Categories
Startups

Day 761 and Calls

Yesterday ended up being a big day for me. A couple projects that have been in the works for months for final confirmations. That meant I spent a lot of time on phone calls yesterday.

I hadn’t planned for Monday to be so busy. I have therapy in the late afternoons so I tend to back my mornings but I still leave enough breaks to come down from the energy and excitement of a big call. I find synchronized communications to be a little overstimulating so I like to meditate and do Wim Hoff breathing to break down my cortisol levels.

But I couldn’t make it happen yesterday. It was too much back to back. I went from an hour long fact checking media call right into my two hour group therapy session. I’d had a few other smaller calls before it as well.

My earbuds were the first to note the issue. With about fifteen minutes left in my two hour Zoom I got the 10% battery left warning from my AirPods. My technology realized it was time to recharge before I did.

And boy was the decay quick. The AirPods went bwoooop and went dead. I could feel myself getting a little dazed myself. As soon as I was off the call I checked my HRV using Welltory and found all my systems were drained. Too many calls has called on too few resources.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 755 and Instagram

I haven’t been on my Instagram account since 2018. I stopped actively posting in 2017. I’d become absolutely sick of the social media platform and the relentless aspirational influencer content marketing that had taken over my feed. I can’t say I’ve missed it, but I’ve decided to reinstall the application and begin posting again.

I’ve been a participant in the “creator economy” long before it had a name. A college friend set me up on a WordPress blog after a fellow student had written a piece criticizing me for being interested in fashion on campus.

I’d written something about designer denim in the competing school newspaper. My friend told me I needed to watch out as this new nemesis was going to ruin my Google results. From these petty seeds a fashion blogging “empire” was born.

I have some dubious distinctions from being early to social media. Women’s Wear Daily claimed I was the first person to liveblog fashion week in 2006. I turned that into an advertising network for online lifestyle publishers called Coutorture. It was eventually acquired by PopSugar. I went on to work at a number of luxury and fashion brands before starting my own cosmetics line.

I’d like to think having been there from the start of the creator economy counts for something but the harsh truth is that once you stop posting you tend to disappear from any social network. I stopped fashion blogging for my own enjoyment once I made it into a career.

During my girlboss years as the CEO of Stowaway Cosmetics being on Instagram felt like a part of my job. I had enjoyed it more when I wasn’t obligated to look cool. I remember 2012 Instagram fondly as a place where you followed photographers and fashion insiders at work. By 2016 it was loaded with aspirational lifestyle content. I felt like I all I saw was sponsored content.

Somewhere in that timeframe I racked up 30,000 followers. I don’t think I ever maintained anything remotely professional. It was just pictures of whatever was happening in my life so the usual mix of food and travel. It didn’t seem like a huge loss to walk away.

Oddly even if my follower count on Twitter isn’t actually that much larger than my Instagram account I feel like I’m much more influential there. I’m better with words clearly. I am a shitposter so it always felt lower stakes. And maybe that’s why it’s less of a burden in my mind. I do Twitter joyfully.

But I’m going to experiment with Instagram again. I’ve got visual things in my life that are worth sharing as I’ve now got a totally new aspirational lifestyle. I’ve graduated from fashion influencer to doomer optimist. Homesteading and cozy farmhouse is it’s own aesthetic and maybe I’ll enjoy sharing mine. And I’ll admit that I’m not at all above coveting back on gifting lists. I guess if you enjoy that sort of thing find me back on Instagram. Or if you want to send me some free stuff I’m open to getting back into the SponCon game.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 754 and Smooth is Fast

I like to move quickly. With my enthusiasm for generating momentum, I can easily get myself myself into trouble. I’d bet you can remember a time when you accidentally slowed yourself down by trying to go too quickly.

The phrase “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” originates from the SEAL teams but the purpose behind it can be applied to all situations. There are many situations when we want to react quickly and start moving, but in your efforts to move so quickly, you end up slowing down the operation

Chris Fussel, McChrystal Group

I was rewatching William Gibson’s Peripheral and happened to hear the SEAL slogan from one of the main characters Burton. As his sister Flynne scrambles he reminds her that slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

I am taking that to heart today as I’m itching to get a bunch done. But I am still a little jet lagged from being on Europe time and I woke up a little bit sniffly and a low recovery score on my Whoop.

As tempting as it is to beat myself up about feeling behind on work or scold myself for deliberately slowing myself, I am reminded that there is a reason high performance teams like the SEALS believe slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 753 and Strong Routines

It feels good to be back in Montana after a long journey home. I’m relieved I won’t be going anywhere for a while. I spent yesterday resting which felt appropriate on Sunday. But today I needed to get myself back into my typical routines. I was up at 6am and immediately began searching for my rhythm.

I am often frustrated by how much energy I put into maintaining a steady restorative routine. I like to live and work hard, but as I get older the best way to maintain productivity seems to be putting good habits at the forefront of my life. I have to fuel myself to go the distance.

I’ve got a number of deals I’m working on this quarter and I’ve got fundraising to do, so I’ve got to make sure I’m on my game.

I dutifully took all my supplements. I worked out. I meditated. I did hot and cold work. I ate a nutritious lunch. I did chores like my laundry and unpacking. I cleaned out my email inbox. I got my schedule in order. I set my goals for the week.

Having had a productive working Monday, it’s now time for Monday evening emotional work. I stack my personal therapy and group therapy back to back on Monday. I usually write afterwards but I thought I’d get down some basics before as I am still just jet lagged enough I might prefer just going to bed afterwards.

Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 744 and Nothing

It’s always a toss up as to whether I am going to write beautiful missives showcasing my deepest emotions when traveling or just shit out whatever I can manage. I’ve discovered I’ve got quite a range over the years. And I can almost never predict it.

I assume everyone can relate to this. You can never really predict when your best efforts will yield great results. This is, of course, why I prattle on and on about about practice and habits. If you aren’t forcing yourself to hone a skill set even when you don’t feel like it you won’t ever improve it. If you don’t let yourself fail you never win. You miss all the shots you don’t take.

I totally get why people are obsessed with sports metaphors. I often wonder if athletes use business or war metaphors because otherwise they are stuck with the literalism of being descriptive.

I’ve always hated when business people use war metaphors as it feels a bit offensive (don’t elevate your work to life or death unless it actually is life or death) so I default to sports metaphors.

But mergers, term sheets and deals aren’t as sexy as goals, shots or points so if you are an athlete maybe sticking to literalism is fine? I mean, they are to me, but of course I’m inclined to think my work is hot. You’d be worried if didn’t.

So today I’ll accept that we use the metaphors we have on hand as sometimes we do t have anything else. We’ve got nothing. And you’ve got to work with what you’ve got to make something from nothing.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 730 and Wrapping Year Two

I almost can’t believe I’ve been writing every single day for two straight years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very impressed with myself. But in truth, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been at it for that long.

Like it’s just a basic habit that I have surely only recently picked up right? My emotions tell me it must be less time but the facts disagree. The time distention of the pandemic appears to be permanent. Perhaps I’ll never have a handle on time ever again. And maybe this is even for the best. I live more in the “now” than I ever have.

If you are considering picking up a new habit for 2023, I recommend it. The beauty of a daily habit is the freedom it brings. We seen them as disciplines or even constraints on our time. But habits give us more freedom than they take.

I no longer pressure myself to produce good writing or force an outcome on my practice. I gave up on that early on. I trust my habits and the value of the practice inherent in them. I practice each and every day. And practice makes perfect. It is our habits that make us who we are over the long run. Cue Allen Iverson’s “it’s practice” speech.

I consider myself a good writer now. Sometimes my writing is even truly excellent. I’ve got round up posts for this year and for the prior year as well. I’m not sure they are comprehensive or even representative of my writing. I’m not even sure if they represent my excellence. But I am proud to see the breadth of topics I’ve tackled and the consistency I bring to addressing whatever is on my mind. And that is it’s own good.

I have no plans to stop writing. One day I will. The milestone my heart seeks is 1,000 days of writing. Perhaps I’ll make it. If I am lucky enough to have space to put down my thoughts each day it will be a blessing. If I am not able to make it, I will grieve and find a way to move beyond it. But until then, I will continue to practice. And I trust whatever comes from those habits.

Happy New Year to you and yours. I am so blessed to have you as a reader. My journey is your journey just as your journey is mine. Writing is screaming into the void and praying a warm voice returns our call with a kind “I hear you” response. I hear you too. None of us are alone. And I look forward to reaching for you in 2023. I hope you reach for me as well.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 726 and Healing

As most of my extended network is aware, I am a big fan of therapy. We all grow up in imperfect families doing their best in a cruel world. No one is immune from emotional hurt, especially if you came by those wounds in childhood. Healing those old wounds as an adult is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and is not reflective of any weakness on your part or failure of your family.

Hurt people hurt. Every single one of us has lingering traumas from our childhood no matter how privileged our lives or lucky our circumstances. Trauma is universal. No one escapes being alive without some.

One of the most relatable types of hurt a child will experience is being made to feel less than, an outsider, unworthy or unloved. Our families might not intend for us to feel this way but it’s not uncommon to be bullied or ignored or told we are unworthy. If we do not find ways to heal from feeling like we are less than others, we will make others feel the same way. And we are obligated as responsible adults to not victimize others.

Nerds who don’t heal their trauma wound of being “unpopular” become quite dangerous when they go from underdog to ruling class

When I was young being called a nerd was an insult. But now as an adult the power dynamics have shifted significantly. The intellectuals have inherited the earth. But too many of us remember ourselves as victims of the strong. As adults we have an obligation to adjust our priors as we are no longer victims of what we experienced in childhood. In fact, we now we have the upper hand. Revenge of the nerds is due for an update.

We must remind our inner child that those days are over. We survived. It’s over. We are now strong adults with our own agency and capacity to set boundaries. Of course, it’s a hard task to reason with our inner child. The ego is very accomplished at guarding us from reality. It doesn’t want us to repeat those traumas and rightly so. It only takes being burned once to avoid the fire.

But if we don’t work to understand why we we still react as adults as if we were a hurt child the wounds of childhood trauma we will never allow us to reality.

If you want to see the truth of your circumstances consider going to therapy. If you cannot afford it, there are many recovery programs that are free to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. Contrary to popular perception they are not just for addicts. Heal yourself. We are all rooting for you.

Categories
Background

Day 721 and 40 Questions

I came across a list of 40 questions that Stephen Ango answers every year on Twitter today. It looked like a fun exercise so I thought I’d participate.

What did you do this year that you’d never done before? Bought a house & got my very first mortgage, moved to Montana, lived in Germany for a month, spent time on the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, and experienced -45 degree temperatures.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions? I don’t make them but I did intend to write every single day (for the second year in a row) and I have so far accomplished it.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No

Did anyone close to you die? No

What cities/states/countries did you visit? Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, Florida and Texas for states. United Kingdom, Germany, Albania and Greece for countries.

What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year? All the money for my venture fund and visas for freedom of movement for my friends and family.

What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 18th was the date we closed on our homestead in Montana. August 1st was the day we moved in.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my family safely to a Montana homestead that is the first home we’ve ever owned.

What was your biggest failure? I don’t think it’s a failure, but I wish I got more done particularly when it comes to fundraising and deploying capital, but objectively I did as much as I could. I try to remind myself that the self is not an attack vector so this question is an opportunity to remind myself that failure is just opportunity.

What other hardships did you face? I got a very bad flu in the middle of purchasing the house in Montana. I watched the markets repeat elements of the crashes of 2001 and 2008 which allowed me to see how far I’ve come since my childhood trauma of my family’s bankruptcy on 2001.

Did you suffer illness or injury? The flu in May was awful, I’ve had a number of random infections and I live with chronic ankylosis spondylitis but I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years.

What was the best thing you bought? A house in Montana. But smaller things I’ve loved include a Lunya robe, Ariat boots, Skimms cotton tank bras, and my first go at Botox.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband has been an absolute superstar rolling with my crazy plans and I’ll be forever grateful he trusts me to see things that he hasn’t yet seen. I’ve written many a love letter this year to him and my appreciation for the ways big and small he makes my life better.

Whose behavior made you appalled? Not appalled necessarily but the dick riders are really a bummer. We are all sinners and ain’t none of us are saints.

Where did most of your money go? We bought a very nice piece of land with a gorgeous farmhouse on it. The second biggest expense after buying a house was medical bills. It’s fun to be sick in America. Third on that list is food both because my husband is a gourmet cook and because inflation on food was quite high.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being a homeowner has been exciting as hell. Everything about buying a house and making it our own has been amazing. I also spent a lot of time excited about DAOs and corporate governance, my founders, and spending a month next to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

What song will always remind you of this year? I don’t listen to much music so I don’t have an answer.

Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer? I am happier, poorer, and thinner than I was last year.

What do you wish you’d done more of? I have a lot of things I want to beat myself up about for not doing more, but I actually feel like I didn’t my time well this year. I don’t always need to be improving things. So I guess I wish I was comfortable doing less.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Beating myself up for not doing more.

How are you spending the holidays? I am in bed with my husband watching disaster porn movies while it is 45 degrees below Fahrenheit.

Did you fall in love this year? I am deeper in love than I was last year which is one of the benefits of always working on yourself and having a partner that also works on themselves.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I wouldn’t say I hate them but I’ve been disappointed with everyone involved in Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

What was your favorite show? The Peripheral. It is the adaption on Amazon of William Gibson’s most recent novels and it is stunningly good science fiction. I’ve enjoyed a lot of television this year though.

What was the best book you read? Hands down Peter Watt’s Blindsight which I cannot believe I didn’t read till this year. If you are autistic I in particular recommend it.

What was your greatest musical discovery of the year? Again I don’t really do music.

What was your favorite film? I’m not a big film person so I didn’t watch a ton of movies this year. I’m a TV person. But probably the Weird Al parody biopic. Extremely funny and very sweet. Worth taking the trouble to find on Roku.

What was your favorite meal? I’ve had so many amazing meals this year. Perfect Montana steaks is probably at the top but schnitzel in Frankfurt, branzino in the Mediterranean, BBQ in Austin, and stone crabs in Miami round out the list. I traveled a lot this year and that means I had a lot of great meals.

What did you want and get? A homestead in Montana.

What did you want and not get? A visa for a family friend. American immigration is extremely broken. I’m hoping I get the visa granted next year for them.

What did you do on your birthday? I discussed my “fundraise in public” for chaotic capital and spent it with Elle Morrill and my husband. Elle cooked for me and it was absolutely epic.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The American immigration system working. But that’s like asking for world peace. I spent a lot of time and social capital trying to get a visa that still hasn’t been granted.

How would you describe your personal fashion this year? Black. I mostly wear cotton black sweats and a long sleeve cotton tee-shirt. My biggest upgrade to that look was adding in a Lunya robe. But I also bought a bunch of chore clothing for working on the homestead. I also got to enjoy my “heat” wardrobe which is mostly Grecian gowns made by Norma Kamali.

What kept you sane? My therapist Dagmar and writing every single day.

Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most? Folks hate this answer but I love Kim Kardashian. She works her ample ass off for her family business, spends her time working against the carceral state, makes a great bra and she started a private equity firm.

What political issue stirred you the most? The government’s interest in deciding what I do with my own body. I’m a libertarian because the very foundation of sovereignty rests on your right to control your own body. Though this issue is very closely followed by our inability to grant visas and bring immigrants to America in terms of animating my energy this year.

Who did you miss? I miss my grandmother Nanamai. She’s my mother’s mother. She’d be so proud of what I’ve done with my life. I wish she’d be been alive to wear one of my lipsticks. I wish she were alive to see the family life I’ve built. She passed on more than a decade ago and I’m still consumed by grief if I think about it too hard.

Who was the best new person you met? There are almost too many to chose from. Meeting in person my internet friends who got me through the pandemic is the correct answer. You know who you are. And I can’t wait to meet more of them. Internet friends are real friends.

What valuable life lesson did you learn this year? I learned a lot watching hero worshippers, I mean dickriders, beg their chosen figurehead to save them. But alas the only person who can save you is you.

What is a quote that sums up your year? Fuck around and find out.” But in all seriousness just doing the thing and trying shit out is actually crucial in life and business.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 720 and Good Inputs

I’ve been enjoying how relaxed and open everyone is this week. A good chunk of folks are out on break for Christmas (with the requisite nod to Chanukah) and it’s making for delightful conversations and relaxed interactions.

Having more time to attend to your life clearly is beneficial for everyone. I know it’s been a frantic year. Heck it’s been a frantic couple of years. And being frantic fucks you up. I feel like I repeat this constantly, but being in fight or flight on a permanent basis is bad for you.

So it’s nice to see people have space to breathe. I love seeing people bring more of themselves to an encounter. I’ve had so many great connections with people this week. It’s shown up in my fundraising. I’ve seen it in my deal flow. I’ve enjoyed it in every interaction I’ve had this week.

It makes me wish more people could have the space to give themselves the right inputs in their lives. It won’t be the same for everyone. But it really does help when people have the basics like sleeping, eating, exercising and other “taking care of their body” activities time. I hope that everyone remembers the joy of the season is from giving everyone around us grace. And that includes ourselves.

Categories
Emotional Work Startups

Day 719 and Step By Step

I was discussing my goals for 2023 with a friend today. They wanted to know if I was planning on making any New Year’s resolutions. I told them that I wasn’t in the habit of using a new calendar year for making big changes.

Generally speaking if I want to do a thing I just start. I honestly feel like it’s far too intimidating to declare yourself to be some kind of fundamentally new person that will, as of a certain arbitrary day, make huge life changes. It’s too much pressure. One of my rules for biohacking is to only change one variable at a time. And I don’t make big changes to it either. 10% a week is good enough for most goals. Anyone familiar with the magic of compounding knows that small changes add up to big numbers.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t started big life changing projects on January first. If you count back from 719 you will notice I first began writing on January 1st 2021. I did indeed resolve to write every day. But I hadn’t intended it as something I’d keep up for a specific amount of time. I’d hoped I’d practice my writing for thirty days and I allowed myself a little fantasy about how amazing it would be to write for a thousand days.

A thousand days seemed like an impossibility at the time which is why I allowed the fantasizing. My pragmatic side said just get started and see if you can keep going. And I did. I put one foot in front of the proverbial other for two years. Now I’m relatively confident that if I want to do so I’ll make it to a thousand days.

I approach most goals like this. I had a fantasy that I could make it as an investor. I was a founder so I thought let’s wire some small angel checks. We were already committed as a family to being startup operators so why not combine our skin in the game with a little more capital risk with our network.

I never envisioned myself raising a fund and making some big announcement about how I had a venture fund. I just started learning by doing. I cut checks. I ran some special purpose vehicles. And this year I decided to one-step-at-a-time go about raising a rolling fund. I am just doing the thing one day at a time. And it’s going well. Amazing people are coming on board. I am confident I’ll reach my goals just by putting one step in front of the other.

If you’d like to join me my goal is to raise $500K per quarter. I’ve got folks like Joel Spolsky of Stack Overflow and Michael Pryor of Trello so you will be in good company. You can read the fund overview here. Yoican sign up on Angellist through the above link or get on a call with me and we can discuss the fund, our portfolio construction and my thesis. Because I intend to work through the holidays because it remains one day at a time.