How to Avoid Loneliness When You Work Entirely from Home

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Working from home can be a coveted perk, allowing you to opt out of rush-hour traffic and eliminate the tedious banalities of office life. But it can also cut you off from the spontaneous interactions that can spark new insights (part of the reason Marissa Mayer famously rescinded Yahoo’s telecommuting policies). And, at times, the solitude may lead to isolation or the feeling that you’re left out at work.

How can you combat loneliness and create positive relationships with colleagues when you work from home full-time? I’ve worked from home since 2006, when I launched my consulting and speaking business. Here are three principles I’ve found to be effective in staving off isolation, maintaining productivity, and surrounding oneself with a stimulating cadre of colleagues.

First, since you’re not physically interacting with coworkers, it’s important to seek out an online community of like-minded practitioners. The technology changes over time

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What Data Scientists Really Do, According to 35 Data Scientists

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Modern data science emerged in tech, from optimizing Google search rankings and LinkedIn recommendations to influencing the headlines Buzzfeed editors run. But it’s poised to transform all sectors, from retail, telecommunications, and agriculture to health, trucking, and the penal system. Yet the terms “data science” and “data scientist” aren’t always easily understood, and are used to describe a wide range of data-related work.

What, exactly, is it that data scientists do? As the host of the DataCamp podcast DataFramed, I have had the pleasure of speaking with over 30 data scientists across a wide array of industries and academic disciplines. Among other things, I’ve asked them about what their jobs entail.

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  • Adopting AI
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    How companies are using artificial intelligence in their business operations.

It’s true that data science is a varied field. The data scientists I’ve interviewed approach our conversations from many

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A Fair Share From Airbnb

I will be attending a press event today in NYC where Airbnb is announcing a $10mm program to support local efforts that improve the lives of New York State residents.

Airbnb calls this program A Fair Share and it estimates that the $10mm is just 10% of what a home sharing tax in New York State would produce for the city and state governments.

The $10mm in financial support is going to seven organizations. They are:

  • The New York Immigration Coalition

  • New York Mortgage Coalition

  • New York State Rural Housing Coalition, Inc.

  • Win

  • GMHC


  • Abyssinian Development Corporation

These are all organizations that benefit from city and state tax dollars but need to tap into the generosity of others to deliver their services.

Take CSNYC, where I am leading the $40mm CS4All private sector capital campaign to bring computer science education to every public school building in NYC. CS4All is

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Are Companies Responsible for Employees?

Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn’t think they are and she’s proposing a new bill to put in regulations that would make sure they are.  She wants to establish a new “federal corporate charter” for companies larger than $1B.

Clearly, she detests and abhors Milton Friedman.  I wish Friedman were alive to debate her. He would do so and relish the opportunity.  He would eviscerate her points one by one with logic, smiling all the way.

Here are her points:

In the four decades after World War II, shareholders on net contributed more than $250 billion to U.S. companies. But since 1985 they have extracted almost $7 trillion. That’s trillions of dollars in profits that might otherwise have been reinvested in the workers who helped produce them.

Before “shareholder value maximization” ideology took hold, wages and productivity grew at roughly the same rate. But since the early 1980s, real wages have Continue reading "Are Companies Responsible for Employees?"

Research: To Get People to Embrace Change, Emphasize What Will Stay the Same

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Common wisdom in management science and practice has it that to build support for a change project, visionary leadership is needed to outline what is wrong with the current situation. By explaining how the envisioned change will result in a better and more appealing future, leaders can overcome resistance to change. But our research, recently published in the Academy of Management Journal, leads us to add a very important caveat to this.

A root cause of resistance to change is that employees identify with and care for their organizations. People fear that after the change, the organization will no longer be the organization they value and identify with — and the higher the uncertainty surrounding the change, the more they anticipate such threats to the organizational identity they hold dear. Change leadership that emphasizes what is good about the envisioned change and bad about the current

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Whether a Husband Identifies as a Breadwinner Depends on Whether He Respects His Wife’s Career — Not on How Much She Earns

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Professional careers are notorious for demanding that people be single-mindedly devoted to work. It’s a demand that is often especially acute for men, who face rigid expectations that being a successful man requires having a successful career, and that “success” means power and money.

Men have traditionally satisfied these expectations by taking on the role of a work-devoted breadwinner, supported by a wife who does not work or who places his career first. But many heterosexual men today are married to women who pursue demanding careers of their own; moreover, many women expect that their husbands will support their careers and be more engaged in family life than previous generations of men have been.

The contradiction between the traditional image of the successful man and the reality of men’s lives creates a conundrum: How do men make sense of who they are in relation to their work,

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Networking Myths Dispelled

David Burkus, a professor at Oral Roberts University and author of the book Friend of a Friend, explains common misconceptions about networking. First, trading business cards at a networking event doesn’t mean you’re a phony. Second, your most valuable contacts are actually the people you already know. Burkus says some of the most useful networking you can do involves strengthening your ties with old friends and current coworkers.

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Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach People. But They Can Learn.

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Are you successful at coaching your employees? In our years studying and working with companies on this topic, we’ve observed that when many executives say “yes,” they’re ill-equipped to answer the question. Why? For one thing, managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do.

According to Sir John Whitmore, a leading figure in executive coaching, the definition of coaching is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” When done right, coaching can also help with employee engagement; it is often more motivating to bring your expertise to a situation than to be told what to do.

Recently, my colleagues and I conducted a study that shows that most managers don’t understand what coaching really is — and that also sheds light on how to fix the

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Every Generation Learns The Same Lessons

While it’s easy to tell people things, it’s much more powerful to learn things. And, as I get older, I see the same lessons being learned by subsequent generations. While this isn’t a post that says “everything is the same as it was before”, there are foundational lessons in life that play out over and over again.

I spent the weekend with a friend from the last 1990s who was the lead banker on the Interliant IPO (I was a co-founder and co-chairman.) Last night, at the Aspen Entrepreneurs event, I was asked to describe several failures and I rolled out my story about Interliant, which, for a period of time (1999 – 2000) appeared to be hugely successful before going bankrupt in 2002. If you like to read IPO prospectuses, here’s the final S-1 filing after INIT went effective and started trading on July 8, 1999.

A few

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To Make Self-Driving Cars Safe, We Also Need Better Roads and Infrastructure

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The big question around self-driving cars, for many people, is: When will the technology be ready? In other words, when will autonomous vehicles be safe enough to operate on their own? But there has been far less attention paid to two equally important questions: When will the driving environment be ready to accommodate self-driving cars? And where will this technology work best?

Self-driving cars are the most challenging automation project ever undertaken. Driving requires a great deal of processing and decision making, which must be automated. On top of that, there are many unpredictable external factors that must be accounted for, and therefore many ways in which the driving environment must change.

Cars are heavy, fast-moving objects, operating in public spaces. Safety is largely the responsibility of the driver, who must continuously observe, analyze, decide, and act. Not only do drivers have to follow the rules of the

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It’s Not Just Paying Rent, It’s Forced Confiscation

Yesterday was chatting with a friend who lives in Lakeview.  It’s a neighborhood north of the Loop in Chicago.  Wrigley Field is in Lakeview.  They just got their new property tax bill.  

They bought the place four years ago.  The tax bill was $11,000, which isn’t cheap.  It’s a condominium.  It was just re-assessed and the new tax bill is $33,000.  

Table shows CPS’ property tax revenues from FY1991 through FY2019:— The Civic Federation (@CivicFederation) August 13, 2018

Uh, no one’s income went up by that and the rate of inflation was pretty tame during that time.  

My friend Mark Glennon at Wirepoints has been all over this for a while.  I think most Chicagoans are okay paying a bit more in tax than most people.  We live in a city.  Cities have more needs than rural areas.  The tax bite Continue reading "It’s Not Just Paying Rent, It’s Forced Confiscation"

Why Western Digital Firms Have Failed in China

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Many leading American digital firms, including Google, Amazon, eBay, and Uber, have successfully expanded internationally by introducing their products, services, and platforms in other countries. However, they have all failed in China, the world’s largest digital market.

The widely touted reasons for these failures include censorship by the Chinese government and cultural differences between China and the West. While these factors undoubtedly have played a role, such explanations are overly simplistic. Google, for example, has succeeded in dominating many foreign markets that have radically different political systems and cultures (including Indonesia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia). And these factors have not stopped Western multinationals from succeeding in China in car manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods, and even sectors where culture plays a key role, such as beer, coffee shops, fast food, and the film industry. There are deeper reasons behind the systematic failure of Western digital firms in

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The Best Way for Netflix to Keep Growing

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Netflix has a lot to gain by becoming a multisided platform.

Currently, Netflix is in the business of buying or making content, which it sells consumers access to at prices and on terms it fully controls (a monthly subscription). That’s unlike a platform such as YouTube, which enables myriad content providers to sell directly to users at prices they control, with limited intervention by YouTube other than the enforcement of some content guidelines.

Netflix’s model has been undeniably successful to date. However, fighting the blockbuster battle over content acquisition and creation is becoming ever more expensive, and it involves an increasing number of combatants (including Amazon, Apple, Disney, and Google). All these companies already have or will have digital download and streaming services. Furthermore, the growth of Netflix’s subscriber base is slowing down. The company lost more than 15% of its stock market valuation over the past month after its

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Investor Friendly Terms

At USV, we have always had simple and investor-friendly terms with the institutions and individuals that provide the capital we invest.

I got thinking about that this morning in reading Brad Feld’s post about recycling management fees, something we do aggressively at USV (we have recycled between 20 and 25% of our mature VC funds).

We have never charged a premium carry or off-market management fee, we return all capital before taking carry distributions, and we recycle aggressively.

Certainly, we could charge more, but we have never wanted to do that.

When people ask me why not, I like to tell a story.

When Brad Burnham and I were raising the first USV fund, into the teeth of the VC and Internet meltdown of the early 2000s, we visited one of the top VC LPs in the world and he told us the story of a VC firm that they had been

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Flights to Safety

Financial headlines over the past week focused on Turkey’s rapidly depreciating lira. Meanwhile many citizens there, ignoring President Erdogan’s calls to exchange gold and foreign currencies to local currency, tapped into the crypto market:
Bunyamin Yavuz, a cardiologist in Ankara, said he no longer trusts local banks and now buys XRP, monero, lumens, among other cryptocurrencies as part of his investment portfolio. Yavuz told CoinDesk his holdings now consist of 30 percent cryptocurrencies, 20 percent U.S. dollars, and just 10 percent lira.” – Coindesk (August 10, 2018)
Bloomberg News reported this morning that the Turkish lira showed more volatility over the past week than bitcoin had. This “flight to safety” to crypto markets has played out throughout the world over the past few years.
I was in India during demonetisation in November 2016. Overnight, Prime Minister Modi mandated that 500 and 1000 Rupee notes were to be taken Continue reading "Flights to Safety"

Winning Founders & Influencing Everyone

watch time: 24 min

Andreessen Horowitz operating partner Margit Wennmachers shares the founding story of OutCast, the PR agency she co-founded (acquired in 2005); her history as one of its first operating partners at a16z (and what makes it different); …

The Economics of VCs Recycling Management Fees

Several years ago, I wrote a post titled Why VCs Should Recycle Their Management Fees.

From the start of Foundry Group in 2007, we have felt strongly about this. We feel that if an LP gives us a $1 to invest, we should invest at least that $1, not $0.85 (the average fee load over a decade for a typical VC fund is 15%.) Our goal for each fund is actually to invest closer to 110%, which means if an LP gives us a $1 to invest, we are actually investing $1.10.

Our long-time friends and LPs at Greenspring recently wrote a great post titled Creating GP-LP Alignment: Why Terms Matter. The post specifically discussed three items: Management Fees, Recycling, and Carried Interest.

The entire post is worth reading, but I especially liked their section on Recycling which includes a handy chart showing that recycling means that

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The Simple Question That Can Make or Break a Startup

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There’s an unassuming restaurant in Dallas called Chop House Burger, home to handspun milkshakes, truffle parmesan french fries, and six innovative burgers. It’s an eight-year-old restaurant in an industry where 80% of new entrants fail in the first five years. And stitched into its origin story is a clue to why some products (and businesses) succeed in the market while most wither and die.

The burger place spun out of a The Dallas Chop House, a high-end steakhouse two blocks away. The Chop House was known for its ribeye, filet mignon, and flat iron steaks, dry-aged in the restaurant with Himalayan sea salt. In an effort to diversify their menu, the owners also offered a gourmet burger. Despite how good the steaks were, the burger became one of the most popular items on the menu. So the owners decided to build a restaurant around it.

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