From Shanghai

I feel so welcomed. I got to catch a buddy of mine who’s working on Dyad, a company that helps Chinese students navigate the application ecosystem into top international universities. It’s a broad problem to solve, but those problems are where the best of entrepreneurship should be focused. We spent two hours doing breakfast and dove into a lot of different things that I want to make mention of:

  • spaces to experiement & have low-impact failure is gold. college environments are great in supporting that for entrepreneurship. The ‘real’ world doesn’t look that way.
  • on a singular and social level we can create safer spaces by not taking ourselves too seriously. Learning from Worldfaith’s mantra: We don’t have to take ourselves seriously to take our work seriously. Turn down the pressure. Let people be people and find whats best about them, plan around that. It’s probably good to know what you’re good/not so good at too if your plans involve others. Sometimes you’ll learn by fire, but wouldn’t it be great if the fire was a little lower–we’d all walk away with new lessons and fewer scars.
  • on an institutional level lack of justice/income inequality and a large variance in ‘the American experience’ can be to blame for some of this unfriendliness in our real world. what do those solutions look like? Job training programs? Maybe.
  • if we just train for the vocation are we putting folks into a peg & leaving them there? What about the larger potential of people. Can we solve both of those problems viably in this economic model?
  • mental models. find yours. the most effective people seem to hold a couple.
  • you’re on your journey. They’re on theirs. Don’t compare your story to someones highlight reel.
  • something I took away (hypothesis): highly functioning groups of people seem to be centered around people who are focused on individual self-development.

Be honest. Be yourself. Speak your truth. There’s tons of life to be lived–Live it. Living your curiosity might be non-traditional, but being different is not a requirement. Find something you want to do and then find a way of making it happen. For us–right now–that is finding ways to make living abroad work. It wasn’t until our conversation today that I realized I’d earned a place in that crew.

Journeys are long. Life can afford us the priviledge of walking with others. Don’t feel compelled to walk with anyone and don’t feel the need to abruptly end a journey. One foot in front of the other, eyes straight and remain open to the possiblity of your paths crossing–or not. It’s all in good fun.

Onwards & Upwards, from Shanghai.

Advertisements

The Affairs of Life wrote today on the lens we see each other through: friends, acquaintances, frenemies. It’s true: everyone’s just figuring life out. Yeah, for some folks it looks different–and if it is indeed better– hoorah to them. Let’s celebrate them for doing them and us for doing us.

Don’t compare your journey to their highlight reel. We’ve all got a path to walk.

++if folks belittle you or make you feel as less, remember that you’re dope simply because you exist. No job makes you adequate. Your breathing and your presence does.++

Onwards and Upwards. Along this journey we go.

 

My friend Nikhita Kamath shared her #MeToo experience, capping them off with these powerful words:

Just a reminder that every male can choose to be the guy who adds to the problem, or they can choose to be the guy who stands up against it… and not just in words, but in actions.

Then my friend Sahil Rahman posted to say:
I’m not a bad man, I’m not a good guy, I’m waking up within a rape culture learning everyday what it means to feed life instead of stealing it. #itwasme
– Copy/paste if you have ever contributed to harassment and rape culture or failed to confront or prevent it. Don’t leave it up to the women, gender non-conforming folks, and smaller number of men who have suffered sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, to address a problem they didn’t cause.”
#Iwill keep educating myself on the issue and would love to engage in dialogue with those who want to delve deeper into what we can do and where we can go from here.

 

It’s wild what we run from

When I was packing up my apartment in Brooklyn and thinking about all my travels a friend of mine told me to consider what are you running from and what are you running towards. I’ve considered that question a lot, particularly as this year has wholly and solely been about travel.

I’m running towards a wider lens.

More cultural understanding, more languages, more relationships, more on-the-ground experiences. Some of that culminated this morning when a VC that I follow, Fred Wilson, wrote about his experience in Shanghai Bikeshare and how we’d like to see NYC take some lessons from them.

To the passing eye Ofo & all the companies out there are great–I love the services and price point they provide, but an a quick in-market perspective shows that there are larger issues to having.

Here’s what he wrote

I’m a big Citibike user in NYC. I take it to and from work sometimes. I take it to and from the ferries a lot. And I use it to get twenty or thirty blocks in 5-10 mins when I don’t have the time to walk it.But one thing I don’t like about Citibike is the anxiety around having an empty docking spot at your preferred destination kiosk. If there are no empty docks, you have to go to the nearest one in search of an empty dock. I’ve sometimes had to try three or four kiosks which is very frustrating.

Here in Shanghai, they do things a bit differently, and I think a bit better.

The bike share bikes are everywhere that we’ve been in Shangahi but they don’t dock in kiosks. They just lock up when you end your ride and the next person unlocks them with an app on their phone.

And here’s what I was able to reply with:

Adding some context that may not be immediately visible: with the lack of docking infrastructure in that bikes get left all over/muddled up in heaps. Those firms (ofo, etc) pay trucks to go collect them from around the city/where they are & disperse them around the city. That wasn’t built infrastructure, originally the government was tasked with the cleanup—citizens weren’t happy.
This is doable in China with low labor/transport costs, but I dont want it to seem like that doesn’t impact burn rate—it does.
Financing these companies, and accounting for the competitive rates that the 4,5 bike share companies have played into (way under market pricing), means a lot of TBD floating capital investments (that have also led to bloated valuations [read: Ofo].
I wonder how decentralizing bikeshare in NYC can work for investors/stakeholders.
I wonder what we can learn from their bumps/bruises to have a softer landing here at home.
Cheers from sunny Harlem,
These are insights that couldn’t exist unless someone spent some time in Beijing/Shanghai. I’ve got ways to go on my Mandarin and I don’t expect to be fluent anytime soon—or maybe never, but I’m eager for the adventures I’m on seeing the world and beginning to see how they may materialize for clients, companies, and maybe someday investors that finance built infrastructure.
How amazing it would be if this could culminate to influence more opportunity for communities that I identify with [traditionally not thought about] through new business and better infrastructure.
Next stop: Delhi. (next week though 😉 )

Stand Up

Donald Trump is never going to not be a President of the United States. His name will forever be memorialized in history books–even if he’s impeached. Trump’s name will never disappear.

It happened. All he had to do was win. He did (sortof).

Sortof is what the world looks like today. Where the winning isn’t possible in more ways than the one we’re focused on. It sucks–for sure. And it should cause enough public institutional mistrust that the issue gets fixed, but that’s not happening.

Why isn’t it happening? I wager because we’re talking against each other. It’s not just against the other side that we need to stand up against. We need to stand up against ignorance–against flawed ideas–against anti-intellectualism.

That means when someone might say hey I get it, they’re just lesser educated, less exposed, and coming into it with these preconceived biases. It’s not their fault and I feel so bad for them. 

Let’s call that out for what it is, belittling.

Anti-intellectualism seems to often result from groupthink. This is politically blind. This is identity neutral. Everyone has a story. Everyone has an experience. Let’s meet people where they are and walk them back. Let’s expand their view. Let’s call them out for skipping a few logical steps–let’s also call each other out for the same.

Love the person. Tackle the issue.

We can grow from this. Trump may never be erased from our history, but let’s make sure to scrub clean what his actions and words have represented by standing up, with each other.

Circle back

Buy an old friend lunch. Learn about where they’re at. Where they want to go. Talk about your mutual friends.

Call a college buddy. Talk about their new relationship. Maybe they just got married. What’s that like? Tell them about where you’re at. Talk about college stuff. Sports-Science-Homecoming.

Text someone in your family. Maybe it’s your mom. Your pops. Maybe an older cousin that positively impacted you. Check in to see what’s on their mind. Make sure they’re okay.

Circle back with your village. Reconnect.

“There is a point where you’re not supposed to be full of potential…Potential is a glimpse of what could be, yet there must be a shift from where we have potential to where we are potent…A life well lived squeezes all of the potential placed within and does something with it.”

– Erwin McManus, The Uprising

Potential is the notion of hope, but endless hope is worthless. It’s akin to the sunflower seed that never gets planted. To the brilliant scientist in third grade who’s never able to return to exploring sciences as an adult. To the couple who felt hope, but never clircled back and closed the deal.

Potential + Action matters most.