Coronavirus Log: Day 5 – Jobs are Disappearing

Where my head is:

I’m mostly thinking about all the businesses that will go under and fighting to keep Onward from doing so as well.  I had a part-time Onward reach out last night that her other work has all disappeared. I read an interview of some bar and restaurant owners who talked about only being able to survive for a month or two. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped to its highest level in two years. I don’t see how most businesses can survive for more than a few months. I keep thinking of the forest fire metaphor. It is a terrible and destructive thing but it clears out old brush and allows for new growth. There will be many new businesses that emerge from this and lots of entrenched businesses who go down. It might be a good thing in the long term, but when the fire is raging, it’s very painful and scary.

Physically, I’m a bit worn down. I’m used to moving around more and staying confined to my house isn’t great for me. I need to prioritize walks/runs out the house more.

No major news out of the rest of the world. The USA is getting more serious about the lockdowns with all of California and PA issuing lockdowns, meaning you can’t leave your house except for food and medicine. The rate of deaths in the world and US is increasing – up 36% day-over-day.

Cases:

  • Worldwide: 246,275 — Total deaths: 10,038  (up 706)
  • USA:  14,250 — Total deaths: 205 (up 55)
  • Marin: 25 (up 9), 0 deaths

Coronavirus Log: Day 4 – No Cases in China

48 Rolls Free

 

Where my head’s at:

I’m actually feeling pretty good today. There’s been a bunch of interesting, more positive news that i’ve read lately.

First, the big news is that China has no new cases. This is incredible. As you read from yesterday, my belief is that we have to get to a vaccine or full pollution infection before we can get back to normal. If the China news is true, then that’s NOT the case.

Also, there appears to be a drug in Japan that’s pretty effective in combatting the disease and Ford and General Motors are looking into making medical equipment, including ventilators.

At home, I’ve noticed that home-schooling two kids are at different levels is a challenge. Sasha (age 5) keeps interrupting Hunter (age 7). It’d be easier to just focus on one or have two kids the same age. And, I’m thankful to have a recurring Zoom happy hour video happening with my college friends. We had 13 people jump on a call and share their isolation experiences. For an extrovert like me, it’s nice to be able to chat with others.

Finally, I liked hearing about how pollution is improving around the world. China’s carbon output is way down and the canals in Venice are the clearest they’ve been in decades.

China pollutoin

Some interesting things:

  1. How not to hate the person you’re quarantined with.
  2. Who knew? There’s a video filter to help you look better on Zoom calls.

Cases:

  • Global:227,685 cases, 9332 deaths. (up 1,057 from yesterday)
  • US:  9,332 cases, 150 deaths (up 35)
  • Marin: 16 cases (up 5), 0 deaths

New Yorker Coronavirus Cover

Coronavirus Log: Day 3

Where my head is at

I was talking with various people about the end game today. When does this end? There seem to be 3 outcomes I can think of:

  1. A vaccine developed and rolled out. When this happens, we can then begin to treat this like the flu and go back to regular behavior, and just stay away from those who are sick.  This seems to be 9-12 months out. There’s a good article about Moderna, the company who is leading the race to develop the vaccine. It was created by a VC firm and is now a public company.
  2. Everybody gets it.  Once almost all people have had it, then a general immunity is there and we all can go back to regular behavior. This seems unlikely but it’s possible. This seems 12 months out too. In this case, the disease is still very dangerous so there would still be fear by those who haven’t gotten the disease yet.
  3. Something new happens. I’m not sure what this is but many we develop enough tests that we do massive testing. Any time you leave the house, you test and then when you return, you test.  If there are tests happening daily we could accurately confine those who are sick and keep the public safe.

None of these are happening within 2-3 months. The new normal of social distancing and staying away from crowds seems to be here to stay, at least for a year.  I could see this having some good and bad effects on society. A few that come to mind…

  • Bad: Those who are extroverted getting very stressed out and dangerously going out in public
  • Bad: Those in bad relationships and marriages having tough times
  • Good: People getting really good at video conferencing and FaceTime, and new systems emerging to be able to remotely converse collectively
  • Good: Online learning gets way better.

Finally, i have no idea how i’m going to get a haircut.  Perhaps the male hairstyles of this time will all consist of long hair

What’s Happening: Lockdown is happening full effect

Apparently Some people in Florida haven’t gotten the message that this is happening and are hitting the beach

Other Items

  • Universal theater is now bringing movies to on-demand the same time as it comes to theaters. If this happens more broadly this will kill the windowing system. That hasn’t happened yet but it feels like the end is coming for movie theaters. I love seeing movies in theaters but I also love the convenience of staying home and in this environment, you might as well give films to people in their homes.
  • The IRS pushed back the date you need to pay your taxes by 90 days
  • Celebrities getting the virus: Idris Elba and Kevin Durant
  • Amazon is hiring 100k workers as demand for packages are off the hook.

Stats:

  • Worldwide: 207k cases, 8275 deceased
  • US: 6436 cases, 115 deceased
  • Marin: 11 cases, 0 deceased

Coronavirus Log: Day 2

So where are we today?

Case stats are:

In my area: 9 cases in Marin and 0 deaths

 

What’s happening?

More and more cities and states are shutting down: New York City, Los Angeles, Illinois and Ohio closed all restaurants and bars.

We remain 10 days behind Italy:

Shockingly there are still people in my community and all around the country still going out, going to restaurants and bars. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet for everyone. 

My situation

I returned home from Toronto in the morning and have quarantined myself in a room. Because I’ve been around lots of people this past week, I’m going to take some precautions until it’s clear that I’m not infected. 

In related news:

Frank Drebin’s spirit is with us:

 

Patton Oswald went on his lawn to do an impromptu session:

The cover of New York Magazine

Coronavirus Log: Day 1

Crazy times over here. I thought i’d dust off the ol’ blog and record what’s happening.  Let’s get this started…

The cover of New York Magazine

Over the past 4 weeks or so, we all heard about Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) and it’s impact in China and Italy, but didn’t believe it was going to impact us that much in the states. That is, until Italy turned into a war zone.  Then 3 days ago, Rudy Gobert on the Utah Jazz tested positive, which resulted in all NBA games being cancelled. It followed quickly by other leagues, the NCAA, March Madness, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, and most shocking of all Tom Hanks!

Why are in this mess?

Well, at the top of the list I blame Trump. Here’s what he’s done (or not done):

  1. The World Health Organization had working tests that the United States refused
  2. Researchers at a project in Seattle tried to conduct early tests for the coronavirus but were prevented from doing so by federal officials. (Doctors at the research project eventually decided to perform coronavirus tests without federal approval.)
  3. The president reportedly ignored early warnings of the severity of the virus and grew angry at a CDC official who in February warned that an outbreak was inevitable.
  4. The Trump administration dismantled the National Security Council’s global-health office, whose purpose was to address global pandemics; we’re now paying the price for that. “We worked very well with that office,” Fauci told Congress. “It would be nice if the office was still there.”
  5. Day after day after day he denies reality – trying to do to the coronavirus what Attorney General William Barr did to the Mueller report: lie about it and get away with it. First, He claimed that it was contained in America when it was actually spreading.
  6. Then, he claimed that we had “shut it down” when we had not.
  7. He claimed that testing was available when it wasn’t.
  8. He claimed that the coronavirus will one day disappear “like a miracle”; it won’t.
  9. He claimed that a vaccine would be available in months; Fauci says it will not be available for a year or more.

So, where are we?

Current stats are:

What are we doing? 

We’re now attempting to “flatten the curve” by cancelling all schools, closing all workplaces and telling people to work from home, and banning all events over 100 people.

Flattening the Curve

We may face a shortage of ventilators and medical supplies, and hospitals may soon be overwhelmed, certainly if the number of coronavirus cases increases at a rate anything like that in countries such as Italy.

There appear to be WAY too few tests. This thread about the shortage of tests and supplies in a hospital is scary:

Day to day life is bizarre. Many people are rushing to grocery stores to stock up on essentials.  But the pictures i’m getting friends show the shelves bone-dry.

The borders are being shut. We have banned flights from Europe and Canada just announced they are closing the borders on Monday. We are all isolating ourselves in hopes to “flatten the curve”

 

What’s my Situation?

I’m currently in Toronto, but scheduled to get back tomorrow morning. That’s good because the borders in Canada close in 36 hours. Our kids are safe but the schools are closed for the next 2 weeks. All upcoming events (weddings, spring break trip) are no cancelled. We’ve stocked up on medicine, food and toilet paper. There’s no meetups happening with other families or groups.

 

Dog wrapped up

Being Remote and Notion

At Onward, we are building a fully remote company.  We now have 5 employees that are scattered throughout the country and we’ll be fully remote forever.

Why Remote?

There are lots of benefits to working remote. You can read all about it all over the web and on the Twitter-verse.  I’ve now been doing this over a year and the reasons that resonate with me the most are:

  1. No commute. Knocking out the time it takes to drive to/from an office puts hours back in my day.  I never got stressed by the driving. In fact, I always enjoyed the time for podcasts and catching up with people on the phone. However, that lost time was a drag. Now my day is that much more efficient.
  2. Autonomy. While I like being in an office and catching up with co-workers, it also has a downside of co-workers constantly interrupting me and my thoughts. It was hard to control my own schedule. Being at home gives me much more control over my calendar and my day.
  3. Broader employee pool.  When we’re hiring and looking for a potential colleague, we can now look across the entire planet rather than those who live close by. This has already paid dividends as it’s allowed me to work with my good friend Nader and our awesome early employees who are in Pittsburgh, Texas, and Chicago.

The Challenges

It’s not all fun and roses though.  It took me 4-6 months to get used to working out of my house. It takes discipline to focus on the tasks and not be distracted by an empty messy house. Also, there’s a solitude that took some getting used to. Now that i’m in the groove, I do think it’s a better way to work.

Asynchronous is Key

One of the keys to successfully working with my remote colleagues is to be able to work without communicating in real-time. Because my colleague isn’t right next to me, I have no idea if they are working right now or planning on coming online later. This has lead us to use some new tools that are pretty cool.

Notion

The first, and by far my favorite. This is a combination of Google Docs, Asana and a wiki. Before we had Notion, we had a problem where we didn’t know where to post a home page of operations for our company or a division, or where to post decisions and goals for everyone to see and access easily. We tried Google Docs and also tied making an intranet on Google Sites. Both sucked.  This is exactly what Notion solves.

We now have home pages for the company which has a general company handbook, lists all the tools we use, policies and other generic info. We also have a home page for each group which houses the processes, goals, OKR’s, meeting notes, and more. There’s a good overview of how another business is using Notion here which will give you the idea.

Notion Home Screen

Notion in generally is pretty sweet. As a product, it’s incredibly slick. There is so much complexity that’s displayed so elegantly and simply – it’s really beautiful.  It’s clearly seems to be working. In fact, talk about a fundraise that showcases your awesomeness. They raised $10 million on an $800 million valuation. That’s 1% dilution.  A good interview with the founder is here too.

The 2010’s Decade

I’ve seen so many posts looking back at the decade, I thought I’d take a look at the changes I’ve gone through over the past 10 years:

Lots of geography changes. In 2009, I was living in Los Angeles and moved to Denver at the end of 2009. Since LA till now I’ve moved 5 times: to Denver (Cheeseman), within Denver (to Uptown), to Boulder (Quince Ave.), to Strawberry CA, and then to my current home in Mill Valley, CA.   That’s a lot of packing and unpacking.

Lots of personal relationships.  Diane and I had been dating for one year and had just gotten engaged at the end of 2009. Since then we’ve gotten married, had two awesome kids who are now in 1st grade and the last year of pre-school.

Lots of professional changes. In 2009, I had just left BuzzMedia and started up a company, Kapost, with Tony and Nader. At the time it wasn’t even called Kapost, it was called Collective Ink Systems and then Grogger.  Since then, Kapost grew to be an industry leader in B2B Marketing Operations software and was acquired. I also went to work at Airbnb and started their Airbnb for Work initiative as well as their Airbnb Luxe product.  In 2019, I left Airbnb to start Onward with Nader. It’s now almost a year old.

My health has changed quite a bit. From 2010 to 2017, I weighed between 180 and 195 lbs. and worked out at least 3x a week. Since 2017, I’ve reduced my workouts but have dramatically changed by eating and diet. I now weigh between 165 and 175.

MPL Weight

Onward Update: Starting to Lay the Foundation

I sent this email out to people following the company. If you’d like to sign up for email updates, click below. I send them out every 3-5 months.



 

Onward Logo

Hello!

It’s been a few months since my last update. Here’s what we’re up to over here at Onward…

A reminder of what we’re doing

We started Onward earlier this year. We’re a new company focused on transportation for older adults or those who need extra assistance. Ever since our families started aging and needing more help, we realized there’s a huge need to have great services available to serve them.

About half of our riders are older adults over the age of 75. The other half are those who have a medical condition and need help getting to and from their appointments.

How are we different from Uber/Lyft?

They provide “curb-to-curb” rides whereas our service conducts “door-to-door” or “door-through-door” service. On pickup, our drivers come to the door and help the rider to the car, take them to their appointments, wait for them and then bring them home.

We also charge by the hour – $35/hour – which allows for us to make multiple stops and get out of the car and help.

What’s our plan?

2019 is a foundational year for us where we want to build out the marketplace of drivers and riders in the Bay Area. We also want to build out the technology platform needed to automate and maintain our service. We are measuring our progress by rides per week and have a goal of 120 rides per week by the end of the year.

How’s it going?

We’ve been busy. We’ve expanded our team to 4 people by hiring two others who focus on our operations and our supply. They are Sarah Pontier and Ben Estevez and both kick serious ass.

We’ve also started doing rides. Our first ride happened in April. Now that we’re in Q3, we’ve done over 900 rides!

Our main channels for finding rides is to partner with assisted living facilities and hospitals, and also many find us via Google and Yelp when looking for transportation.

To make these rides happen, we’ve signed on lots of drivers. Our typical driver persona is a retiree who is very compassionate, looking to help others in their neighborhood and looking for part-time work. They all have CPR certifications and drive their own car.

We’ve built and released our initial version of both the Driver App and the Rider App. These apps help automate our entire ordering and matching process. Rides come in via our Rider app (or website or phone) and then get exposed to our drivers via the Driver App. Drivers can accept or decline any ride they see. In theory, rides will then occur without our team touching them.

How can you help?

We’d also love your help getting the word out to people in the SF Bay Area who have parents or friends who are unable to drive or need a little extra help getting to their appointments.

We also are digging more deeply into the healthcare industry and how we can help out there. If you are knowledgeable about insurance carriers or healthcare providers or know anyone who is, please reach out to me.

Thanks for your support –

Mike

Hunter Enters 1st Grade

I dropped off Hunter yesterday for his new first day of school. He’s in the first grade and his teacher is Ms. Fort. He had a great teacher last year with Mrs. Dale and we’re hoping for another good year this year.

School starts every day 8:15am and I’m pretty happy to get our morning routine back.

Hunter

My Week at the Poconos

I just spent a week at our family cabin in the Poconos and thought i’d write a little recap as it was a great trip all around. Some highlights:

Mckenzie and Tracey
Over the past 10-20 years it’s been tough to see Mckenzie during the summer as he spends a good chunk of it in Europe leading archaeological digs. This year he was able to join us after the dig but before the fall school session begins. It was really great to see him. As we get older it’s good to get a good number of days with someone to get a feel for their daily habits and lifestyle.

The big event that occurred was the proposal between the two. One beautiful Thursday night Mckenzie and Tracey went for a walk after dinner. While the dishes were being washed in the Glass House (thanks mom) Mckenzie presented Tracey with a ring he picked up in Florence and asked her to marry him!

We continue to get to know Tracey and she is really awesome. A highlight for me was arguing with her about the differences between Canada and the US and discussing the problems we have here in the US and what some approaches might be to fix them (not a quick convo, as you could imagine). I liked it because the conversation got heated in a way it can between people who like to argue and are family.

…and Georgia
Of course Georgia was in tow and it was really awesome to see Sasha and her (and sometimes Hunter) play together. Sasha and G are the same age (both 4) so they seemed quite comfortable with each other and their playing was incredibly cute.

Hunter did seem a bit left out sometimes but that’s to be expected when there’s only 3 (ahem, we need Reagan next time). But, the three of them did get some good play time in:

Kids and School
Now that our kids are getting older, we’re experiencing Summer break and the chafe that it is for two working parents. Hunter is between kindergarten and 1st grade and is off for the summer and we have to find things for him to do. We cobbled together a series of camps but this means that getting together as a family in the summer is much more logical than in years past

PLP
I haven’t been to my family’s cabin in the Poconos for almost a decade. It is so beautiful. The lake, the river and nature surrounding it are just awesome.

It’s also nice having my parents there and able to see and catch up with other semi-related folks. The cabins could be nicer (especially our Middle Camp) but it is great to have a place to go and have lots of family around.

Diane especially was a fan of the rustic nature of the cabins. Her childhood was spent traveling to Mexico every weekend and staying in half-built homes while they hung out with family and friends while enjoying the natural beauty of the ocean. She got the same feeling this past week, making the whole experience better for her.

We loved and plan on heading back again next year…

← Newer posts

Older posts →