#MentalNote, Leadership, Self-Revelation

I’m My Sister’s Keeper

***Before reading, read Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People***

I agree with Damon’s assessment but solutions are a key part missing in his essay. Maybe because he wanted to focus on identifying a problem some would argue doesn’t even exist. Maybe he was waiting for me to write a solutions article. (If that’s the case Damon, lets make this collab official shall we?)  Damon’s write up begged the question; What can black men do to be better for black women so I went on and made a list of things black men can do to help create a more supportive and nurturing environment for black women. It’s by no means exhaustive and I welcome more ideas.  Also, full disclosure, I have room for improvement as well. I can stand to drink a tall glass of my own Kool-aid.

We need to have the difficult conversations with other black men and women. There are a lot of black men who have traumatic experiences from their mothers or maybe those who’ve they’ve dated. We need to realize that condemning a whole group of people for those traumatic experiences is irrational and promotes an unhealthy environment between black men and women.

Black men need to also have conversations with the uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, who perpetuate misogynistic ideals and behaviors. This means being that voice of reason when your friend is cat calling a woman walking down the street, or having a conversation with a younger brother about the proper way to treat women. We have to be the first line of defense to call out behavior that is unhealthy and detrimental to black women.

Be extra critical about language- Lupe Fiasco gets at the core of the hypocrisy of language in hip hop in his song Hurt Me Soul:

“I used to hate hip-hop, yup, because the women degraded
But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it
A hypocrite, I stated, though I only recited half
Omitting the word “bitch”, cursing – I wouldn’t say it
Me and dog couldn’t relate, till a bitch I dated
Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike
But I learned it from a song I heard and sort of liked….

As black men, we need to be aware of the way we socialize negative language toward black women. Bitches, thots, hoes, etc. Some may say, its just a word, what power does it have? Doesn’t that question sound familiar? And often times, hip hop is the primary mode for misogynistic, discriminatory, and down right disrespectful language. I’m not going to blame hip hop, the medium itself is like a mirror. We see and hear what’s going on around us.

Support black women in social and political struggles. There’s a whole bunch of political/social challenges that are outright destroying black women. For example, according to the Justice Department, slightly more than 40% of sex trafficking victims are Black, far outpacing White (25.6%), Hispanic (23.9%), Asian (4.3%) and Other (5.8%) victims and women are more than twice (68 percent) as likely as men (32 percent) to be trafficked for sex. (Human Trafficking By the Numbers 2017) Sex trafficking is disproportionately affecting black women and we’ve got to show up and ride for them in their struggles like they show up and ride for us. There’s so much to support; income inequality, healthcare laws, access to stem education, etc. Show up.

We need to deal with toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity leads to a false narrative of what it actually means to be a man. A false narrative leads to a bunch of men seeking the wrong characteristics to validate their masculinity. Some chase patriarchal, self destructive and misogynistic ideals they believe are at the core of masculinity and it ends up demeaning and screwing over black women.  As black men, we need to re-evaluate what it means to be a man and make sure we approach masculinity from a healthy and pragmatic perspective.

Start a dialogue. It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but Facebook and Twitter are good places to have conversations around supporting black women. Yea, sometimes it can get out of control with the comments and trolls but it is a good place to continue the conversation.

Offline is another really important venue. Sit down and talk to black women about the challenges they face and identify ways you can leverage your position to support them.

business, Leadership, Technology

Why We Should Listen To JP Morgan’s CEO About Bitcoin

Jamie Dimon had a lot to say about Bitcoin the other day.

We should heed his warning. Just like they should have listened to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft in 2007. “The Iphone is too expensive,” he said. “It wouldn’t appeal to the business professional. Apple is the incumbent and they are going to have to play by our rules.” It’s almost 10 years to the day and Apple just released the Iphone X, a 1K+ phone.

 

 

Here… Lets go way back on  to 1946……“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months.  People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox. Sorry, I couldn’t find a video for this one.

I can go on and on. If you want, here are some other random predictions here. Seems like a lot of people were just flat out wrong on Apple.

Executives, especially those who are incumbents and gatekeepers in their industry,  are rarely capable of seeing disruption. Actually, the best way to foreshadow a key challenge to basic industry assumptions is to look at the industry leaders and watch them make comments like Jamie Dimon did above. While some may argue, he’s talking about bitcoin and has much respect for the technology behind it ( JP Morgan is investing a ton of money into blockchain companies), I believe his comments on bitcoin are less about the coins and more about control. A decentralized reality for a control focused financial industry is scary. It reminds me of the Blockbuster snub on Netflix. To say there would be a day when people didn’t need physical copies due to the mass adoption of the high speed internet would have been a tough pill to swallow.

The people who face the biggest threat from disruption seem to call it wrong. Sometimes its just theater. I’m sure shareholders don’t want to hear there’s a technology/platform that could fundamentally change how their industry works. There’s definitely a confidence game going on with many executives, but I believe there’s a way to be confident and realistic.

We should listen to Jamie Dimon. His comments are a prelude to a major shake up in the financial industry.

 

Leadership, Self-Revelation, venture capital

Content Diet

Your time is extremely valuable. What you choose to read is even more valuable. On my end, I find subscribing to newsletters beneficial to my content diet. I often go for three types of content:

  1. Content that helps you/your company operate better.
  2. Content that helps you understand what others in your industry and sector are thinking.
  3. Content that helps you think more existentially.

Here’s a list of the top 20 newsletters I subscribe to…Its a mix of vc, startup, and randomness. They all do a bit of all three.

  1. CB Insights is a company which leverages data to make sense of private markets. Its like buzzfeed for venture capital/ private equity. I’ve been rocking with them since day one. They have an awesome platform and a great newsletter.
  2. Mattermark is another data company which helps vc/private equity types capture data on the private markets. They have great newsletter content that brings unique editoral perspectives from investors, operators, and policy wonks.
  3. Pitchbook is another data company for private markets. It’s like the Bently of data companies for private markets. They’ve improved their newsletter over time but Pitchbook has always had the most technical perspective on private markets out of the data companies I’m familar with.
  4. First Round Capital, to me, has the best editorial team in the venture capital industry. They bring experts, operators, investors, and other stakeholders to the table and create super informative content for founders. I’ve learned so much from their long posts.
  5. Monday Morning Macro (Y Combinator) Good round up of information on whats going on in YC land and how they are thinking. The venture capital space is like sheep leading sheep and firms Like YC are the lead sheep so its nice to see the things they are pointing out and working on.
  6. StrictlyVC is a newsletters which has its pulse on all things funding and tech. I don’t know why this is on the list.
  7. Tomasz Tunguz is probably one of the brightest VCs in the game. He has great posts about fundraising, growing saas businesses like they are plants waiting to be harvested, and great data insights. He’s brilliant.
  8. Andreesen Horrowitz newsletter has a frontier perspective on industry and emerging technology. Ben and Marc also have interesting blog posts every once in a while with great podcasts. They could do a better job on being consistent but I believe they are busy raising money, closing deals, and supporting thier portfolio companies.
  9. Bothsides of the Table is cool because Mark Suster is an investor and founder so he brings a really interesting perspective on operational experiences but then how to communicate with investors and what he looks for.
  10. Hunter Walk’s 99% Humble, 1% Brag is a blog/newsletter focused on Hunter’s Homebrew Fund. He brings a unique perspective to a ton of things including investment, diversity, his portfolio companies. Hunter is really approachable too. Reach out to him and he’ll most likely respond back.
  11. The Plug is the “difinitive” daily newsletter highlighting the voices of black founders and business leaders in tech news from around the web. One of the few indeed. Also a really good channel to get information out.
  12. Iafrikan Newsletter is one of the still standing technology, investment, and entrepreneur news content in Africa. The are a little spotty with their newsletter but it seems they have great content on their website.
  13. Results Junkies is kept by Paul Singh. We was the MD of 1776, Founder at Disruption Corporation, and was a partner at 500 Startups. He has quick and dirty knowledge nuggets in his newsletters and has a great program where he travels the United States and works on entrepreneurship ecosystems and invests. I definitely would like to do something like this in Africa. Little known fact…. Paul is African. He was born in Kenya.
  14. Term Sheet is more for growth stage deals but is very helpful to know whats getting captial when you’re looking for it.
  15. 500 startups Distrosnack delivers a bite sized blitz scaling guide into your mailbox on a weekly basis. Super helpful
  16. Growthhackers Weekly provides a great curation of top posts from the Growthhackers website. Imagine the thoughts and posts of top “growth hackers” in one newsletter. It’s a treasure trove of tips and resources.
  17. Community.is Great Newsletter about building community. You won’t regret joinging this newsletter list. A lot of product, marketing and great community driven content.
  18. Stratechery I don’t pay for much but when I do, I pay for Stratechery daily updates from Ben Thompson. Let’s just put it this way….. Ben is fully supported and well paid by his subcription model. He’s gotten some of the best minds in the world listening and looking for what he’s got to say on a daily basis.
  19. Farnam Street I might have saved the best for second to last. I’ve gotten a majority of by book reccomendations, big picture questions, and list of people to take out to cofee. This post helps on the existential front.
  20. tiphub newsletter ? We’re re-vamping our newsletter. If you haven’t noticed, this list lacks the African/ African diaspora investor/ operator perspective. We think we can be the smart/nerdy yet cool analysis stakeholders need to be great. Let us know what you think . Like seriously, reach out to one of the partners and let us know what you’d like to see.

You are what you read…. This is what comes to my mailbox most of the time. I’d love to hear other newsletters I should sign up for.

business, Kanye West, Leadership, Politics, Uncategorized

How the FBI Hacked Into the Iphone

This took a lot to post, but I’m not afraid anymore.

For a long time, our government has tried to stay ahead of us. What we’ve seen in reality is the people always catch up.

A couple of my colleagues and I have taken the last couple of weeks to identify the vulnerability the FBI is using to hack the Iphone.

We made a video about it here. We believe it should be shared with the world.

Cheers.

History, Leadership, Random, Self-Revelation

Disrupting History

***Writer’s Note: 🙂 I literally was finished with this essay (2500+ words) and decided to delete it. Hopefully this will be a more concise and focused attempt.

For a majority of human history, we relied on oral delivery to bring the events of our past to life. We’d sit around a campfire and listen to stories of our forefathers adventures, unstoppable monsters, and through those stories, we’d understand a little bit more about where we came from and where we were going.

Fast forward to the present. We have so many mediums and the ability to capture history is just a click away. History went from a singular narrative to a multi layered complexity that will require a new set of research skills to truly get the big picture. Imagine your neighborhood historian developing a machine learning algorithm to sort through a bunch of tweets to use as primary documents for an event? How about developing a program that sorts through pictures on Facebook to evaluate sentiment of an event? The future historian aggregates all experiences and perspectives and tries to draw inferences. Some would say very similar to current historians. Yea sure, but the pools of information are digitally structured and maintained. There’s a whole new set of skill required to analyze that amount of information.

For the common historian ( the rest of us), we have to prepare ourselves to understand historical events have multiple narratives and view points. We should look to past events and understand there’s more to the story, they just couldn’t capture it. There’s a little boys perspective on his dad going to die in the 100 years war. There were women who had a lot to say about their husbands and sons being taken on the coast of West Africa. When we digest history, our first question should be, “whose perspective are we missing?” We should understand that history is exactly that… His story.

I hope by having a more integrated and inclusive understanding of what and who history affects, we can make sure as many people’s narratives are captured as possible. Ultimately, we’ll create a better picture of how history affected people involved, and how we can all learn to be better or different in the future.

 

 

 

Leadership, Self-Revelation, Why?

Beta and Super Friends

I started investing in the US stock market my second year of business school. I thought it was just part what you do in business school; drink coffee, read Financial Times and invest in stocks. I thought I’d try to apply what I learned in class to pay back some of those student loans a little quicker. Bad idea but that isn’t the point.

In order to improve your chances of a decent return when you invest in securities like stocks, there are certain technical analysis ratios that you’re supposed to use evaluate and predict returns. Beta is one of those magical ratios.

Beta ratio gauges the volatility of a security by comparing it to the performance of a related benchmark over a period of time. To keep it simple, investors use beta to see how downside capture they can expect from an investment.

From Investopedia

The baseline number for alpha is zero (investment performed exactly to market expectations), but the baseline number for beta is one. A beta of one is an indication that the security’s price moves exactly as the market moves. If the beta is less than one, the security experiences less severe price swings than the market. Conversely, a beta above one means that the security’s price has been more volatile than the market as a whole.

While a positive alpha is always more desirable than a negative one, evaluating beta is not so black and white. Many investors – being risk-averse – prefer to have a lower beta; however, some investors are willing to target a higher beta, hoping to capture higher returns and cash in on the higher volatility.

Most of these ratios are historically leaning. They use information from past to predict future results. It’s difficult and next to impossible to find a magical ratio that can give you vision into future performance.

Well this is true most of the time. The best investors will tell you to take a long term approach in building value. However, The upside in the public market will never match the multiples on an investment when the company is private. It’s way more risky, but at the end of the day, you get in on the ground floor and are compensated come IPO. (most of the time)

I’ve found investing in relationships to be very similar to investing in companies. There’s a ton of information out on how to do them, products and services around improving both processes, and risk with both investments. And the secret to success in both is pretty similar as well.

Creating a group of friends, associates, or colleagues that are super successful doesn’t happen overnight. Actually, its pretty close to impossible to create this type of super network without putting in a lot of work early on. Yes, the secret to it all is meeting people before they are successful and supporting them on their pathway to success. It starts with some self reflection.What value to you bring to the table? What is your unique advantage?  Understanding your strengths will help evaluate what your value add is to other people’s quest to success.

Second, you’ll need a good understanding of what potential for success looks like early on in the journey. Have you met someone that has more hustle than anyone you’ve ever met? Do you know someone that seems to have the Midas touch? People give hints of greatness and are just waiting for people to believe and support them.

Lastly, give. Once you’ve identified who and how you can support, give. Think about how you can build them up through relationships and the opportunities you have access to.

To be concise; Get in early, build value, reap the rewards.

Leadership

#FridayNightRants

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with executives in Nigeria by way of casual lunches, after work chats, etc. One issue that resonates consistently is the lack of talent in the job force. Many executives blame Nigerian education system for not preparing students to be employable.

While I agree, the education system in Nigeria has a long way to go, it is unlike the private sector to sit on their hands in this situation. Complaining about an unemployable job force seems to be the easy way out. I believe employ-ability is a symptom of a larger issue in Nigeria; the employee/ employer relationship.

There are examples of employees that are treated like cogs on a wheel. You find someone that can do x and you just make sure they do x until you don’t need it anymore. Employees are interchangeable and that’s how companies hire. Unfortunately, this is the value of the employee in many Nigerian companies.

If Nigerian companies want to compete in the global economy, they are going to have to solve how they will take their human capital to the next level. In order to do that, companies need to rethink their relationship with their employees. Instead of looking at people as disposable, companies should work to grow and groom their employees. There are many Kenyan companies, for example, that have internal learning plans so employees are constantly improving themselves. Which brings me full circle. Nigerian students need to improve their employ-ability. However, private sector companies should look at bringing employees on and figuring out ways to invest in their future while also preparing them to be the best employees they can be.