Weekly Recap

October 11, 2020

Best Part of the Week

The best part of going through hard situations is when you can help someone else with a similar one in the future. I'd talked a founder friend through something similar to what I went through earlier this year a couple weeks ago. This week she sent me the update that the conversation had been helpful and the situation was resolved!

I felt something click this week, where I was much more excited to explore and talk about new ideas. I'm still in roughly three spaces: health/wellness, dev tooling, office productivity tooling (the link between dev tools and office productivity, is low-code or no-code). If you want to talk about any of those, reach out. Thank you to Jackie, Rachael, Geoffrey, and Professor Nanda, who all talked to me about my ideas this week.

Timing

One of the things I keep coming back to on this is how I want to approach timing.

  • I strongly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.
  • Kickstarter was a company that grew gradually, but I think the timing helped a lot.
  • At the beginning of Lola we anchored on conversational commerce, but one could argue we picked the wrong verticals (ex: Lemonade in Renter's Insurance, Intercom/Drift in marketing and service support used the tech far more effectively).
  • With Dark, low code wasn't part of the description people used when we started and changed how people thought about the space (and we felt a continual tension between easy to code and real infra).
  • I hypothesize that it's important to define the wave for your space (ex: Netlify coining JAMstack vs. Vercel needing to adopt the language because it became popular), but you can start to see the trends cohering in advance.

Part of me feels like it'd be worth picking 3-4 compelling spaces, and seeing how the narrative changes for each before committing.

At Home Workout Marketplace

I think at-home workouts are here to stay, and Peloton will continue to be dominant. That said, I think there's space for hardware that's able to connect to a marketplace of instructors, add personal trainers into the mix, and for individuals to create their own workouts.

The first stepping stone to get there may be a set of tooling to help trainers plan workouts more effectively. Most of what I've seen in the space focuses too much on "here is the answer" vs. "here is supporting information."

I'm going to experiment this week with designing a custom playlist/workout that can be used in the "just ride" mode (yes, I want an all Taylor Swift playlist). Let me know if you'd like it.

Presentations for Zoom first (Mmhmm)

I've been complaining for years that documents get tons of innovation (Dropbox paper, Notion, Quip, etc) but Slides very rarely get an update. The first thing I've seen in a long time is Mmhmm. I particularly like how it interacts with Zoom. I'd love a real reason to write a talk fully designed for Mmhmm. Let me know if you're interested.

Politics at Work

One thing that was had to miss last week was the Coinbase memo and politics in the workplace.

It took me back to the case that Stanford GSB wrote about Lola, notably "The final vignette reveals a key potential hire who has vastly different political views than English and the vast majority of Lola’s employees. English is left pondering the role of political beliefs in the hiring process at Lola."

Politics and equitable treatment of coworkers are often conflated. In the Lola case, this key potential hire was made. I did not talk to him about the election or what would be considered politics. That said, during unconscious bias training he continually interrupted the trainer to suggest the problem was in the pipeline, or biological interest - despite data to the contrary (in retrospect, the organization wasn't at the stage where unconscious bias training was the right next step).

I have never had a job where someone did not question my biological ability to do my job based on my sex. Saying "we won't talk about politics" will not improve attitudes like this, they will still come out in individual interactions, and they will impact productivity and happiness of any impacted employee.

Books & Cases

I strongly recommend The Great Believers if you enjoyed A Little Life (and don't mind crying). Some others from the week: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, The Guardians, Milk and Honey, The Chain.

HBS cases are stories about specific businesses that bring up interesting dilemmas and data. We had some other exercises, so there were fewer cases than usual. This week I covered Compass Group, JTC Shared Ownership, Alchemista, and VTS.

One non-case exercise we did was a workshop on how to use Jobs to be Done for thinking about career stages, analyzing pushes, pulls, habits, and anxieties. Bob Moesta interviewed me in front of our class as an example. Since in the habit of framing things in the positive and "what's next," it helped me realize that I tend to ignore the pushes, even when they exist, and it doesn't always lead to the best decisions

Food

It's nice to have a COVID pod so we don't have to cook everything. I baked an Apple Crumble. George made Udon and Fish and Chips, and we went to an outdoor dinner at Sarma. For the other two nights we used fresh pumpkin gnocchi and a Butternut Squash Ravioli in sage sauce. It's fall!

Miscellaneous

Finally hung up (almost) all of the art. Got Tom a desk so he can use his office, too. Sales coaching. Re-onboarded to Command Dot to make my scheduling better. Wrote a check to a small new devtools company.