Check your Pulse #32

challenge networks, Judy emergency kits, and schlep blindness

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the 32nd 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.

As someone who feels very comfortable being the loudest voice in the room, I’ve been thinking a lot about my speaking to listening ratio.

Many of us are guilty of starting a conversation but not giving ourselves a chance to listen to what others are saying because we’re too busy formulating our reply. I read somewhere that on average, we retain just 25 percent of what we hear!

I certainly have the tendency to take mental side trips when I should be listening.

Stephen Covey articulated this better than I ever could have: “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”

One of the steps I’m personally taking towards better listening is building a personal challenge network — a group of people I can rely on to give me unvarnished feedback and help me see my blind spots. I borrowed this idea from Adam Grant.

Most of us have a support network of friends and family that we rely on for praise and reassurance. A support network listens to you. A challenge network, in contrast, helps you become a better listener.



My all-time favorite writing advice: "When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer must give him something worthy of his gift to you.”  ✍🏽

A collection of very good tweets about advertising, marketing, and creative strategy. 💯

Clayton Christensen, one of the best thinkers on management, strategy, and competition passed away last week. One of his best works is an essay called “How will you measure your life?” - I highly highly recommend it. “Think about the metric by which your life will be judged and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.”🧬

A good rule for building strong companies: No Politics. Politics is defined as "the simple act of saying different things to different people." 💬

Miss Americana, the new Netflix documentary on Taylor Swift’s life is very very good.🎬

Japan now has over 70,000 people who are more than 100 years old. 👵🏽

I’ve been enjoying Oprah’s 2020 vision tour podcasts. Particularly loved the episodes with Lady Gaga, Amy Schumer, and Tina Fey. 🎙

The average U.S. football fan will consume 10,821 calories and 180 grams of saturated fat on Super Bowl Sunday. 🍟😮

A beautiful thread full of Kobe Bryant’s lessons and memories. But also, legacies are complicated. 🏀

Goldman Sachs will no longer do IPOs for companies with all-male boards. 👏🏼

This @humansofny post sums up how I feel about being a working mother. 👩‍👦‍👦

I keep coming back to this 2012 Paul Graham essay on schlep blindness: There are great startup ideas lying around unexploited right under our noses. One reason we don't see them is a phenomenon I call schlep blindness. Schlep was originally a Yiddish word but has passed into general use in the US. It means a tedious, unpleasant task. 💻

A fantastic speech on Solitude and Leadership. It's about why leaders need to spend time alone, even though most people think of solitude as the antithesis of leadership. (40 minutes).

Very good presentation by Ben Evans on the macro and strategic trends in the tech industry. 📈

The media seems to focus on negative consumer IPOs, but One Medical had a quiet but successful IPO, soaring 58% from its IPO price. If you’re interested in reading more about One Medical, I recommend checking out this S-1 teardown! 🏥

The Economist examines the success stories behind disruptive consumer startups, the branding fueling their growth, and the realities of going to battle with billion-dollar incumbent brands. 🛒

I love the sentiment behind this Ann Miura (@annimaniac) piece: you need a minimum viable company, not a minimum viable product 💰

YES 👇🏽

More than 60% of Americans have no disaster plan or supplies on hand in the event of an emergency situation. Judy is applying the DNVB playbook to selling emergency kits. What sets them apart (outside of their brand) is the educational tools and resources to use the supplies effectively — when you visit their website, there’s a nifty little tool that lets you enter your zip code to understand the natural disasters that could occur in your area. You can then download a corresponding plan to understand how to better prepare for unpredictable emergencies. A quick search for my hometown (Miami) offered me kits and information on hurricanes, floods, and pandemics. On the one hand, it’s a challenging category. Humans are notoriously myopic, and the phenomenon where people assume they’re not in danger until it’s already too late is well documented. In the past, I’ve waited until the city enters into hurricane panic mode to load up on supplies, and at that point the simplest thing is to visit my nearest Home Depot. So it’s not totally clear to me whether dumping money into Instagram ads will get people on a sunny day in Miami to load up on emergency supplies. On the other hand, with natural disasters happening more frequently, it seems that building a D2C brand may just be the gateway for Judy get into services, which is where the real market opportunity might be. As the number of natural disasters rises, consumers will need much more than just flashlights to deal with emergencies. I’m excited to see how they evolve, and for now, impressed with their branding.

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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