Sign o’ the Times

Last night I learned we won Big Game (confession: I learned this through Michael McFaul). While I did lead marketing at a football startup, I think my colleagues would admit they’d hired me more for my communications skills than my knowledge of the game.

But of course, I had to reach out to my friend about it. The one who played football for Cal. Sure he’s remained deeply involved with Cal Football and even led significant fundraising efforts for Cal Athletics … but I had to be certain that he was aware of this development.

And it was important that he knew about this play. And this one!

Once the banter subsided(ish), he concluded with this. Which really is just a sign of the times, is it not?

I believe Stanford cheated. Rigged!! Nobody gets two kicks blocked. Half the points were fraudulent. I want a recount of the points. Cal won if you only count the legal points! We should still have the axe!

Was it?

“How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy, and the national debt in a matter of months?

You don’t.

~Stuart Stevens, It Was All A Lie

In his book It Was All A Lie, long-time GOP political campaigner Stuart Stevens poses the question: how can the conservative right abandon “deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy, and the national debt in a matter of months” to follow Donald Trump?

And his conclusion is that it didn’t abandon these beliefs because they were never real in the first place; they were merely messaging tools for opportunistic gain, shielding a bald quest for power. In short, It Was All A Lie.

Outside politics, “Silicon Valley” was born and bred in the US West with a Manifest Destiny-like optimism. The moonshots, expansive mission statements and promises of exponential impact border on the religious, jarring for their places at the top of Maslow’s infamous pyramid.

John Doerr’s OKR method revered by SV companies

Amidst all the techno-utopianism, then, it seemed that this whole thing from Coinbase was a bit, well, off industry-brand?

That expansive-sounding tweet doesn’t really convey the actual post’s message. While putting forth some lofty goals (including enabling “belonging for everyone”), the linked post was actually written in order to define what Coinbase won’t do.

The post asks us to consider Coinbase’s mission “to create an open financial system for the world. An open financial system is one that is not controlled by any one country or company (just like the internet did for distributing information).” (source).

Well that is certainly lofty, too! In fact, their website goes on to say, “We think this is the highest leverage way to bring about more economic freedom, innovation, efficiency, and equality of opportunity in the world.”

And doing this massively significant, important work requires them to avoid certain things.

So Brian’s saying that, in order to bring about economic freedom, innovation, efficiency, and equality of opportunity in the world, it’s best to avoid broader societal issues and political causes.

Let’s set aside the myriad of issues with this and just say we think that Laszlo got it right. The world is different. It’s 2020 (and not 1970), people.

And shouldn’t that present those Silicon Valley Big Dreamer types with an exciting opportunity?

Absolutely. Unless, of course, it was all a lie.

p.s. here’s how Brian’s approach is working out.

Clothes, but Emperor questionable

After the past two+ years of chaos and horror, witnessing the dramatic regression of our governance, social fabric and heck global climate, in real-time, Pete Buttigieg was a breath of fresh air: an oxygen of intellectual, reasoned, unflappable calm after months of I think it’s safe to say, the polar opposite.

And please: he taught himself Norwegian.

Then sometime back in April I saw this…

But then I got this:

Obviously I was in for a Friday night at only $25. So I get there, and look around, and realize, well….

…and what I shared what I saw with my friend, he (chat) replied, “Ofc. He is an urban elite dream.”

And off we went. Already-iconic Chasten (Buttigieg’s husband) opened with smoothly-delivered endearing, self-aware stories. Which proved a natural segue to Buttigieg himself. He got off to a less-than-perfect start when, perhaps forgetting he was no longer in Indiana, he crescendo-ed up to “no, no…neither party has a claim on …. GOD.” This of course, was not met with thunderous applause, but rather, an enormously pregnant silence. San Franciscans, godless people we are, dgaf about God.

He soon recovered, eloquently laying out a calm, reasoned approach on social issues like marriage, immigration but at a level that didn’t leave much to disagree with (certainly, among this crowd). Perhaps I was among the few if any among the crowd that was still in shopping vs. buying mode, but I was left wanting to hear what the tangible platform was, beyond a Constitutional Amendment addressing political campaign funding (not a new idea, but at least, concrete).

And I was left frustrated at his own responses to “why him” beyond the fact that he is young (which has its pros and cons, can we admit?), gay, and a vet. I did find his midwestern provenance as a differentiator almost compelling but account part of that to the fact that I hail from there myself (Motown forever).

Don’t get me wrong. I stand by what I shared with my family: “For as brilliant as he is, he’s not compelling as a candidate. At all. He himself has substance, but he doesn’t have deep experience or a well-thought-out platform.” He’s certainly thought deeply through social issues (this is one of his big draws). Just not the presidential-level ones.

I guess I’m leaving it with him here. Onward.