Notes for February 24th 2023

  • A few weeks ago I was in San Francisco for work. Last week my wife was in Berlin for work. We've always said we'd trade these as mildly as possible, and not go back to the pre-pandemic/pre-kids days when I was on the road a lot, and my wife came along to see the world. Fun fact: in 2016/17, I was travelling so much that we didn't take a formal honeymoon, because there was no point in a year where we hit the US, Japan, Singapore, etc.
    • But this last weekend, probably because I was with the kids (with help from granny!), it was notable that my 2.5 year old toddler was occasionally off. And it was because something reminded him of his mum. That happened when I was away too (and selfishly, thankfully!), but because I was away Mon-Fri, it was less obvious because they were in crèche during the day. The weekend hit home.
    • Which leads me to my big point. As we exit the pandemic lockdown phase, and our careers keep an upward trajectory, we need to be very conscious of how that impacts the kids. Today it's a bit delicate. In future, I hope we get to travel as a troupe to mad places that embed memories for them. In a few weeks I'm in Bangkok, and I would much rather have them hang out with me in the hotel, or spend an extra few days there with them. Seeing the world with them around makes it much, much richer.
  • Frank Slootman wrote a book called "Amp it up," which seems to have been quoted to me a bunch recently. One big segment is what he considers to be the most important part of a business. And it's solution architecture, blueprints and presales. Given that's been the cornerstone of the last 10+ years of my career, it's music to my ears. Not only because I agree, but because I find it really strange that startups (usually at series A+ who now need a GTM motion) or even established software companies under-invest in their presales functions. And even when they have good numbers of people, they skew junior. Junior folks don't know how to build reference architectures, blueprints and the like; partially because they've never had to consume that kind of content.
    • And that brings me to the crux of this. In a software business, the sales pitch, tech demo and everything else in GTM will fall over if there's no contextualising the tech stack against what you're offering and why it improves things. Otherwise you're not doing any actual "solutioning."
    • Similarly, and extending beyond Slootman's point, not doing "value selling" (in short, a Sheet with what value is added/shifted by using a solution) is a huge own-goal in presales.
    • Since this is what I do day-in, day-out for work, and have done for a decade+, feel free to ping me if you have any questions or need help. Especially if you're in startup-land, where this stuff is alien.
  • I watched a demo of ChatGPT in work. The team are using it to leverage the GPT engine to review prospective customers to automate in/out decisions on whether the customer is legitimate, legal, etc.
    • This will reduce the labour required by humans to do menial tasks reviewing obvious use-cases that need a bit more computation than just simple labelling of a customer record. And then focuses the people in those roles on actual complex reviews, which is a far better use of time for everyone.
    • What's also interesting is that GPT does a good bit of "hallucinating," which requires a flagged customer record to go through a more deterministic fine-tuning of evidence from GPT into our internal flags before fully trusting what GPT says. Which is to say that GPT reduces a lot of pointless human input work, but isn't 100% reliable.
  • There was a funny moment during the BAFTAs when Irish actors and films won "Best British" awards. But the gig is that a lot of Irish film is funded through British money (Film4 funded Banshees of Inisherin, for example).
    • We put loads of tax money into horse and dog racing, but not the arts. Horse and dog racing is needlessly cruel, and no one involved is poor or needs public funding. Arts generates a disproportionate amount of money for the island (good example is tourism, selling the island or even cottage industries like those Game of Thrones tours etc.).
    • Note: my wife works in the film world so I'm maybe too close to it.