Greylock is looking for an Analyst to support the Investing and Operations teams. This is a 2-3 year role, for someone early in his or her career. It will give you rare insight into great startups, as well as how venture capital works and where it is going.
How to Apply
I’m testing a personal morning routine that I hope leads to effective, happy, focused days.
The first draft is this:
- Breathe, for a minute at least.
- Stretch, if only for 30 seconds, to get the blood flowing and wake up.
- Write 3 priorities to get done today. Only 3.
- Set up overflow list. this catches everything that occurs to me (“oh, I needed to X…”)
- Scan for anything blocking other people on my team. Deal with if possible.
I’ll try this for a few weeks, see what works, and adjust if it turns out to be helpful.
Is there anything you do near the beginning of every day to get you set up?
Saying ‘No’ to managers shows maturity and confidence
I had dinner last night with my sister, who recently started her first job - a consulting-type role.
She mentioned how surprised she was that when asked if they could deliver a piece of work by a certain time, nearly all of her fellow junior colleagues said yes, every time.
In her few weeks there, she’s already said no to this question a couple times. She was surprised that she’s the only one doing this.
It’s hard to tell a manager that you can’t deliver something they want, when they want it. It feels like you’re less capable, or letting them down. But it’s actually an indicator of maturity and confidence.
Good managers will very quickly judge you on what you do, not what you say you’ll do, and you’ll develop a reputation for accountability - delivering what you say you will, with high quality. They will start to trust your progress, and use your answers to manage wider timelines and resources.
Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what I suspect is happening with my Sis. Her colleagues must love it.
(I’m assuming here that we’re talking about highly effective people who say no, not lazy slackers who do it. That’s easy to spot as well.)
Meat & Bread: Since when can pork and bread be this exciting?
Hitting up Meat & Bread when I get back to Vancouver has become more necessary with each trip. I wandered in today for lunch. I was pretty excited. Seems weird, right? It’s just a sandwich shop.
Here’s why I love it.
1) Reduction of choice
I love products that radically reduce choice, and do the remaining things exceptionally well. Making decisions on behalf of the customer is hard. It’s also scary, exposing you to the brutal fact that people might not want it. It’s more comfortable to add more choice, options, functionality and hope that customers find the value somewhere (they rarely do).
2) Competing on new characteristics
M&B skips what most restaurants compete on (menu selection, seated comfort, table service quality) and goes straight to meat quality, efficiency, and atmosphere. Seriously - look at this place when I walked in. (A new business competes on different characteristics than competitors is called Blue Ocean strategy in MBA-speak).
3) Premium perception, value cost
Because they save on nearly everything but the meat, they can afford to sell me a hand-carved, seasoned porchetta sandwich for 8 bucks. They reinforce this premium vibe with scorched wood board plates, floating greeters, and hardwood everything. It feels like a nice experience, even though it’s an assembly line.
Restaurants are some of the least efficient businesses out there, with razor-thin margins. I can think of few more efficient non-fast food examples than M&B, certainly with any sit down option (Starbucks or Chipotle come to mind - both are $20B+ companies).
There’s little more exhilarating for me than watching a business so thoroughly nail a new product, and watch the crowds and locations grow in confirmation.
Month of Minimalism: What do I want instead of stuff?
As I started this experiment, my friend Mike suggested I write down what I want instead of stuff.
There’s some fairly obvious things:
- I want fewer debts.
- I want to experiment more with investments.
- I want to build a buffer to jump into a riskier next role, without worrying about salary.
- I want visual and cognitive space from the clutter of things.
- I want to spend money on friends, and on causes I believe in.
- I want to travel.
But in thinking about it quickly, at this point in my life, it’s this: I want degrees of personal freedom.
Do things make us more free?
This caused me to think about how things enable freedom. In many ways, they do. I’m free to camp because I have camping gear and a car. I’m free to communicate because I have a phone. And so on. (And we can talk about collaborative consumption and shared economies, which I support, but there’s no way I’m more free to travel using a car sharing service than if I have my own car. There’s just more friction.)
So it seems obvious that on average each thing adds freedom to the path or activity it’s designed to support. But it also seems like it reduces overall degrees of freedom. The effect of the latter is difficult to see, but it’s there.
Month of Minimalism: what did I buy?
As this month experiment ends, it’s time to look back on what non-consumable things I bought, and why.
- 1 sink plunger
- 2 merino wool long sleeve Icebreaker Ts (on sale)
- 1 art storage box
- 20 pieces of acid-free art storage paper
- 1 art print
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 toque
- 1 camping chair
- 1 documentary pre-order
Thinking about it, I’d group these into:
- Increasing the longevity of my things (Ts, art storage)
- Tools I need but didn’t have (sink plunger)
- New stuff I want (art, documentary film)
- Stuff to a new environment or experience (camping chair)
- Stuff I needed to buy from poor planning (toothbrush, toque)
I feel the most comfortable with the top of that list, less so with the bottom. I feel OK about the total number, though it could have been half that if I got wild with it.
Stuff Flows Inbound
It surprised me how inexorably stuff flows into our lives. Every day, not just from advertising, but from excitement of new things, gifts from work, family, or friends, through new interests, or gaps in processes we use. It took energy to withstand acquiring stuff - the opposite of what I would have guessed.
However this subsided after the first week, for a few reasons. First, some techniques helped (“I do want this, but I can defer that until January”). Second, I started to develop a supporting self-identity (“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t buy shit like that”). And third, I got satisfaction from putting some money towards new investments and against debts.
Very interesting. We’ll see what continues next month, without the explicit challenge.
(Print above is Use Your Illusion 2 by Kai & Sunny)
Update: Month of Minimalism
A week into the month of minimalism, I’ve noticed a couple things.
First, it’s interesting what the normal default cadence of new stuff is. For me it’s outdoor gear (options delivered to my inbox every day, purchase in three clicks, also in free swag from work), art (habits and tracking a handful of favorite artists), and other stuff (office selling of some chairs I love, with beautiful clean form). It seems to take effort not to acquire stuff, versus the opposite.
Second, I’ve noticed this feeling I get when I’m near something I like, like driving past REI or something. It’s a little excitement, combined with a twinge of anxiousness.
- Use unroll.me to unsubscribe to a ton of emails. Done, seems to be missing a few things.
- User PaperKarma to reduce daily junk mail. Ongoing.
- Get to inbox zero and stay there. Done.
- Remove Facebook connections I haven’t been in touch with in a year. Today.
- Fire up Level, and/or update my Mint.com account. Level isn’t ready for game time, so dialed in Mint account.
- Log everything I buy that is not immediately consumable. So far: a $4 plunger to unblock the sink, and a new print. Also acquired a new jacket from work.
- Camp before christmas for up to a week. Time blocked, looking for a spot.
- Ask specifically for nothing for Christmas. Done.
- Buy 2 more Icebreaker shirts. Done. Will last forever.
Minimalism - first challenge: art
I don’t spend wildly, but there are a few things I do spend money on. Art is one.
I’ve been collecting street art for a couple years now, and am always tracking a couple new artists. Kofie is one of them. Like his style, but haven’t found anything to pick up yet.
So tomorrow’s run of his was my first challenge. $65 for a limited run of a nice representative piece. That’s a good purchase in a normal month.
But this month is minimalism.
I’m going to sit this one out. I’ll catch him on the next one, hopefully.
Next experiment: Minimalism
I’ve done three month-long experiments recently: no ego, focus, and avoiding unproductive judgement.
December is minimalism.
I was originally going to do something around gratitude, but this seems more fun, and timely with Christmas season.
Some of the things I’ll try:
- Purging closet, kitchen, garage, in that order. I’m pretty good at keeping my life free of excess stuff, but time to be more aggressive about it.
- Counting and taking pictures of all of my things. Then try to stack rank in terms of importance in my life, and remove least important 25%.
- Surfaces relentlessly free of clutter. Desk, counters, windows, and so on.
- Thinking through the stocks and flows of stuff in life, and whether these can be redesigned for less stuff.
- Use unroll.me to unsubscribe to a ton of emails.
- User PaperKarma to reduce daily junk mail.
- Get to inbox zero and stay there. I’m also pretty good at this, and typically maintain an inbox of around 10-15 emails, so shouldn’t be hard.
- Remove Facebook connections I haven’t been in touch with in a year.
- Fire up Level, and/or update my Mint.com account.
- Log everything I buy that is not immediately consumable (ie no worries about dinners, etc).
- Camp before christmas for up to a week. This is a luxury I have, as I’m traveling home on the 25th and should have time before. But some good camping/surfing time without distractions.
- Fly carry on only, for a week+ trip. I’m usually at or close to this, so shouldn’t be hard. Except if I need to snowboard - harder then.
- Ask specifically for nothing for Christmas, and buy nothing on Boxing Day. Shouldn’t be too hard, as our family doesn’t have a very consumptive christmas.
- (Ironically maybe) Invest in good stuff. Repair my Loake’s soles. Buy 2 more Icebreaker shirts (these can be worn much more often between washes and last forever).
- Identify what I’d like to have instead of stuff.
- Continue to meditate. (and probably a bunch of the same focus stuff that stuck).
We’ll see how this goes. I’m not so much anti-materialism here, but more pro-simplicity. And the idea for me isn’t just to get rid of stuff, but to reduce stuff to near the minimum needed for real utility and enjoyment. A side idea is to reduce cognitive/memory overhead associated with managing my life (put things on autopilot, feel that the right stuff is being taken care of without stress). But that’s probably a whole month in itself.
(Thanks to Mike for a couple of great suggestions here. He’s been doing this for a long time.)