What a Month! It's Ben (November 2022) — The End of the Campaign + What’s Next

publishedabout 1 year ago
7 min read

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! This month, I wrapped up my work on the Beto campaign, hosted my parents in Austin, and traveled back to Chicago.

But before I dive into how I spent this past month, I wanted to lead off with my thoughts on what I plan to do next.

On What's Next

I’ve spent the past 10+ months exploring various interests and activities and have gotten some unique experiences out of it. I spent a month in Hawaii, enrolled in an online writing course, spun up a blog and this newsletter, brewed beer, angel invested, launched an e-commerce brand, performed standup comedy, and worked on a political campaign.

But now, I feel ready to commit to something for the long-haul that I can have sustained passion towards.

My first job out of college was “tech founder” and I was fortunate to have some semblance of success with the first company I created. As a result, I’ve very much had “tech founder” as a part of my personal identity since I was 22.

But I recently came to the realization that I’m not quite sure that I have the stomach to start another tech startup at this time.

De-coupling “tech founder” from my identity has been strange. It’s also forced me to critically consider what I want to do professionally for the first time since I was a junior in college.

With Zcruit, I was good at sales and I was good at product. But my enjoyment of those activities largely stemmed from the fact that it was fun to create the product I wanted to build and fun to sell the product that I had dreamed up. Putting 100% of my professional time and energy towards building or selling a product derived from someone else’s vision doesn’t sound nearly as fulfilling.

When it came to thinking through what functional work I actually enjoy doing, I took myself back to that junior-in-college me that had things fairly figured out (prior to stumbling onto the startup path). I studied organizational change and lined up an internship with Deloitte’s human capital consulting division because of my interest in the people side of business. And when I reflected on my time running Zcruit, I realized that I cared most deeply about setting up a culture and processes that could enable people to have enjoyable and productive work experiences.

So after zeroing in on my interest in people and organizational processes, I’ve decided to explore three different paths over the coming weeks and months – each of which I believe would set me up for a fulfilling next professional chapter.

(1) People Operations

I would love to help shape the culture and processes that enable people at a company to do the best work of their lives.

As a result, I plan to seek out a Head of People job at a company with 20-40 employees. In addition, I’m going to explore people operations roles at companies / with leaders that I admire and would benefit learning from.

(2) Organizational Transformation and Design

I’m also intrigued by the idea of helping companies adopt more forward-thinking ways of working. To explore this line of work further, I’m going to look into modern, boutique org transformation consultancies, along with internal org transformation roles within larger companies.

(3) Retreat Planning

With the post-pandemic explosion of remote work, in-person meet-ups and retreats have become important mechanisms for companies to build culture, establish team camaraderie, and improve employee retention.

Yet most companies don’t have the people on staff with the time or expertise to knock retreat planning and facilitation out of the park.

Because of this, a friend and I have begun connecting with companies around planning their offsite events and company meet-ups and I’m excited to see where it goes!

Next Steps

I plan to spend December reaching out to folks regarding all three of these potential routes to learn as much as I can. And when the calendar year flips around, I’ll work to lock-in my next full-time pursuit.

If any of y’all know people that I might benefit talking to regarding any of these paths, I’d greatly appreciate the connections as well.

It’s daunting to commit to a full-time pursuit. But nearly a year of wandering and exploring has showed me that it’s more unfulfilling not to commit to anything at all. I’m excited to find sustained purpose and passion in my work again. And it’ll be welcomed to get stability and consistency back in my life.

The End of the Campaign

At 9pm on the night before the election, Beto spoke over Zoom to the 400 people that were working full-time for his campaign. He gave a fiery speech to remind us of what we were fighting for and to motivate us to give it our all on election day.

That next morning, I woke up at 5am and spent 6:30am-6:30pm trying to turn out the vote – largely through knocking on doors of folks that we knew had voted for Democrats in the past but had not yet voted in this election.

Every three hours I’d make my way back to the park that I was stationed at on the north side of town to train volunteers and send them on their way. But otherwise, I just knocked away (with a brief Jimmy John’s break sprinkled in midway through).

As it was getting dark and with the polls about to close in Austin, I headed home and hopped on the phone dialer for a little while to hit the counties whose polling places were open for one more hour. And then, I called a Lyft to a bar to meet up with the Austin field organizing team.

As soon as the count began, it was pretty clear that the result wasn’t going to go our way. The race wound up getting called for Abbott at around 9:30pm. And from there, the 30 or so of us at the bar commiserated through a couple rounds of drinks.

Losing wasn’t a shock, but it was still deflating to have worked so hard for a losing cause. Nonetheless, we gave it our all and I’m proud of the effort we put in.

Other Updates

  • I wrote this story about my experience meeting Amy O’Rourke on the campaign trail and feel really proud of it.
  • My parents visited Austin over the weekend of November 18th. It was cold and rainy but we still had a good time eating barbecue and tacos, listening to live music, checking out an art museum, and watching Michigan football eke out a victory over Illinois.
  • I flew back to Chicago on November 23rd and I’ll be in town through the New Year. I’m excited to catch up with my Chicago people over the coming weeks!
  • Also, I’m set to visit New York City from December 15th-20th and am looking forward to seeing friends out there as well 😊

Friends Doing Cool Things

  • Igor Karlicic and Bhargav Maganti had a huge month of press with their company Monarc and their flagship product – the robotic quarterback named The Seeker. First, they were featured on The Daily Show with correspondent Michael Kosta. And then, CBS Sports ran a bit with The Seeker competing in the Dr. Pepper Tuition Toss Giveaway against a notable QB named Brady (…former Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn, that is).
  • Michael Gibson recently published his first book, Paper Belt on Fire: How Renegade Investors Sparked a Revolt Against the University. Based on Michael’s experience co-creating a successful venture capital firm centered around funding college dropouts, Paper Belt on Fire explores how higher education and other institutions must evolve to meet the dire challenges of tomorrow. I’m looking forward to digging into it over the holidays!
  • The media brand Entrepreneur recently created their own Shark Tank-esque TV show called Elevator Pitch. There, Orri Bogdan and Chaim Weinerman got the opportunity to pitch their company, VAE Labs, makers of a caffeine spray where three sprays equals one cup of coffee. Spoiler: VAE Labs wound up receiving $100,000 at an 8 million dollar valuation from Marc Randolph (Co-Founder of Netflix) and Nicole Walters (CEO of Inherit Learning Company) to help fund the company in advance of their early 2023 product launch. You can watch their appearance here!

Monthly Favorites

📝 Article: The ‘Air Bud’ Plausibility Rankings by Rodger Sherman – In honor of the World Cup, I’m going to share this throwback from 2017 where Rodger Sherman breaks down all five of the Air Bud movies from most to least plausible. Buddy winning the World Series MVP in Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch checks in as least plausible. But Air Bud 3: World Pup isn’t too far behind.

In the last five minutes of Air Bud 3: World Pup, Buddy is called on to play goalie during the penalty shootout in the Women’s World Cup final after starter Briana Scurry gets injured. And Rodger asks some great questions about that, including:

  • Why is Buddy — clearly established as a boy dog — playing in the Women’s World Cup?
  • Most soccer teams carry three goalkeepers. Can Hollywood make a sequel about the professional goalie whom this coach decided was third-string behind Air Bud?

Rodger also digs into the debate around how dogs wear pants to make the case that Buddy commits handball violations every time he dribbles – and I’ve got to say, he brings up a valid point.

🎵 Song: I don’t think I had a singular standout song from this past month. I’ve been enjoying the new Taylor Swift and Payday albums and various songs I’ve Shazam-ed from my local Austin coffee shops and cocktail bars. My top three most played songs of the month have been Wasted on You by Morgan Wallen (surprise!), Ladybug by Garçons, and Hey Ma by Cam'Ron — so I guess I'll leave y'all with those!

Thanks for reading! As always, if anything I shared resonated with you, I’d love for you to shoot me a reply 😊

Til Next Month,


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