narcissistic echoing

Why many entrepreneurs are privately suffering, and what to do about it 

“Killing It” Isn’t Worth It 

"As popular culture continues to glamorize startups, the harsh reality that 90 percent of them fail is consistently ignored." -Alexa Tsotsis, TechCrunch

I haven’t really considered this statistic in terms of mental health. Lots of thoughts going through my head right now.

The relationship between madness and genius is well documented. And I almost feel like a certain degree emotional instability is necessary (on my part) in order to really be productive and have impact.. and I don’t feel like I have enough of a safety net right now to really go as crazy as I want to.

What about those people who aren’t as aware of their own mental health as I am? What about those people who have absolutely no safety net?

These are the innovators. These are the people with theories on how to make the world a better place who are driven to test their theories at all cost.. and possibly 90% of the time, that cost is themselves.

Somehow, we need to fix this. If there was ever an opportunity for innovation in mental healthcare, this is it! If 90% of startups fail, single digit improvements to this number is worth billions if not trillions of dollars. The potential ROI of a mental health system that helps entrepreneurial minded people AND their creativity flourish is impossible to ignore.

Somewhere in here there’s a call to action for VCs and startup incubators.

In fact, fuck startup incubators. What we really need are people incubators that help people develop and grow from project to project.. startup to startup.

When a startup fails, THAT’s where the real opportunity lies in growing our human capital. THAT’s the ideal time to invest in an entrepreneur. And THAT’s exactly the point in which we learn about the insecurity and fear that was experienced by entrepreneurs before the official point of ‘failure’.

We have a great system emerging for incubating the lifecycle of products. Can we build a integrated and parallel system for incubating the lifecycle of people?

I wonder what the best language for talking about all this is..

The study, led by James MacCabe, a senior lecturer in psychiatric epidemiology at the Institute of Psychiatry, compared the final school exam grades of all Swedish pupils aged 15-16 from 1988 to 1997, with hospital records showing admissions for bipolar disorder up to age 31. The fourfold increased risk of the condition for pupils with excellent exam results remained after researchers controlled for parental education or income. The findings are published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. They suggest that mania may improve intellectual and academic performance, accounting for the link with “genius”. People with mild mania are often witty and inventive, appearing to have “enhanced access to vocabulary, memory and other cognitive resources”. They tend to have exaggerated emotional responses which may “facilitate their talent in art, literature or music”. In a manic state individuals have “extraordinary levels of stamina and a tireless capacity for sustained concentration”.

tumblr, my new emotional outlet

Tumblr keeps growing, and I’ve just decided I have to stop ignoring it. This was my primary blog for a short bit before I moved over to hosted wordpress.

But this blog is still here, and rather than delete it, I think I’ll start using it as a completely different thing entirely.

Among other things, I think this is the public medium where I’ll let myself feel safe expressing self doubt.

I used to feel a lot of self doubt about my writing, and it held me back. I broke through that barrier last year.

In fact, I’ve had a tendency to keep starting new blogs in different places each time I wanted to try and start blogging ‘for realz this time’.

After a decade of false starts, I finally broke through the blogging barrier and have been blogging at http://captaincalliope.net. That’s my public public face.

Maybe this will be my private public face. My home made of glass.

I used to experience paralyzing anxiety, and I still experience a lot of fear. I’m lonely, but I never realized how lonely until last year. I’m still learning to take care of myself.

I also happen to think I’m an absolute badass.

I get mood swings just like everyone else and as I get older I keep learning how to manage them better.

But I’ve also learned that I work best when I have periods of slight mania.. genius and madness do indeed go hand in hand.

I aspire to get to a place in life where I can afford to let myself go into crazy land more often thereby deepening my mood swings a bit for the creative bursts they enable.

But I’m not there yet, so for now my bouts of madness will be measured and my day to day will continue to have more emotional consistency with less creative vigor.

I’ll sacrifice my suffering now so I can suffer greater birthing pains when I’m actually able to support them.

Or maybe not.. perhaps there’s a way to up my levels of crazy without necessarily increasing the volatility of my mood swings. That would be an amazing personal achievement, and a much greater aspiration.

I’ve been wanting to have a place to admit things like this in public without necessarily impacting the work that I do. It seems like Facebook, Twitter, and even my personal blog are all pieces for me to use strategically.. but it’s also important to have an emotional outlet. And I really don’t know how to do anything like this privately.. so here we go. Let’s try Tumblr out is my personal space for self-centered psychosocial rambling.

Proposal: Google+Circles and #Squares

This whole Google+ circles model is still brand spankin’ new to the social media experience and we’re all still trying to figure out. Including Google.

In the meantime, Chris Messina who started the whole Twitter #hashtag thing (he’s currently on the Google+ team) is trying to figure out what’s next. Last night he posted this to Google+:

So, I suppose the question is, can we come up with a better spec for G+ to implement and adopt today?

In the middle of the conversation thread, Ben Petro made this suggestion:

Why not use the shape analogy? Like, create ‘squares’ of topics you want to share, and be able to quickly add your posts to different squares.

I wrote a response, and I thought I’d post it here! (Just in case my little proposal ever becomes or inspires an actual thing.)

This is really a question regarding aggregation, which is one of Google+s strengths so far.

The ‘squares concept’ really resonates with me. It hints at structure and top down orderliness. When we talk about public space, it’s either the public ‘sphere’ or the public ‘square’. I think the concept of the square really scales here to describe subsets of opt-in public groupings.. whereas circles should remain tied to the idea of private groupings.

Conceptually then, ‘Public’ is not a circle but a square. It’s the one global square that everyone is a part of. The proverbial content firehose of the main stream.

Circles should be private and start with one person and grow all the way up to the maximum limit.

Squares should be owned by individuals as circles are, but they’re opt in. When you add someone to your ‘Following’ circle, you are seen by those users as following their public square. Alternatively, you can opt into choosing to follow an individuals other public squares to receive a subset of their posts.

Example: If my profile is a public profile, I automatically get one public square by default. Everyone who adds me to a circle is in in fact following my personal public square. Additionally, I can create squares based on interest, community, project, etc. I can’t add anyone to squares, but I can ask people to follow one or another to the exclusion of my other public squares.

And then there’s the ‘Extended Network.’ Let’s say I want to target a public post towards followers of +Chris Messina . Instead of tagging him, I’d tag his public square with #Chris Messina. Followers of +Chris Messina don’t see my post unless they are looking at the public feed around Chris. Of course, I can always use the hashtag in a private post thereby starting a private conversation around his private square.

(I suppose my proposed hashtag usage in Google+ is a combination of twitter hashtags and facebook all posts.)

Now, let’s say +Chris Messina has a #getfirefox square he filters posts to. I don’t care about anything else he posts, so I follow that square and maybe one other. His other public posts don’t exist in my stream. If I filter my stream around Chris’ getfirefox square, I have the choice of seeing his content, or expanding to the global public stream around his square (like following a twitter hashtag). Now let’s say I want to target a post about firefox to a few of my circles, and Chris’ public square. i should be able to do that by simply typing #Chris Messina#getfirefox. This post would appear in the streams of the people in my chosen circles, as well as the public stream around Chris’ #getfirefox square. In a sense, this is also a much more targeted form of ‘Extended Circles’

All that sounds complicated when typed out, but I think the experience of it can be made as simple as circles. Soo… recapping a bit.

Circles are private but inclusive; 1 up to 5000(+?)
Visual: People exist inside the circle.

'Extended Network' is the least private you can get. They're feel semi-public.
Visual: Triple node thingy which indicates circles around circles.

Squares are public but exclusive; global down to 1
Visual: People congregate outside/around squares

Tagging a post with circles and squares essentially builds a single post bridge between that circle within that public square. This can be visualized as circles inside the squares.

Tagging a private post with a circle but using a hashtag within it creates a one-way bridge (a link, one might say) between that circle and the square. Being able to do this is important because of search. If I search/follow a hashtag/square, I’ll be able to see both public an private posts I’m a part of within the same stream. Squares within circles, so to speak.

It’s all very simple really.

Well, that went a little long. I wonder if there’s a character limit…


And then:

One other note, this circles and square dichotomy becomes increasingly interesting when organizations come into the picture! The Mozilla foundation can then have their own public square for #firefox in addition to Chris’ public square for #firefox. I guess this implies that we’d be adding squares to circles in addition to circles to squares…

You can follow the entire conversation thread here: http://plus.google.com/102034052532213921839/posts/Hjaq8prh8mv

My Master Plan

Things change so quickly this day and age that having a plan just doesn’t cut it anymore. Adaptability and a willingness to throw everything you’ve planned for out the window at a moments notice are key to survival.

The point of this being is that anyone who says they have a master plan pretty much has a mark on their head.

Guess what?

I have a Master Plan!

(That’s with capitals ‘M’ and ‘P’)

I consider my master plan to be extremely realistic and viable. Furthermore, I’ll be the first to admit it will never happen. Ever.

I now have once had a master plan… so what’s next for mastermind such as myself to occupy his time with?

Seeing as global scale planning at the individual level is prohibitively difficult in the current environment, I’m thinking we need a framework for agile collective planning.

And so I have a plan for us to plan how we all plan our plans. (No, that’s not how I’m going to pitch it.)

I’m writing a bunch of project proposals right now and they all seem to be converging upon a single extensively modular proposal framework. As I start publishing the first few proposal drafts these next few weeks, I want to start exploring the development of an open framework for creating nested and networked proposals. (No, that’s not how I’m going to pitch it either.)

Because what’s better than ones own master plan? A plan that we can call OUR Master Plan!

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