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Sunday July 3, 2022
What I learned this week | Expansion
Hey everyone, Happy Fourth of July! I hope everyone is having a terrific long weekend. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
My feed this week
I attended a panel on psychedelics at The Standard in Miami, reminding me of how nascent the industry is. This database is an excellent resource for learning about the space.
Another Union Square Ventures shout-out. Mario at The Generalist wrote this piece on how USV is likely the best-performing VC ever.
I finished reading my friend Victoria Song's book Bending Reality. Victoria is a VC-turned super coach for founders and executives. I learned a ton from this book; top read of 2022 so far.
What I learned this week
Still day one for psychedelics. The efficacy data on psychedelic treatment for things like alcoholism, depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD are eye-popping - think most successful study ever. Yet psychedelics are big-time illegal in all states but one (Oregon) and only partially decriminalized in four. The data sets from clinical trials are minimal, but the US is moving toward greater openness and legalization for some compounds as early as 2023. There are just a handful of investment firms focused on the space, and they have "woo woo" names like Palo Santo VC. In 2021, only ~$750M was invested in US psychedelic startups, doubling over 2020. There are almost no Series A-B funds, and the industry badly needs capital.
Integrity wins. USV became the best through discipline, betting on big ideas and less seasoned teams, and doing the right thing - even funding dying companies so founders could close doors with dignity.
Expansion. The central theme of Bending Reality is contraction versus expansion. In contraction, everything feels hard. We fight, grind, and push to accomplish things and see only black and white solutions. Wins from contraction feel unsatisfying no matter the triumph. On the other hand, expansion is like being in the zone or "flow state." Things come natural, results feel supernatural, and we see many possible outcomes. The primary thing I learned is that contraction isn't a bug; it's a feature. Victoria says that accessing expansion comes through contraction. While we naturally want to suppress negative emotions, feeling them entirely is where the real lessons are. More below.
Try this on
I wrote a Medium piece in 2019 called "Problem Solving From The Present." It's about separating stories from reality, and it's the #1 tool I have when I'm stuck. I reworked it to include what I learned from Victoria's book. Feelings, who would have thought?
Step 1 - Got a problem? Write it down on paper.
Step 2 - Next, jot down the reality of it - facts, tangible things, and words spoken by real people only. (Pro-tip: the words in your head don't count.)
Step 3 - Write down the narrative you have about it. Include everything and let it be messy and ruthlessly honest - all positive and negative interpretations.
Step 4 - Lean into the narrative and put the feeling volume on blast. Try to feel the whole experience of the story at its loudest level. Feel that shit, and write all the emotions down too.
Step 5 - Cross out the narrative in Step 3. Let it go like it never happened. (Pro-tip: it didn't. You experienced an event and feelings. The story you have about it? You made that bit up.)
Step 6 - Rewrite the narrative from a place of power or expansion, i.e., anything's possible.
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