I’m feeling ready to get back in the swing of blogging, and generally dialoguing with people around the world about ideas, products, and (eventually) another startup. In order to do that, I feel like a little recap of 2018 is in order. Overall, it’s hard to simplify it down to an “awesome” or “challenging” year because it was both, and much more. We moved to Denver in December 2017 coinciding with the sale of Mattermark to FullContact and spent Q1 just settling in and working a lot. After 10 years of apartment life in which we moved 8 times we didn’t have much stuff, and in our new 3-story 3-bedroom townhouse we were awash in empty square footage. Our puppy loved it!
Initially I thought I would take it a bit easier on myself after the M&A slog, and we had even discussed 3 months off before stepping into the full-time gig, but my role ended up being much more central to the company operations as I stepped into the shoes of a departed VP Product. Despite how it was reported in the news, Mattermark was very much operating and there was a long integration checklist to complete. set myself back into the rhythm of endurance, Navigating a couple legacy product shutdowns, GDPR, and shoring up process around roadmap and requirements writing was beyond a full-time gig but thanks to the incredible PM team and the relationships we formed, it happened and for the first time since early 2012 I was back on the exec team of a startup rather than running it, and had hit all my OKRs. That felt great.
At the end of Q1 I also started to work through my list of neglected relationships with a trip to Disneyland with Kevin’s family, including my two adorable nephews and spunky niece, and then headed to Austin to visit my sister and meet her newborn baby son (my 3rd nephew!) for the first time.
As Q2 began, I prioritized re-connecting with the women in my life, friendships that have been incredibly durable and sustaining the face of my crazy founder life. In early April I hosted the first partner meeting for XFactor Venures at my house in Denver and then headed out on a two-week birthday trip, planned over 6 months in advance, to cook in Julia Child’s home in the South of France and explore romantic spots on the French Riviera with my husband (and former cofounder/CTO). When I returned to Colorado I was tan, relaxed, and ready to make the leap into the unknown. My last day at FullContact was May 4th, and we enjoyed some Frozen themed cupcakes to say goodbye to the working world for awhile.
After ~20 years of uninterrupted work (with over 10 of those years in startups), I embraced the freedom to do whatever and be whoever I wanted with enthusiasm. I pierced my belly button, I got hair extensions and dyed them various shades of pink and rainbow, I spent 2-3 hours a day working out and walking my dog, I (gasp!) didn’t worry about who was looking at my social media posts of concerts, clubs, trips, and other fun. I also got a marriage counselor we love, bought myself a nice car, got a Peloton, lost 20 pounds, had more sex, slept like a baby, and lost track of time. For Kevin’s 40th birthday in May about 20 of our friends came to Vegas and we saw David Guetta perform an incredible set, honoring Avicii, from the best table in the club. We saw the final show in Paramore’s tour at the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater and watched Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco float above our heads playing a white baby grand piano for his stadium show at the Pepsi Center. I spent all of my 20s married, working hard, happily being a nerd… and I’d just turned 33. It was time to live a little, so I decided to live a LOT.
I addition to playing hard, I also worked quite a bit on my inner life and personal projects. I read over 100 books in 2018 spanning science fiction, popular fiction, philosophy, relationships, business, biographies, history, and many more titles that were queued up in the backlog. I took a significant step back from posting on Twitter and Facebook, and archived and deleted my entire history of tweets (I’ve since started tweeting again, but far far less). I outlined a handful of book ideas (2 fiction, 4 non) and began playing around more seriously with the personal CRM startup idea as well as a recruiting one, and also worked with my husband to curate a new newsletter of startup links called BuriedReads. I re-watched every single episode of Star Trek – The Next Generation with Kevin. I made a few angel investments and lead my 3rd deal for XFactor (not yet announced) and continued to deepen my interest and knowledge in aerospace and space exploration investing.
Also, life just kept happening… which meant weddings, visiting family in the Pacific Northwest, visits to Denver from friends (thank you so much, you helped with my homesickness immensely!), helping my sister with her family’s move back to our home town, health issues, managing day-to-day chores which I had pretty much forgotten how to do for myself while working (we had 2x-week help as married cofounders to eliminate any risk of tension, now we’re back down to every other week). The “errand paralysis” Anne Helen Petersen writes about in “How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation” began to ease up, just a little bit, as I started to build my days out of a series of more simple tasks like hanging the outdoor lights or assembling a piece of furniture (I still don’t have a Colorado driver’s license though).
While all this was going on, I was also quietly scouting around for things I might do next. A handful of venture capital firms had reached out immediately upon the sale of the company with partnership openings, and I explored those leads but the timing wasn’t right. A non-profit I’ve long wanted to improve reached out about an executive role on their team. Several of my angel portfolio companies let me know I’d be welcome to get more involved in day-to-day operations. Long-time friends who had started new companies offered challenging and deeply interesting roles. But I kept saying no, not yet, because nothing felt quite right…
Right now the life of an employee is still not something I yearn for. I’m a creator, an artist in my own way, and a maker of things and ideas. So far, this is what I have planned for 2019:
2019 curriculum is shaping up to be about how to build a good life 1) in a new city 2) making adult friends 3) maintaining long distance friendships 4) starting to lean into child free lifestyle as I turn 34 5) starting a new company outside the Bay Area
— Danielle Morrill (@DanielleMorrill) November 5, 2018
Happy New Year!