Uncharted Insider - November 2020
Welcome to the November edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- New Mobile Tech Ventures: Our team has selected the third cohort of Visible Connect ventures. From a mobile lifeline to support the trans community to technology used to connect incarcerated people with their families, we’re very excited about this group of extraordinary entrepreneurs.
- Book Club: The Uncharted Board is reading The Revolution Will Not Be Funded in a Board Book Club for the next few months and exploring how power and money influence Uncharted’s mission.
- New Values: As our organization grows and matures, and as our team evolves, so do our values. For only the second time since our founding, we’ve refreshed our company's values. Check them out here.
On Systems versus Goals
We’re in a strategic planning season where all the talk is around setting ambitious objectives and goals for 2021. But it seems like there is something illogical about setting an ambitious goal but not changing anything else about your daily routines to get there. Some of the most successful people (by goal standards) are surprisingly unfocused on outcomes. Octavia Butler, the prolific Black science fiction writer, recognized that the key to writing was to “write every day no matter what.”* Another example of how small, daily investments on the margins compound into exponential results is the story of the British cycling team, who had been notorious losers for years. But under new coaching, they registered five Tour de France victories in six years by looking for 1% improvements everywhere. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, writes that “winners and losers have the same goals” and that “if you want better results, forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” One of Uncharted’ s weekly “systems” is the 4-day workweek, which has shifted how we think about prioritizing and de-prioritizing. What are the daily or weekly routines, practices, and systems you will bring into 2021?
*Check out the daily rituals and routines of successful women in these very cool infographics.
On being slightly wrong in public
Would you rather be a fast learner in a learning-scarce environment, or a slow learner in a learning-rich environment? I think I'd choose the learning-rich environment, which has me thinking about how to create the conditions where learning is inevitable, regardless of innate ability. Business and investing podcast host Patrick O’Shaughnessy once said, “The fastest way to learn is to be slightly wrong in public.” Too wrong, and people will write you off as crazy. But slightly wrong, and people will correct you and point out your blind spots. His comment about being slightly wrong in public was in the context of interviewing Cathie Wood, an investor of longshot innovations in the public markets. Her firm, ARK Invest, has pioneered the concept of crowdsourced research where they heavily leverage social media to distribute all of their investing research in the hopes that people will battle-test it and improve it. She’s been credited with bringing an open-source ethos to Wall Street. When it comes to betting on long-term innovation, Cathie argues there is a premium on not being wrong: “If we make an incorrect assumption and then carry it out, we’re going to make an exponential mistake.” Whether it’s betting on the next technology or advancing in our antiracist journey, there is perhaps no greater learning environment than being slightly wrong in public.
Can you help?
We are looking for introductions to wealth advisors, family offices, and individual funders who are interested in working to address economic inequality and advance economic justice with our new initiative on closing wealth gaps launching in 2021 (we've raised $3.5+ million so far). If you know of people, please reach out directly and we can share more details.
What I am reading
- Is inequality inevitable? Bill Gates and Rashida Jones's second episode on their new podcast discusses inequality in the US. They interview Raj Chetty, Harvard economist, and Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton, CA.
- The COVID vaccine’s impact on our ecological habitat. How horseshoe crab blood is a vital ingredient in the COVID vaccines and why it will destabilize the Red Knot bird population. Here.
- We are at a crossroads for gender equality in the workplace. McKinsey’s data-rich report on Women in the Workplace in 2020.
- Charles Koch has regrets about how his philanthropy fueled partisanship. Here.
- To the victor goes the responsibility to tear down the system. The story of the trust fund kids dismantling the capitalist system.
- Uncharted Press: Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, interviewed me for his podcast on Uncharted’s 4-day workweek.
When we shifted to a 4-day workweek, I decided to learn Spanish. Despite my Puerto Rican heritage, I chose French instead of Spanish in school, which has meant I’ve often felt like an imposter with a last name like Benitez. But 2020 was my year. Through a friend, I found an outstanding Spanish teacher based in Mendoza, Argentina, and we have a 30-minute lesson from 7:30 am - 8 am every day before work, with an hour every Friday and sometimes an hour on Sundays. One of life’s great joys is to be a beginner at something: the learning curve is steep, the progress is fast, and the mistakes are many. There is no time for ego and all the time for curiosity.