Categories
Startups

Day 1073 and Math is Leverage

People who are bad at math are discovering that the future is entirely in the hands of people who are good at math, and that’s the culture war in a nutshell.

A tweet on math goes viral

It’s a source of power & leverage to be able to clearly articulate your goals and to create tools that can enact them.

To put it another way, being able to give clear instructions about what you want is what actually matters, compute and math are simply ways of extending that capacity. Anyone can harness it. And many more of us will.

That we can distribute this knowledge to our entire planet should be a source of pride. All children are heirs to this legacy of our species. We’ve never had more knowledge so openly held especially as artificial intelligence and machine learning has come into its own.

These tools can be life changing and I’d like to see them in as many hands as possible. Everyone gets mad at the engineers for asking specific questions but it’s not philosophical debates that solves the future. It’s building things we all use.

Engineers see the limits already being suggested in limiting our access to compute for AI and are rightly concerned. It’s in the current Biden executive order on the space. We are seeing limitations enacted in Europe. I believe freedom to compute will become as salient an issue as freedom of speech. Do not give up your power. Learn to harness these tools and coordinate with others who do.

Categories
Aesthetics Community Internet Culture Startups

Day 1066 and Behind The Scenes of Thousand Scenes Flourishing

We are living in an era of competing totalizing narratives. We assign Jungian archetypes and monomyths to complicated people and complex situations with many variables.

We ship relationships and stan fandoms even as the meme message is that we should be shipping code and forming bonds with other people with agency.

Remember that hyperstition is about bringing a reality into being. We have agency to impact the world we live in. We have more control than ever and anyone can get leverage.

I’m so inspired to see how many communities are facing an uncertain future head on. Sure we’ve had schisms and it’s easy to judge someone else’s sincere revivalism with crass cynicism.

I prefer an optimism about what we can all accomplish when we compete to serve a need better than anyone else. I like specialization as the more knowledgeable that is dispersed widely beyond a priest cast the better we seem to do as a species. A whole world of people is calling to you to own more of the future personally.

You may wonder what you can contribute. And sure some actors are massively more agentic. I never thought I’d be in that rare class and yet I can contribute meaningful to dozens of aligned projects. It’s important to avoid dickriding. Don’t make up stories about your betters. Or at least try not to believe them.

You can be personally better yourself. You can accelerate. Now is the time to arm yourself with leverage as the world shifts. Be wary of messiahs and mercenaries but also know action is expensive.

Strong organizations have healthy value memetics. “Just Do It” frames a broader truth that humans take in a context of millions of other agents. Action is disproportionally powerful when people just play their role.

I fight nihilism. I’m not eager for the end of humanity or our civilizations. I want our flourishing. But neither am I attached to a static vision of my humanity or yours. In the image of God gives quite a bit of latitude for our species’ evolution.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 1001 and Circumstances Change, People Do Not

“The last sustainable edge in markets is arbitraging human nature.”

I had the good fortune to spend an hour and a half with an iconic Wall Street investor last week. I was invited to be a guest on Jim O’Shaughessy’s podcast Infinite Loops. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

I’m blessed to have Jim as one of my “Twitter mutuals” where I’ve come to appreciate his endless curiosity, deep empathy and kind friendship for the players of the “infinite game” of life. Plus he’s got the strongest gif game in the business. You should follow him if you don’t already.

I’ve been privileged to work with Jim and the OSV team as one of my LPs in chaotic.capital. Being entrusted with capital from some of finest minds in investing has been as intimidating as it is inspiring.

My fund is an early stage pre-seed venture fund that backs weirdos. Our thesis is simple. The world is increasingly complex, chaotic if you will, and only the most agile will win. We look for those that have the agency to adapt to the one true constant; change. Circumstances changed by the moment but humans remain reassuringly the same.

Obviously it’s hard to imagine a better LP than OSV for chaotic.capital. We are deeply aligned in our thinking on agency, agility, and adaptability. As much as I’d love to prattle on here, I’d recommend you check out the very wide ranging conversations between Jim and I. We cover a lot of ground practically and philosophically. I hope you enjoy it.

Categories
Chronicle

Day 1000 and The Milestone

When I first started writing every single day I had modest goals. I wanted to instill a habit of writing more often. My initial goal was to write daily for one month as that seemed both significant but also manageable. But I deliberately didn’t put any pressure on what I would write or for how long I’d keep at it.

Once I had reached my first milestone of writing daily for an entire month, I began considering extending the habit. Maybe I could do it for two months? Maybe I could do it for 100 days? Every new milestone made me excited to reach for a new one.

Once I got to 500 days, I began to feel confident discussing the possibility of reaching 1000 days of writing. I even called that blog post my halfway point. Still I wasn’t sure even then that I’d actually make it to a thousand days. A lot can go wrong in a year or two. But as I learned, with a little bit of perseverance, a lot can go right. Or if you will indulge the pun, a lot can go “write” too.

Still, even as I became accustomed to the habit, I didn’t want to do anything to jinx it. Locking myself into an outcome seemed like a recipe for disappointment. But locking myself into a daily habit? That seemed like a recipe for success. I knew I could keep showing up.

My philosophy for writing has been to take it one day at a time. Habits compound just like money. Small change over time can have a dramatic outcome. I committed to showing up and putting the proverbial pen to paper every day.

And here I am a thousand days later with enough writing for any number of other goals. I’ve got answers to most of the regular questions I encounter in my personal and professional life. I’ve got enough content to turn into a book if I’m so inclined. The volume of my writing is so extensive I could easily train my own artificial intelligence agent.

I don’t know what I’ll do with this body of work other than continue to hyperlink it together and see where it takes me.

And to answer the most obvious question, I do plan to keep writing. I don’t have any desire to stop. I enjoy this practice. It’s conceivable there are other milestones ahead of me. Maybe I double it. Or maybe at the end of the year I decide three years of writing daily is enough.

Who can say? I reached the stretch goal I set for myself. It’s an unbounded journey from here.

Categories
Biohacking Community Emotional Work

Day 918 and My Attention Budget

I wrote about the realignment of attention budgets as social media experiences a walled garden fear response to artificial intelligence’s looming tsunami of low cost content.

I myself am going through an exercise of ruthless prioritization of my own focus and find. As in any portfolio, write downs are inevitable. It’s easier to write something down when it’s money. Investments of time, energy, social capital and presence are much harder to let go. A sunk cost never boils? A watched pot never catalyzes? Sometimes a group or a movement chooses to remain outside their power.

I have so much less capacity to be present than I’d like. Others may prefer to be distant and still shower up but I find I’m happier with boundaries that are firm and great remove. That means when I do show up you have my full and intimate attention. It’s only right.

You have to prune in order to blossom. One commitment I’m excited to see blossom is the exceptional work of Jonny Miller. He and I will be hosting a Cultivating Calm Workshop for founders and venture capitalists interested in how to apply nervous system regulation techniques to their startup journey.

August 10th at 11am MTN join myself & Jonny Miller for cultivating calm.

As more of us rise up the acceleration curve of artificial intelligence and must maintain our capacity to sense-make, this will help your mind and body function in a chaotic world.

I myself have taken Jonny’s Bootcamp, intend to be in the next cohort (my code JULIE gets you a discount), and I’ll be sponsoring a founder to attend the September cohort so consider this a chance to see if these tools are right for you. My revealed preferences tell you what you need to know.

Categories
Culture

Day 911 And Social Geography

One of my friends at university was the sort of autistic who had total recall. He could tell you what neighborhood you lived in just from the zip code. It was an amazing party trick.

I lived at 80304 for a time. He would say ok well that’s obviously Colorado and this bit indicated Boulder and this bit suggests it’s actually the northern edge of it and I think you are in the neighborhood with the Ideal Market above Kalmia and oh I think it is “Old North Boulder.”

Now while he’s doing this bit with you he would obviously nudge your reactions for details. There are other neighborhoods in the zip code but he knew what to ask to guide you in because he saw the whole map.

You didn’t necessarily notice he was doing it because you couldn’t see it. But he saw the entire geography of it and could rotate it in. He just had that kind of mind.

I think a lot about it now as I start to notice more of how my mind works. I think I do a similar kind of social geography hat trick as my friend did. If you give me a few details about you, your background and your opinions I can telescope in very quickly on very specific social details you may not even clock about your own life unless you are very self aware.

I almost hesitate to discuss it as a super power as it can sound manipulative. The reality is more like a social courtesy to help you see the whole board of what you know about yourself and how you react to me in what you reveal. It’s a beautiful social dance and I enjoy making people feel comfortable expressing a story in a context that makes it easiest for them.

If I’m very good at my job I can then reverse this process. I can learn about who you are and what you really value and I can turn it to another angle so someone else who can’t do the social geography telegraphing in and out can see who you are. You might know the term code switching.

Imagine that but for some of the finer grades of social signaling. It is hard to do so because doing so usually has to do with coming to terms with the many ways in which you “pass” to fit into a life someone else told you to live. It’s rarely reflective of the whole picture. But sometimes because the world imposes systems, like my friends zip codes, which don’t always reflect the full reality. The map is not the terrain. The system is just a map.

Categories
Community Media

Day 819 and Calculating Gravity

When astronomers discover a black hole they don’t get to it’s position by observing it directly. They calculate the position of it by its gravitational force on other bodies. We only know it’s there because of what it is doing to others.

I like this as a metaphor for a lot of things recently. I can calculate the gravity of a media narrative by calculating the gravity of all the players. Sometimes what you are being shown is simply the gravity of other players being acted on by something larger.

A good reason for owning a media property of any size, from Twitter to the New York Times, is that you can exert your gravity in ways that are much larger than your surface area might presume. A black hole is super dense. Please insert the required Elon Musk joke.

I’d like you to take this metaphor into your own life. See where you exert more gravity on life than someone might presume. You will discover a lot about your power in relation to individuals, your family, and your professional & personal organizations.

The center of gravity of a situation may not be apparent on first blush. But if you calculate out the positions and their orbits perhaps you can find a path that serves your needs. And most crucially one that serves your resources. If you can’t escape the event horizon you tend to get sucked in. So be sure you have done your fuel calculations too.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 777 and Filter

I like to say I’ve got no filter. It sounds cool to just casually admit you’ve got the balls to say whatever you like. I’m a prolific shitposter. Heck, I’m a prolific poster. Just look at the beautiful seven hundred and seventy seven day marker on this post. I write a lot.

But it’s a bit of an obfuscation to say I’ve got no filter. It’s true that I don’t self censor. I do however sift through what I’m going to say and make sure it’s appropriate for the the audience. I don’t edit necessarily (long time readers have probably noticed the numerous typos and grammatical errors), but I do think about who I am talking to when I write.

I am a big believer in meeting people where they are. Maybe it’s a function of how much time I’ve put into therapy, but I’ve become much more aware of how sometimes a person simply cannot see your point of view. Trust is fragile and we’ve not always earned a right to discuss topics that make a person upset. Through empathy you can get closer though.

Perhaps you’ve been the one with the overly emotional reaction. I’m sure you can relate to the kind of irrational reactionary feeling that comes out of nowhere. You aren’t sure why but certain people or topics or phrasings set you off. Maybe you know why. “Oh that reminds me of my overbearing mother or absent father” you might think. But as feelings are not facts, being rational can only help so much.

So I will do what I can to address the person, or in the case of social media the audience, with language and framings that work for who they are and where they are at emotionally. But I always hold onto my truth and my boundaries. Showing empathy means you can be present for someone you disagree with. And I hope everyone can see the value in that.

Categories
Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 767 and Abandonment

I called someone today with whom I have a standing appointment. They didn’t pick up at first. I called back a few minutes later when they didn’t return my call.

They picked up on the second call back. They didn’t seem entirely healthy. I found myself scared. My inner child dove immediately into a pattern of abandonment and distance as I tried to cancel and give them a way out. I blathered on about how it’s usual time and I hoped I wasn’t invading their privacy but if they were sick I could rescheduled as it was obviously no big deal.

Julie” they said to me firmly but kindly. “Stop telling me how I am.”

I sat back on my heels at that. I hate it when people make assumptions about how I feel. Rather than listen, people will simply make assumptions about how I am and what I can or cannot do. If you hate feeling pitied then this will probably seem quite familiar to you.

It’s not uncommon for people to work through their own issues on illness, pain or disability when talking to me. While I have an invisible disability from a chronic disease called ankylosing spondylitis I do make it known that I have this diagnosis. I even treat it as a part of my edge at work. But it’s just a fact that I’m in various degrees of pain because I have swelling in my spine. It’s arthritis basically just inconveniently located.

But despite it being a public part of my identity, most people have no idea. I don’t look sick and I mostly don’t act like it in public as it’s kept under control with modern medicine. But I’ll have bad days. Or I’ll have to ask for an accommodation like sitting down.

And that’s when I learn a lot about a person’s relationship to illness. I’ll get pitied. I’ll get babied. I’ll get pep talks. I’ll get praised. I’ll get ignored. I’ll get written off. It’s never about me but entirely about the other person. It’s a little bit like seeing someone’s tell in poker. Most people have got one.

In the past I’ve let myself be invaded by these feelings from others. And it made me sad. I felt abandoned by all these people around me who couldn’t see me for me but instead saw their own feelings mirrored back to them. I felt invisible. I got treated like a cipher for disability or illness.

But underneath that little drama, an the actual person names Julie would be left alone to watch them play out their emotional theater. But I am done feeling abandoned by it. I don’t have to let anyone else tell me how I am. And it’s entirely up to others to decide if they can manage around me. I don’t need to make it my problem. I’ve got no need to abandon myself for them.

Categories
Travel

Day 745 and Restless Travelers Scrolling

Coming of age in the golden era of digital hospitality had an enormous effect on my expectations for flexibility on the road. I rarely book ahead, I never worry about finding a place to stay, I overpack luxuries and I am always uncomfortably on the hunt for my personal totemic signifiers of safety. You need things on the road to keep your rituals intact so you don’t drift.

I know how to search for a place to rest and I restlessly pursue it on the road. Singles browse dating apps like I browse Airbnb. I spot red flags on apartment listings like a woman who has been on one too many bad dates.

I spent much of my childhood traveling. My most potent recurring nightmare is packing for a trip that never arrives. I have lived in a perpetual state of readiness to get up and leave. I bring endless tiny compacts and one singular pair of high heeled shoes for a night out I never go on. I am ready for glamour on the road but all I find is the anxiety of instability.

It’s this perpetual readiness to flee that has made me an exceptionally good picker of hotels, rental units, vacation homes and other short term stays. I couldn’t afford a deposit for an apartment in New York for so long that I could find an under-market illegal sublet on Craigslist on a moment’s notice. It’s a handy skill set.

Naturally I’ve come to take this talent for granted as I’ve cultivated it. I’m confident that I’ll pick a decent rental because I can spot issues from miles away. I admit I’ve looked down on complaints about how bad Airbnb has become. I thought I’d avoid the quality control issues. It’s no longer a better value than hotels generally speaking but the real crime is that it’s troubles are not worth the hassle for many. It’s not seamless like a branded hotel.

I felt the hassle was worth it for the comforts of home on the road. But I think I’ve crossed my personal Rubicon on Airbnb in Prague. I won’t default to it any longer. The costs are now basically identical. You’ve got to weigh the costs of friction against having your life a bit disturbed. Hotels specialize in hospitality. It’s probably worth remembering.