Uncharted Insider - July 2018

Uncharted Insider - July 2018

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the July edition of the Uncharted Insider.

Uncharted Update:

  • Uncharted turned one year old: We rebranded one year ago last week. We are so proud of our progress since then, so we took time to celebrate.
  • New ventures in our portfolio: We just announced the nine mobile tech ventures in our newest cohort. Scroll down to see them here. They will be joining us in Denver next month to kick off our Visible Connect initiative.
  • Our Annual Report: We're releasing our annual report in the next few days. In it we share our evolving approach to impact measurement and some failures/learnings from the last year. Your feedback is always welcome.

Ideas on my mind:

Are we exempt from impact? A few years ago I was telling a friend about the impactful work Uncharted was doing and he said: "yeah, yeah, yeah, but are you volunteering?" That question really landed because I felt at the time like my work somehow exempted me from serving in other ways. Of course this was a silly idea, so I started volunteering and exploring how to create impact outside of my work at Uncharted. Similarly, as a non-profit whose core work addresses issues like urban poverty, hate/discrimination, and food systems, it might be tempting for us - as an organization - to believe we are exempt from giving back and creating impact in other ways. We went on a team retreat this past month and spent an afternoon exploring how to use our talent, passion, and organizational assets to create impact in our community. We brainstormed dozens of ideas (examples include: creating a fund to support aspiring entrepreneurs who have just been released from prison, teaching entrepreneurship to children, hosting drop-in entrepreneurship clinics for underserved entrepreneurs in our neighborhood, launching a campaign to get our entire office building to adopt recycling practices). We'll be prototyping a few ideas in the coming months and will report back.

Monthly Rant/Reflection:

We overestimate big moments and underestimate small moments. As Uncharted turns one year old, I've been reflecting on the big and small moments that make up an organization's story. Rebranding on July 25th, 2017 felt like a big moment for our organization, and there are other "big moments" I can point to over the years. I'm learning how organizations are built on a million small moments too. Those moments, when added together, form something that is far greater, more human, and more impactful than any one big moment could ever achieve on its own. Organizations are built on boring moments, moments no one sees, moments we don't get credit for, moments that define our character and deepen our culture and advance us just one more step. The moment sending that fourth follow-up email to a potential investor, the moment of writing that inefficient handwritten thank-you note, the moment of deciding to make an introduction to someone who requested one. Thinking about all of this, I fell in love with all the small moments needed to build an organization and how our team is extraordinary at the small moments. I started to cry at my desk last week as I considered how each member of our team is a master at the small moments, and how there is perhaps nothing more important in building an organization of integrity than to build a team with people who are masters of the small moments. Of course, I recognize that leveling-up as an organization requires not just incremental improvements, and I spend most of my time preparing to seize that next big opportunity for Uncharted. But in between those big moments, there are so many small ones to acknowledge, to celebrate, to struggle through, to fall in love with.

What I’m reading:

  • A 20-year gap in life expectancy exists between Baltimore's poor, largely African American neighborhoods and its wealthier, whiter areas. Curious to see how the structural violence of racism translates into real statistics? This article is the most comprehensive and stunning account of racism's deleterious effect on health.
  • Domino's Pizza is starting to pave potholes on city streets (what?!); How big companies are taking over US cities. Also, in a separate-but-related article, the inside story of socialism vs. Amazon in a battle for the future of Seattle.
  • Non-fiction pick: Evicted. This is a truly exquisite ethnographic account of urban poverty in the United States. If you are seeking to look beyond the statistics to understand the human face of poverty, start here. Also, over 20% of all renting families spend 50% of their income on rent.
  • Shameless plug: I wrote this article about how to lead a team through a year of transition (practical principles in communication, decision-making, culture, and self-care). Quartz just published it today.

Can you help?

I'm adding this section this month to highlight a few specific asks:

  • We are hiring an Executive Assistant to the CEO. Who is the best Executive Assistant you have ever come across? What made them great? Also, can you think of 1-2 people to forward this email (with job description) to?
  • I am looking to meet someone at the Bloomberg Government Innovation Team. Do you know anyone there? If so, let me know and I can follow up with more details.

Something personal:

My brother and I just took our mom on a 5-day mother-sons trip to Portland and Seattle. Last year we took my dad to Puerto Rico to trace our family's ancestry there (so many Benitezes down there). Now that my brother and I are grown up, our relationship with each parent has evolved into a more honest and more heart-centered one, anchored in mutual respect and friendship. Parents are the best.


United in the common work,