Hello 2020! Here’s a few things that stood out to me this last week:
Basecamp’s New Guide to Internal Communication and the Brilliant “YAQ”
You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating. Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.”– Jason Fried, Co-Founder & CEO, Basecamp.
As a mega fan girl of Jason & DHH’s work at Basecamp, I drooled when I saw this tweet:
Once I discovered Basecamp’s open source Employee Handbook on GitHub, I devoured it. I stayed up way past my bedtime, banging out a rambling and excessively excited email to my boyfriend, elated. I’d discovered a unicorn. Basecamp’s manifesto on responsible growth, marketing, goal setting, communication, employee time off, aligned with mine, except I didn’t know I had a philosophy until I read theirs. Does that even make sense? So when I saw Jason’s tweet that they elaborated specifically on communication, my eyes lit up!
Surprisingly, unlike all of Jason and David’s other divinely inspired feature writing – their book, “It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy at Work”, for instance – I didn’t interpret this guide as the word of God. For instance, I have trouble with this point: Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction in meetings, video conferences, calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt and be interrupted.
Long-form writing? While I treasure long-form writing myself, I don’t think it’s always the best way to communicate at work. “Long form writing” brings to mind many in-depth, carefully emails I’ve crafted to share ideas or make requests. However, it’s taken me a while to understand that the recipient isn’t usually as passionate about reading my long-winded emails as I am about writing them.
Lengthy emails and Slack posts, overly technical & detailed process docs occasionally are the optimal format for communication, but I don’t think long form writing, even if you’re a remote company – especially perfectly crafted long form writing – should be the standard. Punchy, on-the-fly, asynchronous communication is vital to swift moving teams and I think is a healthy sign of a nimble team.
And what about welcomed interruptions? Interruptions can be cost-effective: yes, please do cut me off before I spend an hour formulating this idea based on incomplete information, you’ve already solved it, or otherwise.
I think I’ll write a response to their guide, which is such a good thought starter for me, in a future post. I’d address some of my ideas about communication, e.g. Don’t make assumptions. Question all pronouns. Know your audience. (Yes, even for internal comms). Schedule replies with Boomerang. & more.
Read the rest of the guide (which does make many fantastic points, although is a bit dogmatic – which may be Basecamp’s biggest weakness) here.
OK, and briefly, I also recommend checking out their very clever and also new, alternative to the “FAQ” – the “YesAQ!” A fresh perspective and “one of the smartest formats” for an FAQ – ever. Here’s the original inspiration.
The Flo App
The Flo app is a menstruation and menopause tracking, ovulation calendar, and pregnancy monitoring mobile app. It uses artificial intelligence and data science to monitor women’s health. The application is available on iOS and Android, and I love it, even though they are collecting my data and profting from it. They’re doing some very innovative stuff with their content. I’ve been recommending Flo to every woman I spend more than 5 minutes talking to! (Not true, but sounds nice! Maybe I’ll start.)
I got into the “Flo” after attempting to fill out a women’s-specific health evaluation form my friend Kelsey put together for her nutrition coaching business. Her intake form is badass and super comprehensive. Unfortunately, I could actually barely get past the first section of the form, which entailed lierally the most basic questions about my menstrual cycle. I gave up on the detailed questionnaire, and decided instead to just commit to figuring out when the f*ck my period is every month for starters.
Thanks to the Flo app, decades later, my period does not completely surprise me every single month. I finally understand my cycle, and myself, so much better. Tracking my cycle motivated me to take a trip back to high school biology and refamiliarize myself with the reproductive system, female hormone cycle and menstrual cycle.
Tracking my menstrual cycle now is this weirdly satisfying endeavor. I love seeing patterns play out month to month. For instance, I can actually see when I am ovulating! (TMI?) I also uncovered that I seem to be strongest about 2 days before my period and even on the first day of my period. Additionally, my menstrual cramps, which were never very bad honestly, seem to have completely vanished. I also realized that I am “regular” even though I never thought I was, which helps me feel less like the alien from outer space I think I am and overcome my imposter syndrome to some degree.
However you identify, do yourself a favor and learn more about your body to build a stronger relationship with yourself. Flo has enriched my life and increased my self-love by sending me on this journey of getting to know myself and womenkind much better.
Tamar Adler’s (Gorgeous) Culinary Writing
Want to read whimsical prose published by Vogue on Why Pastured Eggs Are the Perfect Food? Yes, please! Upon declaring to a friend that pastured eggs are superior to cage free and free range eggs, she wanted clarification on what the differences were, which made me realize I needed some lessons, too. Cage free, pasture-raised, and free range are not interchangeable terms. This brought me to Tamar Adler’s lovely article about pastured eggs.
Click here, by the way, to discover the exact differences between the terms “free range,” “cage free” and “pasture raised.” And click here to read about the differences in animal welfare between various humane certifications.
“Commercial chicken eggs (you can call them eggs if you like) are nothing more than a mixture of synthetic feed, chemicals, and hormones. This is not a product of nature but a man made synthetic in the shape of an egg. The farmer who produces vegetables and eggs of this kind, I call a manufacturer.”– Masanobu Fukuoka
Finding Adler’s article so lovely and satisfying to read, I dug for more writing from her. Here’s the most interesting (and only…) article on selecting a chef’s knife I’ve ever read, that will make you want to go on a quest to find the perfect chef’s knife, too. And here’s a link to Tamar’s book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, which I’m adding to my book list, as turning the pages seems like it would be a delightful experience:
A chapter called “How to Have Balance” focuses on bread; “How to Live Well” is devoted to beans. Her message is that cooking does not have to be complicated, and all anyone needs are a few basics to get started. In instructing readers on the art of intuitive cooking, Ms. Adler offers not just cooking lessons, but a recipe for simplifying life.– New York Times
On Critical Funding For Unnecessary Ventures
I was researching the hemp market (I’m interested in it for its clean textile potential) when I stumbled into a most articulate and lovely definition of seed money:
“NC IDEA SEED offers early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster. Our $50K grants are awarded to innovative startups with a proven concept — even if they are not yet profitable. The funds, along with mentorship and guidance, push companies forward and reduce risk associated with growing startups.”– NC IDEA SEED
So many start ups receive “stimulus packages” for completely useless ventures (the Fyre Festival being an extreme example), and I wonder how much better off the world would be if more critical projects to improve lives and the health of the planet received the same critical cash. Here are some examples:
- Conserving finite non-renewable natural resources…
- Rapidly developing zero-emission energy infrastructure like Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy private investment firm
- Preserving and amplifying the message of indigenous cultures and their deep knowledge of living harmoniously with the land which we’re in danger of losing…
I realize there are many niche venture capital firms that do support mission-driven businesses, but so much of the really important work we need to do isn’t going to turn a profit, at least not the kind investors are looking for, is not going to have an obvious exit strategy, and is actually really expensive to test and launch. What do you think about this?
Mohamed Aly El-Erian’s Restrained Perspective on Iran
With #WWIII trending on Twitter after the U.S. operation to kill Qasem Soleimani, I wanted to know how this bold action would affect the market. This article from the finance section offered a refreshingly sober perspective on the event, and points out that investors have been conditioned to react sanely to “geopolitical shocks.” Maybe we all should.
“What actually transpired tells you that investors have been conditioned over and over again to buy the dip. They’ve been conditioned not to extrapolate geopolitical or political shocks. And that has served them extremely well. You’ve made a ton of money by following that strategy.” – Mohamed Aly El-Erian
Here’s the most hysteria you’ll find in the article: “The medium-term uncertainties are increasing.”
What do you think? Have feedback? Is there a typo? Broken link? Missing link? Think of something I didn’t? Please tell me in the comments below! I enjoy reading and responding!