Service

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The week before last, we lost a dear friend to cancer.  Deb was an incredibly sweet, caring and giving person.  The memorial service last weekend was held at the elementary school where she taught first grade for the past 15 years.  The room was decorated — to the hilt — with hearts, butterflies, and ribbons, all in her favorite color purple, and was covered in notes of love and appreciation from students, parents and colleagues.

During and after the service, I was overwhelmed by two feelings: first, the incredible compassion and caring that Deb exuded, in particular towards her family and students.  It was palpable, and hung in the air long after the service was concluded.  And second: the weight of the impact she had on all of the people she touched during her life.  A friend of ours was remarking, after the ceremony, how lucky Deb was to be in a position to connect with, support, and serve so many people during her time here.

All of this has gotten me to thinking more about how much most of us get caught up in our own day-to-day anxieties and challenges, and how hard it can be, sometimes, to see over your own dashboard, so to speak.  Myself included.  It’s so easy to get hung up in our own personal challenges, desires, frustrations, anxieties and disappointments.

The great irony in this, is that one of the best ways to get out of your own shit, is to put yourself in the back seat and focus on serving others. I know Deb dealt with shyness and anxiety herself, and I suspect that this only added to her empathy when it came to supporting her family, friends and students.

Every time I have managed to do this in my life, the result has not only been to provide some sort of useful help (I hope), but also to quell the internal drama. In other words, perhaps the best way to escape from our own suffering is to help other people escape theirs. There are lots of ways to do this, many of which come naturally through the course of your day and are just a matter of reframing your own mindset, as opposed to finding something brand new (though that’s important too).

After Deb passed, we couldn’t help but notice her in the wind, and the sun, and the evening mist.  Her energy may have left her body, but it certainly hasn’t left the world.  And what I am trying to do is remember the power of her energy, and the importance of using whatever energy we all have, today and tomorrow, in the service of others.

Changing seasons

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Today is the last day of September, and I’m happy and relieved to see it go. I’ve been holding my breath. September is a violent month.  That may seem like a ridiculous thing to say, but I think there’s some truth in it.  Something about the end of the summer and the abrupt change to… Read more »

Labor Day: Project Repat

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Yesterday, in the process of cleaning out my closet and donating a bunch of old clothes, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: got going creating a t-shirt quilt for my old “sentimental” t-shirts.  I’m a bit of a t-shirt hoarder, especially when it comes to shirts that memorialize some special… Read more »

Optimizing for energy

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In the world of startups and investing and ideas, things are always chaotic and fluid, and as such a key skill is to somehow cut through the noise and find focus.  That’s on a micro level, like what do I do for the next five minutes, and on the macro level, like am I (or… Read more »

On the blockchain: platform first or app first?

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I was emailing with a friend recently, who asked: “On the web, in order to build a platform you first need a hit app. Do you think this dynamic is different in blockchain?” It’s a great question, and one I have been thinking about a lot lately.  First, let’s unpack the idea that the way… Read more »

Who should police content on the Internet?

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The beauty, and the danger, of the internet is that it’s open to everyone.  Anyone can put up a website, about pretty much anything.  This “open platform” is an amazing thing, and means that innovation can come from all corners, without barriers or gatekeepers.  It also introduces new challenges for how to deal with the… Read more »

Learning by doing

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I had lunch yesterday with someone who has been investing in the crypto / token space recently — having pooled together a small “fund” from friends and family.  It’s a short-term vehicle (like, 6 months), and a large part of the goal is simply to become hands-on familiar / capable investing in token sales /… Read more »

Keeping it simple

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We recently had our daughter’s birthday party, and we held it in a public park near our house, where there’s an old parks department building.  The sun plan was outdoors, but of course it thunderstormed and we didn’t have a back-up plan.  So we called an audible and asked if we could use the back… Read more »

What’s your medium?

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Yesterday, I caught up with my old friend Gary Chou.  Gary was the first General Manager of the USV Portfolio Network (predating Brittany and Bethany), and has since been running Orbital, a community space and “studio for building networks” (which happens to be in the original Kickstarter building on the Lower East Side).  We got… Read more »

Speaking page

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I’ve been doing more public speaking recently, and finally assembled videos into a single place: https://www.nickgrossman.is/speaking/ As I look at that list, I realize that I’ve been doing a ton of speaking in Europe. Of course I know this, because I was there, but didn’t quite realize the pattern that the majority of my recently… Read more »

Getting Help

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I’m on vacation this week, and we have some old friends and their family staying with us.  Last night we got to talking about therapy (like psychotherapy) and how valuable it has been for me over the past few years. Maybe four years ago I started seeing a therapist on a bi-weekly basis.  There were… Read more »

The joy of fixing things up

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I am on a plane right now, watching home renovation shows on HGTV, thinking about how much fun it is to fix things up. Doing projects around the house (last year I built an exterior staircase and made new kitchen countertops, the year before that I built a mudroom), coding and buding apps, and working… Read more »

Getting in over your head

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I was out last night with some of the little league coach dads, and we got to talking about whether it’s better for our kids to be bumped up a level (but be at the lower end of skills/experience) or stay back a level and have a chance to really excel.  The consensus was that… Read more »

For web platforms considering a token strategy: cryptocurrency vs. dollars?

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A lot of founders / teams have been asking if they should be adopting a cryptocurrency strategy.  This is understandable given the frenzy of fundraising recently and the ongoing dialogue about the potential for cryptocurrencies as an alternative business model for web platforms. As “traditional” web & mobile platforms explore this option, there are a… Read more »

A little better every day

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I just got done coaching my son’s baseball practice. It has been amazing to watch this group of 7 and 8 year olds improve over the course of the season – learning the fundamentals and now starting to make some pretty great plays. I had a great baseball coach as a kid.  I’ll never forget the… Read more »

Entering the world of smart contracts

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One thing that’s interesting about yesterday’s Basic Attention Token sale is how quickly it went – $36M transacted in 30 sec. Lots of people were surely disappointed as they attempted to buy into the token sale only to have their orders canceled for missing the sale window. I haven’t nailed this down for certain, but I suspect… Read more »

Mechanics of the token sale

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In case you missed it, today Brave raised $36M for the Basic Attention Token.  They had allocated 30 days for the token sale, but sold out of 1B BAT in 24 seconds. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) ICO just raised 30 million dollars in 24 seconds. VC’s didn’t even have time to put on a sweater… Read more »

Open source leadership vs. corporate leadership

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As cryptocurrencies and blockchains have continued to gain steam (and attract capital), a common question in the air is, what type of leader does it take to be successful in this space? A common variant on that question is: “will [leader] need a grownup in the room once they get ahold of all that money from… Read more »

Regulating source code

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As more areas of our economy become computerized and move online, more and more of what regulators need to understand will be in the source code. For example, take the VW emissions scandal: These days, cars are an order of magnitude more complex, making it easier for manufacturers to hide cheats among the 100 million… Read more »