Risk and Privilege

To quit one’s job and start a company is a terrifying thing, a huge risk.

But let’s reframe that with gratitude: to be able to quit one’s job and start a company is a huge privilege.

I feel so lucky for this opportunity to embrace the risk, not that I haven’t worked for it but there are so many things that could have worked against me but did not. Along the way I had amazing family, friends, colleagues, bosses, and mentors who believed in me and helped me gain the confidence to take this plunge. Because those who said, “You can!” out numbered those who said, “You can’t!” the later became the exception rather than the rule in my mind, the exception which I took as a challenge.  When naysayers are in the minority in your life, they only inadvertently push you forward along with your supporters.

So thank you, my dear ones, for all your support and encouragement, you’ve changed my perspective on what I can accomplish.  And thank you to the founders I’ve worked for, for showing me by example what can be achieved.

Please be patient with me as I may be mostly unavailable for the next ten years.  And never stop telling others they can do it. :-)

Never Check Out

I see so many people check out their last two weeks (or months!) on the job.  I have a personal policy against it. Why?

1.) Empathy
You wouldn’t want someone checking out on you.  If you are somewhere, be there. Help smooth transitions, document tribal knowledge, and set those you leave behind up for success as much as possible.

2.) Reputation
You’ve established a reputation for years.  Don’t blow it away in your last month. Once I’ve left a company, I want to be remembered fondly as a person of great work and high integrity.

A New Year, A New Practice

Many a year I’ve thought I should keep a list of the books I’m consuming for some sort of personal year end reflection, maybe even documenting movies I’m seeing (if they are lucky).  Unfortunately, this thought comes usually about five months into the year.  Not this year.  Finally, my ideas and timing coincide.  So the tracking starts today, and my future self can someday properly reminisce about the year I’m about to have.

So, my first entry: the first of January, and I devoured Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 today. In a nutshell that does not do it service, this 1953 novel tells tale of a shallow and violent future society which has traded in quality of thought for entertainment, in an arguably prophetic way that stands as both a warning to America and a love letter to ideas. It’s a classic for a reason, but it’s not just the beautifully poetic writing. The ideas contained within resonated with me so strongly that I felt essentially connected to it and the author – I feel somehow that I’ve robbed my past self by not reading it earlier, and I could give no stronger recommendation to a book.

It’s late, and has been a long first day of the year, but a beautiful start of the year. Here’s to ideas in 2016.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”  – Ray Bradbury

Marriage Equality in the USA (and everywhere)

Firstly and foremost: Huzzah!! We did it!  I spent many an hour doorbelling and phone banking in Washington State for our own marriage equality vote (R74) and am so happy to see the tide of opinion change in this country and the country follow our fine state.

But while I celebrate, I’m torn because I really question the government or majority’s authority in this matter at all. Marriage licenses were introduced less than 100 years ago (1923) and mainly for exceedingly and explicitly racist reasons (check this out).  Individual rights are not subject to a vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority.  It’s great that “A CNN poll in February 19, 2015 found that 63% of Americans believe gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry” (source) but in August 2010 it was only 49% – so did reality change?  No, of course not – only opinion changed.  As a thought exercise, what happens when public opinion decides brunettes and redheads shouldn’t be allowed to have relationships on a (likely superstitious) whim?

While I’m independent, I have to agree with the Libertarian platform on this one:
Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

So I worry, a little, in the back of my head while I celebrate this win.  I worry that while the outcome is good, the principals behind the need for this outcome is highly questionable. We are sticking bandaids on the symptoms instead of finding and treating the root cause which is limiting our liberty. We are desperate for acceptance from a bad law founded on a bad premise, and we’ll take it, but keep in mind what’s really going on: we’re getting the permission to a right everyone already should have always had.