Keeping sane these days

As we know, we are all going to be in this for a long period of time. I am hopeful that we as a society are taking this more seriously and are practicing social distancing at a new level than even just a few days ago. And I’m praying for all the healthcare workers that are putting their life on the line to save and protect.

There are many ways to try and positively respond to this crisis. I’m pretty convinced that the worst way to respond is to panic or to stay glued to the news cycle 24×7.

Joseph Goldstein, a famous mediation teacher, encourages the question we should ask ourselves when faced with stressful/intense moments: “Is this useful?”. In Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, the author shares this insight from Joseph:

“But when you find yourself running through your trip to the airport for the seventeenth time, perhaps ask yourself the following question: Is this useful?” -Joseph Goldstein

“Is this useful?” It’s okay to worry, plot, plan, he’s saying–but only until it’s not useful anymore.

I’ve been asking myself this question as I found myself doggedly trying to stay on top of every news story, every piece of horrible reality and optimistic medical answers that will save every one of us.

But it’s not useful and in fact it’s likely causing harm to yourself. Or last least I feel that way.

So here’s something I’ve been trying since yesterday and I’m going to continue to refine it in the upcoming days, weeks and months ahead.

1/ I’m not reading any news about COVID-19 before 9am

2/ I’m being more mindful of what and how I eat each day

3/ Get outside every day

4/  Exercise (light or intense, doesn’t matter)

5/ Daily mediation (even 5 minutes helps big time)

6/ Finding a way each day to help others

7/ I’m not reading any news about COVID-19 after 6pm.

8/ Journaling and writing down three things I’m grateful for each day.

I’ll end this post with a link to Jason Kottke’s latest gem about how each of us are all going through our own set of issues and shared concerns. It’s a beautiful post and I encourage you to read it. Another good reminder to be kind to each other.

We will get through this.


VCs are open for business but it’s a new world

The kids are off from school so last week we left the country to a pretty remote location in attempt to isolate and frankly relax. But it was getting quite clear that with each day life was rapidly changing and I was concerned the borders would close up quickly. So we changed plans, came back home Tuesday night and will self quarantine for 14 days (I’m sure it will extend longer). So far we all feel healthy except for the occasional psychosomatic symptoms.

Our firm is open during this period. And I can see that most of my time is going to be focused on companies that we have already backed. Many/most are going through some form of crisis and will need the most support and attention.

We are also looking at new investment opportunities for sure. I was DMing with a good friend yesterday (he’s also a venture capitalist) about the idea of investing millions of dollars into new investments when the only contact has been via Zoom (ie without in person meetings). His response: we are in a new world and we need to adapt. It makes total sense and he’s right of  course. But it will be a massive adjustment for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Maybe it lead to more time, relationship building, mutual understanding and due diligence which would be a good thing (the prior pace didn’t feel comfortable either to be honest).

So the work continues. It’s actually a productive way to keep sane during such a somber and critical time.

Stay home everyone but stay connected. Being physically apart doesn’t mean we need to be socially apart.

Social media in these times

I’ve always been inspired how the internet and social media has connected us in such a meaningful way. Yes, it can be extremely messy and it has genuine flaws for sure.

But our social media is also proving to be such a vital part of life. Providing critically important news & information, the status of loved ones and allowing us to stay connected digitally during these times where we must avoid each other physically.

I’m seeing so much generosity and creativity as well. My friend Dick Costolo is providing meals to 40 families a night, every night. Others are creating apps to help local merchants stay afloat. Funds are being raised for food banks. Our shared human existence is on full display and we all need to lean in if it all possible.

The last few days I was moved by Chris Martin and John Legend‘s IG stories. They each had private live concerts from their own house. You could feel their concern about humanity and the power of music to help us in times like these. Legend’s cover of Bridge Over Troubled Waters gave me chills. What a treasure.

Personally, 2019

I have been journaling more this year — not every day be any means but more than in past years. So it’s a bit easier to look back and scan the pages of my handwritten scribble and get a sense of the year.

And like other years, 2019 was filled with ups and downs. Good days and bad days.

But it felt as a whole, a healthier year. A year that felt more in balance and without less thrashing during the bad days.

We are going through some big changes on the home front. Our oldest is in college and next fall, our middle child will head to New Orleans to begin her college journey. So at home, we will be 3 instead of 5 every day. And that will bring about a whole new experience for sure.

I keep making photographs with mixed emotions. Just like my personal life in 2019, my photographs were a mix of good ones and bad ones. I try not to let the bad ones break my desire, passion and confidence.

I decided to start a 365 photography project. I’m did one a few years back and missed several months of daily photos along the way. I wasn’t happy with the project and took down the blog that hosted the work. I’m hoping this time I can really stick with it. I started it a few days ago, specifically on December 1st. I’ll start sharing them on a new blog starting on January 1, 2020. A new photograph taken each day on an old Leica camera with black and white film.

I suspect there will be good ones and bad ones.

And the beat goes on.

Paris in the fall

Last month, I made a return trip to Paris. I am not sure there is a more beautiful place than Paris in the fall. The air was crisp, the leaves were turning and seemingly everyone was outside.

This trip was brief like my summer visit and also work related. More on that subject in a future post. But I did manage to get out a few hours each day to make some photographs.

One highlight was randomly bumping into my friend Joe and Andre Wagner in the Marais. palace .jpgchess.jpgwalkers.jpgRiver.jpgsmoker.jpgseat.jpgBread.jpgboyz.jpgDiag.jpgrest.jpgTower.jpgEvening.jpg

(All color photographs made with a Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Portra 400. Black & white photographs were made with a Leica MA and Kodak Tri-X 400 film. Developed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab)

Regulating tech, continued

I wrote down some thoughts back in 2011 about government regulation of technology. And looking back, I stand by that post.

But I wanted to spend a few extra words due to the recent Access Act proposed by Senator Warner and others.

My friend Fred has an interesting post on this topic as usual. Fred likes the approach outlined and has some suggestions on how to make it stronger.

I do like the idea of portability and data ownership. For example, I should have the ability to easily take my photos from Facebook or IG and move on. I know Flickr made this task nearly impossible and always bummed me out. It’s wrong.

But believe there is a distinction between data ownership and everything else. I need to consider topic some more — but my initial thinking is regulating how these service work with each other is not useful or even necessary. In fact, it may be harmful to consumers.

Take Senator Warners example about AOL AIM. First, I just don’t believe AIM would have remained dominant if the government didn’t act. Just look at AOL’s track record for innovation, even in those days. Also consider MySpace for yet another example. A walled garden that was massive but didn’t innovate, declined and died.

Further interoperability doesn’t necessarily always help the smaller company either. Facebook is cloning Snapchat every chance they can get. Snaps only chance is to keep creating and making Snapchat a more compelling experience on their own (it seems to be working btw). Can you imagine if the government forced Snap to interoperate with Facebook Messenger. First, it would be a horrible user experience and second, it would hurt Snapchat more than it would hurt FB.

(Related point. I deleted my Facebook account earlier this year and haven’t looked back. I’m so happy that Facebook can’t find a way to message me elsewhere)

But ultimately I believe in software innovation and remain optimistic that startups can out innovate. It happened in operating systems, it happened in the browser wars and it will happen in social media.

The beat goes on.

Heavenly Father, Bon Iver

Lauren and I went to see Bon Iver earlier this week in Boston. It was absolutely magical.