2017: Personal recap of a year in business

This time last year I knew I would start a company at some point, but had no idea what that would look like. In an oddly natural progression of events, here we are. I went in with three simple requirements:

  • Build things that are wildly useful
  • Build things that do good for people
  • Build a company where people can be wildly successful

Since formally starting in June we've built a robust, stable beta product and signed two paying customers on year subscriptions, both of which are doing great things for people. We've been diligent in making sure the team is set up to succeed from being thorough in hiring, taking the time to understand motivations and goals to making tough decisions.

Throughout the year we've faced a few challenges that I wasn't sure how we'd navigate, but the most important thing has been navigating them nonetheless. You may know that I am not one to avoid confrontation. We wouldn't be here without the hard conversations and hard decisions made rapidly. You may also know I am fairly good at asking for help. We would not be here without everyone who has taken the time, even if for one conversation, to provide insight into process, ideas and realities I haven't experienced. For sitting down with me, giving very tangible support in feedback and introductions. Thank you.

What I've not been the best at is being patient – sometimes a good thing when looking at our pace this year, sometimes a bad thing for breathing normally, being flexible and chilling out on the emails :) I've not been great at celebrating our wins – our monthly update is one of the only times I succinctly acknowledge what we've accomplished.

Which has made this last week of the year interesting. I've been forced to sit and be patient and acknowledge everything that has happened and potentially going to happen.

And that brings me to a more critical learning. In the last quarter of 2017 I became very focused on the optimal path to reaching our maximum potential that was based on a mix of data points and assumptions. I got stuck there. And with each detour we powered through, but those detours took more of my attention at times then I would have liked them to (because I was thinking about how they made that path less optimal). This is amusing to me because as someone who has built a lot of software, I know very well things don't have one path to success. Acknowledging the realities of the challenges and opportunities we face is an important part of the process.

So where I would like to personally improve this year is in being more flexible in the how and more focused on the potential. And in taking moments to look at what we've accomplished, not just for myself, but for everyone contributing.

I'm very excited about this year. There are a lot of really good things that will happen. Some things I'm most excited about right now (more on all of this to come):

  • E-commerce expansion and Facebook's interest in improving marketer's experiences with Messenger, as well as Instagram's standalone messaging
  • Hiring, and our onboarding process that includes mapping employee personal goals and styles in their first month. Tracking to those means a higher functioning team out the gate.
  • An mvp program for underrepresented founders, leveraging the platform to provide new business opportunities while identifying vertical opportunities and growing our community base.
  • Addressing how this industry operates, and how it can work to capture the opportunity in founders of different backgrounds

I’d love to hear your thoughts, if any of this resonates or if there’s a realization I may be missing. If there are things I can help you with or celebrate. Or just to say hi!

If you’re interested in a more in-depth personal follow along I’ll be writing a weekly newsletter to chronicle the starting up and running of business — you can sign up here.

Happy new year 😊

Love, an Aunt

Last night my sister in law gave birth to a boy, and I am now an aunt! I didn't sleep much because I was worried something terrible might happen, which could be due to too much Jane the Virgin, but could also be because my mom sent this Seinfeld-esque text message:

I didn't really feel like it was happening until I got this message, took a second to realize it was her giving birth and not something terrible, then immediately burst into tears. But before this, and ever since I found out she was pregnant, I thought a lot about my brother and his wife as parents.

They're going to be great parents.

I was trying to plan a time to come visit Alyson before she gave birth, while she was working from home. I figured she'd be stuck on the couch and could use a buddy. I tried to insist that we didn't need to do anything but she kept making all these plans for us. This is a recurring thing, and no matter how exhausted she is from traveling or hosting or just generally doing things she will always make plans and make sure it's everything I want when I'm there. Then I tried to make plans for after she gave birth, to meet the baby and help them out. She insisted that the longer I wait the more fun it would be. I couldn't believe that in the one time of her life she could be the most selfish she just wouldn't do it. But she takes care of people, she takes such good care of me. She's matter-of-fact and generous and absolutely hilarious. I love her so much.

Jeff got a snapchat account a few weeks ago and has been posting silly face videos where he tells terrible pun dad jokes. I can't believe it really but he's already there, he is full on dad. He's also the person I looked up to most for most of my life. He's the kind of person that everyone wants to be friends with, and always surrounds himself with the very kindest people, and even though things have definitely been so hard for him he just keeps on going and he's doing so great. He was that kind of jerk brother that would beat you up and call you fat but also that good kind that said if you ever did drugs he'd kill you. But then you found out he was smoking weed and so you smoked together and just loved him even more. I'm really proud of my brother, and I love him so much. I wouldn't be who I am without him, and I've always wished I got to spend more time with him which seems weird but I just can't get enough. He is going to be such a great dad.

I've taken care of myself more than anyone else most of my life. But when I'm with them I feel so taken care of. We'll go out for dinner and Jeff will drive us home so we can drink too much wine and then we'll watch a movie and I'll fall asleep on the couch, but Jeff makes me go to bed so he can play video games without waking me up. And I'll get up in the morning and they'll ask how the temperature of my room was and Jeff will make bacon because it's really the only breakfast thing he likes to eat. I know they probably think all of this stuff is dumb but it means the world to me. I love them so much.

I honestly always wanted Jeff to be more overbearing in my life, to make up for when my dad wasn't around. He wouldn't do it, really, but it wouldn't have been fair for him to anyway. He did always give me plenty of shit for almost starting bar fights a few too many times. On the other hand Alyson would applaud my ability to fall asleep in bars, break up with boys, and dance so much, then hold my hair so I could puke in the front yard. I love them so much.

We haven't had it easy. But they're gonna do so right by this kid, and I'm going to try hard to be a good aunt. I hadn't been able to figure out why I'm so emotional about this but I'm sure I'm jealous. I'm jealous of how much pure unconditional unwavering and never-ending love this kid is going to get. The kind that I don't know, and don't know I ever will. He's one lucky kid. And I already love him so much.

Eclipse

Things I'm taking out

  • People who aren't available for me
  • People who aren't seeking the best
  • My nature of accommodation
  • Food delivery

Things I'm bringing back

  • Helping people
  • Excellence & productivity
  • Dancing
  • Waxing
  • Patience

Peach & Fade

Tagged 100daysofmood, the100dayproject, madethis

Today Is the Last Day Of Me Working For Someone Else

Tagged Paloma, startup, working

When people ask me about my work history I have a lot of stories I could tell. I could talk about the job where I made some of the best friends I still have. Where I met some of the most unfriendly people in New York who were mean and bad to me. The job where I learned what advertising was, how to get ahead, how not to get ahead, and how systemic racism is in the industry.

I could talk about the job where I saw what good and bad management looked like, learned how to work within product teams, and became a feminist after experiencing significant sexism. I could talk about the job where I lived the closest to a sorority lifestyle I'll ever get, and experienced one of the many cocktails of how a startup can fail.

I could talk about the job where I just wasn't set up to succeed. Where other people's insecurities kept me from doing the things I love and am good at. I could talk about the job where despite how much I spoke out against sexist and racist behaviors they still informed hiring and daily life. The job where I was hired for my extraordinary product skills and yet astounded people when I simply held an efficient meeting.

Instead I laugh off the question of why I left all of that behind.

"I don't make a great employee :)"

My grandfather, an ex-marine, always says he never would have made it in the private sector – he'd get fired too much. After being let go twice and quitting a few jobs just because, I can very much relate.

It's true. I don't make a good employee. I can see what's wrong and I will always try to fix it. In the countless interviews I've done at startups and companies across New York over the past few years I became very good at pointing out what exact details of a situation would lead to my demise. Whether it was how someone treated me in an interview, the company org structure or compensation package. I have plenty of stories about all of those.

But I took some sort of pride in wanting to make it work. Someone once told me they were amazed that despite my ability to critically assess these situations I somehow continued to want to get a job somewhere. Maybe it was just that I really enjoy working on a product, with a team. Whatever it was, I'm also not a believer in starting a company for the sake of it. I believe in solving problems.

It just so happened that in my last, defeated, batch of free time I began to solve a problem. And generated a fantastic opportunity. In the most natural progression of events that could probably have happened, I began starting a company and roped in so many great people to help along the way. We're in the earliest of stages, working on our very first beta. And having raised some angel funding, I am going to focus on making it as wildly successful as it can possibly be.

Today is my last day working for someone else. Hopefully for a very long time.