Check your Pulse #31

the future of work, your life's network effects, kencko

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the 31st edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human. I try to make this one of the best emails you get each week. If you’re enjoying it and know someone who’d like this sort of thing in their inbox, they can sign up here.

Happy Sunday, friends.

A hundred years ago, most jobs required your hands and few relied on your brain. You didn’t think; you labored, and your work was visible and tangible.

Today, that’s flipped.

Roughly 80% of jobs are service-driven jobs that have titles like “managers and professionals.” These are decision-making jobs that rely on your thoughts as much as your actions.

In a world with routine manufacturing jobs, the amount of hours that you put into doing something was a good proxy for what kind of output you get. Even if you’re the best hamburger flipper in the world, how many hours you work is still a good proxy for how many hamburgers you flip.

But in the jobs of today, it is much more important to have good judgment and work on the right thing than it is to work many hours. 

You can work for one hour, make a good decision and have a huge impact, or you can spend 500 hours coding the wrong product feature and have no effect. The outputs are very disconnected from the inputs.

The point is the nature of work has changed.

As automation takes over routine work, conceptual and creative work become more important. It’s almost impossible to work for eight hours a day in the jobs so many of us have today. I can’t spend eight hours thinking about a company’s pricing strategy without exhausting my brain and draining my creativity.

This meshes with a Stanford study that showed walking increases creativity by 60%:

Everyone eventually has to sit down and produce their work, and are held to goals and quotas. But as the economy shifts to knowledge work, we should respect that what actually produces good work can at first look lazy.

In other words, we need to shift the way we measure our work from one focused on measuring inputs (how many hours we work) to one that measures output (impact of our work, goals we achieve).

It seems if you get down to it and are focused on the right thing, 4-5 hours of desk work is enough time to do substantial and meaningful work.

In John Wooden’s words, “We can’t mistake activity with achievement.”

I can't shake the feeling that this is an extremely important idea to internalize.



Best thing I read this week: Your Life Is Driven By Network Effects. Share this with a younger person in your network and potentially alter their life trajectory. Our networks shape our lives, and there are only seven major turning points in life that shape our networks: what family you're born into, high school, college, first job, marriage/choosing a life partner, where you live, and reassessments. 🎡

Good Businesses Have Margins, but the profit margin is less important than the other ones: margin for your time, sanity, physical health. 🔲

The number of Americans working from home full time has nearly tripled over past 20 years, and the trend is accelerating. 🏠

This line from Monica Aldama, the no-bullshit career coach in Netflix’s docu-series Cheer really stuck: “You keep going until you get it right, and then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong.” 🔥

The percentage of U.S. listed companies that lost money in the last 12 months is about 40%, which is the highest level since the 1990s when setting aside post-recession periods (WSJ).

Scott Galloway’s 2020 predictions 🔮

Even disrupting buttons was hard. Keep at it, founders! (via CB Insights) 👇🏽

Love this list of emotions that you feel but didn’t have a word for until now. The limits of language are the limits of your world!💡👇🏽

I love Bessemer’s anti-portfolio where they honor the companies they passed on (like Airbnb, Google, and PayPal) 🙉

I enjoyed this episode of Invest Like the Best (one of my fave podcasts) with USV partner Rebecca Kaden, where she gives an overview of some of the opportunities for technology and startups to change education, financial services, and well-being. 🎙

Great post by Sam Altman on how to invest in startups. I have noticed that people can become much tougher and more ambitious rapidly, but people tend to be either slow movers or fast movers and that seems harder to change.  Being a fast mover is a big thing; a somewhat trivial example is that I have almost never made money investing in founders who do not respond quickly to important emails. 💎

Great profile on Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom, and his journey to building a profitable $20B company with 50K+ customers without ever traveling for customer meetings. “When Yuan flew to New York for the IPO, it was just his eighth work trip in five years.” 😮 📹

Interesting chart on recent IPO performance. Software IPOs seem to be doing well, the challenge appears to be in the “tech-enabled” businesses. 👇🏽

Kencko transforms fresh, organic fruit and veggies into convenient drink packs that are easy to consume. Just mix a kencko sachet with your favorite liquid and your 2 servings/day are ready to drink. Each kencko packet contains approx 200 grs of nutritious organic fruit & veg and nothing else. When I spoke to the founder earlier this week, he shared his vision of getting more people to eat fruits and vegetables. It makes sense, considering only one in ten adults in America meet the federal fruit and vegetable recommendations. I’m not sure how much of a supply chain moat he can build around this business or if this is a pure brand/marketing play, but I just placed my first order and I’m excited to give it a go.

If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, and early stage startup investor at Level Ventures and Rokk3r. My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

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