WEEK OF Being a Bug in a Jar

This week,

We went to the The Next Web conference in New York City! ...well, on the pier in Red Hook, so technically across the river from New York City, where you don’t get cell service but can eat fresh lobster on the docks. The conference was interesting and did its job of pulling some heavy hitter speakers with good things to say, but no groundbreaking progress was made in nature of technology.

Ah, the strange nature of tech conferences! 

It is often like someone put a bunch of bugs that don’t belong together in a jar with a broken off twig. Meaning to say, when you, a bug, climb atop the proverbial twig to eat lunch, you never quite know if the thing next to you is friend or foe, but you both are resigned to sitting on the twig to chat because, well, you are bugs in a jar, so what else are you going to do?

It has always struck me as odd that not knowing if the person next to you works for a venture capital firm, is a serial advisor who sucks the equity lifeblood of unsuspecting startups, serves as the editor for a relevant press outlet, or is just an entrepreneur like me, is almost the point of conferences. 

It’s like supercharged serendipity. You could meet the person who is going to lead your funding round or find the unicorn you have always dreamed of. You’re both there and just have to hope you’ll find the same area of twig. 

But this has its downside, of course. Some of us don’t function well on serendipity, and in fact, a lot of the most capable people I know thrive on structure and transparency of motives. When you have the internal cognitive capacity that most good founders do, it can come paired with a some of the atypical social habits that become fun chapters in a biography after success.

Yesterday wasn’t the first time that I spoke with several people who struggle with this, and it won’t be the last. Conferences seem a sloppy solution to getting people all in the same place to mix and mingle. But, someone hasn’t found an alternative yet. So can we all try to make a bit of room, build a little structure, for those of us who are really big fans of it?

A certain amount of sociability and likeability is key to being a good founder, but let’s do that in a less elect-the-high-school-prom-king way. What happened to just being a friendly and genuine person, having a really great barkada? Is picking the most interesting bug in a jar really how we want to find future founders?

I personally go for the fireflies. When they’re sitting on a twig, there isn’t much to them, but if you take the time, wait until the sun sets and the lid comes off the jar, they light up. 

Catch up on the latest from our blog! This week, Brandon says that, in our new app RDV, users “aren’t our product,” and Nicole makes the case that, like it or not, social media is media.

Currently reading:The Great Silence,” by Ted Chiang

Currently watching: Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston on Studio 1.0

Currently listening to: Watsky’s “Glowing Screens, Part 2

Latest purchase: RDV swag! Coozies and beanies, just in time for the holidays. DM us on Twitter, and we’ll send you some merch.