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Joe Blair_E7: The Future of Work is Hybrid [6/8/2020]

Joe Blair, VC at Cota Capital in The Bay Area


Note: References with links are listed at the end of the show notes.


1:00 Shares background in engineering, sustainability, and entry into venture space. Talks about experience starting a sharing economy, and Harvard to venture — seven years ago. Highlights his interest in the impact space. Discusses path leading him to Obvious Ventures, which invests in “World Positive” impact — combining profit and purpose.

3:15 Highlights current work with Cota Capital, which focuses on transformational B2B startups. Venture is a powerful mechanism to drive impact, and views impact as an evolved view.

4:00 Talks about his upbringing with family in real estate, and how building something from nothing, led him to see the value of building. Knowing the opportunity gave him an early ambition to view entrepreneurship, creating something that wasn’t there before.

6:30 We talk about Machines and Ai — and how venture capital thinking requires a different form of thinking than technical work. He shares ideas for Founders on how VC could be augmented. Mentions part of Peter Thiel’s book, ZERO TO ONE — how Founders should move toward opportunity areas where synthesis and judgement is required, and EQ. He shares his love of the industry, for it’s complexity and opportunity for personal improvement.

9:00 Briefly discusses upcoming Cota Foundation (*planned 2020 launch). Cota can invest at all different stages of a company’s lifecycle — including Seed / Series A / Public. Has over $500M AUM.

SECTION1: Impact of Remote Work

12:00 Explains macro view on what impact was originally to him. Shares passion for venture and it’s ability to provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of people. Thinking critically about mental health, and purpose people derive from their work.

13:30 Shares experience with Governor of Wyoming roundtable, to bring jobs to their state. Talk about Kanye West’s Wyoming Yeezy Campus.

14:30 Talks about the barriers to remote work, and how this question led him down path of remote work positive impact. Sees trends in entrepreneurs getting more sophisticated, in more remote places like Ohio, and aligning with places like Silicon Valley.

18:30 Tells story about forming Distributed Valley, starting last year in collaboration with Remo. Conference grew to over 450 people this year. Points to positive impacts from connections made, new learnings for the community, and the fantastic speakers who participated. Plans to branch out into other topics with Distributed Valley; open invitation.

25:00 We discuss the Future of Work, Digital Nomads, and Remote. Joe shares ideas of the hybrid Future of Work, which helps firms and individuals both succeed together. Discusses open space problem in the world — with roughly 80% living in 20% of land space (cities).

SECTION2: D&I and Digital Transformation

27:00 Shares experience as a multi-racial person. Talks about empathy as a bridge to Diversity and Inclusion. The key to bias reduction in the workplace, he feels remote can add to D&I significantly. Highlights age, geo, and race biases in hiring. Talks about value able to be unlocked from a broader D&I focus — along with lower cost components.

32:00 Bringing people out of the shadows, creates people’s best work, and acceptance of introversion through remote work, can add to this benefit, in his view. Work style and extroversion discussed (See references below).

33:00 Breaks out into Digital Transformation as a superset of Remote Work. Seed Digital Transformation as an application of understanding, and unbundling of established technologies. Sees Digital Transformation will be a continually evolving business opportunity.

35:00 Discusses opportunity space of D&I within the Digital Transformation space. I bring up my portfolio company Balloon (one of my portfolio companies) — supporting anonymous ideation. He shares conversation he had with CEO of Threads at RemoteExpo, on inclusion and remote work (see link below).

36:30 Breaks out into how capital can be deployed more efficiently. Digital technologies in the physical world is an area where he sees new industries. Shares a company he’s invested in within Construction and Robotics: Canvas — makes whole building process more sustainable and less costly. Talks about construction as being another large conservative opportunity with labor arbitrage component.

SECTION3: The Epic Human Story

39:00 Talks about his podcast The Epic Human, and his passion for it over the past two years. Expresses gratitude for the fascinating people who he has on show.

40:00 Shares story about his grandmother who grew up in Jamaica. The origins of the show was inspired by her. Discovers the power of story that each person holds in their life experience. He wants to give each guest a platform to shine — and has inspired me to do the same.

43:00 The Hero’s Journey stems from Joseph Campbell’s Mono-Myth and Dan Harmon’s Story Circle. We walk through the cycles within this philosophy (See links below).

44:00 Ask what aspect of the Hero’s Journey has inspired him most, with the interesting human’s he’s interviewed.

46:00 Talks about purposefully putting ourselves into uncomfortable situations, to enter the Hero’s Journey. Gives overview of stories from individual guests — including the CEO of 3d Robotics and former editor of Wired, Chris Anderson.


-Joe Blair: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joealanblair/

-The Epic Human Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/epichumanpod

-The Story of Joe’s Grandmother: https://www.epichumanpod.com/genesis

-Epic Human Article (w/Grandmother’s story): https://www.epichumanpod.com/genesis

-Cota Capital: https://www.cotacapital.com/

-Cota Foundation (*Launching 2020): https://www.cotacapital.com/foundation

-Distributed Valley: https://www.linkedin.com/company/distributed-valley/

-Remote Work Expo 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojYI4h29qr8

-Distributed Valley: https://www.linkedin.com/company/distributed-valley/

-Zero to One (Peter Thiel):


-EightSleep: https://www.eightsleep.com/

-Gusto: https://gusto.com/

-OpenGov: https://opengov.com/

-Kanye West Wyoming interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HiT3b-FJ_A

-Kanye’s Yeezy Campus (Wyoming): https://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/celebrity-homes/a32159682/kanye-west-yeezy-campus-wyoming/

-Study on Death Reduction Rates and COVID-19: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(20)30107-8/fulltext

-Remo (for Remote Work): www.remo.co

-History of Future of Work (Atlassian): https://www.atlassian.com/history-of-work

-Quiet Disadvantage (Extroversion / Introversion study): https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/quiet-disadvantage-study-finds-extroverts-are-happier-even-when-theyre-really-introverts/

-The Power of Introverts (TedTalk): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

-The Hidden Power of Quiet Bosses (HBR 2010): https://hbr.org/2010/12/the-hidden-advantages-of-quiet-bosses

-Free Myers & Briggs Personality Test: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

-HBR Digital Transformation 2019 waste statistics: https://hbr.org/2019/03/digital-transformation-is-not-about-technology

-RemoteExpo with CEO of Threads (Rousseau Kazi): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w65t7rlwQzw

-Canvas: https://www.canvas.build/

-The Hero’s Journey and Joseph Campbell’s MonoMyth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Zxt28ff-E

-Hero’s Journey book by Campbell: https://www.amazon.com/Heros-Journey-Joseph-Campbell-Collected/dp/1608681890

-Dan Harmon’s Story Circle: https://medium.com/@scottdistillery/dan-harmon-the-heros-journey-and-the-circle-theory-of-story-b64bb77d6976

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Song Credit: The Croft — By Joakim Karud

[ No Copyright on Music and Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 ]



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A Community focused on Venture Scale Positive Impacts. Produced by Zecca Lehn. On Twitter @posi2ive.