🌈 ✨ vol. 31 / interim /

The heat of July gives me the perfect excuse to swim, to sweat, to cry, to realize how fast the world is changing and how stagnant it’s been.

The waking have one world 

In common. Sleepers

Meanwhile, turn aside, each

Into a darkness of his own. 

— Heraclitus

Hello beautiful people —

The heat of July gives me the perfect excuse to swim, to sweat, to cry, to realize how fast the world is changing and how stagnant it’s been.

For the past week, I met with a few people who had ideas for startups. The general theme is that they all want to disrupt an industry and build the next billion dollar company. The drive genuinely inspires me, but when I’ve asked about their progress and what they have been doing, none of them told me they’ve been building the actual solution. They did, however, conducted market research, networked with some prominent people in the industry, and set up the social media account.

The pursuit of faux progress and vanity metric is what we’re accustomed to as products of our education. The intrinsic need for external validation, recognition, and brand signals has been the most effective motivator for many bright minds, yet they also become a primary source of distraction when they want to make meaningful progress. It’s a lot easier to pitch as “Uber for X”, and easier to follow whatever the winners are already doing. When getting into a specific accelerator becomes an effort for the signal’s sake, the likelihood of the ideas to succeed lowers.

When we all start to compete on the same metrics, it’s a lot easier to hack the way to earn more status. The paradox is that the more obvious the parameter, the less likely the effort is useful. We still latch onto them, as they are just that much more tangible.

I battle every day with the fear of not making an impact but also the fear of doing “nothing”. It’s just so easy to feel left behind by the rapid changes in our immediate environment, yet is change really happening that fast?

Our idea of exponential change is much-driven by the media narrative. Yes, we now have new ways to connect with others, to consume and create content, to exchanging good and services through shared economy and blockchain technologies. But the important and much harder problems like cancer, climate change, education, how big things move around, and effective governance remain unsolved.

I went to the exhibition on the last industrial revolution driven by factories and machines at the de Young Museum last summer, and it’s uncanny the media rhetorics surrounding technology in the past century has remained almost identical. I joked that if we replaced “machines” with “AI” in these headlines, no one would’ve noticed.

Charles Sheeler, "Church Street El", 1920
Charles Sheeler, Church Street El, 1920. Oil on canvas

In reality, change is not exponential but a series of S-curves. There are periods of frenzy, and there are quiet periods. There are books like “the Hard Things about Hard Things,” and a few other honest inquiries into the hardship of building meaningful ventures. Not enough attention is given to portray the realistic pace of innovation. To pursue big ideas and significant breakthroughs means to abstain from vanity metric (claps for posts, # of fans, # of dollars raised etc.) and immediate recognition (landing a cool gig at x firm, connects with someone famous etc.). But those metrics are what the current media applauds and amplifies. Maybe the kind of stories I want to put forward as a storyteller in venture is the opposite. It's the brokenness, temperaments, biases, and flaws of the building process that I want to capture.

Image result for s curve innovation

The restless minds fresh out of a college are filled with impatient ideas, myself included, and in the midst of the heat I’ve found my restlessness parasitizing my mental clarity.

Plato articulated the limits of intellectuals in The Republic by describing that the world can only be put into order if “philosophers becomes kings or kings philosophers.” He implied that thinkers should stop imagining that ideas alone can ever change reality. “Kingship” is required to hold the world together by laws, practices, institutions, financial structures, businesses, and government. Improvements won’t be made until all legions align on the mission and tread through the unglamorous paths together — the ultimate vision of what this tiny newsletter could lead to.

I’ve been indulging in daydreaming, but I know it's time for me to go back in the field do some real work.

Happy summer,

Tina


My keyboard broke and probably need to get it fixed. Maybe it's a sign for me to keep this one shorter as an interim issue.

I want to take the time to personally say thank you to those who reached out and express interest in becoming part of this community, and those who told me my writing has uplifted or informed them in some way. I will not stop writing, and I've been chatting with a group of friends to make good stuff happen as a collective.

This newsletter has led to some of the life-changing relationships with people who are determined to make the world better. For that, I will eternally be grateful.

A community that brings together impact-driven thinkers and makers.

Reply if you want to contribute or just want to be friends. I’m looking for:

  • Community oriented people who are passionate about defining what the future of this community could look like.

  • Wizards who see something in the future that most people don’t.

  • Creators who are in the process of building something magical.

  • Leaders who are eager to lead the discussions on the impact of technologies on our society.

That’s it. I love you. 💙

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