Uncharted Insider - July 2020
Welcome to the July edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- New Uncharted board and team members: Tracey Stewart has joined as an Uncharted Board member and Emily Mochizuki Lutyens has joined as a Program Manager.
- Impact Report: We published our Impact Report this week. For every dollar that goes to Uncharted, our ventures generate $8.12 in funding within two years that they directly attribute to Uncharted’s support.
- Partnership with Facebook: We kicked off the Community Accelerator with Facebook, where we’re focusing on equipping impactful online communities with the training, mentorship, and funding to grow.
- Hiring for a Managing Director: We are hiring a Managing Director. Referrals requested (see below).
- 4-day workweek: We are 2/3rds of the way through our 4-day workweek experiment, and it has gone well so far. Next month, we’ll be wrapping up our three-month experiment and working with our external evaluator to determine next steps.
In 2019, we moved to an OKR-based performance and strategic planning structure. Since then, I’ve been thinking about accountability and its philosophical underpinnings. It seems like there are two possible philosophical roots to accountability. The first says: “I believe that without accountability, people will stray and be unfocused.” The second says: “I believe that with accountability, people can achieve far more than they thought possible.” In other words, we either think accountability is a medicine or a vitamin. For the person being held accountable, these underpinnings show up as either feeling so distrusted that accountability is a form of oppression, or feeling so trusted that accountability is an invitation to step into power they didn’t know they had. I’d guess that those being held accountable are far more aware of which philosophical underpinning is being employed than the one employing it. Perhaps that manager’s choice of which type of accountability has everything to do with the presence of fear in their own lives.
On Male Fragility
I’ve been noticing my own white fragility these last few months after the murder of George Floyd, and it has been an education long overdue for me: to see myself in racial terms, to understand how I benefit from a culture of white supremacy, to reckon with my complicity. But white fragility is just one of many interconnected fragilities: there is also male fragility. I was reminded of how pervasive that fragility is after hearing Congresswoman AOC’s speech last week where she eloquently and powerfully spoke about representative Ted Yoho’s verbal abuse aimed at her and his non-apology apology. From his initial abuse to his subsequent deflections, his behavior has strikingly similar origins to much of the behavior characterized as white fragility. We can’t look at a culture of white supremacy without understanding its interconnectedness with a culture of patriarchy, and both cultures orbit around the need for preserving power and control. White and male fragility are anchored in fears about preserving power. These fragilities rest on questions of “Is power zero-sum or positive-sum?” And “Is my claim on that power under threat?”
On Good Soldiers vs. Lucky Soldiers
The culture of entrepreneurship often makes the mistake of celebrating the individual and neglecting the collective. We lionize the sole founder and their skill and forget about how each of us, and how each organization, is the product of so many privileges, people, access, history, and luck. While one school of thought says that the greatest entrepreneurs are those in possession of a rare genius or superhuman skill, another school of thought argues that the surrounding conditions have more to do with making entrepreneurs great than some innate ability within them. In this podcast (minute 14:55), Charlie Songhurst, former head of strategy at Microsoft and a prolific angel investor who has invested in 483 startups, argues that we shouldn’t study what makes people successful, but rather study what makes people fail and then simply try to avoid those mistakes. He suggests that it is survival that begets greatness, not greatness that begets survival. Surviving long enough puts someone “up the experience curve” where their environment refines them by training and retraining their minds to be continuously optimized. Songhurst cites a quotation from a military general who said: “It’s not that good soldiers become veterans, it’s that lucky soldiers become veterans, but veterans are good soldiers.” So what? This is an argument rooted in equity. It advocates for betting on more people earlier and believing in them longer.
Can you help?
- We’re hiring a Managing Director. Do you know anyone who would be a great fit? Just forward this email.
- Do you know of family foundations/family offices that are working to close the wealth gap?
- Does anyone have a contact at the Fund II Foundation?
What I am reading
- The typical home in a redlined neighborhood gained $212,023 or 52 percent less than one in a “greenlined” neighborhood over the past 40 years. How racist housing policy is widening the racial wealth gap.
- The history of remote work and why, even with the technology, we are compelled to work together in person. What needs to change to make the future or remote work work.
- The former Mayor of Minneapolis on how the police are forced to stand in the breach created by bad policies from White liberals. Here.
- An interview with Ben and Jerry from Ben & Jerry's about the social justice roots of their ice cream company. Here.
- The elegant poetry and prose of Yung Pueblo. Shared with me by my friend and Uncharted champion, Nicholas Pardon.
- Uncharted press: Uncharted was featured in this Wall Street Journal article about building culture and connection outdoors during the pandemic
I am not a particularly handy person, and I’ve felt insecure about my inability to do everyday home repairs, so when I do manage to repair, build, or figure something out, I’m on top of the world. An unexpected achievement on a Saturday morning is enough to put a spring in my step all the way to Sunday night. So I must tell you that July 2020 will go down as the month with one of my greatest accomplishments to date: I set up a drip irrigation system to automatically water my raised-bed vegetable gardens. It involved Youtube videos, the most complex addition and subtraction equations I’ve done since college, and five separate trips to Home Depot which gave me five opportunities to practice beginner plumbing vocab words and phrases with Nathan, their plumbing aisle expert. I’ll spare you any more details, but the entire thing very much followed the storytelling arc of the “Hero’s Journey.” Anyway, I planted three basil plants, and now I have too much, so come on by if you have plans to make pesto.
May we aspire to make “good trouble,”