No assholes allowed.
It's taken me this long to actually get to sitting down and writing down the definition of an asshole. Assholes exist. I, like many people, figured I'd be able to recognize one when I saw one by trusting my gut. It's an intellectually lazy thing to do, to assume. And I have been regrettably intellectually lazy about this. Because, assholes sneak pass my crappy filter and when I catch them, the stench is real. Then, I break off all contact and fully disassociate with that person. It's a crappy experience and process.
Now that I'm in my late 30s, I thought, let's sit down and really think about this. There's got to be a better way. It's even applicable to the world of entrepreneurship and startups. When I applied to accelerators, they told me that assholes were not allowed. When I talk to the professional investors and super angel investors, they tell me that assholes are not allowed.
So I went back and documented all the different ways to tell if someone is an asshole. I also interviewed investors, people, and other thought leaders. I vetted the thinking with some more people. And, by the way, Google defines an asshole as: "an irritating or contemptible person". If any one or more of the 8 below identifiers go off, you're most likely dealing with an asshole.
Here are the 8 asshole identifiers:
If you run into a person or you identify with one or more of the above identifiers, you're probably dealing with an asshole. Awareness is the first part, everything after that is your opportunity to make an intentional choice. Mine will be, walking as far away as possible and never looking back.
P.S. Many thanks to my friend Minda for her contributions of intellectual ping-pong and critical thinking spent talking about this topic. It's with her collaborative brain that I was able to get this article done.
Row, row, row your boat
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream
[Full lyrics here]
(I am late to publish my #postaweek2017 for last week.)
In general, when it comes to life, the best way to live, is to not expend more energy than needed to accomplish a goal. Rowing a boat against the current, or upstream is WAY HARDER, than just sitting in the boat and letting the river take you.
This "Row, row, row your boat" thinking can be applied to:
Lately. I have been applying the "Row, row, row your boat" principles to the topics that are coming up a lot lately in the ecosystems I am part of. The topics of "Women in ___" (be it in the workplace, in tech, in startups, in leadership, in the C-Suite, etc...", and "Diversity" (be in race, gender, etc...). My current belief is that we're missing a purposeful coordinated focus on identifying and influencing MIT in what'll really move the needle in a meaningful way. That's why the whole topic of gender, of women in ___, of social equity and many similar topics have been so slow to change.
Motherhood is hard. There's so many changes that I've gone through to list, and while not everyone has the same experiences, here are mine (not in any particular order of importance).
Motherhood is hard:
Often, I'll share and say something like, "wow, motherhood is hard". You learn a lot about who people are with the responses. Now having been in this for over a year, I've noticed a most definite pattern. I will always get one of two responses to that question. They go something like this:
Supportive fellow human being:
A) Yes. My gosh I can (or cannot) imagine. With the follow up of, let's go grab some coffee or I'd love to share more with you on this journey. I want to show you that you are not alone and I am here to feel shoulder-to-shoulder in life with you. I want you to know that it'll be okay.
Judging oppressive human being:
B) Of course it is. And, isn't motherhood the most rewarding thing you've ever done? Isn't it completely and totally worth it? There's only one right answer here and you better say it. Motherhood is amazing and that's the only thing any mother should ever say. Ever. Because it is completely worth it.
We get to be the guardian of a brand new fresh pure amazing human life, to guide him (or her) to grow up to be a kind, generous, strong, empathetic, respectful and respected adult. It is hard work. Both ideas can exist.
Quality. It's about the thoughtful thinking that went out before anyone did any execution. It's not just about sexy branding, pretty pictures or cool technology.
There may be something off about my approach. I'm open to that feedback. Former bosses have told me that I am very critical and hard to please, and that I am too demanding of people. While I've worked very hard to be more flexible, and accommodating of people over the years...
However, I still believe to get the real essence of understanding the quality of work being completed - there has to be some level of unprompted test-driving that needs to be done to assess the quality of the work being produced. My current process: 1) Generally, I enjoy discussing and sharing to create the desired outcome/goal of what we are about to do (pick a random side project, small short term goal, whatever). We agree on something. Then 2) on top of any action items I take away, I always stress that I am available to do whatever else is needed to help, support, work, give feedback. Literally. Whatever it takes to reach that goal. I will do.
Very few people take me up on that offer. Very few.
It's a weird "weed-out" move that showcases the ones that will thrive and succeed (in whatever they decide to pursue), and those that will not.
Those that thrive:
1) Reach out - proactively with status updates, quick check-ins to triangulate and see if we're still aligned with what the outcome/goal/vision was. They ask to meet up and trade notes on progress. They ask for me to do some of the work. They ask for feedback.
2) Build a top-down plan on how they are going to accomplish the goal. Sort of a process map or framework.
3) Get to it. Literally, they start brainstorming ideas filling in the steps needed to accomplish the goal. It starts to work, or it doesn't. What's important is that we know one way or the other, with real data.
Most people don't do anything at all. Nothing. I never hear from them. Silence. Weird, to me.
Others, they just start doing without any sort of planning. No strategy at all. Maybe they'll ping me to get me to do some part of what I had previously agreed to do. ... And then, they do. We might sync up randomly, only to find, they have been just mindlessly executing towards the end goal, not thinking at all about the process to get to that end goal. Also, weird, to me.
No matter what project, goal, program, initiative, job --- take the time to look under the hood and figure out if there is a high level plan, strategy, outline, hypothesis, ... anything. It'll literally show you if what they say they are doing, is really what they are doing. In most cases, they are not doing, or they are what I call, "spinning". Quality is not just about the outcome.
Quality involves the thoughtful journey and process. (This includes having a: Framework. Diligence. Records.)
Happy international women's day 2017
Happy international women's day 2017. Maybe happy isn't the right word. I'm observing this day. I don't know if we should quite be celebrating. The state of humanity is teetering on the edge of being truly broken. I don't know about wearing red, marching, resisting, or any of that. What I do know is the following actions we can do each and every day to honor women, respect women, and be respected as women.
18 Ways to celebrate women and each other on International Women's Day 2017:
and a pen. Take notes.
Having worked for over a decade in management consulting, and now having been running this startup marathon for over three years, I always am bewildered by people that show up to meetings completely empty-handed. Bring a notebook. Always. Perhaps the training I received in consulting was just that good. Perhaps it's training that everyone should follow.
An "Employer" perspective: I once worked with this bright engineer who would nod vigorously in meetings, actively and delightfully participate in product meetings, and then a few hours after the meeting, have no recollection of what the meeting was about. We suggested she bring a notebook and take notes during the meeting to help - she never did. We soon parted ways.
Here's an "Employee" perspective: One of my first memories working at a "Big 4" management consulting firm was sitting in a very large intimidating conference room with the CFO and my firm's Partner level "big wigs". I was an Associate sitting in the back with the other Associates all furiously writing notes. At one point during the meeting, the client pointed to one of our Partners and then to one of the Associates that had stopped typing. A few moments later, he (that Associate) was escorted out of the room because he was not "adding any value" just sitting there. I learned at that moment, never let your guard down in meetings and always strive to add value.
Simply put: Bring a notebook, and take notes = you will auto-magically become WAY more effective.
Always take notes in these 3 situations:
If you're not used to carrying around a pen/paper always, other ways of accomplishing the same effect are: 1) add calendar items toward the end of the day and take notes in there, 2) send yourself emails with the notes, 3) voice record the meeting (not recommended for many reasons.) If I'm at a party for instance, and a situation comes up where I need a quick note, I will send myself emails when I'm not with my notebook.
My favorite method now is to carry a large black artist's sketchbook filled with large sheets of blank paper. I write notes, I draw arrows and connect meetings and thoughts. I emphasize some notes with extra underlines, circles and asterisks. Always bring a notebook.
I wrote this post because often I find that we silly humans can get carried away with expectations around what's really important on "holidays". Whether you're single or coupled, the most important thing to remember is the value of the relationship with those most important in our lives. It's not about getting a gift of a fancy $800 shoes from your husband or a $500 Valentine's Day dinner at an expensive restaurant or romantic diamond jewelry. It's not. (Though, if that's what makes it real for you - go have fun and enjoy for sure.) For many others, let's remember to keep it real. It's all about the simple thoughtful gesture to the ones we love in our lives.
1. Embrace your inner cheese.
Seriously. Keep it simple. Simple. Get or make a sweet card for the one (or ones) you love. Who says Valentine's Day has to just be about significant others, and spouses? Send some love to your girlfriends, your guyfriends, your favorite siblings and teachers, bartender, concierge, coworker and/or mailman. :) (Ideally, buy/make/prepare the card in advance.) ---> And a simple <3 text is a great gesture, too. That's super easy to do, so go share the "<3" and text away to all those you love.
2. It's the thought (and hug) that counts.
There's really NO need to break the bank for Valentine's. Unless you REALLY want to go all out, THEN GO ALL OUT. Sweet crystal stud earrings, small delicate bracelet/necklace --- all nice. Just as nice as half a dozen beautiful delicious macaroons or a small box of 4 decadent chocolates. Or go eat at your favorite dessert place - get that big slice of white chocolate strawberry cake. Or hell, grab a bottle of wine, cuddle up with your fluffy dog, your babe (or BFF) and watch a movie. It's the planned thought and the time that counts, NOT THE DOLLARS. A really big big big warm snuggly hug is super amazing, too. :)
3. Have your plan ready.
About 1-3 days before, ideally, have your plan ready for Valentine's Day. Don't leave it to the day of or last minute because that's unnecessarily making it stressful to both you and the recipient(s). Whether it's for your girlfriend or wife or a bunch of BFF's, know what you're going to do. Send her/him/them all a loving text message or voicemail at the start of the day to tell them you're thinking about them. Have the card ready before Valentine's Day. Know whether you're going to cuddle someone with a glass of wine and watch an old movie, go out to get some delicious dessert, or go all out with dinner out on the town + roses + chocolates + and then some. (Stressing should not be part of the plan.)
Alrighty. Don't stress. Valentine's Day is simple - just follow the above 3 steps.
It must be the season or something. I feel like there's just too much noise. There are too many distractions. This is the home screen on my iPhone 6plus phablet BEFORE I made the change.
This is my NEW home screen on my iPhone 6Plus phablet. I focused on only keeping apps that I 1) use every day or should use every day, or 2) apps that I really enjoy or want to prioritize up in my life. Somehow, Amazon.com has made the cut but they just make it too freaking easy to get all those shopping errands (household items, diapers, etc...) done with 1 thumb. And, dudes and dudettes, I love Words with Friends. :) Turned off the notifications on most of the apps. I just don't want to know. I have to do that to email too. I generally don't enjoy emails, text messages, ... actually, I DESPISE Facebook messenger, and voicemails.
Screen #2 = Random stuff I may keep.
Most of this (80%)... will get deleted if I don't try it within a few months. Even if I do try it, if I don't use it again, it will get deleted. A few items are just "hanging out" here. The Settings and the Calculator are exceptions - it's just I don't want them on the main home screen.
Screen #3 = Evil stuff I want to do a LOT LESS of.
And yes, there's our baby Lentil's face there, reminding me that there's much MUCH more to life than social media or online videos.
There REALLY is such a thing as TOO MUCH. Too much noise in the world today. We're all paying attention to the wrong details about what matters. We'll see if this helps me. I'll report back in a few weeks on this.
In 2017, I am OFFICIALLY committing to do 1 blog post a week. #postaWeek2017
LET IT BE KNOWN.
Here we go. Post #1. ... I need to queue up some blog post ideas.... 2017 really crept up on me. I don't know where 2016 went. All I know is that I have created the most precious being of my life with the most awesome husband of all, the Lentil. Lentil is now almost a year old. A little over 30 inches tall, a little over 25 pounds, says a handful of words already, stands proud, has been taking his very first few steps and is already working on walking. Well, since I'm letting everyone know about this #postaWeek2017 challenge, I might as well share some other "resolution" thoughts I've been working on this week.
Not in any prioritized order, here are five "resolution" top-of-mind thoughts:
That's all I got writing today. :) Thanks for reading.
... I wrote this post... twice... and it for some reason has had trouble saving. [So to be honest, I'm writing again a third time, but now am just going to upload whatever comes to mind instead of trying to rewrite the post.] Sometimes, the world is telling you that is was not meant to be.
Along those lines, what is meant to be anyways? Sometimes, despite ourselves, things have a magical way of finding their path into existence. You mess up, you try and will it away, it doesn't seem like it would be, but it is.
Now about 6 weeks into the 500 Startups program, it's been an emotional roller coaster. What startup journey isn't? Now about a year after we incorporated, we're taking the time to reframe and rebuild pieces of the business in terms of culture, processes, all the fundamentals that'll help us move faster in the long run. We've had to make some really tough decisions. I mostly feel like my body isn't my own and I'm the "ass" on behalf of the company. The deliverer of tough news and feedback. The one to punch the wall down with my bare fists sometimes so we can go through. Having so many of those uncomfortable conversations a normal human would go shrinking into the corner at... here we are, taking them on, head on. Each week, we're getting better and stronger. This week, I think we actually broke through the darkness and I see the glimmer of light ahead.
Into the light we go. Appreciate that you are cheering us on.
PS, try out GiftStarter. Feedback always welcome. Use the promocode "GiftMe!" to try the GIft Concierge service for free.