A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
A leading venture firm, Owl Ventures, which has some of the Gates Foundation money, knocked on the door of Canvas to ask if they could invest. Canvas is building a platform to help match companies with diverse talent. There’s just one thing, Skyler Rossi writes this week: Canvas was founded by two white men. It wouldn’t matter – the more the merrier – except that other serious companies in the space, founded by women and people of color, have raised much less money. Patterns in early-stage companies and investing repeat themselves, year after year, despite all of 2020’s lip service. Something else stopped me short. Canvas’s co-founder, Ben Herman, is described as “previously incarcerated.”
Based on other stories that have done about the company he was a juvenile offender. First, I had the same response as others. I thought something along the lines of, “At least he’s not another white Ivy League founder.” Diversity in class and life experience matters, too. But I’ve been thinking more deeply about it, bringing to bear what is probably my deeply practical single-mother mind. If one of my daughters brought home a potential partner who was previously incarcerated, my first instinct isn’t, “Oh, good.” It’s to ask: “Incarcerated for what?” If he killed somebody as a 17-year-old, well, I would like to know that. If he was swiping mixed tapes out of cars and spent a night in jail, well, I’d like to know that too.
Venture capitalists are kingmakers these days, despite their poor track record at the job. The media, in not asking enough questions, isn’t doing a very good job, either. One of the reasons the Ivy League label bothers me so much is that’s often less an indication of quality and more part of a saleable narrative. That may be what we’re witnessing here: A thin narrative — “previously incarcerated,” not unlike “Ivy League” — just updated for a new “progressive,” time.
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Living the Dream
Best Practices: As Steve Jobs’ family just wrote on the 10-year anniversary of his death, “For all of Steve’s gifts, it was his power as a teacher that has endured. He taught us to be open to the beauty of the world, to be curious around new ideas, to see around the next corner, and most of all to stay humble in our own beginner’s mind.” These are lessons as relevant now as they were a decade ago.
Buzzworthy: In Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and A Mother’s Will to Survive, Stephanie Land, a single mother, tells her story of eking out a living as a housekeeper, a “nameless ghost” to her clients who shared in their secrets while living a precarious existence on food stamps and WIC. Her book has inspired a Netflix Limited series.
The 4.5 hour workweek: A productivity hack Daylight Savings Time is coming, and for many people, that means a battle against seasonal depression. Experts recommend light box therapy, planning outdoor activities when you’re more in the mood to hibernate and not sleeping in.
Wanderlust : a restaurant or activity from our Top Ecosystems list Speaking of Miami, if you’re planning a fall getaway, make time to visit the Miami Design District, developed by a team of award-winning master planners. For a light meal, stop by Mia Market, a chef-driven food hall curated from locally sourced food and beverages.
Made in the USA If you’re looking to support emerging brands launched by founders from underrepresented communities this holiday season, check out OthrStore. It’s stocked up with food products run by woman-owned, minority-owned and sustainable brands, as well as paleo, gluten free, keto and vegan products. If anyone on your holiday lists has gone back to the office, add a little excitement to their lunch packing with the Broma Organic Dark Chocolate Cherry Spread ($13.99). Mmmm…..
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