A duck bears no grudges

Habit Labs is ending soon, the third company I’ve started.

The first one, The Robot Co-op, still lives on in some form or another, with 43things.com (and myriad other offshoots). Its question: what do you want to do with your life? Currently owned by Amazon.

The second one, a bar / art gallery / private membership club called McLeod Residence. Its promise: an home for extraordinary living through art, technology, and collaboration. And alcohol. We closed up after 2 years because of a lost battle with city permits, and also because we had no idea really what we were doing.

750 Words led to Locavore and Locavore led to Health Month and Health Month led to Habit Labs and Habit Labs led to Budge and Budge led to a dead end (maybe more like a small cul-de-sac). The last couple years have taught me that my life’s creative purpose comes in the form of a question: “How do we change ourselves?” All of my guesses so far have been mostly wrong.

I sold Health Month to someone who I believe will be able to make something of it. Not sure what is going to happen to Budge yet. Habit Labs as a company is pretty much over.

Companies, at least the kinds that I’m interested in building, are voyages into the unknown. They become tales of inspiration, and people are rallied, and they hop in a boat and sail off… but not very many of them find a shore.

My fear of disappointing people has set off its alarm many times over the last 6 months. Investors, employees, people who use the sites, family, friends.

I’m contracting at Amazon for the moment, having taken a life boat back to shore, welcomed by many of the same people that I bid farewell to almost 10 years ago. They’ve made a life, and I’m starting over. But I feel strong.

Everyone knows that startups are extremely risky. And everyone secretly believes that they know how to cheat risk. Buoyed not a little bit by the fact that our culture is saturated in survivorship bias.

I’m not going to wait until I have a success story to start telling it.

I’m not giving up. Quite the opposite. As ugly and awkward as it is to take three strikes and refuse to walk away from the batters’ box, I plan to keep throwing myself against the wall of technology and behavior change and making life better until something gives. Either my head’s gonna crack open or the brick’s gonna start chipping.

Remember, we all die in the end anyway. Nobody’s going to be using this skull after I’m done with it so might as well give it a good pounding.

I’m happy to be here.

Big things are yet to come.

  1. It’s possible to remain positive and confident in the face of repeated failure.
  2. Failure doesn’t hurt that much as long as you haven’t betrayed yourself or those who’ve agreed to come on the ship with you.
  3. As long as you don’t betray others, and you strive to be your best self even in your weakest hour, they will not be disappointed in you.
  4. A duck bears no grudges.
  5. A duck pulls no punches.

This is the way of the duck.


Now read this

Know thy umwelt

Rambling notes on a Sunday afternoon after a sunny bike ride. Our brains have roughly one hundred billion (100,000,000,000) neurons. About thirty billion of them 30,000,000,000 belong in our neocortex, the part of our brain that’s unique... Continue →