Welcome to the April edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- Sara’s Baby: Sara Rodriguez, our COO, had a healthy baby girl, Alba, on April 13th (see photo attached). It’s just the best news.
- Funders + Mobile Tech Ventures: We hosted a funder convening in Denver for entrepreneurs in our Visible Connectcohort, a portfolio of ventures using mobile technology to create impact. We’re launching the next year of this accelerator with our partner Visible today. Spread the word!
- April Fools: We launched an April Fool’s Day prank that too many people took seriously.
Idea on my mind:
User Experience and Human Engagement: Recently we were co-hosting a gathering with Gary Community Investments and other experts in the early/young childhood space on the drivers of impact and opportunities for innovation, and someone made an off-handed comment that stuck with me: “We can attribute the majority of positive outcomes in healthcare and education to successfully engaging the humans involved.” That might seem obvious, but it’s a good reminder that the right solution with the wrong user experience is no solution at all. The best intervention without sensitivity to the human interaction will fail. Have we over-engineered solutions while under-designing their relationship to humans? IDEO and Ford think so, and we do, too. We’re re-examining our initiatives to explore how we can better design for breakthroughs, long-lasting connection, and profound insight for the humans involved.
Therapy not strategy. Most books on leadership and business strategy don’t go deep enough. They stay in the shallow waters of strategic frameworks, decision-making matrices, and hackneyed anecdotes. Rarely do they plumb the depths of our underlying psychology. Perhaps the best strategic investment we can make is not reading the latest edition of Harvard Business Review, but instead more time with a counselor exploring our own interior landscape. I say this as someone who reads many of the latest business books AND who finds himself on the plush couch in my therapist’s office, so consider me hypocritical or just hedging my bets, but my point is beneath every strategic question is a set of other questions: what is your relationship to risk? Are you actually - actually - willing to suffer that blow to ego that accompanies failure? How has your past led to a mindset of scarcity or abundance? Courageous strategy comes from courageous humans, and often that strategy sits on the other side of doing this deep, messy, psychological work. The most important relationship a leader has is not with their team or their board or their partners. It is the relationship with themselves.
Can you help?
- Have you come across advisory boards that are actually awesome? Where people don’t feel under-utilized or over-utilized. What makes them great?
- I’m looking for advice from people who have successfully taken their business development/sales team from one person to two people. How did you scope roles and divide responsibilities?
What I’m reading:
- The controversial charity that is paying out bonuses to its employees by accepting donations generated from stock options derived from tech-startup acquisitions and IPOs. Here.
- Canada has reduced its poverty rate by 20% from 2015 to 2017. How the neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach has changed the complexion of poverty.
- The growing body of evidence of how trees might reduce crime. Here.
- The conservative argument against gun control that has nothing to do with guns: the debate raging in Parkland, Florida that is splitting the community in the wake of the 2018 shooting. Here.
I go about my days mostly ignoring the reality of outer space. But then something will happen that will create a little Copernican Revolution in my worldview, and I’ll spend 15 minutes losing my mind contemplating the expansiveness of outer space, the insignificance of our earthly existence, and if humans are mistakenly placing truth and mystery as opposites on a spectrum of epistemology. Usually these metaphysical moments will be interrupted by unhelpfully pedestrian epiphanies about remembering to schedule a dentist appointment or the need to feed my parking meter, but fortunately I had three such moments in April as 1) scientists revealed the first picture of a black hole, 2) the Hubble Telescope turned 29 years old, which was an excuse to release some of the best Hubble images over the years, and 3) today is Day 2 of an asteroid drill.
Call your mom to say hi*,