is jockeying for position and speculation is rampant. A topic like when life begins is guaranteed to generate strong emotional response. Who gets to decide is a big question. But I’ve generally fallen onto the side that the woman has autonomy over her own body. A fuck ton of other people felt about the same as I did. I’ve seen social media erupt in fear and hurt.

I’ve got very complex feelings on abortion. I’m against it in principle (and I’m deeply grateful I’ve never been faced with that choice) but I am not convinced a fetus is a person. Lord knows if an embryo is a person I know I’d have a very different opinion. I’m not even sure I would have been comfortable doing IVF if I thought an embryo was a person.

This is all complicated by the fact that I don’t think any of society’s crucial issues should be legislated by courts. They enforce laws they don’t make them. We have a legislative body for a reason. Why won’t we try passing federal legislation for anything? Like honestly I’m sick of the courts having to be a backstop. I think most people are. I just don’t get it.

I don’t fully understand how we build out laws to enumerate natural rights but I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be an amendment. We have sucked at this amendment thing traditionally and I don’t really grasp why.

I failed Constitutional Law so my opinion maybe doesn’t count. In my defense, I took it with Will Baude as a fellow classmate as an undergraduate and well now he is is famously a world class constitutional scholar. He absolutely wrecked the curve for my class of twenty. But maybe I understand the issue marginally better than I imagine. Just not as well as say someone tapped to regularly review how the court operates. I don’t know! But at a certain point the contentious shit is going to be an amendment right?

I don’t have a tidy summary to any of this except to say I know this is hard for everyone. I wrote this post because I’m scared and hurting. I can now imagine a world where if I’m faced with crisis like an ectopic pregnancy it’s not clear that the choice to terminate to save the geriatric mother would be in my hands. And I don’t think that’s right.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 487 and Grocery Stores

I love settling into a new home by going grocery shopping. I’ve had the opportunity to be in a new city for an extended period twice now this year. And each time the joy I’ve taken in going to pick up groceries is palpable. Going shopping for food is my happy place.

I’m in Bozeman with dear friends and one of them noticed just how excited I was for the grocery run. We had a mostly empty fridge and I made a beeline to the nicest grocery store in town. It was a hybrid fancy yuppie grocery wrapped inside a big box grocery store. It’s a chain local to the pacific and mountain west called Rosaurs. I highly recommend it.

A grocery store is a powerful space. I’ve written before about my love for the American grocery store. I think it’s unique in its position as a functional and emotional retail space. It needs enough structure and repeatable patterns that anyone can shop a store and have an intuitive sense of where the basics are merchandised. But grocery relies on novelty and newness as much as any other retail store for driving order size and additional Martin.

The presentation of new brands and new products is fraught. The need to display something new competes against the need for repeatability and ease of locating core items in grocery. Grocery can be seen as human nature reflecting core tensions as it balances desire and safety. We yearn to feel nurtured by food but also crave to be stimulated by new tastes.

I spent an hour and a half wandering the aisles filling out my grocery list. I had done meal planning and had specific needs for the weeks meals. But I am also an inveterate shopper looking to feel excited by what was on the shelves.

To this day that I can look at any item in the store and buy it remains a surprise to me. It’s a luxury that never fails to delight me. If I want to get something I can. There is no budget or restriction on me like I remember as a small child. And yet I still couldn’t bring myself to buy a full size Turmeric spice jar. Reflecting back childhood emotions I didn’t even realize I had. A small reminder of how much seemingly mundane acts like grocery shopping can reflect much bigger things.

Categories
Politics

Day 486 and Open Road

I’d love to thank Eisenhower for having the foresight to build the interstate highway system. It’s one of the most crucial pieces of infrastructure that America has ever built. And it’s also absolutely gorgeous. Truly shameful we’ve not embarked on anything so ambitious since the Highway Act of 1956. Did you know it cost $114 billion dollars to make the interstate system? That’s $535 billion in 2020 dollars and who knows how much more know in 2022 with current inflation. But sure Biden can have 2 trillion for infrastructure as long as it keeps the interstate open.

I spent most of my day on the interstate. I traveled north on I-25 and then headed west on I-90. I’ve done several cross country road trips in my life including, California to Colorado, Colorado to Illinois, Colorado to Texas, and of course New York to Colorado. I’ve done I-70 as well as 80. It’s my hope to do many more trips in all possible directions.

The romance of the road is so foundational to American culture that I’d recommend everyone enjoy an interstate highway trip to a national park. There’s simply no joy quite like speeding along a wide open road with vistas as far as the eye can see.

The only sour note of the trip is the high cost of gas. The lowest I saw was $3.90 and the highest was $4.19. Diesel was substantially more expensive at $5.59 a gallon. I didn’t see a lot of trucks on my trip but my route isn’t particularly crucial as far as supply chains go. I mostly saw Amazon and Fed Ex trucks. Most goods are coming into Seattle so this stretch of land appeared to be given over e-commerce deliveries. I’ve been worrying over rising gas and it’s impact on well everything. Empty interstates seem an ominous sign

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 485 and Reality Shows

I’ve been watching Netflix’s reality dating shows this past week. I’m absolutely obsessed with the Nick and Vanessa Lachey properties in which twenty and thirty somethings do preposterous social experiments because they want to be married that badly. I’ve now watched Love is Blind and the Ultimatum.

I’m not typically a reality show person. I’m a yuppie startup bro living in the golden age of prestige tv. I like expensive scripted dramas and the media has provided me with ample options. But I’ve often wondered how much I’m missing out on popular culture by avoiding reality television.

I’ve got girlfriends who are obsessed with the Bachelor but I’ll be honest I’ve never been able to focus on unscripted tv. I admire the hell out of the product empire the Kardashians have built but I’ve never actually watched their anchor television show. There is clearly a deep cultural cross current that reality television has in America and I’ve largely let it pass me by. Well except for having to live through the Trump administration.

I’m particularly interested in how these reality shows reflect our cultural desires. I wrote this week about how the vibe shift is showing an emerging camp of right wing counter culture. The single minded obsession with marriage and traditional family structures in both Love is Blind and the Ultimatum make me think they both reflect the cultural power of traditionalism. Twenty five year olds offering ultimatums to their partners that they must get married now is a bit wild to me as a geriatric millennial. It was considered a bit retro to be married before 30 during the Girlboss new left Obama years. That’s clearly changed.

I’m curious what else is changing culturally that will be reflected in reality television. Love is the most universal so perhaps I’m projecting a bit on the medium. Maybe marriage is easier to transpose onto unscripted television. But I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of other traditionalist vibe camps that will arise on America’s favorite entertainment genre.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 482 and Vibe Shift

A month or so ago a piece written by a New York marketing executive titled Vibe Shift went viral among the chattering classes. The premise is that we are on the precipice of a cultural change that is upending everything from politics to fashion. And depending on your perspective, this shift might include crumbling dystopian decay or vibrant fuck it optimism. Or in the case of web3 absolutely both.

I think the Vanity Fair piece on the New Right is chronicling one of the first emergent vibe camps to emerge from the vibe shift. The article is a look at the art, intellectual environment and personalities of the “not quite conservative” new right. And it’s a largely positive even glowing send up.

If you believe the Citadel is a corrupt institution and moral moral crisis then the Vanity Fair piece should have been negative. It’s a surprise that it wasn’t. Not long ago we were subjected to intense narratives about the dangers of nRX neo-reactionaries and it’s infiltration of Silicon Valley. It was a real and urgent issue that the center of so much money and power might doesn’t align with the cultural values of media or academia. If you don’t speak this language the Citadel is code for the left leaning creative and cultural institutions like Hollywood, academia and media.

So why isn’t it a crisis any more that there is a new breed of influential “not quite” conservatives? If anything the right in America has shown itself to be capable of so much more than just boat parades and goofy hats. Some of these fuckers were expanding the Overton window on peaceful transitions of democratic power on January. It might actually be getting worse.

Except now the left fucking sucks too. Now I’m not justifying fascists. These Christian Nationalists are trying to roll back modernity and pluralism. Fuck them. They fuckers don’t even have a demographic majority. So it pains when I say the vibe shift is showing the left as the worst version of themselves while the right is showing a new cultural ascension.

To a lot of normal moderate people the left looks controlling, scolding, frigid, and conformist. Everything from mask politics to gender relations has started to make the left look insane. It’s entirely rational people would be seeking a vibe shift for something more welcoming.

My theory is we are about to see a massive resurgence of affection for all kinds of conservative hobby horses. Especially of vibes that used to be the province of the traditional left. Everyone is sick of being shamed while they go about living their lives. And whoever wins that vibe war will win America.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 481 and The Mood

There is a scene in Dune where heir apparent Paul Atreides is dismissing the danger he is in from the Harkonnens. He tells his instructor he is “not in the mood” to train.

It proceeds to be a standard issue coming of age issue. Paul realized being responsible means finding the mood if the need arises. The circle of manhood. You’ve read Joseph Campbell too so you can fill in the hero’s journey.

But I’ve recently noticed an uptick of people not being in the mood. This isn’t for lack of desire to build and and will manifest. People are exhausted by the increasing chaos. The entropy pulling on all of our lives is weighing on us. People have let big life decisions go by as the uncertainty plays out. We want to stop to attend to those problems. We’ve got health issues we’ve not checked out. We’ve got family members who are struggling. We’ve put off buying homes and making trips and investing in things b

But we cannot let the pace and uncertainty of the now prevent us from setting the foundations for our future. We may not be in the mood. We may be tired and scared and overwhelmed. But the occasions that require action do not care for our moods.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 479 and High Agency

A corner of startup Twitter was discussing the relative ease of getting connected to power brokers in different industries today. The debate? Does good talent eventually finds its way to resources? The contention from Roon, otherwise known as Mr. Wordcel vs Shape Rotator, is that networking is less crucial in technology than in any other industry because it’s easier to find a way in.

While one can quibble with how true this is for all populations, it is truer than it’s ever been. A large swath of the startup ecosystem is readily available to anyone on social media. We are less constrained by geography and credentialism than we’ve ever been. This is partially because much of the wealth in the current generation came from building social networks or software that benefits from openness. An excellent overview of this is why good angel investing ecosystems prioritize welcoming newcomers by Alex Danco. Most investors want to be available.

But it’s still a challenge to find high agency and high talent people and there are far fewer of them than you’d imagine. And proving you are high agency and high talent isn’t always an intuitive process. Being able to assess if someone has the capacity to build is one of the hardest job a capital allocator will ever have. Judging markets and products and roadmaps is much easier than discerning if someone has the capacity to execute on their dream.

I personally use follow up as my first heuristic. This is partially because I maintain open DMs so literally anyone can and does reach out to me. If someone is able to regularly show up and engage with me and show progress they are better than 90% of people. Honestly go ahead and try! I really am here to help.

You’d be shocked at how often someone pitches me and then I never ever hear from them again. And it’s not because I missed the boat (this happened once to me this year). It’s generally because people are waiting for someone else to act. And this is where people fail. The first rule of startups is figuring out how to create momentum. If you are waiting for me to cut a check you’ve already lost.

I’d like to do a whole post on this topic but I’ve been struggling to get the bulk of it on paper as I’ve got a migraine coming on. But rather than put the post off, I organized an introduction of the subject and put down my first heuristic. Which is ironically exactly what I look for in founders and builders. Did you make some visible amount of progress no matter how bad? Did you put it out into the world? That’s better than most people!

Categories
Politics

Day 478 and Extremists

Over the past twenty four hours I have spent time in two communities known for attracting extremist viewpoints; immigration reform and education. And I feel a bit demoralized by the level of discourse that I’m having in person.

I attended an event on Friday for an organization I’m excited about as I wrap my head around why the American immigration system is so broken. I wrongly labored under the assumption that our system was flawed and inefficient, but still had the occasional success story. Now I realize it’s a hopelessly broken set of incentives wrapped inside heavy emotional baggage.

I don’t think the average American can conceive of how bad it is until dealing with it personally. And it’s crushing our competitiveness as a country. In twenty years when our population continues to age we will regret not fixing it. It’s actually an existential problem for our country’s future.

But somehow the entire debate centers around comical battleground partisan issues where they argue for the least relatable shit. We will never find common ground if we leave it to the extremes on either side. We are letting a crucial issue get sidelined.

I experienced something similar on the education front as well. Families are arguing over truly crazy shit that you cannot imagine any same adult bringing to a classroom of children. But this manifests in small ways too. We fixate on the purist forms of educational pedagogy instead of being pragmatists about protecting our children’s sense of self.

I only bring this up because sometimes I assume that real life must be better than whatever discourse is happening online. That social media must be reflecting some unnatural tendencies we only see thanks to access. But alas I’m seeing these fights happen in person. In communities that know each other. But we are adopting some of the tenor and habits of “the discourse” with our neighbors. And that worries me a little.

Categories
Medical Politics

Day 475 and 4/20

Last year on April 20th aka 4/20 aka the day America celebrates weed culture, I wrote an post on using medical marijuana for my ankylosing spondylitis. It’s a thorough look at how I incorporated THC & CBD into a pain control regimen for an inflammatory autoimmune disease. I’ll recap some of it here as my views haven’t changed at all in the intervening year.

As a libertarian I’m pro-legalization but I likely wouldn’t have chosen to use THC recreationally except that it happens to be a drug that has demonstrated benefits for my condition and is comparatively less dangerous than other pharmaceuticals I am also proscribed (namely opioids and high dose NSAIDS). For some context, despite being a native Coloradan I had never smoked weed till this year. As a kid it just didn’t seem appealing (that’s what hippie boomers do), and to be candid as I got older I didn’t love the idea of tying a health need to something that wasn’t legal everywhere.

I spent months testing everything from bud and regular joints to elaborate butter and shatter concoctions in an expensive Pax vape. None of it achieved the desired effect which was pain mitigation and minimal head highs. It was expensive and demoralizing. It was hard to manage dosing and consistency and I was unsure if it would remain a part of my medical regimen. I wasn’t sure weed was ready for prime time but I did feel it was important to document it all both for my own biohacking purposes but in case it could help others.

After all of that experimenting, I settled into regularly using patches. It’s one of the least celebrated formats and, because that’s how it works, the last format I tried before settled into a routine. I use a brand called Mary’s Medicinals that makes an excellent 50-50 THC to CBD blend. It is completely reliable on dosing and effect. It has little to no head high. And it lasts for eight to nine hours. Basically as close as I can get to a pharmaceutical. Turns out I wasn’t kidding when I said I really was in it for the pain relief.

I genuinely hope that THC continues to cement its place in American culture and medicine. It’s a cheap easy and effective drug that replaces a lot of expensive and potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals. Of course we’d have powerful interests working to ban that. It’s a a national shame and I’m glad Americans have fought back. I’d rather weed replace alcohol and tobacco. Why get drunk and wake up feeling shitty when you can get calmly high and feel better in the morning. But it’s a long path and sadly it’s still viewed negatively by some. I hope to do my part on 4/20 to encourage folks to see it’s benefits.