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Medical Startups

Day 696 and Edge

I’m enjoying a migraine this weekend that was both strong and as of yet unbeaten. Perhaps I overdid things on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. But I’ve been stuck in bed in a dark room for the last 48 hours or so.

While this sounds a bit miserable, I can assure you it is also part of my edge. When my physical works shrinks my cognitive capacity unfurls. I very much liken it to the traditional super hero dilemma of being gifted with something that makes living a normal life a challenge.

I may be stuck inside struggling with light, noise and smell but I can still do most of my core deep work. I can’t take calls or go to meetings but I can be on my phone and my Kindle. I can intake information and I can synthesize that information when I’m in darkness.

And that is 90% of my job. Be informed and make the best decision you can. Those decisions are generally done when you are calm and fast. And I get the benefit of being in rest and digest as often as possible as it’s what keeps me alive.

I’ve got a generalized theory related to finding one’s edge. It’s pretty simple. If other people perceive it as a weakness but you understand how to wield it as a strength then your got an edge. People dismiss you sure. But being underestimated is one hell of a way to get on the better end of a trade.

And so while I’m here looking like I might not be worthy because of some set of heuristics that’s have typically worked well for you I’m actually the one that has a leg up on you. You would do well to think about all the ways in which you can leverage talent and insights that trade below their value. You can make a lot of money betting off of truly underestimated viewpoints.

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Internet Culture Media

Day 685 and Brainworms

I am very good at media. It’s a passion as well as one of my few hobbies that has stood the test of time. If I wanted a regular job I think I’d enjoy for more than a couple year stint I’d probably pick publicist. I say this add context to the topic I plan to discuss.

Because I’m so experienced (and also naturally talented) at the attention disciplines, I can spend time consuming information that isn’t mentally or emotionally hygienic for the average person. I have outstanding informational immunity. I stare into the abyss so others don’t have to. I monitor it all, from extremist groups to the most normie mainstream media. I have always made my living by intaking and organizing information.

Unlike your drunk uncle or wired Gen Z nephew, I can withstand information environments designed to “pill” you and hijack your dopamine responses without ill effect. Frankly I’m disappointed I’m not a literal William Gibson character as I certainly feel like Cayce Pollard existentially.

So I hope you take me seriously when I say I think it is time for all of us to pull back from extended raw regular Twitter consumption for a little bit. It has become an info-hazard rapidly and almost accidentally as its new management attempts to reinvigorate features and drive cost cutting (some of which I support). I don’t know if it is going to collapse or get reinvented but Twitter as it is right now is unstable.

The degradation of features and rules of engagement is happening too quickly and unpredictably for me to surf continuously like I have in the past. Context collapse is pervasive. There are gaping holes in informational hierarchies from experiments to both nerf and boost accounts through verification chaos. Responses from trusted accounts don’t make it to my alerts. I used to browse on reverse chronological non-algorithm view but it appears so broken in my feed it’s unclear how or why things are being surfaced.

And these concerns barely scratch the surface. Twitter’s immune responses to competing agendas, trolling and chaos agents are broken as the duct tape and physical labor of its team has been slashed. Raging information infections that typically remain contained to their ecosystems are spreading to main feeds. You cannot control your information environment when it is collapsing all around you.

You are going to get brain worms if you are not careful. If even a twenty year professional with exposure to the darkest corners of content (from 4chan to Gawker to groypers) no longer feels safe in this information war zone than you might want to consider restricting your own consumption for your own mental and emotional safety. I’ve decided to cut down on browsing until the platform stabilizes. I’m rebooting my email inbox and newsfeeds. I am choosing to open news apps directly rather than waiting for my networks to surface news. I just don’t feel safe drinking from the raw feed on Twitter right now.

In other words, if it’s not safe for me then it is definitively not safe for you.

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Politics

Day 664 and Political Disabilty

I did not watch the Pennsylvania senatorial candidate debate between Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Republican tv personality Dr. Mehmet Oz because I live in Montana. Why the fuck would I do that? But I have caught the discourse surrounding it and I do not like it.

If you are not following this saga, Fetterman had a stroke a few days before the primary in May. He is recovering but but is still having trouble with speech. People who are not familiar with neurological recovery processes (otherwise known as 99% of normal humans including me) are freaking the fuck out about what it means that his speech is impaired. It looks particularly egregious when compared to Dr Oz who is professionally competent at communicating clearly on television because that is his job.

Naturally we are seeing the absolute worst possible response to Fetterman’s current disability from just about everyone. Supporters of Fetterman are insisting that there is no evidence of mental degeneration or acuity issues. Which might be true but I don’t know. But the general sense I get from supporters is one cannot even suggest that there might be processing issues because doing so would you an awful ableist human being. Neat!

On the flip side, Republicans and other opponents are insisting Fetterman isn’t fit to hold office as he is not capable of speaking clearly. The Republican position seems to be that a speech impediment is a clear sign of mental decay and electing him is maybe a diverity and inclusion policy so wrong it should insult us all. Also extremely neat!

I’d say naturally both positions are ridiculous but I’m not sure this is natural to anyone. Ableism, or discrimination against the disabled, is an exciting new front in the culture wars. Being being disabled is a hot new identity marker despite the fact that a quarter of Americans have some form of disability. It’s not that unique or cool to be disabled. But modern medicine is a miracle so we can’t rely on Darwin anymore to keep us damned cripples out of sight anymore making light eugenics kind of a popular position. I don’t love it.

I am someone with a modest disability. I have a spinal condition called ankylosing spondylitis which is basically arthritis in my spine. So I don’t find any of the commentary surrounding Fetterman’s disability status encouraging. I don’t love that the basic assumption is being less than abled bodied is disqualifying for work. It depends! This shouldn’t be a whole fucking thing.

A disability doesn’t mean you can’t work like a “normal” person but it does mean you have some limitations to work around. This doesn’t make you better or worse as a person. Being disabled has no moral valence. Alas we tend to valorize suffering and demonize perceived weakness. Neat!

My position is most disabilities are sort of a modest inconvenience that on balance forces you to hone other abilities to be competitive. This is my super hero theory of disability and might be a contributing factor to the side that valorizes disability. How cool is it to be an X-Men? Extremely! But I don’t overweight this position as I largely think a market economy fixes by forcing us to all to compete and find our niche.

If this is scandalous to you, I’d say everyone has something that is a struggle to overcome even if most people’s thing is just being kind of an idiot. Half of us are by definition below average. But imagine if I thought you being stupider than me was disqualifying for holding political office.

My whole point in this long ramble is that the Democrats are being ridiculous in insisting we cannot look at the strengths and weaknesses that come with bodies being sick. We are on year three of the pandemic so that ship has sailed. The Republicans are being ridiculous insisting that speech impediments are disqualifying. Tump didn’t even have the benefit of a stroke to blame for his speech patterns.

It isn’t ridiculous to ask someone to be transparent about recovery and abilities. I’ve got no idea if Fetterman has slower thinking after the strike or if it’s just slower speaking. I don’t really care to be honest. Not my senator.

But if we all keep insisting on physical and mental perfection from our elected officials we might not have any politicians left. Which actually on second thought might be ok.

Categories
Startups

Day 501 and Do It Live

There must be some kind of residual high from making big decisions, as I’m feel powerful as hell coming out of Montana. I’ve committed to a life path and I am ready to do some thriving. Yes I’m referencing the meme.

unbothered. moisturized. happy. in my lane. focused. flourishing

I’ve got a deal I want to shop around even though it’s ice cold out there in venture land. I believe in the team and I believe in the market sector. It’s a bit of an unusual bet but I have total confidence in the problem space such that I am ready to spend some social capital. So hit me up if you want to get in on the deal. I feel like it’s a deal that’s absolutely in my lane and even if it’s a hard time to circle anyone to anything I may as well enjoy the thrive vibe. Let’s do some magic together yeah?

In another famous meme Fox News host Bill O’Reilly exclaims that “fuck it I’ll do it live!” And I have to say that is my current energy. None of us have a fucking clue about how things are going to go. But did we do our homework? Yes. I did the work. I ran my numbers. I’m good at what I do. I’ve got experience. I’ve got as good a shot as anyone.

So I’m going to say fuck it to a lot more. I’m confident. Because like Bill I’ve got the talent and why not fuck around and find out? This isn’t specifically about the deal I want to do (though I am excited) or the fact that I’m moving to Montana but rather that it’s time to express more confidence in general. I shouldn’t undermine myself. I’m good. Some people like me. And that’s enough to have some confidence to try some stuff and experiment. If you want to come and play with me feel free to say hi.

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Emotional Work

Day 494 and A Place to Stand

It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of investing in a home. I’ve moved 38 times over the course of my life. The constant instability in my childhood gave me the capacity to tolerate a lot of uncertainty. It’s an incredible piece of leverage for living life. But it’s a super power born out of trauma.

Give me a place to stand, a lever long enough and a fulcrum and I can move the Earth

Archimedes

When your normal is starting over again and again, eventually you become comfortable living in chaos. I can achieve a lot things fall apart and life starts anew. It’s why I work with early stage startups. The current market and the volatility inherent in the chaos makes me feel safe.

But there are limits to chaos. I can’t live in it perpetually and make gains without some kind of safe harbor. Otherwise it’s just a repeat of my childhood and I’ll constantly be starting from zero. What I really want is a safe home so I can take advantage of the chaos around me. I want a place to stand so I can move the world. While everyone else is out surviving the chaos I want to have a firm ground under my feet.

The world is going through massive changes and constant upheaval. That’s an opportunity of a lifetime. All of those moves I made prepared me to shine during this moment. But if I cannot have some about of safety, the land on which to stand, then I’ll merely be surviving yet another move. And I’m over that. This time the world moves for me.

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Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 422 and Very Good Care

I’ve been bouncing around a little in the zeitgeist and media frenzy of last few days. I’ve not done a great job of processing the Russian war in Ukraine. I’ve got ambient stresses related to the generally chaotic moment so the acceleration of conflict felt both inevitable and unnerving. And yet we might outrun the apocalypse yet. Doomer optimism has never seemed so apt a term.

I am going to take care of myself during this tumult. This year of self love and affirmation means thriving in the worse situations. Because I take responsibility for myself. I am a victim to no person or circumstance. I control my response to any situation. That is the freedom to live.

But that thriving only occurs when I prioritize myself first. If I can’t parent my inner child through her fears and reactions, than how can anyone else trust that I will come through for them? Mutual trust comes from understanding the motivations in our relationships and what we get from each other. And that starts with being an adult to ourselves.

This idea of emotional responsibility is a simple concept that is surprisingly hard for people. I work on it every week in therapy. Feeling our emotions (often driven by our childhood experiences) gives the capacity to interact with others as an adult. It’s a step beyond professionalism. I’ve found it’s what separates those who are good at the work they do versus being truly great at their profession. The great are present in who they are.

So don’t be afraid to become truly ok. Thrive. Love yourself and your life even when it feels pointless. Even when the world feels crazy. Especially then. You have no need to attack yourself. Remove the self as an attack vector. We do not harm ourselves. The world is hard enough as it is that it needs no help from us. Now is the time to take care good care of yourself.

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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
Finance Internet Culture

Day 371 and Never Work A Day In Your Life

I had almost nothing on my calendar today I didn’t want to do. I had small administrative things that took up maybe two hours and that’s excessive by my standards. It’s rare I ever have more than half an hour of genuine obligations. Mostly I just go where I feel like on any given day. I lay in bed on my phone and I move the world with strangers on the internet.

I’m not sure how I optimized for this kind of idyllic work life. I certainly didn’t used to live this way. When I was a founder I was constantly at the mercy of meetings I didn’t want and obligations I wanted to shirk. I always felt put upon. I never felt more like hustle culture owned my life than during my founding years. I was constantly optimizing and I felt like I never had any relief.

Maybe it’s the pandemic. Once we stopped with offices and workdays and all their attendant events and activities, life got a lot better. Everyone kind of settled into routines that made space for what mattered most to them. We no longer had cocktail parties or conferences. Thought leadership stopped being keynote speeches and started being shitposts on Twitter.

I don’t know what the fuck I did it exactly to free myself from that over scheduled fate. I’m so much happier and more efficient. I get shit done and I am less stressed and working fewer unnecessary hours.

Maybe part of it is that I might be a better investor than I was a founder. I could spend the whole day skipping through direct messages and sharing insights in Telegram group chats or having product breaksdowns in Notion. I’m actually good at what I do now. I bring more value and I do it more quickly. Maybe this is what real optimized work is like. You are so good it’s easy.

I’m so fucking happy right now. Over the last hour I’ve done more to advance my deals, connect my community and dig into shit that I genuinely passionately love than I thought I could do in an week. It’s like winning the lottery. I cannot believe I make money doing this.

I basically gossip all day with super smart people and then trade a bunch of densely coded social signals. Those all translate into money. I plot elaborate stories with fellow degenerates with deep aesthetics and then we send it into media zeitgeist. It’s like I work in fashion but the pay is much much better. So I guess it is true what they say. Do what you love and you never work a day I’m your life.

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Background

Day 363 and Best Of 21

One of the unexpected benefits of writing every single day has been the accumulation of reference material. I can send folks a synopsis rather than retyping a topic that I get asked about a lot. So if you want to know how I get healthy, or how I invest, or even how I think about aesthetics this page will serve as a reference for year 1.

Health & Wellness

Biohacking 101 Guide

Supplements for Beginners

Self Care & Pacing and Recovery Protocols

How To Communicate with Me

Why I Prefer Asynchronous Communication

Why I Dislike Phone Calls (Or DM Me First)

Getting To Know Me for Founders Seeking Investment

Investment Thesis Thoughts

Empathy Investing

Chaotic Labor Markets

Chaotic Families

Request for Founders

Psychological Safety

Mental Flexibility

Bias Towards Fuckaround

What Don’t I Know?

Why I Don’t Like to Invest In Retail Anymore

Aesthetics

Fashion Week Back in The Aughts

The Thursday Styles Problem

Swag (Or My Facebook Hoodie)

A General Theory of Shitposting

Cultural Hegemony and Internet Citizenship

A Short Guide to Becoming an Edgelord

Advice for Startups

Above All Else Fun

Inertia

Rooting For You

Stress, Luck & Startup Families

The Emotion of A Big Exit (or Stack Overflow Sold)

Show Me Anything

Just Make Stuff

Optimizing For The Right Outcome

How To Work With A Startup

Emotional Growth

3 People Inside You

Punishment

Forgiveness and Failure

Easy for You (Not For Everyone)

Superpowers

My Addiction to Work

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 345 and Trust

I’ve not always been accepting of my own weaknesses. Instead of focusing on how well I can hone my super powers, I’ve occasionally fixated on where I lack innate talent. I’m not particularly adapt at operations or logistics but I feel bad about it. I am however genuinely top tier when it comes to narrative & attention. Somehow I don’t feel equally good about this.

I’ve tried to work in teams where my talents & weaknesses are balanced out by others. I like teamwork now in a way I didn’t fully appreciate when I was younger. I’ve learned to trust my own value. And I am able to emotionally trust the people around me.

The psychological safety that comes from trusting yourself and others is a lifelong process. Even a few years ago I’d struggle to not compulsively overwork to overcome my weaknesses. When I should have been honing my unique talents.

I’ve got an opportunity over the next few days to really trust one of my teams. We’ve got a deliverable that isn’t in my area but I’d crucial to success. I could spend my extra energy worrying over it and making an attempt to contribute just so I felt useful. Or I can emotionally let go and appreciate the trust I have in others.