Kyōto, Japan

December 1, 2019

Another One Bites the Dust

This past week, the startup company that I work part-time for (and make my living from) did what most startups do: it ran out of money, and went bust.

As someone who's spent my whole adult life working with tech, and most of that time working for small startups, this is very, very much not my first time (I just did a quick count. It's the 10th time.)

But for a lot of people on the team, it was their first time, and reminded me a lot of all the reactions we're seeing in the new around the folks at WeWork who are suddenly and disorientingly finding themselves aboard a quickly sinking ship.

And all that got me thinking about what I've learned, being at company after company that's failed.

And mostly, it's that I'm going to be ok. The job ended. I didn't.

In the US - where I grew up - people have their identities wrapped up tightly in their work. They are what they do - and it bleeds into every aspect of society. Go to a party in New Zealand or France, and people will ask you what you do for fun, or what you think of a recent movie. In the States, the first question - always - is, "what do you do for a living?"

That culture makes it difficult to remember a simple and obvious truth: we are not our jobs.

We are people - complex and beautiful, full of dreams and ideas and fears and gorgeous idiosyncracies like hating pickles but loving kimchee. We have opinions on figure skating, a favorite ocean, a pair of shoes we can't bear to throw away.

That is who we are. I am. You are.

And even if it's through the rubble of another failed company, today, I'm so glad to remember.

Have a wonderful week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was this short and thought-provoking minute earth video. What if the versatility of smartphones turned out to be a really good thing for the world?

Enjoy this letter? Share it!