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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

A friend asked me what high schools should teach to avoid or undo the current crisis in which we find ourselves. I think the ideal set of classes would look something like this:

📚 Focus on critical thinking and research skills, especially the ability to discern bias and validity of sources online. Also try to instill a love of learning by reading actual books.

💰 Financial literacy, including doing your own taxes, saving money, paying off your credit card bills, having a bank account, tracking your recurring subscriptions, using crypto, etc.

🏋️‍♂️ Instead of dumb physical fitness classics like kickball, teach self-defense, weightlifting, bodyweight strength, and cardio/endurance. Self-defense is useful and builds confidence, as does weight training. Bodyweight exercises are something you can do anywhere, without equipment, for the rest of your life. …


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Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

If you think “liberal” and all the variations of “left” mean the same thing, let this be your wakeup call.

Many things described as “liberal” today mean the opposite of what was historically true and what many people expect, and this disconnect is likely contributing to some of heightened frustration we’re seeing in political arguments in 2020.

Be careful when using the word “liberal” if you care about clear language. Starting in roughly 2013, “liberal” veered sharply from its roots. It’s confusing, so much so that you’ll hear the word “illiberal” used to describe these contradictions (or “far/alt left,” or simply “not liberal”), while people sometimes use “classic liberal” to differentiate that they’re talking about basic enlightenment values. …


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It’s only in a totalitarian state where everyone appears to agree on hard topics. If you look around you and see that, it means people are silencing themselves or being silenced. Neither one is okay.

I’ve been silencing myself, but I’m done. Critical thinking, rational thought, and individual courage are how we escape the Orwellian nightmare we’re heading into. Censorship and control is not acceptable, even in the name of social justice. It’s time to stand up.

Have strong opinions, loosely held; maintain that looseness so you can modify your opinions when confronted with new information that you deem worthy. Only a fool blindly clings to his opinions in the face of new, possibly conflicting information. Be a critical thinker, not a zealot. You have the mental fortitude to sit across from an opposing idea, or a person who disagrees with you, and hear it. It will not infect you without your consent. …


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Season 2, episode 3, “Elementary, Dear Data

Lesson: only talk in a meeting if you have something useful to say

This post is part of my ongoing quest to watch every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and pull one startup, entrepreneurship, tech, or investing lesson from each.

“When the Enterprise arrives a few days early at its rendezvous point to meet the USS Victory, the crew have a bit of leisure time on their hands. For Data and Geordi Laforge, it means a trip to the holodeck and 221B Baker St. With Data in the role of Holmes and Laforge as Dr. Watson, they take on a challenge from Dr. Pulaski that Data couldn’t solve a genuine mystery. Data has a bit of time adjusting to a real mystery — as opposed to one for which he knows the outcome. …


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Illustration by Richie Stewart of Commoner Inc., www.richiestewart.com

TL;DR: I’m an Operating Partner at Accomplice as of January 2020. I’m a contractor, continuing to serve on boards, work with companies, run Rev Boston, develop content for Spearhead, and do a few other things for the firm. I’m a co-founder with my friend Isabella Patton of our new company, and focusing more on angel investing. The biggest change is that right now I’m not writing checks for Accomplice.

I’m still at Accomplice; this doesn’t mean I’m leaving. I’m now doing ~2.5 jobs; this doesn’t mean I’m available for hire. Or random coffees.

I’ve been at Accomplice for 5 years. I started as Director of Community in 2015, not in an investing role nor wanting one. I didn’t know anything about venture capital, honestly. I just loved working with startups, and that’s what I did. …


Avoid these ten instant disqualifiers

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Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

Fundraising is hard, especially for first-time founders. You have to learn a new language and skill set in addition to your day job (the not-so-minor task of getting a startup off the ground). Suddenly, you have to be conversant in valuations, SAFEs, fund theses, dilution, cap table math, term sheets, and allocations.

And if that wasn’t tough enough, nobody tells you that you’re tiptoeing around metaphorical landmines in the form of statements that investors hate to hear during fundraising.

These are “instant disqualifiers” — things that almost always make us pass in our heads the moment we hear them. We may sit through the rest of your pitch, but we’re mentally checked out. Instant disqualifiers are more than red flags; red flags point you in the direction of “no” but don’t guarantee it. …


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Season 2, episode 2: “Where Silence Has Lease

Lesson: most companies almost auto-destruct at some point

This post is part of my ongoing quest to watch every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and pull one startup, entrepreneurship, tech, or investing lesson from each.

“While en route to the Mogana quadrant, the Enterprise comes comes across a unique phenomena for the first time. It appears as a black void, with no matter or energy readings of any kind. As the Enterprise approaches the entity, it envelops the ship completely. They find however that they are unable to leave and when a Romulan vessel suddenly appears, Picard and the crew realize that something is amiss. …


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Season 2, episode 1: “The Child

Lesson: the best way to understand a group of people is to immerse yourself in them (e.g., user testing)

This post is part of my ongoing quest to watch every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and pull one startup, entrepreneurship, tech, or investing lesson from each.

“The ship has a new chief medical officer, Dr. Katherine Pulaski, now that Beverley Crusher has been made head of Starfleet Medical. The Enterprise is on an emergency mission to collect plague samples for analysis but Counselor Troi unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. She also finds her pregnancy advancing very quickly with conception to birth expected to take no more than 48 hours. Once born, the child, whom Troi names Ian Andrew after her father, grows at a rapid rate, proceeding through childhood in a matter of hours. …


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Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

For all the millennials, introverts, and members of the general populace who realize that it’s 2019 and technology has given us more efficient options for solving problems than talking on the phone, here’s a voicemail template for you. I’m one robocall away from putting this up myself.

Hi, you’re attempting to reach me on the phone for a task that can 100% be done without us actually talking. Please listen to the following options for an easy resolution of your needs that doesn’t require us hearing each others’ voices:

1. You’re attempting to deliver food

I have the app open, I can see the icon for your car, and I’m waiting at the door. I’m literally standing there right now. You don’t need to call me; I see you. …


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Season 1, episode 25: “The Neutral Zone

Lesson: tech obsolescence only gets faster

This post is part of my ongoing quest to watch every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and pull one startup, entrepreneurship, tech, or investing lesson from each.

“Data finds an ancient space module from Earth containing three intact people, frozen for 370 years, all of whom died of incurable diseases and were placed in cryogenic freeze in the hopes that cures might be found in the future. While Dr. Crusher treats and revives them, Starfleet sends the Enterprise to the edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone, where Federation outposts and personnel have disappeared after decades without Romulan contact. …

About

Sarah A. Downey

Operating Partner at Accomplice. Formerly of Ovuline & Abine. I’m an angel investor, writer, lawyer, gamer, & liker of sci-fi & the Enneagram.

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