The pandemic has been tough on many people. I would like you to fill in your own definition of “tough” as the range of impact is really wide and I am definitely not qualified to define it for you. Even for people who question the pandemic or are anti-vaccine, the pandemic has been tough (again, define it yourself). For clarity, I clearly consider the pandemic to be just that – a pandemic – and I received my first dose of Moderna the other day.
Reflecting on the impact for me, I have noticed a few personal behavior revelations that I thought I would share. I typically don’t post personal “stuff”, but I am making an exception because I thought it was interesting how the pandemic has impacted some of my work behaviors:
I don’t mind the relative isolation. I consider myself to be pretty extroverted. I used to like going to the gym to see familiar faces and having small talk with my gym friends. I have not been to the gym since about March 15, 2020. And I actually don’t think I miss it. And while i do miss my work team members, I also have no problem working from home and only seeing my colleagues on Zoom. It is easier, more efficient, and for me more productive, at least for now. Don’t get me wrong, when Cornell says “ok to come back” to the office for the general employee population, I will be heading back, but I bet I have many more days of working from home even once that happens.
My tolerance for inefficiency has gone down even more. I say “even more” because my tolerance for inefficiency was pretty low already. This is a tricky problem, and sometimes it impacts the way I interact with my team. It is easier for me to be even more direct over Zoom (and my directness is not always well received). I had a team member the other day tell me “you think everything only takes 5 minutes!” The staff person has a good point – good learning moment for me. I will say that the lack of in person communication makes crystal clear email writing that much more important. When I read vague emails it can drive me a bit nuts. I have found myself calling out others when this happens, and sometimes not in a nice way! I need to better check my reactions and realize that just because I cannot see someone after an interaction (because we are not in the office together) it does not mean that the impact of a snarky comment won’t linger!
The pandemic has made most of us realize a few things about ourselves. Some good, some not so good, some bad. My personal reflection: be aware and willing to change.
Here is the list – have some fun and add to this in the comments:
Inability to reason
Inability to compromise
No self control
Who does this sound like?
So this post is not about startups or venture capital. Rather is about the Electoral College. I have been thinking about ways to have it disappear as it truly in my view is a solution to a now non-existent problem. Sure, a problem existed in 1787, but, come on, that problem does not exist now. We should be electing our president by popular vote for, frankly, a ton of reasons. I am happy to debate those with you but not in this post.
Getting the Electoral College to evaporate completely would be challenging, and I doubt enough states (38) would ratify that. But how about an amendment to the Electoral College procedure so that it only was used in very close elections. For example, if the popular vote was X number or more in favor of a candidate, then the Electoral College would not be used. If the popular vote was less than X number it would be used. What should X number be? I honestly don’t know, but how about 3,000,000 for a good proxy.
Why do I think this is an idea worth considering? Here are some reasons:
- It would make candidates work really hard to get people to vote all across the country. It would maximize voter turn out. And that is a great outcome. The voter turnout for the current election is wonderful!
- It would truly make every voter feel like their vote counts!! Currently that is not the case. My vote was meaningless in the national election. I live in New York, not Georgia or Pennsylvania
- It would stop a small number of states from being overly targeted by candidates as the Electoral College mandates.
- It would be the epitome of a national election. We have taught the modern world democracy for heaven’s sake.
- It would enable a national voting system to be put in place assuming it could be done securely (I am way out of my league on this one – not even sure if this is practical).
- This solution is a compromise, and I think only a compromise has any chance of implementation and ratification by the states.
I am sure there are many more reasons. Have a great weekend. I love our country. And I am tired of public officials embarrassing us.
I have been a VC since August 2004. And I have always gotten a kick out of short company descriptions that I read in VC daily reports (like Term Sheet and Pro Rata). While I understand most of the descriptions, there are always some curve balls. Honestly, sometimes I read them and just say to myself “what the heck does that mean?” I am assuming part is just my lack of understanding/knowledge/expertise. And I am also assuming part is not related to my deficiencies.
Here are some examples of some recent descriptions for you to enjoy (my simple-minded remarks in parens):
Data-centric wiki of tech information (huh?)
Log analytics firm (like wood logs?)
Kubernetes observability platform (no clue!)
Dentists studio operator (do dentists have studios?)
API infrastructure company (do APIs have infrastructure? I guess yes!)
Low-code platform for custom engagement (is there high-code?)
Cybersecurity platform for finding blind spots across operations (like being in a car)
Spend management platform (maybe it yells at you when you are charging things on your credit card!)
By the way, most of the descriptions I read do make sense….for the most part! Just trying for some humor here in the crazy Covid times. Have a great week!
Every executive (startup or otherwise) needs to be accountable to the rest of the leadership team and the company’s board. This is pretty obvious. It is perhaps even more critical at startups compared to larger companies as larger companies typically have more executives who can mitigate the negative impact of one under-performer.
In my experience, lack of willingness to be accountable is one of the leading “business” reasons for executives resigning or getting fired. I write “business” reasons to set them apart from non-work related matters. Here are some red flags for non-accountability:
- Failure to communicate in terms that are clear and concise. This might be a sign of communication inability or just dancing around lack of good results.
- Failure to give explanations that make business sense. I have seen this from engineering heads, for example. Even for complex engineering problems the head of engineering needs to be able to explain to the rest of the team what those problems are and how they are being solved.
- Failure of a sales executive to talk actual numbers ALL the time. This is a big one. To have any credibility, the head of sales must be crazily numbers focused. Building customer relationships only goes so far – getting orders is what counts ultimately.
- Hearing “almost done” too many times. Almost done = not done.
- Inability to deliver simple things to CEO after repeated requests. This needs no explanation.
I would love to see some more red flags in the comments so please chime in. If you see red flags, act quickly, which is often very hard to do.