freeideas

Should Is A Terrible Word

I’m not sure who taught me this originally. As with all things I can’t source back, I assume it was my awesome and supportive parents who unconditionally loved and encouraged my wacky and zany child self to develop into this effusive and certain blogger (?) or whatever I am now.

Anyway, something I learned growing up at our house was that:

should is a terrible word.

We should not be in the habit of telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. :)  It’s really rude almost 100% of the time when using the word should. You sound hypercritical using it in common vernacular. You (almost always) sound as if you know something that the other person does not and you are trying to enlighten the path for him/her. Even in very specific instruction - i.e. yoga or dance instruction - where there is a commonly agreed upon placement of the parts of the body. “Right elbow to the outside of left knee to twist” -- this can (and should!) be said without a twang of ‘should.’ Should is ableist in this context: it implies one way of doing something. Should is limited and finite; it doesn't leave room for possibility. 

Even if you’re speaking to yourself. Think of the internal dialogue: “I should stop procrastinating and go to the grocery store.” Be kinder to yourself. How about something like: “If I want to eat a healthy meal for dinner tonight, I will go to the grocery store in the next 20 minutes.”

When working with start-ups and founders, I resist the urge to use the word. No matter what I think they should or should not be doing, I try to get them to just talk out their reasoning and logic for making their decisions.  I tell them how I learned something - how I got to a conclusion -- but not what they should do. Some of the best business (and otherwise!) decisions come not from a place of should but from a place of if. Less lacking, more possibility. Less grasping, more optionality.  

By the by, I just looked up what should means -- here it is:

Yeah, fuck should. 


Nonetheless, I like to sit around and think of business ‘should’s’ for big companies. Because it’s fun to dream with limitless potential and with a very wide aperture about what could happen in a free and open world.

Here are some of my shoulds -- let me know yours!! Respond below or Tweet me!

Start ups that Uber Should Acquire

Bird, Lime, etc.

Postmates, Grubhub/Seamless,  AND the top 5 - 10 restaurant chains in each city (byChloe, Sweetgreen, Chipotle, etc.)

Local Messenger Services in cities

Tuktuk’s and Pedicabs Everywhere

Companies that Facebook Should Acquire

All the media companies - starting with the big ones

Production Studios

Sponsorship Model for Talent

Partnerships that Twitter Should Do

News Companies - LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL

PR Firms  - breaking news should always be on Twitter - ‘real time verification’

Bloomberg + any other live live financial news

Sports - any other live live sports news

Technologies that Amazon Should Deploy

Basket Technology for crowd-sourced pricing and  Best-Of lists

Those are my 'should's' in today's business landscape -- what are yours?!

dynamically stable systems -- my tribute to Jane Jacobs

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I've always been inspired by Jane Jacobs' observation of cities and economies. Her thesis in her work, The Nature of Economies was around dynamically stable systems and how they avoid collapse.  

Efficient ecosystems do four things, she said:

  • bifurcate
  • create positive feedback-loops
  • ensure negative controls
  • adapt to emergency

It occurred to me after hanging with my friend (and Summit roommate!) Leyla Acoroglu:

^^ my awesome Summit roomie

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...that we all live in many independent and efficient ecosystems everyday.  Our world, of course, the largest and most common denominator ecosystem that we all share.

The environment, atmospheric conditions, our garbage production and carbon emissions we know and collectively acknowledge affect us now and will affect us in the future.

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We're each individually members of concentric circles - institutions of learning, groups of friends, people bound by shared interest or property.  They are, though, not as independent as we may think they are.  They need common denominators to function, people to bind them.

They are, in fact, more like interconnected concentric circles with multiple points of crossover and connection.

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Bifurcation happens when we begin to identify in different circles or groups...technologist, teacher, athlete, mom...our individual identities (chosen and unchosen) begin to allow us to see similarity and difference in each other. My friends who are having babies are joining a new group 'mother' - which will now be an identity they share with mothers all over the world.

When we receive positive feedback that these groups are working (mommy groups, lobbying groups, athletic endeavors like a marathon), we double-down. Technology is like this too: we find a market-segment need and solve for it.

With regard to technology, Uber is a perfect example of these first two steps in Jane's theory.  Bifurcation occurred when Uber's co-founders observed a need in the market: a cab to their location in Paris. The trial runs for Uber perfectly mimicked the market conditions we'd hope for: since Uber's founders basically disregarded the established Taxi and Limousine Commissions that govern local taxis, they were able to receive positive feedback fairly quickly validating this was a worthy idea. The positive feedback loop was validation enough to continue to grow this emerging company...Thusly, ensuring negative controls were in place. By the time the government and regulating bodies came to call, Uber was a profitable company - able to hire the talent they need to keep Uber in major cities.  Therefore, adapting to emergency has become second nature to this company that seemingly can know no bounds...

Back to mommy friends, the groups we create for ourselves in small and large help us to create dynamically stable systems...and ones that we feel safe in.  

how to do introductions -- mostly by Michael Sidgmore

when introducing two people i think it's important to ask for permission from both parties separately (sometimes people are overwhelmed and simply can't handle one more intro). and then to send a thoughtful message to both parties that describes each person and why you thought they should meet. my friend Michael is literally, one of the best introducers i know. not only is he thoughtful about how and who he introduces, he writes the gosh darn best bio's around!!!! here's a recent one he wrote for me:

Dear XXX: Gretchen is entrenched in the NY startup community as she is running her own co-investment firm, Adipose, where she applies her expertise in media and marketing to help startups grow. She works with a portfolio of companies, including Market Realist, Upworthy, and Cameo (acquired by Vimeo). She also works with two Lerer Hippeau Ventures portfolio companies as VP, Strategic Partnerships and Advertising. Her expertise in marketing comes from her time as a founding member and National Director of Quartz, the wildly successful digitally native news outlet owned by Atlantic Media and as the West Coast Director of Bloomberg West, which was the first dedicated daily tech TV show on the West Coast. She's also an all-around awesome person - she's a certified, trained yogi, having done over 800 hours of Jivamukti training ... and she's done all this before the ripe old age of 30!

needless to say, he writes something equally as thoughtful and descriptive about the other person and why i should take time out of my day to meet him/her.  (for anonymity's sake i decided not to publish other people's intros!) once you've read Michael's introduction emails once, you realize that every introduction he makes is a carefully thought-out one and one he takes great pride in.  you're quick to respond knowing it's likely someone important on the other end of the email chain!!

so, maybe next time you go to make an introduction, take a page out of Michael's book and put a little effort into it. (with special thanks to my main man, Ice Cube)


what i'm reading (a weekly update)

inspired by my dear friend Janie, (seen here dropping the cricket set...cutie!)  

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i henceforth bring you the weekly update of websites and content that i'm paying attention to right now!


 

the Dodo: a rad website with tons of cute gifs of animals and also important information about animal welfare today

Fancy: i could waste an entire afternoon paging through all this stuff i never knew i needed.  and sometimes convincing myself i do need it.  it's like the modern dan hammacher schlammer.

aVC: i enjoy fred wilson's musings on early stage tech and life in general.

BWEST: seems crazy but this is still a resource that tons of people don't use in the tech industry...almost feel like i'm letting my secret out by posting it here!

theSkimm: a quick easy update on the world's news. delivered to your inbox every morning. in a snarky, fun way.  i'm lookin at you, ms janie.


 

....5 more coming at ya next week, y'all.