Peacetime Elle / Wartime Elle
More Books, Babies, Money, Prepping…
Hello from sunny Phoenix, Arizona where I’m enjoying my last warm late-winter day before heading back to Denver for a few weeks. It’s been a productive two weeks working on Firstparty with my cofounder Jonathan in person, and I’m so happy we’ve launched our next major product: audience management and conversion attribution.
ICYMI, I have declared my (most recent?) mid-life crisis complete in an impromptu tweet storm that was inspired by starting to read Elad Gil’s book “The High Growth Handbook”. My rambling thoughts include lessons learned from Mattermark, gratitude to the CEOs I’ve worked for, realizations about what makes me tick as a founder, a list of favorite authors, lot’s of pictures and videos of adventures, food, and dogs… and much more.
If you’re curious, start here:
Elle @DanielleMorrillIn @eladgil book there is a quote about a company being pre-PMF with *40* employees and no clear goals. It made me do a double take! I thought it was widely eschewed to have more than a single 2 pizza team prior to PMF. I know I’ve been out of the game for a minute but whoa
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I really haven’t read many startup books in the past decade. Now that I’m back at the very beginning and working on getting product/market fit for a new company, I’m putting together a curriculum for myself which I hope to share in the future… maybe in spreadsheet format?
What I’m Reading Now
“Reap3r” is the latest speculative fiction from one of my favorite authors, Eliot Peper, and will be available May 18th. This may be the only author who can I claim to have read all their books, mostly as/before they’ve come out. As usual, I’m about 1/3 of the way into the story and already falling for several protagonists.
Over the weekend I went down a genealogy rabbit hole, and started reading the writing of my (supposed) 11x grandfather William Bradford, who emigrated to the Plymouth Colony aboard the Mayflower and went on to serve as its Governor for 30 years. I’m starting with “Of Plymouth Plantation” a journal of daily life in the colony. I have a daydream of curating a list of all the published writings of my ancestors and then reading all of it. Has anyone done a project like this? It seems like a really interesting twist on using genealogy, and I’m wondering if there is a way to combine the Ancestry API with the Goodreads API.
Recently Finished & 5 Star Rated
To see all my reading progress, including books I finished that didn’t get a 5 star review, visit my Goodreads profile and let’s be friends there.
Some Reading Stats
According to Goodreads, I’m 16 books behind pace on my 200 books finished goal but I’m not worried because my stats show I’m not slowing down at all. Since my last reading update my books “In Progress” list has grown from 367 to 381, I listened to Audible for 51 hours in February and I’m on track to listen for 60 hours in March. According to my Kindle stats, I’m on 16 week streak.
My best streaks ever are:
Kindle — 36 weeks from 2018 to 2019
Kindle — 20 days in 2021
I look forward to topping both of those in 2022. If you’re curious to see these metrics for your own reading check out How to Use Reading Insights on the Kindle for iPhone or iPad
Diving Into Summary Apps
I’ve been a snob about book summary apps, but after signing up for Headway and learning at a 60 minute per day commitment would allow me to “read” ~155 books a month… I’m quite curious to see whether there will be much retention.
Do you use any book summary apps?
Since Putin’s war in Ukraine started, since it’s been very much on my mind and distracting day-to-day. I’m sure you already have many sources of news links in your life, so rather than adding to the noise I am going to keep my thoughts more oriented toward long-term thinking. Feels like a good time for a re-read of Ben Horowitz’s “Peacetime CEO / Wartime CEO”
I do believe there is signal to be found around scenario planning, thinking through second-order consequences (and beyond), and other things like self-care and personal projects that help manage anxiety and keep us sane.
As I’ve written previously, Kevin and I changed our minds about being child free and decided to start our family. After a delay due to snowstorm, today is the day he gets his vasectomy reversed. What a hero!
In the face of this war, I had to ask myself and my husband: you still good on this decision to have kids? I am. We are. I feel like having kids is such a optimistic thing to do in the face of this crazy world. I want to be part of a future I won’t see, and participating in history through legacy is pretty cool. Don’t worry, I’m not getting my expectations up about bringing the future President into the world.
My personal net worth has been absolutely hammered, thanks to heavily concentrated stock positions. I am still extremely long on GitLab $GTLB (who reported earnings and 69% YoY growth yesterday!) and Twilio $TWLO, but I have never see my wealth “on paper” swing so wildly. It’s a bit of a mind fuck, no lie.
We’ve been fairly conservative with accessing liquidity through debt, but with so much volatility I can’t help but wonder if we will face down some kind of capital call with this long hold strategy. I also have two larger transactions in the works, and it will be interesting to see how they turn out in the end. More on that soon.
Technically the US isn’t “in” this war yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re not anxious to see how that will change in the coming weeks and months. One almost unimaginable scenario if we+NATO fully enter into the war and it becomes WW3 is conscription of young men (and women?)
The draft hasn’t been a thing since the 1970s, but after so many “not on my bingo card for 202X” moments in the past two years, my willingness to think through situations like this has grown. As a 30-something millennial I haven’t know very many WW2 or Vietnam War veterans, and I’ve never talked with a soldier who was drafted into service for the US. I was surprised to learn that despite the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, 2/3 of the soldiers who fought were volunteers.
At age 21, my Grandpa Cecil left North Dakota for Washington state and enlisted in the Army prior to conscription for WW2. He ended up a mess hall chef, and later part of an aerial reconnaissance photography team in French North Africa and Italy. He survived at least 1 plane crash and 1 bullet wound, met and married my Grandma. At the end of the war he returned to Tacoma with his wife and 2 kids, had 6 more, and lived into his late 70s.
It’s hard for me to imagine any parent wanting this for their 21 year old son today.
Experiencing a global pandemic has changed the level of vigilance and world-wide awareness of for millions of people. Hopefully you took the time to make sure you have clean water storage and a few other simple preps in your home, and if you’re like me you’ve been throwing out a lot of unused expired canned chili.
Prepping isn’t about guns, stacks of cash, or the stuff you panic buy on Amazon.com in the middle of the night. The most valuable thing you can learn from prepper practices is to embrace the mindset as a way to improve your everyday life. Regardless of which preps you actually do, it’s about making a shift toward higher conscientiousness. Your task is to get mental clarity around what you can control, plan out how you’ll control it, and then get back to living.
If you want to learn from some calm, rational, good humans I recommend The Prepared (I am an investor) prepping for beginners guide. They’re also awesome for thinking through emergency scenarios, and I love this curated reading list of 80+ books on various survival skills.
Josh Centers, who was formerly an editor at The Prepared, is doing a great job with his newly launched Substack Unprepared Life. I recommend his detailed explainer Nuclear War: Hollywood vs. Reality, and if you end up ordering radiation pills (Potassium Iodide Tablets) make sure to secure them away from pets and children and hold on to the instructions.
P.S. When I said, “experiencing a global pandemic has changed the level of vigilance and world-wide awareness of for millions of people.” — my first reaction to my own statement was, “This is probably quite the understatement”. But how can I really convey what two years of hyper-vigilance feels like?
There is a daunting task for artists, authors, historians and other creative people to help us as a civilization find fuller expression of the grief, fear, isolation, ambivalence and many other complex emotions of the past 2 years. My hope is that these cultural communicators put the Covid-19 experience into proper context for the generations who will only understand it second-hand. If you know of people doing this important work, I’d love to share their contributions more widely — please reply to this email or drop a comment with links to their work.