Discover more from Pete Lead’s startup updates
Pete's November 2022-January 2023 update
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Q: What do you get if you write a monthly newsletter at the end of November and forget to press send?
A: A quarterly update!
OK, most of the below was written in early December. Since then: I took 3 weeks off over Xmas/NY and spent a lot of time in the garden and the kitchen.
The last time we had the fire on was early December. 🤣 We occasionally use the aircon but otherwise it’s a lovely temperate with lots of sunlight. About 2 days per week we draw more electricity from the grid than we put back, and about half the time we get a negative power bill for the day. Our current monthly bill is estimated to be $5. 😎
Wildlife and Garden
The garden knows its growing season. Lots of new growth, long grass, weeds and vines. It’s still a delight to have Lucy bring a trug (basket) full of herbs and veges up for a meal. Strawberry and blackcurrant harvests have been bountiful. Raspberries are sparse but amazing. The apples and plums are not quite ripe yet.
We bought a lawnmower. It is the best. Until now we have used a whipper-snipper (or “weed eater” in the local dialect) and then spent hours raking up the grass. Not a good time. The lawnmower cuts the workload in half. Living the dream.
I helped a neighbour build a raised garden bed. He’s a builder and former landscaper and I wanted to learn how he did things. Building it was the easy part. The hard labour happened before I got there — digging out the side of the hill, getting everything measured and level, sawing the sleepers to size. I helped put the sleepers together into rectangles, lift them into place, and left before the next laborious stage of filling it with soil.
We see amazing things on our walks. Sealions wandering along the beach or snoozing under trees. Dolphins frolicking in the shallows. Black backed gulls dropping mussels to crack their shells. The seagulls have started to nest, and the terns are arriving from wherever they go in Winter.
Last week we celebrated 100 days without an incident. [Update: 😭😭] Well done, Nutmeg. Our carpets thank you. 🙏
Nutmeg is becoming more independent. She used to always want to be in the same room as either Lucy (mostly) or me (sometimes). She has a bed in the middle of the house that she now spends much of her day on. Or lying on a mat in the sun. I’m glad that she’s more comfortable and confident living here.
She has been on some light pain medication since we saw the behaviouralist vet, because the vet thought that Meg’s short temper might be because she is in constant pain. It has helped a lot and we are noticing slow improvement in her ability to cope. Last week she saw a dog physio who confirmed that there are some physical issues that are causing pain. Poor little Nutmeg.
But in happy news we were recommended a bookable private dog paddock. We’ve been there a couple of times and Nutmeg LOVES it. She can be so far away from us (and not cause trouble)! It will become a regular thing this year.
In other news, we weighed her at the vet and she has lost a little bit of weight. So that makes one of us… 😬
I will eventually put more photos up at nutmeg.ju.mp
“The Documentary is published - you're in it”
The History of the Australian Startup Ecosystem audio documentary is now live, and I… I get a pretty prime position in the first episode, right after the intro/ad break.
After you hear from me, you get a fascinating look back at the first startups-before-there-were-startups in Australia. I learned a lot! Well worth a listen.
‘tis the season for unsubscribing
Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Xmas! So many emails from businesses that are no longer relevant to me! I got one last week from a pub in a part of England I’m pretty sure I’ve not even been to. (Looked like a nice place, though.)
Something I thought was spam was actually quite different. Someone has been putting money into my account! I got a notification that someone put $100 into my business account with the description “donation”. I contacted the bank to say "I don’t know who this is and if it’s a scam I can’t figure it out.” Another $50 arrived from the same person, and we managed to reverse both transactions. Then a week later another $50 arrived, “donation”, from the same person. So weird.
Meanwhile I’ve been getting ads for seniors’ funeral insurance. 🤨
I knew September and October were going to be big months at work. Lots of deadlines on big projects. They were. And on the afternoon of 2 November I started to crash. Spent the next 4 days laid out, mostly sleeping.
Then back into it for a busy month of info sessions and awards nights and pre-launches. We had a kickoff weekend for one of our big grant-funded programs, which made me realise how much I’d forgotten about planning face-to-face events! Wrapped up a 6-week training program we’ve been running for teachers on our new program, and got to test the new digital tool we’re building.
Also got to catch up with some cool people and do a bit of coaching and feedback to young founders.
All-in-all a productive month — but somehow less intense than the previous two.
I wrote that 👆 about November, obvs. December and January have been very productive, very intense months. I just reflected on what I was supposed to deliver November-Jan and the list was very very long. And thankfully mostly achieved, and otherwise making good progress. 👩🚀
Sinks: A metaphor. 🚰
Your daily work capacity is a sink. It holds a fixed amount of water. Taps and hoses pour into it from different projects and tasks. Sometimes the water is warm 🤗 — these are things that give you enjoyment and satisfaction. Sometimes the water is cold 🥶 — not fun. Not motivating. Someone pops by and drops an ice-cube in 🧊 — it’s only small, but it cools everything right down.
When you have too much water pouring into your work sink in a day it overflows — into someone else’s sink, or your personal sink. You work late. You do less of the things that add warm water to your life.
(Sometimes it works the other way, and you get so much warmth in your work sink that you can spend less time on personal warm water things. 🌡️)
For most of this year I’ve been ignoring my personal sink. Work sink overflowed regularly into it. When I did have a bit of time I didn’t know what to tap into. I built little things, apps for fun, wooden things for the garden. After publishing Startup Guide I didn’t write much, I’ve been out of the improv game for a while, and haven’t done any fun exercise in ages. These were things I enjoyed. I’m tired and my sinkwater is tepid.
That’s changing. I’m looking ahead to what I want to make and do. This weekend I re-read a short story I wrote in 2014 and it was really good! I want to polish that up, submit it somewhere, write some more, publish the follow-up to the Startup Guide.
(I often feel this way at the end of the year, I just realised, though usually it’s late December when I start ambitious new projects like this newsletter 2 years ago.)
Anyway, that’s the fire under my ass right now, and my plan for 2023.
Watch / Listen / Read
[Read: 5 minutes] Your Product is a Joke. Discovered a new Chrome plug-in, and it turns out the co-founder has a bit of improv in their background. “The rules that help make good improv comedy can surprisingly help make good product too. Let's run through interesting parallels between the two, and how you can apply some lessons from improv to build better product.”
[Browse] I can’t look away from the $44bn Tweet-wreck but also don’t want to read every article about the latest thing. So I get all my blue bird updates at twitterisgoinggreat.com 🐦
[Read: 2 minutes] Rent a mediocre white guy to pitch your startup: pitchface.com 🤣
[Watch: 10 minutes] Why we need subtitles now. I’ve watched things with subtitles on for years now. Often, Google Play and Apple TV don’t have any subtitles available, and it means I get the gist of dialogue but only about 80% of the words. And I *like* words. Now I can blame technology!
[Watch: 9 minutes] One of those videos that had a compelling thumbnail about springs and turned out to be a fascinating paradox about traffic. 🚗
Dante paused, smiled. “That’s funny,” he said.
“You’re not laughing.”
“It’s funny for a pun,” Dante said.
Me — I’m writing a story in which puns are important to the plot.
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