Check your Pulse #36

multi-hyphenates, the gist, consumer trends

Welcome to the 36th 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 International Women’s Day to all the women and the men who cheer for us.

I went down a podcast rabbit hole this week and caught up on a ton of episodes in between commuting to work, calling my mom, a day-trip to Atlanta, and waiting in carpool lines (more on the podcasts in a sec).

As women, the focus is so much on the labels. People want to know if you’re a stay at home mom or if you have a career. They want to know if you feed your kids pre-packaged foods or organic homemade meals.

The truth is, women are a lot more than one thing.

Some days I am in a yoga class at 10am and a soccer game with my son at 4pm and other days I’m having back-to-back conversations with some of the most interesting minds in business.

We need to stop listening to those that force us to prescribe to labels and singular identities and instead look at the multi-hyphenate women who are building lives on their own terms and embracing their many layers.

I jotted down some of the thoughts/ideas that stuck from the podcasts in a section I’ll occasionally include in this newsletter which I’m calling The Gist.

I’ll be back next week with some thoughts on digital micro-communities and the creator economy. My inbox has exploded with startups building businesses in this space.

Stay human ✌🏼


  • Avoid reading breaking news, there’ll almost always be a more detailed and better story about the event the following day or week. (Robert Cottrell on The North Star Podcast)

  • Putting in more time doesn’t mean anything other than putting in more time. You’re not guaranteeing yourself a better outcome. (Jason Fried on The Petter Attia Drive)

  • So much of white collar work is just thinking, so visualizing our work for our peers becomes mandatory. The vacation isn’t real until you Instagram it. The baby isn’t real until it’s on Facebook. The finishing touch of all the projects of our lives is the public demonstration of it. The problem is the pressure of having to externalize your life takes away the pure act of enjoyment. Thats the implicit crime of social media, it forces us to be out of the moment. (Derek Thompson on The Ezra Klein Show)

  • No matter what situation you’re facing, incentives will always play a role. When you know the incentives of everyone involved, you can try to align them and create win-win situations. Get in the habit of asking yourself what people’s incentives are. (Shane Parrish on The North Star Podcast).

  • Keep your product simple and easy to use. This prevents you from having to educate your users, they should be able to educate themselves. People should be able to use your product in a state of “no-mind” (Brian Norgaard (ex-CPO of Tinder) on Off the Chain)

  • The current advertising model requires making an ad to capture someone’s attention. Kevin Kelly has a different idea: What if companies paid audiences directly for their attention? For instance, what if you were paid $0.25 every time you watched an ad or read a promotional email? If it’s true that attention is the only scarcity we have in this world of abundance, how come you and I are giving our attention away for free? (Kevin Kelly on the A16Z podcast)

The Dixie Chicks are back with their first new song in over a decade 🙌🏼

It can be hard to see the gradual improvement of things over time, so here’s a wonderful list to remind you that our lives have gotten better since the 1990s. 📈

The Minimum Wage Machine is a unique way to get more people to feel the grinding futility of those jobs. For as long as they turn the crank, the user is paid in pennies as time passes. For example, if minimum wage is $7.25/hour, then the worker is paid one penny every 4.97 seconds. 💰

A great question bank for better 1:1s by First Round Review.❓

These architecturally rendered spaces are going on my life mood board. 💭

Jason Kottke shares observations from a trip to Vietnam, Signapore, and Qatar. But the main observation I came home with after this trip is this: America is a rich country that feels like a poor country. If you look at the investment in and the care put into infrastructure, common areas, and the experience of being in public in places like Singapore, Amsterdam, Paris, and Berlin and compare it to American cities, the difference is quite stark. Individual wealth in America is valued over collective wealth and it shows. 🏞

Panera’s new unlimited coffee subscription is brilliant. ☕

Move over influencers. Here come curators. Modern aspiration is not about having money to buy things, but having taste to know what to buy. 🔮

12 life goal categories to maintain balance. ⚖

I love this advice on entrepreneurship from the founder of Masterclass: Don’t do it. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. You will for sure lose friends, cry, sleep less, gain weight, lose self confidence, earn less money, and probably fail. But if you still really want to do it — it’ll change your life in the most amazing ways. You’ll see how much impact you can have in the world, spend time with people you would have never thought you’d ever meet, learn a tremendous amount about everything, feel emotions you never have, and be surprised every day. 💯

This, on writing 🔥👇🏽

I hate trend reports, but this recap of consumer tech trends is worth your time. 🔮

IAB releases a list of the 250 most disruptive U.S. D2C brands and services 🛍

This is so true. Companies share whatever information’s convenient to them — ranging from cash profits to being voted the best place to work in a city👇🏽💯

Jesse Beyroutey of IA Ventures on dominance friction. One thing that might surprise you about dominance is how companies get it. You might think it comes from rapacious win-at-all costs business practices, or from raising large amounts of money to snuff out competition. But we’ve found that the primary source for a company’s dominance is whether it designs its product and business model to be perfectly aligned with its customers’ interests. 💥

If you’re not convinced capital is a commodity… 👇🏽

Eliqs creates custom, designed-forward craft beverage cans for any occasion worth celebrating. They transform what would otherwise be a “generic” beverage option into a beautiful canvas of custom art, targeted messaging, and ultimately, a photogenic conversation piece. While they serve weddings and private events, they’ve expanded into the B2B world, as brands and companies in industries such as hospitality, entertainment and tech desperately try to find new ways to amplify their brand in creative ways. I love design-forward businesses that introduce a simpler and more tasteful experience. This isn’t about slapping your brand’s logo on a can of craft beer and calling it a day. It’s about pushing boundaries through design. They’re pretty under the radar, but I was drawn to how simple it is and I think there’s a lot of room to grow and expand beyond beverages to places like branded merch (there’s a lot of money here and most of it sucks).

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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