Linky Brain, Linky Brains.
Hello, doug_scott. We’re “twitter friends”. Never met. You pinged me with this: Linky Brains. Linky Brains. Nice hashtag. Linky Brains. Immediately got it, terrible yet great name, poorly designed logo, perfect. Alex Dunsdon came up with the name apparently — another like minded individual.
LinkyBrain is like Fight Club. Except the first rule is that you should talk about it. Nobody owns it, and you can’t quite define it. You know it if you “are” it. And the good news is, you can define membership of this club in any way you want. No one will judge you.
Soooooo, LinkyBrain, LinkyBrain, what do you see ?
I NEVER stop thinking — ideas whirl through my mind, they morph, they are like constantly evolving landscapes. The constant hum of constant thinking cannot be brought to a halt; it can be tamed to a murmur, like the running water of a stream, where contemplation and self-reflection are possible. But soon, like a torrent or a Steve Reich composition, the loops of constantly streaming thoughts will take over again. Over time you learn to choose, when to let it roam, when to be present. Balance, itself, is a project.
I run. I’m running the Boston Marathon this week. Running is great for LinkyBrains. I don’t know how other runners think but a long run to me feels like 2001 a Space Odyssey — moments of absolute calm punctuated by radical accelerations of thought with some creative moments, then back to feeling the breath and the blood flow through my veins, to having my mind transported by sunset and realizing how small of an interstellar ship we all sit on, to simply feeling my body move and wanting to beat the clock. Often all at the same time, when somehow the blockchain and death and heartache and the sunset all combine into one and it looks like a rotating black polyedron and, bizarrely, it all makes sense, in that moment.
I probe. LinkyBrain has little to no filter — it relentlessly searches for the truth. As my partner Harry Stebbings put it, it is sometimes terrifyingly intense. It’s like the Eye of Mordor, searching into your soul. I can be awkward, and I can be uncomfortable. But we will explore new territory together — if you trust me.
I care, a lot. I mean well. I want to create, elevate, nurture, enable. I am sometimes clumsy, awkward or frankly off base but I try to be all about you. I’m generous. I realized, a while ago, that strength only comes from helping others. That is in itself a path. Loving yourself and then pushing your attention towards others. Holding that paradox in your mind’s eye, and reconciling with your own failings.
I (REALLY) don’t like rules. I question them incessantly. I don’t like organized religion either. I never belonged to any clubs; I never applied to join Soho House :-). I don’t like to judge and I distrust people who do. I think life is a personal journey, that you can and should travel on your own timetable.
I like radical candor, to a fault.
I have confidence, but I hate pedestals.
I’m always passionate and sometimes too emotional. Learning the necessary distance between emotion and reaction took me time.
Slowing down is tough for me, but precious and rich. Before I learned to slow down, often I wouldn’t really “see” the people around me.
LinkyBrains come with downsides too.
I suck at inbox zero. I’m average at personal admin. I’m inconsistent with my friends. I’m not always reliable. Sometimes I’m weird. Sometimes I take too much risk. Occasionally, I get upset and I’m not always sure why. But if you’re my friend, I will raise your kid if you die. And I will buy you dinner in the meantime :-)
I took a lot of shame and insecurity from childhood. I’m not blaming anyone. It drove me to excel. But also : to present to the world what it wanted to see. I’m smart enough, you can’t catch me. Until you realize the race is futile. You can only lean into discomfort and learn your own truth. I’m much better at this today, but man, it took me too long to learn.
At my most successful — all I wanted to do was to tear myself off my pedestal. Loss and failure came, and both were valuable teachers.
I love what I do. I exercise a craft; it’s called venture capital. I have strong opinions about how that craft should be exercised. I don’t care what you think, I want to make a dent in world, and for me that dent comes from making founders successful . I think venture capital done well (with a LinkyBrain, ha), is the most privileged job in the world, and I want to make my founders and my investors proud.
I have a functional mode around startups that is often a selection of the best of me. You will get my absolute, fullest engagement. I care. I am thoughtful. I have two unique skills : I can derive simplicity from complexity and I can often frame how you pitch your own business better than you can. This is not boastful — it’s just knowing what you’re good at. I helps frame what you do. This is my Linky Brain at its best — I can help you make non-obvious conceptual connections and turn them into actionable insights.
How I am with founders has ALWAYS given me the confidence I needed to know what I could achieve in my personal life, even when times were tough. This, besides my kids, was always my rock in moments of self-doubt. For this LinkyBrain, my mission is my anchor.